Lensa app review: Are Lensa AI avatars worth the cost in 2023?

What is the Lensa app?

Lensa AI is a magic avatar generator app for iOS and Android that lets you create colorful, custom AI portraits of yourself. It takes less than 30 minutes to get a collection of 50+ avatars that are customized based on selfie images that you upload to the app.

First, my Lensa app review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

3 out of 5 stars. The avatars weren’t bad, but also not great. 96% of the images were mediocre at best. However, I did like 2 out of the 50 images that I paid $3.99 for. Considering that it’s a 4K resolution piece of digital art hat I can now use as an avatar, I suppose it could have been worse. That’s about $2 for each digital photo, so I can’t say that I was totally scammed.

My favorite generated avatar.
My second favorite generated avatar.

There are other cartoon-ify avatar generators that I’ve had better experiences with, such as Wonder. If you’re not interested in spending money on these yet, I recommend taking a look free apps with limited styles, like Snow or Beautycam.

Getting the avatars set up

In all, it took about 20 minutes to get from app installation to a folder of 50 avatars. It was about 5 minutes to set up, configure styles, and select selfies as training inputs. From there, it took approximately 15 minutes to generate the avatars.

22 styles across three categories of realism.

Here’s a step-by-step look at how I created my avatars with the Lensa app:

  1. Sign up for a free 7-day trial to access the Magic Avatars feature.
  2. Choose some styles. You can pick from 22 styles across the categories Essential, Art, and Time Machine.
  3. Upload 10-20 selfies. Online guides suggest avoiding any face coverings, including hands that might be touching the face, since it impacts the training.
  4. Choose to pay $3.99 for 50 generated images (10 styles) or $6.99 for 100 generated images. 50 sounded like a lot, so I went with 50 (though afterwards seeing how wildly in accurate and gross some of the photos were, I wish I had more options to choose from).
  5. Hit the “generate” button, and it takes between 15-20 minutes for the images to finish.
  6. You’ll see your pack generated, which you can download all at once in 4k or hi-res files. You can also download files individually.

Best and worst styles, according to my results

Before I share the rank ordering, I wanted to share that the biggest problem I observed in the worst style packs was that I think Lensa is probably missing training data for Asian faces. I found the more creative styles, such as Iridescent, Pop, and Comics to be grossly incorrect.

Stylish pack – looks very generic. Don’t know how this was trained using my selfies.
Comics style – doesn’t look like me. feature proportions are off, like the eye shapes.
Anime style – doesn’t look like me. feature proportions are off, especially the eyes.

Most accurate style: Cosmic

This was a bit surprising, since I assumed “Cosmic” would be a bit more abstract. But these avatars looked more like me than any of the other styles.

Most aesthetic: Iridescent

While the first two images don’t look like me at all, they’re still high quality, ethereal styles.

Most creative: Pop

Aside from the bottom right square that is just a cleaned up version of the selfie I submitted, these were unique, art-like renditions.

Most generically bad: Anime

These are so generic that you’d think I just randomly found these pictures while searching online. There are no indications that they were generated from my photos.

Most inaccurate: Focus

None of these look like me. Maybe slightly if I squint, but I look at it and feel terrified at how bizarre these are.

Don’t forget to check the privacy policy and the terms of use

Before you rush to download the app and start generating avatars, keep in mind that as consumers, we’re entering a whole new era of privacy and data rights management around the images that we entrust with generative AI companies. If this is something that you care about, make sure you understand the details in their privacy policy and terms of use to understand what the app does with your selfies, data, and generated images.