Traditionally iPhones have taken JPEG photos, just like most other smartphones, but starting with iOS 11 the format switched to HEIC, which caused some problems for iPhone users, but Apple did have a couple reasons for the change.
Just consider one of the most annoying pop-up messages iPhone users can receive saying you ran out of iCloud storage, it’s a problem that virtually everyone has after they’ve accumulated enough apps, photos and videos, and the only solution is to delete those apps, photos and videos, or to buy more iCloud storage space for a monthly fee.
To prevent this problem, Apple focused on reducing the amount of space photos and videos took up, since those tend to be users largest categories on their iCloud and iPhone storage, but how can you significantly reduce the file size of photos and videos without reducing their quality? Well, that’s where HEIC comes in, it compresses images and videos much more efficiently, leading to a photo, taking up 40% to 50% less space compared to its JPEG equivalent. And without being able to tell a difference between the two visually, in fact, there are areas where HEIC outperforms JPEG, like improved highlights, shadow details, and mid-tones. There’s also extended dynamic range and 16-bit color as opposed to JPEG 8-bit color profile, so users can enjoy a higher-quality photos take up half the space as before, but there is one downside with HEIC, and that is compatibility, most PCs and Android devices don’t support it, unless they’re running the latest versions of their operating systems, it’s still a relatively new file type, so getting support across platforms will take time, until then iPhone users may have trouble transferring images and videos to certain NPCs are Android devices. There have even been bugs in iOS that prevent HEIC images from downloading and being viewed in iMessage.
So if you value convenience and compatibility more than saving space, you can always revert back to using JPEG in your iPhone’s Camera settings.
This article is inspired by a video in Apple Explained YouTube channel.