Why are cell phone photos so small

21 November 2019

A question that appears a lot in google searches is “Why are cell phone photos so small?”. There are About 1,710,000,000 answers to this question!

I recently got a wedding photo retouching enquiry from Jeanine in the USA, the message read: “Will the quality be the same? I tried to retouch a photo using an app and the quality was compromised. I could not have it printed any larger than 4×6. I have several wedding photos that I need editing. Mostly my body reshaping and retouched. Double chin, tummy, waist and arms. How would I get a cost estimate?” – Sent from my iPad.

She included photos in the email, I was not at all surprised that the quality was was so bad. The photos she wanted retouching were only 85 Kilobytes in size. The mistake many people make, is that they download their wedding photos onto their cell phone or tablet. Quite often that is the only copy of the photos they have. Smartphone apps vary, most will automatically resize photos. This is to help with limited-data plans or internet provider limits on the size of an attachment. Mobile email apps can also reduce the size of a photo attached to an email.

The first thing I did was to ask her if she still had her original photos from her wedding photographer. Fortunately she did and I instructed her to send them to me using a non destructive method. There are numerous ways to send photos or large files, I usually recommend Dropbox or Wetransfer. I went ahead and did a batch photo retouch for her, the extra time I took to resolve the image size when sending photos from a mobile phone really paid off.

Thank you for making my wedding photos beautiful! – Jeanine 

I have had to cancel numerous wedding photo edits because the client has asked for the retouched photos to be prepared for a printed album. You will not believe how distressed they have been, when they realise they will never have good quality print sized photos of their wedding.

Let me show you why are cell phone photos so small

To highlight the difference between cell phone photos and the original, have a look at the example below:

Why are cell phone photos so small

Iphone and android devices can reduce photos

The white rectangle is the low resolution image size of the cell phone photo she first sent. The larger black rectangle is the size of the full resolution photo that the photographer sent to her. There is no way I could have edited a wedding photo for printing if I only had the Iphone photos to fix. The difference in the photo sizes are 75 Kilobytes for the small cell phone photo, to the original 16.5 Megabites.

Icloud and Google Photos

Icloud and Google Photos do not compress your photos, they are also really great applications for storing original images. When you get your original photos sent to you, save them straight to one of these apps. That way you will always have a copy of the full resolution photos.

If you ever need to send the photos for printing or for editing, you can then either download them to you laptop or desktop in full resolution to send. There is also a way to get the uncompressed photos onto your phone or tablet.

Here is how to do it if you have an Android device:

  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Photos app Photos.
  2. Sign in to your Google Account.
  3. At the top, tap Menu Menu.
  4. Select Settings and then Back up sync.
  5. Under “Settings,” tap Backup mode.
  6. Select High quality or Original quality.
  7. Tap Select.

To do it using an Iphone:

  1. Connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi.
  2. Open “Settings”
  3. Scroll down.
  4. Toggle on “iCloud Photo Library”
  5. Make sure that the option “Download and Keep Originals” is checked.
  6. Wait until all your photos and videos have been downloaded.
I hope this information on Why are cell phone photos so small has been helpful to you. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any photo retouching queries.
Share This :