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 on iPhone.

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.

And soon, I began to use it to edit JPG files, too.

In the past years, Adobe demonstrated lots of love for Lightroom Mobile and added new features several times a year. Today, as of 2020, Adobe Lightroom Mobile Premium ist my main photo editing app on iPhone and iPad.

So, let's have a look why I turned to Lightroom Mobile and compare the features of Lightroom Mobile free to Lightroom Mobile Premium:

10 reasons to use Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Since I started using Adobe Lightroom Mobile, it made my life as an iPhone photographer so much more easy in so 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 on any device, at any time, even after you closed and re-opened Lightroom.

  2. It supports selective adjustments.

    This feature allows you to apply adjustments to only a part of your photo. I need and use this a lot, and it's really convenient to use 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 installed your favorite presets in Lightroom Desktop, they will be automatically 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 a web album 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. My previous portfolio website costed around 50 USD per year alone.

  9. It has an intuitive User Interface.
  10. Apple TV and Fire TV Lightroom App that you can use to present your edited masterpieces on the big screen. Needless to say, that you'll find your photos these apps in exactly the same folders and albums that you've created in Lightoom Mobile.

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 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 List and 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
Batch Editing - 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 or try Lightroom Mobile.

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

  • Edit RAW Files

    You can open and develop RAW files from your DSLR or from a third-party iPhone Camera App like ProCamera.

  • Selective Adjustments

    Use this feature to apply adjustments to only a part of a photo. Works great for dodging and burning.

  • Presets

    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 CC.

  • 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 because you don't have to tag everything manually

  • Batch Editing

    With this feature, you can easily apply the same adjustments to multiple images.

  • People view

I think this pretty much illustrates, why I chose to subscribe to Adobe Lightroom Premium.

As of 2020 and in addition to the free version, Adobe offers a 7 day trial for the premium features. So, you may want to check the current offerings for Lightroom Mobile Premium on Adobe.com

 

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, both for desktop and iOS, with 20 GB of Creative Cloud storage for the same amount. When you subscribe, you get some cool extras as outlined in the comparison table above.

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, called "Adobe Spark" plus a nearly endless supply of Fonts.

I did market research before I subscribed 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 creating 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).

 

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

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.

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.

These are up to 5 free portfolio websites 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 without increasing the price.

So, if you just need a few filters, Adobe Lightroom Mobile maybe a bit inflated for you.

But if you want to edit your photos professionally in an easy and convenient way, 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