Which Image Format for iPhone Camera is the Best?

Which Image Format for iPhone Camera is the Best?

What is the best image format for iPhone? Should you save that breathtaking sunset pic in JPEG or PNG? 

iPhone taking photo of foods - image format for iPhone

You’ve heard the terms getting thrown around. PNG, JPEG, TIFF, HEIF… Which of these formats should you choose when you want a high-quality photo? 

Types of image format for iPhone

Many factors play into choosing the right image format for iPhone. That is because some formats work better for digital viewing. Meanwhile, other formats are better suited for professional editing. Such formats can allow editors to tinker the photo on their software without limitations. 

So, choosing a format largely depends on where or how you will be using the photo. Determine that first and then choose an image format for iPhone that suits your need. 

Here are the most common image formats for iPhone:


colorful festival, a group of people showing their hands with colored powder - image format for iPhone
JPEG works best for colorful photos.

Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) is a well-known image format for iPhone; besides, it has been the default format since the first iPhone. Should you use JPEG for your photo needs though? You can save your photos in JPEG if you are taking photos of subjects with a lot of details and colors—festival, parade, or food photos. If you’re using HDR or Smart HDR a lot, it’s also ideal to choose JPEG as an image format for iPhone. 

However, one flaw of JPEG is that it can lose its quality if you compress it. Since it often eats a chunk of storage space, you will sacrifice the latter to maintain a JPEG photo’s quality. Plus, it will also lose quality when you open it in a photo editing software. So, if you’re cautious about file size, we suggest you consider the next image format. 

Read: The Best iPhone Camera Settings for Selfies (And Why)


High-Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) is like the updated version of JPEG. It’s still a format that’s suitable for images with plenty of colors and details. Even Apple suggests it as the preferred image format for iPhone if you want high-res photos. 

However, unlike JPEG photos, HEIF is more efficient since it doesn’t lose that much quality when compressed. That’s why it’s called a lossless format. HEIF also consumes less storage space than JPEG. It can cut back twice the latter’s size and still maintain a high-resolution quality. So, if you don’t want large files on your iPhone, go for HEIF.

So, how do you save the photos you took with your iPhone in HEIF? Simply upgrade to the latest iOS version (any iOS version after iOS 11) and you can capture, edit, and save in HEIF. 

Read: iPhone Photo Settings: The Essential Guide for Beginners


Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is another good lossless image format for iPhone. You can easily compress a PNG without sacrificing its resolution. That is why PNG is best used in smaller photos with cleaner outlines and with fewer details. Most icons, social media graphics, and screenshots, especially, are saved in PNG. 

Another notable benefit of PNG is that it allows transparency. You can make the pixels in a PNG file transparent, which you can’t do in JPEG photos. Now, with that quality and its lossless capability, you might think PNG is the superior format in terms of file storage. There’s actually a better option, which is our next item. 


beautiful brunette woman staring at the camera, blurred background, in daylight - image format for iPhone
You can compress this photo and still keep the quality if you use DNG.

If you are heavily invested in tweaking your photo, try saving your photos in Digital Negative (DNG.) Unlike PNG, this file format by Adobe can let you tinker with the EXIF data in your captured photo such as the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. That gives you more options in adjusting a photo’s brightness, colors, noise, etc. But just like PNG, it’s a lossless file format so you don’t have to worry about losing data in compression. 

Now, how do you save your photos in DNG on your iPhone? The good news if you subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud (CC), you can use Lightroom Mobile to capture, process, and save DNS photos. On the other hand, if you are not subscribed to CC, you can only edit photos but you can’t save them in your Camera Roll. 

Being Adobe’s file format, you might wonder if you can edit DNG photos in other editing apps. The good news is, yes, you can! DNG stores your photo’s data in a generic format, so you can use any program to edit it. One thing you should take note though is that a DNG file also occupies a lot of storage space. 


Raw images are often piled together with DNG. Yes, they are both lossless formats that let you tweak EXIF data. But unlike DNG, you can’t use raw images in other editing apps. And while the iPhone supports raw images, you still can’t capture an image with your native camera app and save it in a raw format. But just like what we said above, you can always subscribe to Adobe CC. After that, you can use iOS apps like Lightroom to edit raw photos and save them on your iPhone. 

So, which image format for iPhone camera is ideal?

If it were up to us, the most viable image format for iPhone would be HEIF. It lets you retain your photo’s quality without sacrificing its data; so, you can still save space in your device for more pictures. But as mentioned, choosing the right image format only depends on your purpose or profession.  

How to take better photos with iOS 13

Choosing the best image format for iPhone camera isn’t enough.  iOS 14 is arriving next month, but you might not have discovered the camera tricks on iOS 13.6 yet. So, while you’re still on iOS 13.6, learn these tips on how to take better photos. 

Use Portrait Mode’s lighting effects. 

Use the lighting effects on Portrait Mode to create different moods in your photos, especially in your selfies. There are six effects: Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage Light, Stage Mono, and High-Key Light Mono. Each of those provides a special lighting mode that will instantly make your photo studio-quality. 

Take advantage of TrueDepth.

beautiful brunette woman staring at the camera, blurred background, in daylight - image format for iPhone
Show the beauty of depth using your TrueDepth camera.

Who says you can’t capture depth using your front camera? Not iPhone users, for sure. So, learn how to use the TrueDepth camera more often, especially if you have an iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max. Take advantage of it by taking a selfie. 

You can also take it to the next level by securing it on a tripod. The TrueDepth camera’s hardware on those models has been updated to be faster and more accurate. It can also take photos with wider angles. 

Read: Complete guide to capturing depth in iPhone photography

Use Deep Fusion. 

Deep Fusion is a new technology available in iPhones with A13 Bionic processors like the models after iPhone X. Deep Fusion is a new camera feature brought by iOS 13.2. This technology definitely goes deep because it uses machine learning to analyze each pixel—yes, each pixel in a photo. So, it will process even the tiniest of details in a photo such as facial hair or intricate threads of a sweater. 

How does it work, exactly? When you switch on Deep Fusion, your camera takes four short exposure frames and another four secondary frames. The result is one long-exposure photo with lifelike details. The file size will also be larger than a normal photo. 

Related questions 

Is Smart HDR better than Keep Normal photos?

Smart HDR brings out more details in your photo. It will make the highlights and shadows more pronounced. The colors will also become more vibrant. So, if you’re taking pictures in a gloomy area, you should turn on Smart HDR before you tap that shutter button. If you want some tips, you can check out our tutorial for taking pictures in low-light.

What is the best iPhone video format?

iPhone saves videos in MOV. You can convert your MOV files through a third-party software program, but you save a video in a different format other than MOV.