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Review: Pixelmator for iPhone

When it comes to the latest flagships that are being powered by popular platforms like iOS and Android, their cameras are one of the most compared features. When the iPhone 4 was officially unveiled, mobile photography received an incredible push. With each new generation, we witnessed numerous improvements in iPhone’s camera hardware, while Apple and third party developers tried their best to create powerful software as well. In fact, if you take a look at the iOS App Store you’ll see at least a couple of photo editors on the bestselling chart. Many of these apps can be compared to desktop-grade photo editors, while the larger screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are making it even more enjoyable to play with all kinds of photo effects.

In case you are interested in photo editors, both desktop and mobile ones, you must have heard about Pixelmator. This application became instantly popular once it appeared on the OSX App Store, and it took a while until mobile version of Pixelmator finally appeared. The newest version (2.0.1), which was published on May 27, transformed this once iPad-only app into a universal application. We were very excited about this update and took it for a test, so in case you planning to add a new tool for photo editing on your iPhone, this article will tell you all you need to know. 

One of the first things that needs to be said is that Pixelmator is a universal app, priced at $4.99. This means that once you download it, you can use it on your iPhone and iPad. In case you need a desktop photo editor, Pixelmator can be downloaded for $29.99.

UI Design

When it comes to the UI design, Pixelmator brings fairly simple interface that will feel intuitive even to those users who don’t have experience with photo editing. Just like with the iPad version, the app makes the best use of a smaller screen by giving you a chance to use it in both orientations. The dark color scheme allows you to focus on your photo, while menu items are colored in white. The menus are easily accessible, and all the tools are nicely organized. I am happy to say that the app perfectly adapts to the smaller screen, without making the UI overcrowded with icons and menus.



Once you open Pixelmator on your iOS device, it gives you four options: Create Image, iCloud Drive, Photos, and Take Photos. In case you are an illustrator or if you simply like to take notes or draw on the screen, the Create Image will give you a blank canvas. You can also choose from numerous templates, such as collages, cards, and posters, so you can easily fill them with your photos. These templates are not locally stored on your iOS device, so they need to be downloaded each time you use them. This seems like a good decision, since the files won’t take any space on your device, but you’ll have access to the latest templates at all times. With iCloud Drive, you can browse through your iCloud library, while the Photo option will access your local Photo Library. And finally, you’ll be able to take a photo using the app, and start editing it right away.

Even though its tools are combined under one main icon, Pixelmator can be used in three different ways: for photo editing, for drawing and sketching, as well as for graphic design. The main toolbar gives you tools like Paint and Erase, Retouch, Distort, Adjust Colors, Add Effects, Select, Crop, and Format. Each of these tools will open a new view with their own set of sub-tools, making this app one of the most powerful photo editing apps that I’ve seen in a long time.

Since I believe that most of us will use Pixelmator to play with our photos and perhaps prepare them for publishing to a social network, I will explain what kind of features you can expect. The Adjust Colors option is a great way to start making changes to your photo. There are eight pre-set color profiles that you can apply and later edit, while you can also adjust the curve levels, color balance (including brightness, contrast, and saturation), RGB values, and white balance. Any of these tools can be previewed before applying, and you can cancel or undo any of these operations.


If you like adding an effect to your photos, you will have a lot to choose from when it comes to Pixelmator. Since there are many preloaded filters, they are neatly organized into categories. There are some well-known effects like blur, noise, and vignette, as well as some not so usual like light leaks, black and white, vintage, kaleidoscope, and more. Applying effects is very simple, and you can use your fingers to adjust intensity, while some effects use so-called 3-point system, so you need to adjust each point.

There are also several tools for advanced users, like several methods of selection, using different brushes, painting, using multiple layers, precise editing, and similar. No matter if you’re a beginner or perhaps an advanced user, Pixelmator has the tools to keep you occupied for hours. I believe this is one of its biggest strengths, which is something you won’t see in a typical iOS photo editor.

Finally, a few words about Pixelmator-supported workflow and sharing options. In case you have Pixelmator installed on more than one device (iOS and OSX), you can use iCloud to work on an image using your iPhone, iPad, or your Mac. Changes are saved and effortlessly updated on every device. In case you’d like to share you image, you can use the native Share Sheet and optimize your image for a specific social network, or you can use iCloud Drive. Pixelmator supports PSD (Photoshop) images, which is a huge plus, so you can continue working in Photoshop along with multiple layers and other features.

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Pixelmator is a must-have iOS photo editor for anyone who is interested in making the best out of their photos. It is very easy for use, but brings desktop-grade features that even advanced users and illustrators are going to love. Considering its price of $4.99, this iscurrently one of the best deals in the iOS App Store.

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