- Printing iPhone Photos: Consider Image Size
- What About Megapixels for Printing iPhone Photos?
- Focus on Pixel Dimensions
- Choose the Right File Format
- So, Just How Big Can I Print iPhone Photos?
photo by South_agency via iStock
With so many of us using smartphones like the iPhone as our primary, day-to-day camera, the question of “How big can I print iPhone photos?” comes up a lot.
The answer to this question is a little tricky, though, as there are a number of factors that influence how large a photo print can be.
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Printing iPhone Photos: Consider Image Size
photo by RossHelen via iStock
If you’re getting a small print of an iPhone photo done, say, a 4x6, image size isn’t a big deal. However, if you want a 30x20 canvas print made, image size will be a factor.
This is because images that aren’t large enough to cover the size of the print have to be blown up in some way. Doing so reduced the quality of the photo and a poor looking print is the result.
The key to image size is to ensure that you’re taking photos on your phone at the highest possible quality. Many camera apps, like VSCO, allow you to choose the image size.
Likewise, remember that if you crop an image on your phone or in post-processing, the image size will be reduced. Try to limit cropping to the extent possible, and be sure to export editing images in the largest size possible.
What About Megapixels for Printing iPhone Photos?
photo by missisya via iStock
While image size is the most important factor for printing large iPhone photos, people tend to get hung up on the megapixels of the camera’s sensor.
So, some would say that in order to get the best prints, you need to get the latest iPhone 11 Pro that has a 12-megapixel sensor.
And while that would be nice and all, your old iPhone has enough resolution to create images that are large enough to make large prints.
This is because of the image size issue discussed above…
photo by Rawpixel via iStock
Since images are measured in megapixels, that’s the megapixel count you need to worry about.
So, a 10-megapixel image will get you a better large-format print than a 5-megapixel image, even if the 5-megapixel image was taken with a professional-grade DSLR and the 10-megapixel image was created by your old iPhone 8.
Determining the megapixels of an image is a simple calculation of the width x height in pixels. If a photo is 4000 x 2000 pixels, it’s 8 million pixels in size. That’s more than enough to get a big print!
Focus on Pixel Dimensions
photo by gorodenkoff via iStock
When you upload a photo to a printing company, they’ll want to know what the pixel dimensions are. This is the 4000 x 2000 number referenced above.
Once you provide the pixel dimensions to the printer, they can figure out how large the print can be. So, if you want to know how big you can print iPhone photos, the answer is in the photo’s pixel dimensions.
For example, if you wanted a 16 x 20 print of a photo of your child, the image would need to be at least 900 x 1200 pixels, assuming that the minimum dots per inch (DPI) is 60.
DPI refers to the output resolution of the print. It’s determined by dividing the longest length of the image in pixels by the length of the image in inches.
So, using our 900 x 1200 image we want to print at 16 x 20, we get the following: 1200/20 = 60.
Get more information about DPI in the video above by Matt Borchert.
Quick Tip: Many photo printers upscale the DPI to a much higher number for printing purposes. This is done using advanced software that increases the resolution and de-pixelates images after they have been enlarged. The result is a larger print with good detail from a smaller file size. Read more about this process.
Choose the Right File Format
photo by TommL via iStock
When uploading a photo to a printer, you’ll want to choose the right format for retaining as much file size as possible while still adhering to the printers upload specifications.
Most commonly, photos are uploaded in JPG format, but it’s important to know that the quality of JPG images can vary widely depending on the output you select in programs like Photoshop.
Though most images don’t need to be 50-megapixels for a quality print to be made, they shouldn’t be uploaded in their smallest form, either.
So, Just How Big Can I Print iPhone Photos?
Taking all the factors above into account, and considering that different printers have different criteria and printing methods, the answer to this question is, it depends.
As noted throughout this article, the bigger the image size, the better luck you’ll have in getting high-quality large format prints of your iPhone photos.
As a general rule of thumb, a normal photo taken on a recent iPhone model (say, iPhone 6s and newer) has plenty of image size (they are natively 4032 x 3024 pixels) to create a very good quality print at 20 x 26 inches.
But, with printing technology becoming more and more capable, some printers can make large prints out of smaller-sized images without reducing the quality of the print.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to maximize the size of your images and rely on the printer to determine how big you can go without diminishing image quality.
I will say that I have gotten my fair share of iPhone photos printed over the years, and far and away the best quality prints I’ve gotten are from CanvasHQ.
Aside from the professional-grade materials they use (like archival canvas and kiln-dried, handmade frames), the folks at CanvasHQ work with you to ensure that your print is top-notch.
If the colors are off, they’ll let you know. If you’ve selected a finish that doesn’t look as good as another option, they’ll give you a head’s up.
And when it comes to image size and quality, they won’t print it if it doesn’t look good. Think of them as a failsafe if you aren’t sure the image size will work for the size of print you want.
There’s a reason why CanvasHQ won our secret shopper $100 canvas print shootout - they are simply the best at what they do!
Head over to CanvasHQ and see what I mean. Trust me, when you see your canvas for the first time, your mind will be blown!