Pic Scanner review: Handy mobile photo scanner is just a little too basic
By J.R. Bookwalter
At a glance
Smartphones have made it ridiculously easy to shoot, organize, and share digital photos in only a few taps. Unfortunately, the devices do little to help archive memories from a kindler, gentler era when handing 4-by-6 prints to family and friends was the real-world equivalent of Facebook.
If you still have shoeboxes full of old photo prints you’ve been holding off on sharing because they’re too much hassle to scan, Pic Scanner can help reduce the amount of time and friction—provided you don’t mind sacrificing a little image quality in the name of convenience.
One shot, four pictures
Pic Scanner is a free, universal app for scanning up to four photo prints at once, which are then automatically cropped with perspective correction, ready to be organized into albums or shared with others. When holding your device over photos, a tap on the screen locks the focus in place, and Pic Scanner displays OK once everything is correctly framed.
A one-minute video played at first launch shows how easy it is to do, with a more comprehensive five-minute guide also available, but Pic Scanner is intuitive enough to make that unnecessary. Best results can be achieved by using high-megapixel devices like the latest iPhone 6s; shooting in a well-lit room on a plain, single-color background where prints can be laid out with at least a half-inch gap between them is also highly recommended.
That’s pretty much all there is to it: Pic Scanner automates the cropping process, then you’ll have the option to rotate, enhance, or manually trim as needed. The latter comes in handy for fine-tuning auto crop results to eliminate edges the app might have missed (which wasn’t often in my case) or to tighten up overall framing.
Users can also apply one of ten optional filters to give images a retro look. Unfortunately, the selection is fairly anemic and less creative than something like Instagram; the app otherwise lacks manual control over color, contrast, and brightness, which would come in handy for giving old prints a little kick.
The dirty dozen
While Pic Scanner does an admirable job converting prints to digital, the end results are not as high-quality as a dedicated hardware scanner—nor should you expect them to be under the circumstances. This won’t matter if all you’re looking to do is toss old pictures onto Facebook for Throwback Thursday, but I wouldn’t recommend the app for archiving cherished memories.
The “free” price tag also comes with a catch: After a dozen scans, you’ll need to pony up $3 for unlimited scanning and the ability to share to social networks, email, or iMessage. It’s a fair asking price considering the app is otherwise ad-free, but barely enough to get a sense of how useful it might be.
My biggest gripe is the lack of native support for larger iPhone 6 displays—developers continue to neglect owners of the latest models, despite Apple now selling second-generation devices. Pic Scanner also has a limited selection of cloud storage services (Dropbox and iCloud), with no iOS sharing extension support to be found.
Although a little more expensive at $5, Photomyne Pro offers a similar mobile photo scanner experience with higher-quality results, plus a year of free cloud backup and the ability to tag photos with dates and descriptions that post to Facebook in proper timeline order.
Pic Scanner does a fine job capturing multiple photo prints as individual images and is worth checking out since it’s free, but the lack of native iPhone 6 display support, limited filters, and cloud storage options make the in-app upgrade less compelling.