Quality of videos sent via Messages
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: A friend from across the country sends me video texts from his iPhone 4S. He always uses the front camera that has the lower resolution, rather than the back camera. The videos are sent to me through via text message. The videos he sends me usually have a resolution of 640x480. I connect my iPhone to my PC and drag his videos to my desktop. When I play them with media player, they look pretty good. With ones he has sent me recently, however, I have noticed that the quality of the video has dramatically degraded and they look pixellated. When I right click on the file in media player and hit detail, the resolutions are 320x240 or even 223x128. What would make the resolution change and get smaller? Thanks for your help.
A: The most likely issue here is that the lower-quality videos are being sent via your carriers’ SMS/MMS networks, rather than through Apple’s iMessage servers.
iMessage transmits videos and photos in their original, full resolutions. Since a video recorded with the front camera on the iPhone 4S would be 640x480, that is the quality of video you normally receive, which is what you’ve been seeing in the the past. In fact, if your friend used the rear camera, you’d actually be getting his videos in 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution.
However, most carriers also allows videos to be sent via their traditional text messaging services, using a protocol known as Multimedia Messaging Service, or MMS. Photos and videos sent via MMS are almost always scaled down to 320x240 or even smaller, with lower bit rates and frame rates, depending on the carrier involved. This downscaling is based on a size limit set by the carrier rather than an arbitrary resolution, so in the case of videos, the longer the video the greater the downscaling.
Size limits vary from carrier to carrier, with some only allowing 300KB per MMS message, while others going as high as 1MB or 2MB. These limits are specified in each carrier’s settings within iOS so that the Message app knows how to downscale multimedia content before sending it to the carrier’s MMS network.
Unfortunately, there’s no way around this other than to ensure that you’re always using iMessage to send photos and videos between the two of you. This should be the default if you’re both using iPhones and have iMessage enabled under Settings, Messages, but there are situations where your iPhone may “fall back” to MMS, such as when one or both of your are out of data coverage. This fallback is controlled by the sending device and can be disabled by turning off the “Send as SMS” option in Settings, Messages. With this setting disabled, outbound iMessages will remain pending until both devices are within data coverage to allow them to be delivered.
For more information, see our Guide to FaceTime + iMessage: Setup, Use, and Troubleshooting.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Apple files lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of withholding patent royalties
- Apple releases updated iOS Developer Design Resources
- Apple’s exclusive audiobook deal with Audible ends in Europe following EU antitrust scrutiny
- Nintendo officially announces Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS, coming Feb. 2
- Rumor: Apple working on second-generation Apple Pencil
- GarageBand 2.2 adds Logic Pro X integration, Alchemy synth, Multi-Take Recording
- FTC files complaint against Qualcomm citing royalty deal with Apple
- India mulling manufacturing regulation changes which could woo Apple
- Apple Music creative team discusses the service’s exclusives, future
- Apple raising UK App Store prices by more than 25 percent
- Revogi Smart Lightbulb, Smart Lightstrip, Smart Candle + Smart Meter Plug
- Audeze iSine10 In-Ear Headphones
- MOCACARE MOCACuff Connected Blood Pressure Monitor
- Apple AirPods
- Elgato Eve Motion
- Olloclip Core Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack
- Elgato Eve Light Switch
- iHome iPLWBT5 Docking Clock Radio for iPhone and Apple Watch
- Brydge 12.9 iPad Pro Keyboard
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10