Lensa is a viral sensation: the app creates AI-generated avatars from your selfies

Lensa
My favorite avatar out of the 100 generates (Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Lensa)

If you’re on Instagram, it's very likely that you’ve already heard of Lensa. In the last few days, the app has become a viral sensation, with thousands of people downloading and generating their own personal magic avatars. Lensa currently sits at the number one spot in both the Apple and Android app charts, ahead of TikTok, Tesco, and CapCut. 

Like most AI-powered tools, there is some controversy surrounding Lensa, but that hasn’t stopped people from letting curiosity get the better of them. Lensa makes it so easy and cheap to generate your AI avatars; all you need to do is upload 15-20 photos of yourself then give the app 15-20 minutes to let it work its magic. 

When you next open the app, all your generated avatars will be stored in the Magic Avatars section reading for you to view. You can also save your favorite avatars either in standard resolution or in 4K.

It’s quite overwhelming seeing so many different versions of yourself – some flawless and some the stuff of nightmares. All avatars are created as squares and there are lots of different styles to choose from, including cosmic, fantasy, fairy princess, anime, and iridescent. But as fun as Lensa (opens in new tab) is, there is a dark side to it, and unsurprisingly, a lot of controversy surrounding it.

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(Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Lensa)

One of the issues people have with Lensa’s Magic Avatars tool is that it learns the various styles using real-life artists' work who are not credited and don’t make any money from it. There is concern that as Lensa is so cheap to use, it could take jobs away from artists and illustrators who create digital art for a living. 

By signing up for a week's free trial of the Lensa app (just remember to cancel otherwise you’ll be charged £36.99 for the year), you can generate your magic avatars for half price – 50 will cost you £1.79, 100 will cost you £2.49 or 200 will cost £3.49 – hardly breaking the bank. 

Whether or not you agree with using Lensa, there’s no denying that what it creates is amazing and terrifying in equal doses. To be able to generate 200 versions of yourself for less than the price of a Meal Deal at a touch of a button is a testament to how clever AI systems are. But it also begs the question, will it ever be good enough to replace real art? Now that’s a debate for an opinion piece…

Lensa isn't necessarily the first AI generator, and my colleague recently tried a similar thing with the MyHeritage AI image generator (opens in new tab). Scroll down to see some good examples and bad examples of my Lensa AI Magic Avatars...

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This fairy princess version gives Midsommer vibes (Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Lensa)

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If I were a Disney princess... (Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Lensa)

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Something is definitely not right with the face  (Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Lensa)

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Teeth that look like Gollum's show why real artists are still relevant (Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Lensa)

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Dreamworks background  (Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Lensa)

Check out the best camera phone (opens in new tab) and the best budget camera phones (opens in new tab) for creating your Lensa avatars on.

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.