Android Document Scanning App Smackdown

Android Document Scanning App Smackdown

Android BookOne of the most popular posts on DocumentSnap is my iPhone document scanning app comparison that I wrote more than a year ago. Sometimes I get asked about Android apps, but since I did not have an Android device, the best I could do was a lame “well, I hear xxx is good…” answer.

That is, until I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Player[1]. I wanted to try these apps for myself, so in the name of science I have Android-ified myself.[2]

Here is a rundown of some popular Android document scanning apps.

Types of Documents

As before, I will be scanning three types of documents that I normally scan using a smartphone:

  • Magazines: I am scanning from Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom magazine because it is nice and glossy. I’ll scan two pages from this in each app.

  • Single Sheet Documents: Sometimes it can be easier to bust out the smartphone for certain types of one-off scans. I will scan a single black & white page.

  • Notebook Pages: If I have text in a notebook and I don’t want to rip it out, I will use a smartphone to scan it. This is the very first sketch of what would become DocumentSnap.

The Contenders

There appear to be many document scanning apps for Android, but I picked these three:

In all cases, I used the free versions. Document Scanner is a seven day free trial, CamScanner has ads and watermarks, and Scan To PDF is free.

As I posted earlier, Genius Scan is coming to Android, so I am looking forward to seeing how it compares to these three.

The Test

I will use the four apps above to scan the three document types above.

As with the iPhone test, I am trying to simulate the real world by doing this test in the Starbucks near my house.[3]

The Criteria

Here is what I looked at for each app:

  • Quality
  • Adjustment tools
  • Export Options
  • Scan Size

Let’s see how the apps compare.

Quality

Quality is, of course, subjective, so you can choose which one you love the best. Here are all the scans in PDF format:

For the magazine, I think Document Scanner gives the best results. CamScanner is pretty good too, and Scan To PDF is not great.

For the black & white document, I’d have to give CamScanner the victory.

For the notebook sketch, I will go with Document Scanner but it and CamScanner are both good.

If you check out the PDF’s, you will notice that CamScanner has a stupid watermark at the bottom of the page. The paid version will get rid of that.[4]

A quick note about quality. The Galaxy Player doesn’t have the greatest camera, so you can assume that scan quality in general with an Android phone with a better camera.

Adjustment Tools

Document Scanner has camera adjustments when you are taking the initial image, and then has several pre-set enhancements. You can also control the size of the resulting document and the general image quality.

Document Scanner 1Document Scanner 2

CamScanner has the most fine-grained adjustment options of the three. It has a set of pre-defined enhancements, and then you can adjust the contrast and the brightness.

CamScanner 1CamScanner 2

Scan To PDF does not have any user-controllable adjustment options that I could find. Also, the crop adjustment seems to be “locked” to a certain shape, so that is why its scans are a strange shape. I could not find any way to make non-standard crop shapes.

Export Options

Here is where I get into the territory of writing about things that I probably should not, given how limited my Android knowledge is.

You can do the normal things like e-mail your PDF or save it to an SD card, but it seems to me that the way Android works, the export options of the various scanning apps is almost a moot point. As long as I have an app installed, any Android app can use its sharing abilities.

For example, all three scanning apps have an export screen like this:

Scan To PDF Share
Scan To PDF Share

Since I have the Evernote and Dropbox apps installed, I can send to those services without the “Open In” nonsense that iOS does. Very slick.

That being said, a few of the apps do add their own extra touches.

Document Scanner has this enhanced sharing screen that allows you to upload to all of these services as well as Google Docs and Google Docs with OCR.[5]

Document Scanner Share Screen
Document Scanner Share Screen

CamScanner also adds built-in sharing to Google Docs and Box.net, and adds the ability to Fax for .99c/page.

CamScanner Share 1CamScanner Share 2

File Size

Here are the file sizes for each app:

  • Document Scanner: Magazine 708K | B&W 263K | Notebook 254K
  • CamScanner: Magazine 1.1 MB | B&W 355K | Notebook 337K
  • Scan To PDF: Magazine 1.2 MB | B&W 536K | Notebook 619K

Wrap Up

Of these, Document Scanner appears to be the winner, and it costs $3.98.

CamScanner is also good, and is free if you don’t mind the watermark at the bottom of the PDF. Otherwise it is $4.99.

No offense to the developers, but I can’t think of a reason that you would want to use Save To PDF unless all you want is a way to catch quick and easy PDFs for free, and aren’t too concerned about the quality.

Do you have a favorite Android scanning app? Let us know in the comments.

(Photo by Johan Larsson)


  1. Or as I call it, “The Android iPod Touch”.  ↩

  2. See what I do for you guys?  ↩

  3. Unfortunately for me, today is Starbucks Canada’s 25th Anniversary and coffee is 25 cents. Needless to say, it is a madhouse.  ↩

  4. Can you tell that I love apps that watermark PDF’s?  ↩

  5. Which is a piece of junk frankly, but better than nothing I suppose.  ↩

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 12 comments

Lisa bld - December 2, 2013 Reply

Thanks for the reviews! I'm in the market for a scanner app, and I hate downloading anything when I'm ignorant of how it works or how good it is.

sergio3i - July 10, 2013 Reply

Thank you for your comparasion. I’d tried the three apps and I like CamScanner. Good work.

App Recommendation: CamScanner - RobMcBryde.com - October 24, 2012 Reply

[…] Android Document Scanning App Smackdown […]

Genius Scan for Android Review | Tips To Learn How To Go Paperless | DocumentSnap Paperless Blog - July 17, 2012 Reply

[…] I did a post comparing Android document scanning apps, but since then, The Grizzly Labs have released Genius Scan for […]

jackanderso - June 20, 2012 Reply

Thanks for doing this comparison. Very helpful!

So how do these scanning apps compare with Genius Scan on iPhone?

Deb - June 20, 2012 Reply

This is exactly the type of comparison that is really helpful when making app decisions. Thanks.

Guest - June 13, 2012 Reply

Interesting comparison, thank you.
Links to notebook scans for CamScanner and Scan to PDF are wrong.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - June 13, 2012 Reply

    Whoops thanks, should be fixed now!

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