Hipstamatic is Back to Once Again Challenge Instagram

The retro iPhone camera app and one-time Instagram rival Hipstamatic is making its return to Apple’s App Store today.

According to TechCrunch, the original smartphone photo app Hipstamic is coming back to the App Store following the widespread user frustration with Instagram.

The relaunched Hipstamic app, which will replace Hisptamatic X in the App Store, is designed to resolve the common issues that Instagram users have with the Meta-owned app.

Unlike Instagram, Hipstamatic does not have any ads and the feed is purely chronological. Hipstamatic also limits users to following a maximum of 99 people, only 9 of which can be labeled as “close friends” for private posts.

And perhaps most notably, unlike Instagram, there are also no videos or Reels in sight on Hipstamatic.

When asked if the app would ever feature videos, Hipstamatic co-founder Lucas Buick tells TechCrunch: “Absolutely not. No. Never.”

Instead, Buick says Hipstamatic will focus on fostering a community that prioritizes sharing and engaging with photos.

Hipstamatic users can earn stickers and stamps when they participate in some sort of prompted activity such as taking a photo walk, shooting a specific individual in their community, or being involved in “snappy hour” which is the golden hour before and after sunrise and sunsets.

Also while Hisptamatic users can export their images to their camera roll, photos disappear on the app after 30 days. Users can also share Hipstamatic photos to Twitter and Stories so that their friends can discover them on the social platform.


There are also hundreds of “retro” photo filters on the Hipstamatic app. In one example, Hipstamatic uses depth filters and facial recognition to redraw a filter around your face to mimic what a photo would look like if taken from an 1889 camera.

Buick tells TechCrunch that he hopes that these retro filters will pull in a new generation of users who find this aesthetic “nostalgic.” He also hopes Hipstamatic could draw in older users too.

“Let’s be honest, like if I could target anybody, I want to target Boomers more than Gen Z,” Buick says.

“I feel like social media could be a really great place to make connections with people that you like and hang out with people — like internet friends. And I think Boomers are sort of neglected from that conversation, even though they’re a very large generation of people,” he continues.

“And if I’ve learned anything over the last 10 years, is that they want to understand tech. I feel like Boomers, I don’t know, I feel like they would love Hipstamatic.”

Hipstamatic — which will not be available on Android — is relying on a sustainable business model to keep it afloat and maintain its values as a photo app.

For a $4.99 per month subscription or $29.99 per year subscription, users can unlock Hipstamatic’s premium filters and editing features, among other benefits.

The Original Photo App

When it launched in 2009, Hipstamatic revolutionized smartphone photography and helped make filtering photos mainstream.

After amassing 4 million active users and winning Apple’s first-ever “App of the Year” award in 2010, it felt like nothing could stop Hipstamatic’s meteoric ascent.

But Hisptamatic’s rise was soon stopped in its tracks by the arrival of Instagram in October 2010. When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in April 2012, Hipstamatic laid off all but six employees three months later.

While it looked like Facebook’s purchase might be the nail in the coffin for Hipstamatic, the founders scaled back its projects and continued rolling out variations of the original app for the next twelve years.

And today, as Meta continues to chase after TikTok’s dominance, Hipstamatic looks like it might very well be a viable and meaningful alternative to Instagram.

Image credits: Hipstamatic