Many people have a scanner at home, perhaps as part of an all in one printer, but what about mobile document scanning?
Most Android smartphones have a good enough camera and processor to turn the phone into a mobile scanner – great for converting a photo into a print-ready PDF document or uploading to Google Docs and other cloud storage services.
The best Android phone document scanner apps I have found are reviewed below – in no particular order.
Unlike the other apps reviewed, this free app has no limitations, no watermarking of PDF documents and no adverts. ScanToPDF lets you scan (or import) documents using your phone’s camera – scanned documents are converted into PDF files and stored on the SD card – they can be emailed or shared/uploaded to Google Docs.
Features include multipage document scanning and the ability to reorder pages, crop or enhance the image.
ScanToPDF Free does what the name suggests – and does it well. The ability to share or upload to Google Docs is useful but there is no integrated sharing with other cloud services like Dropbox – although you can of course upload the PDF file to Dropbox etc manually.
User Ratings – 4.2 stars from 100–500,000 installs.
Download – from Google Play here.
[Note: there is also a paid version for $1.90 if you wish to show your support for the developers - it has exactly the same functionality as the free app, no extras]
Hugely popular Android phone scanner app with many extra features and good automatic image quality enhancement. CamScanner turns your phone into a scanner – you can digitize any paper documents by photo shooting.
Features include batch scanning of multiple page documents, auto-detection of the edge of images, auto-crop and auto-enhance. It also offers password protection for documents and the ability to create PDF files in over 10 different sizes.
All PDF files can be shared via email or uploaded to Dropbox, Box.net and Google Docs.
Size – 7.9MB
User Ratings – 4.5 stars from 10–50m installs
Note: there are 2 versions of CamScanner – the free version has limitations but is a useful trial to test the app before paying for a full license.
- Includes adverts, PDF files are created with a watermark, limitation of 50 documents, maximum of 10 pages per document, maximum of 3 scans in batch mode.
CamScannerFull – $4.99
- Removes the restrictions – no adverts, PDF files do not have a watermark, no limitation on number of documents, pages, or scans in batch mode.
Download – CamScanner Free from Google Play here.
Handy Scanner Free
Handy Scanner Free is a mobile app that turns pictures into print-ready PDF documents.
Features include batch scanning with custom camera, auto-detection of the edge of images, enhancing filters and export to PDF or JPEG format.
All files can be shared via email or uploaded to Dropbox, Box, Gmail and Google Docs.
Size – 1.6MB
User Ratings – 4.4 stars from 100-500,000 installs
Note: there are 2 versions of Handy Scanner – the free version has very severe limitations (including image quality) that do not allow for an easy comparison with the other free apps:
Handy Scanner Free
- Includes adverts, PDF files are created with a watermark, limitation of 20 documents, maximum of 5 pages per document, maximum of 3 camera shots in a row in custom camera.
- Only low and medium quality scans, no fine-tuning e.g. of contrast and brightness.
- These restrictions make the free trial less useful to test the app before paying for a full license – it’s impossible to be sure how good the high quality scans and fine-tuning will be…
Handy Scanner Pro – $3.99
- Removes all the restrictions from the free version – no adverts, PDF files do not have a watermark, adds high quality scans and fine-tuning.
Download – Handy Scanner Free from Google Play here.
The best totally free Android phone scanner app is a simple choice – ScanToPDF Free is the only one which includes all features and has no restrictions – no watermarking and no adverts. It isn’t quite as well featured as CamScanner or Handy Scanner and the interface is not as simple to use but, for being completely free, it gets my thumbs up.
CamScanner is extremely popular and has the best user ratings too. It includes a lot of extra features with a slicker interface and the free trial version allows a decent amount of usage – so you can test it fully before deciding to part with your hard earned cash.
Handy Scanner Free left me somewhat underwhelmed. Whilst the features are good and the interface is clear (although the custom camera may not work on all phones), the free trial version is so restrictive that it is difficult to decide if it is worth paying for the full app.
Watermarks and ads are fair enough but not allowing you to test high quality scans and fine-tune images makes paying for the full version a bit of a gamble – unless you are already more than happy with the quality of images the free trial produces.