WhatsApp’s latest update makes everything you send look better ...but only if you have an iPhone

whatsapp logo is pictured on the left-side, with an example of a conversation within the chat app with messages, videos, and stickers can be seen on the right

WhatsApp is quietly rolling out a tweak that allows iPhone users to send uncompressed photos and videos, like transferring files over Google Drive or Dropbox

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 05/12/2023

- 10:57

Updated: 05/12/2023

- 10:59

Send full-resolution images and video clips up to 2GB in size

  • WhatsApp is slowly rolling out the feature to millions of iOS users worldwide
  • You can avoid compression to send media in its original quality
  • Android users will get a similar feature, but no release window has been confirmed

If you've updated to the latest version of WhatsApp, sending a photo or video has never looked better. Well, as long as you're using an iPhone that is.

Yes, WhatsApp is in the process of rolling out a new update globally that allows you to share photos and videos in their original quality ...but only on iOS.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta — the parent company run by Mark Zuckerberg that also owns Instagram and Facebook, says that a similar upgrade is in the works for Android, but there's no word on a release date yet.

While the upgraded functionality is a brilliant new addition for those who regularly share photos via WhatsApp, it does come with a warning for those who don't want to pay a small fortune to backup their WhatsApp data or those with strict mobile data allowances each month.

Until now, WhatsApp on iPhone has always used compression to shrink the size of any media sent over its messaging platform. Reducing the file size means photos and videos can be sent faster (even over slow internet connections), it also means those with a limited monthly data allowance from their phone provider won't have to worry about any unexpected charges or unwieldy backup sizes — something that some WhatsApp users will now be charged for.

Aggressive compression (like that employed by WhatsApp) can save gigabytes of data. And that can save you money.

But for those who rely on WhatsApp to share photos or videos with loved ones, it meant the recipients were always left with a copy that was inferior to the original — even when sending media over a Wi-Fi connection when there are no concerns about the total size being transferred in the chat.

With the latest update, WhatsApp will treat full-resolution photographs and videos like other files. Chat app users have long been able to send PDFs, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and other file formats up to 100MB in size using the "Document" feature.

Sending media without any compression means you won't see previews of the snaps in the chat window. Instead, you'll need to click on the files to view them in their original quality.

If you're not bothered about sending uncompressed media (perhaps you're sending a throwaway snap, a meme, or a screenshot that doesn't lose anything in the compression process) then it's still possible to send photos in the old-fashioned way.

As before, sending photos and videos with compression will show previews of the imagery in the chat window, with 1-3 images appearing in separate chat bubbles, while 4-30 snaps sent at the same time will be grouped together into an album.

If you don't have a particularly generous mobile data allowance each month, we'd recommend sticking with compressed photos when you're connected to a 4G or 5G network.

When you're at home on Wi-Fi, or if you have an unlimited data allowance from your mobile network, it's worth sending photos and videos uncompressed so your recipient can enjoy every detail.

The latest update from WhatsApp is not to be confused with the introduction of HD photos, which was introduced on both iOS and Android back in August. This feature still uses compression to reduce the size of any media sent within the app, but it dials down the level of squeeze applied to file sizes.

WhatsApp targets a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels with its standard level of compression, while the recently-added HD resolution increases that canvas size to 4032 x 3024 pixels.

When shooting with standard settings on an iPhone 15 Pro, which has a 48MP main camera, the resulting photos arrive with a 5712 x 4284 pixel resolution ...so you will still be losing some detail on WhatsApp — even when sending with the new HD toggle enabled.

How to send uncompressed photos and videos on WhatsApp

If you've updated to the latest version of WhatsApp, you can send uncompressed photos and videos in the same way as you'd send a PDF, spreadsheet, Word document, or Powerpoint presentation.

  • First up, open the chat — or group — with a recipient(s) with whom you'd like to send your full-resolution photo or video
  • Click on the + symbol on the left hand-side of the text field and then tap on "Document"
  • You'll then be asked to pick between "Choose From Files" or "Choose Photo or Video"
  • Select the latter and the library of images and video clips will load. WhatsApp will send any file up to 2GB in size in its original, uncompressed quality

It's been a bumper year for WhatsApp users, with a regular stream of updates, including a brand-new desktop app for Windows and macOS, as well as its new Voice Chats feature. The messaging platform is comfortably the most popular on the platform with more than 2 billion users globally.

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