Don't share your greatest moments through WhatsApp

Crisp memories or blurry ones?

15 Aug 2015
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People love to take memorable photos. Somehow people also love to share them through WhatsApp. Do they know what have they done? Do they know that they are sending out low-quality pictures? Do the recipients even notice about the quality of the pictures? It’s quite sad to see how people aren’t aware of this.

 This blog post is based on Android. This is because I don’t have an iPhone. But don’t worry WhatsApp back-end on both platforms should work in the same way.


The main reason here is that those high-quality (and possibly professional) photos and videos that you have taken from your overpriced smartphone or expensive camera, will be compressed when sent through WhatsApp. This is not really a new thing, as it has existed since the dawn of WhatsApp’s life. The intention behind the compression feature is rather unknown, I guess it might have to do with three things.

Firstly, it might be implemented because of the limitations of old smartphones. In the early days of smartphones, it is well known that the internal storage is small compared to today’s smartphones. By enabling compression, this will greatly reduce WhatsApp’s storage usage on the user’s device. Not to mention that some old devices are also incapable of playing high-quality (high resolution) videos. Shrinking the resolution of the videos will of course offer much more stability for those old devices. There are other factors to consider as well, one of which such as the fluidity when you browse your good old Android Gallery. It is widely known that having large sized pictures in your old device, it will slow down when you swipe through them quickly in gallery.

Secondly, it might also be implemented in order to have that “fast” chat experience and possibly “best communication experience” too, which as a (positive) side-effect, will save your mobile data. Of course, lighter images and videos can be transferred easily over the internet and as well gives an ease on your subscribed mobile data plan. Both of these will as a result give you a sense of fast and immersive chat experience.

The third thing which could be possible is WhatsApp might want to lower down its server usage. Large files can eat up bandwith, space and power for a server, and in WhatsApp’s case, a large user base will of course require a server that is capable of huge loads and storage for many, many files. This results in requirement of huge investments. If you remember, WhatsApp was once a free service, and this could be one of the reason of the implementation.

Regardless of above, things has changed a lot quite lately and I don’t think that the compression feature should stay like it is now. There are now 4G LTE network which should give you a fast experience when sending out or receiving files, phone internal storages are now getting larger day by day and last of all, WhatsApp is owned by a large company, ahem Facebook, so I don’t think it would be a problem for them to have a blazing fast server. If they are desperately wanting to support old devices, which could really be so since WhatsApp minimum Android version requirement is Android 2.1+ (Eclair +), they could have provided compression as an optional feature in the settings, or when we are selecting pictures and videos.

So, all things aside, those above are merely guesses as I am unable to find any legitimate reasons of why WhatsApp implemented the compression feature. The feature is still in the app indeed and you can test it for yourself. The compression will of course compress any photo you send, regardless of the device you used to snap the photo. That being said, if you took a high resolution 4K jpeg image under a professional ISO settings and all those photography things, you would still end up with a poor in quality image, if received from WhatsApp. Sure, it might looked fine, but wait until you realise when you zoom in the quality degrades. Compare with the original image by side, then you can see the clear differences.


This can be proven easily by performing a test which involves two different phones and each with different account. Indeed we will need a test specimen, and in this case, a picture. I think it would be best to snap one with a better camera to get a clearer comparison.

  • Inspect the picture’s size using your favourite file manager before sending it to the recipient device.
  • Jot down the size on anything so that you can compare later
  • Send the picture through WhatsApp to the receiving device
  • Browse for the picture sent (should be in internal storage, "/WhatsApp/Media/WhatsApp Images") and inspect its size again.
  • Compare both of the files’ sizes.
  • Surprise surprise

For this section I will be using a landscape photo that I have taken at my grandparents’. Take a look and compare both of my screenies:

This is both of the image's properties before and after being sent through WhatsApp. Left is original, right is compressed. Notice the difference in size and resolution.

As you can see from the screenshots above, the image has been compressed from 3MB to whoppingly 436KB. That’s quite a huge amount of quality lost to nowhere.

When you bought your phone or your camera, did you think about the camera quality? Say if you holding an iPhone, would you expect your image to look crappy? Of course not. We expect and like good images. But then again, what’s the point of having a fancy phone, when in the end you get crappy photos, and also you send out crappy photos to everyone else? It’s not really a good choice.

If you had a very fun day and you took many many pictures of many things with your friends, you will request some photos from that friend of yours. By doing so, he/she would use the all-famous WhatsApp messenger to send you the images that you requested. You are happy once you get it, but did you know that it is not like what it looks like? Do you want crystal clear memories, or rather shady ones? Of course, you would want crystal clear memories!

The point here being is that, don’t use WhatsApp to share memorable pictures. Having a high-quality picture of your quality time is far better compared to a compressed low-quality picture. You can use a cloud storage such as Google Drive to share your photos and everyone will still able to download it so long you share them the link. Best of all, the images won’t be compressed at all when you upload them to your cloud or when someone downloads them – everything is just awesomely intact.

Anyway this is just my opinion on the matter. The choice of how to send images is always you to make! 😁

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