Astropad Mini ($4.99 launch price) is an iPhone app that turns phone into a small graphics tablet for precise editing with Photoshop on your Mac. The app also works fine with Lightroom, Capture One, Affinity Photo and others.

To get it working, you run a special app on your desktop or laptop mac, and the iOS app connects, giving you a touch display on your phone that interacts directly with your Mac. The screen updates are very fast, and it becomes a nice portable solution that is better than hauling a graphics tablet around with you. You can use your finger, but that’s not really much better than using a laptop or external trackpad. Astropad Mini works best when used with a stylus for really precise editing and adjustments.

Using Astropad Mini

To get started you run an app for your Mac, then bring up the iOS app. It connects without further fiddling. You’ll see your Mac on your iPhone, so bring up your favorite editor and start editing. Because the iPhone can’t really mimic my large (30″) Mac screen, you’ll just see part of the screen, but it’s easy to move around using a screen location selection tool. Almost any stylus will work, I used a Wacom. The stylus and app allowed pressure sensitive movements, and I had a good time with the spot healing tool, removing some defects in some photos. The connection for most people will be via WiFi, which was very speedy, but you can also connect via USB/Lightning cable plugged into your computer and the phone.

Screen quality was excellent on the phone, I can’t imaging how it could be better. You can even customize shortcuts, and if you have an Apple Watch you can put some commands on the watch.

I have an Apple trackpad on my desk, and in thinking about the app I didn’t think it would be much different, but it really is. There is more precision with a stylus than with my finger, and after a couple of minutes I got used to working on the iPhone screen. With my Mac hooked up to my big screen tv via AirPlay, I realized that using Astropad Mini would be great for lectures and demos. You can see a demo of the app in action here.

The Bottom Line

I’d often thought about getting a stylus based trackpad for photo editing, but didn’t want to shell out the cash. Since you already have an iPhone, you have just about everything you need except a stylus, and those are pretty inexpensive. The app also comes in an iPad version, ($19.99) and I would probably like the extra screen real estate, but we’re an iPhone website, so that’s the choice I made.

Astropad Mini is a clever idea. The two people behind the app, Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli are former Apple engineers, so they know the ropes. The iPad version has been out for awhile, but they heard from customers who were really clamoring for an iPhone version and now we have one. If Astropad Mini seems interesting, I’d grab it now, as it will double in price soon.

Download Astropad Mini

iphoneography, iphone photo, mobile photo, photo app, trackpad

App Store link: Astropad Mini – Astro HQ