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What is HEIC? Here's what you need to know about Apple's iPhone photo format

HEIC uses more efficient compression algorithms than JPEG. As a result, it achieves smaller file sizes without compromising image quality. HEIC images often appear nearly identical to the original, yet the file size is reduced.

Vishal Upadhyay Edited By: Vishal Upadhyay New Delhi Published on: October 24, 2023 17:36 IST
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
Image Source : INDIA TV Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple has introduced the HEIC (High-Efficiency Image Format), developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), as a revolutionary format for images on iPhones and other Apple devices. But what exactly is HEIC, why did Apple opt for it, and is it a superior alternative to the traditional JPEG format?

HEIC, in essence, is a file format designed to store images more efficiently through advanced compression techniques. It's based on the High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) codec, often used for top-notch video compression. You can spot HEIC files with the .heic or .heif file extension.

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Though not entirely new, Apple embraced HEIC with iOS 11 in 2017. However, with the iPhone 15 series, it has received more prominent attention. Here's why:

HEIC files are notably smaller compared to equivalent JPEG or ProRAW files on iPhones. This translates to the ability to save more photos on your device without gobbling up extensive storage space. This is a game-changer for users with limited storage.

HEIC supports 16-bit color, offering a broader range of colors and details than the 8-bit color of JPEG. This results in superior image quality, particularly for photos with intricate color profiles and subtle gradients.

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HEIC comes with several advantages, but its suitability compared to JPEG depends on your specific needs and context. A key challenge with HEIC is its compatibility with non-Apple devices and older software. While modern Windows and Android devices can handle HEIC files, older devices and software may struggle. In contrast, JPEG enjoys universal support.

For professional photographers and those deeply engaged in post-processing, HEIC's non-destructive editing capabilities are a remarkable advantage. They offer increased flexibility in image manipulation and archiving.


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