Review: Adobe Lightroom Mobile Premium and what's included

I didn't bother using Adobe photo apps on the iPhone and iPad when I turned to iPhone photography in 2012. I briefly tried Adobe Photoshop Touch for iOS before Adobe discontinued it a few years ago and then turned to several other apps to edit my photos.

But once Apple announced support for saving RAW photos from third-party camera apps, I had a closer look at Adobe Lightroom Mobile to develop RAW files.

Soon, I began to use it to edit JPG files, too.

During the past years, Adobe demonstrated quite some love for Lightroom Mobile and added new features several times a year.

Today, Adobe Lightroom Mobile Premium ist my main photo editing app on iPhone and iPad. Let‘s have a look at the features of Lightroom Mobile and what you get when you subscribe to Lightroom Mobile Premium.

9 Reasons to use Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Since I started to use Adobe Lightroom Mobile, it made my life as an iPhone photographer so much more comfortable in many ways. Here are the top reasons why I have chosen Adobe Lightroom Mobile as my favorite iPhone photo editing app:

  1. Lightroom Mobile supports non-destructive editing.

    So you can always undo each single or all edits no matter on which device any time, even after you closed and re-opened Lightroom.

  2. It supports selective adjustments.

    This feature allow you to apply adjustments to only a part of your photo. I need and use this a lot, and it works great with Apple Pencil on iPad.

  3. It properly handles metadata.

    This is something where many apps failed in the past, and some still do. Plus, you can add keywords and copyright info as metadata to your photos.

  4. With Lightroom Mobile, you can create and apply presets.

    If you have some favorite presets in Lightroom Desktop, they will be synced to the mobile version and you can even create your own right on your iPhone or iPad

  5. You can create web albums.

    Share them with friends, clients, or cooperation partners right from within Lightroom Mobile. You can even protect these with a password.

  6. You get a web version of Lightroom CC.

    This way you're able to access and use your Lightroom photos from any computer anywhere in the world. The feature list of the web version is pretty impressive.

  7. It syncs photos and edits.

    So you can start to edit a photo on the iPhone and continue where you stopped on the iPad. And the other way round.

  8. Sync Lightroom Albums with a free portfolio website.

    Up to 5 free portfolio websites are included in the Lightroom CC plan if you subscribe.

  9. It has an intuitive User Interface

And, because it’s not directly photography related, I mention it separately. With a subscription you also get access to all Adobe Fonts. You can use them on your website and you can even install them on your iPad and iPhone using the Create Cloud App if you run iOS 13.

Is Adobe Lightroom Mobile Free?

Sort of. You can use some features of Lightroom Mobile for free. Other features like editing RAW files or making selective adjustments are premium features and require a paid subscription after a trial period. See a detailed list of free and premium features in the following chapter.

Feature Comparison of Adobe Lightroom Mobile Free and Premium

Okay, so here is the comparison list of the features available in Lightroom Free and Lightroom Mobile Premium.

Feature Lightroom Free? Lightroom Premium?
Exposure Yes Yes
Contrast Yes Yes
Highlights Yes Yes
Shadows Yes Yes
Blackpoint Yes Yes
Color Temperatur Yes Yes
Color Tone Yes Yes
Color Dynamic Yes Yes
Saturation Yes Yes
Texture Yes Yes
Clarity Yes Yes
Remove Haze Yes Yes
Vignette Yes Yes
Denise Yes Yes
Sharpen Yes Yes
Add Grain Yes Yes
Cropping Yes Yes
Black and White Yes Yes
Edit RAW Files - Yes
Selective Adjustments - Yes
Presets - Yes
Repair Tool - Yes
Perspective Correction - Yes
Syncing - Yes
Web Galleries - Yes
Sensei Search - Yes
People View - Yes
Adobe Spark - Yes
Portfolio Website - Yes
Adobe Fonts - Yes

As you can see, you can use many features of Adobe Lightroom Mobile freely without a subscription, and that's an excellent way to get started with Lightroom Mobile.

Let's have a closer look at the Lightroom Premium feature you get with a subscription:

  • Edit RAW Files

    You can open and develop RAW files from your DSLR or an iPhone camera app like ProCamera.

  • Selective Adjustments

    Use this feature to apply adjustments to only a part of a photo.

  • Presets

    You can sync your existing desktop presets to Lightroom Mobile and even create your own on iPhone or iPad that will sync back to the desktop version.

  • Repair Tool

    Fix imperfections using either the healing brush or clone stamp tool.

  • Perspective Correction.

    Apply geometric and perspective corrections. I use that a lot, especially when shooting architecture.

  • Synchronisation.

    Your photos will automatically sync between Lightroom on iPhone/iPad, Lightroom Web Edition, and Lightroom on the Desktop. Note that the subscription plan includes the desktop version of Lightroom.

  • Web Galleries.

    Create Web Galleries from Lightroom Mobile. See a sample Adobe Web gallery I've created.

  • Sensei Search

    An AI based search that automatically detects what's in a photo and allows you to search for it. A huge time saver!

  • People view

I think this pretty much illustrates, why I chose to subscribe to Adobe Lightroom Premium. If you're interested, too, check the current offerings for Lightroom Mobile Premium on Adobe.com

Adobe Lightroom User Interface

When you open Lightroom Mobile for the first time, you'll see the home screen. In the top left corner are three buttons:

  • Home Screen. Displays the most recent photos and a list of tutorials you can watch.
  • Library view. This is where all your photos are
  • People. To find and group people in your photos.
Adobe Lightroom Home Screen

Adobe Lightroom Home Screen

We're looking for the library view. It's the place where all your imported photos are stored. It contains all folders and albums you have created. At the top of the list are four albums that Lightroom already created for you. Most important is the All Photos album, where you'll find all your imported photos.

Lightroom Mobile offers two ways to import photos: Either use the built-in Lightroom Camera to take a photo or import a photo from the camera roll. To import multiple images in one batch, swipe over each to select it.

Both options are in the blue toolbar in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Import Photos into Lightroom Mobile

Import Photos into Lightroom Mobile

Once you've imported a photo, it will be added All Photos album. To begin editing a photo, tap on it.

Note the mode selector in the upper left corner after you've tapped a photo to edit it. Here, you select what you want to do:

Mode Selector in Lightroom

Mode Selector in Lightroom

  • Edit puts you into editing / developing mode. Now you can adjust and edit your photo.
  • Rate & Review allows you to assign a star rating as well as setting the accepted or rejected flag.
  • Activity will display all comments from a shared web-album for this photo.
  • Under Keywords you can manually assign multiple keywords to a photo.
  • In Info you're able to enter a title and description as well as copyright info; plus, you'll see some important metadata about your photo.

Editing Mode in Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Editing Mode is what we're looking for. Now we can adjust and tune our photos. Once you've switched to editing mode, note the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Here are all the different editing sliders grouped by topic. Adobe calls those adjustment groups. To open one of the groups, and adjust the corresponding settings, tap one of the groups.

Then a drawer will pop up, which contains all the adjustment sliders. Swipe up inside the drawer to see all the sliders available for that group.

Lightroom Mobile Adjustments Groups

Lightroom Mobile Adjustments Groups

The available adjustment groups in Adobe Lightroom Mobile are:

  • Selective Adjustments
  • Crop
  • Profiles
  • Light
  • Color
  • Effect
  • Detail
  • Geometry
  • Optics
  • Presets

What you get when you subscribe to Adobe Lightroom Premium

Generally, the Adobe Lightroom Mobile App is free to download, and you can use quite many features for free. But when it comes to premium features, you'll need a Creative Cloud subscription.

But in addition to the premium features, Adobe packed some additional goodies into the subscription. So, here's a brief overview of what you get when you subscribe:

  • Adobe Lightroom CC premium features for iPhone, iPad, and the desktop version of Lightroom.
  • A purely web-based version of Adobe Lightroom that you can use from anywhere, called "Lightroom Web."
  • Several GB up to 1 TB of Creative Cloud Storage for syncing photos and edits between iPhone, iPad, and desktop.
  • Originally one, now up to 5, portfolio websites. These seamlessly sync photos from Adobe Lightroom. Typically, such a portfolio website costs anywhere from USD 50,- and up per year.
  • A license to use Adobe Spark (Spark Post for compelling social media graphics, Spark Page to create a simple website, Spark Video to create simple videos). Similar tools cost up to 10,- per month. You can use those tools on the iPad and iPhone and from any Webbrowser.
  • Integration with other Adobe apps like Photoshop Express, Photoshop Mix, and Photoshop Fix and soon in Adobe Photoshop for iPad.
  • Apple TV app to browse and view your Creative Cloud and Lightroom photo library on the big screen.
  • Not directly photo related, but with a Lightroom Premium subscription, you also get access to Adobe Fonts (formerly Typekit). You can use these fonts in any web site, and if you're on iOS13, you can install any font from the library on your iPhone and iPad.

Adobe likes to fiddle around with their Creative Clouds plans. There is a dedicated Adobe Lightroom Plan that includes one TB of Creative Cloud space. As an alternative, you may want to look at the cheapest photography plan, which also includes Adobe Photoshop but only has 20 GB of Creative Cloud space.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile Tips and Tricks

And finally, here are some useful tips and tricks for working with Lightroom Mobile that I discovered. I guess I should RTFM more often.

  • When using any slider, tap on the left (label) of the slider to decrease the slider by -5. Tap the value on the right of the slider to increase the value by +5
  • Double-tap on any slider to reset it to its default value.
  • Adobe Lightroom can mark clipping areas! In the lights editing group tap and hold either the exposure, shadows, highlights, blacks or whites slider and use a second finger to tap the image itself. Lightroom will display white clipping in red and black clipping in blue. While keeping the slider and photo tapped, adjust the slider for better results.
  • To avoid over-sharpening your images, Lightroom Mobile can display a sharpening mask. In the detail editing group, tap and hold the sharpening, radius, detail, or masking slider and use a second finger to tap the image itself. There's your sharpening mask.

How much does Adobe Lightroom cost?

Adobe offers a few different Plans for Photographers. The cheapest one is Lightroom only (Desktop & Mobile), with 1 TB of cloud storage for $9.99. As an alternative, for the same price, you can get Lightroom & Photoshop with 20 GB of cloud storage for the same amount. When you subscribe, you get some cool extras. Read on to learn more.

To help you decide, look the following calculation I did (for myself; your mileage may vary):

  • Originally, Adobe Lightroom costed $179 if you bought the full license.
  • New releases, so-called Updates, came out about every 18 months and were priced at $49.

So over three years (buying the full license plus two upgrades), the total cost of Lightroom would have been $277.

But with a Creative Cloud subscription, you'll also get a portfolio website, online storage to sync photos between devices and a tool for quickly creating beautiful web and social media graphics.

I did market research and found the following prices for similar tools:

  • A simple photo portfolio website costs something around $50 per year.
  • 1 TB of cloud storage is around $5 per month or about $50 per year (if paid yearly).
  • A tool for designing beautiful graphics for the Web and Social Media is around $10 per month.

So over three years with the old pricing model, the cost for a Lightroom, including two upgrades, a portfolio website, a design Software for Social Media images, and 1 TB of cloud storage, would sum up to $967.

Now, the Lightroom Premium plan is $9.99, which includes up to 5 portfolio websites, Adobe Spark Software, and 1 TB of cloud storage to sync photos.

So, for three years, that's a total of $360 ($10 x 36 months) compared to $967, as mentioned above. For me, that sounded like a deal, and that was one of the reasons I subscribed (and canceled my other portfolio website hosting plus the graphics editor for social media I used).

Is Lightroom Mobile Premium worth it?

As I've mentioned at the beginning of this article, Adobe Lightroom Mobile has become my main app for editing photos on the go. In addition to all the premium features in Lightroom Mobile, you get additional extras that alone are worth the money.

Like a free portfolio website and Adobe Spark for creating compelling graphics for your website and social media.

Moreover, in the past years, Adobe added new features to Lightroom Mobile once or twice a year.

If you just need a few filters, Adobe Lightroom Mobile maybe a bit inflated. But if you want to edit your photos professionally, I'd recommend and go for Lightroom Mobile Premium.

I did and never regretted it so far.

Check the price of Adobe Creative Cloud Lightroom and Photography plans at Adobe.com