Send Full Resolution Photos and Videos Using WhatsApp

Meta, the Facebook parent company that owns WhatsApp, recently announced improvements to the photo and video sharing features in WhatsApp. For years, the messaging app would shrink the size of your photos and videos, reducing quality and making it so the recipient of your files wasn’t getting the a video or photo in the original quality. This recent WhatsApp update to include HD photo sharing and HD video sharing has people excited about improved quality, but the quality of the files you send is still far from the original files.

Below are a couple of examples from some recent tests I did when sending photos in HD quality. The first example is an image I took using my Sony a7R IIIA camera on the last day of the 2022 baseball season. The second is a closeup of the Foo Fighters pinball machine taken with an iPhone 13 Pro.

Original photo from Sony a7
HD Photo saved from WhatsApp

In the example below of the photo taken with my iPhone, you can see that the file size is unchanged, but the data was modified, the location is missing, and the details about the camera used are missing. This could be blamed on converting from HEIF to JPEG in this case, but the previous example using a DSLR suggests that it is simply how WhatApp treats photos.

Original iPhone 13 Pro photo
HD photo saved from WhatsApp

In both cases, you can see that while WhatsApp maintains the pixel dimensions of the photo, the file size is considerably smaller. Also in both cases, WhatsApp strips all metadata from the photo, including the timestamp. This might be fine for sharing a quick picture with a group chat. There’s even a case to be made that stripping some metadata might even be a useful security feature (as long as it is optional). Neither of these changes to the original full resolution file are acceptable if you are someone who cares about keeping your photos in full resolution with the original EXIF metadata intact.

WhatsApp hosted the quality of videos sent through the messaging app too, but there are also lots of caveats here. The highest resolution they send is 1280×720, which is far lower than the 4k video we’ve become used to recording with our phones. There’s also a limitation on length based on their max file size of 100MB. Depending on the length of the original source file and the original file size, you may need to edit your video in WhatsApp before sending.

There is a convoluted workaround for this where you open the video you want to send in your phone’s photo app, save the video to your phone’s files, and then go to WhatsApp and send the video as a Document by choosing it from Files instead of choosing it from your photo app. This method is limited to 2GB, but doesn’t do anything to change the resolution or file size of the video.

If you really want send your photos and videos in the full original resolution, without losing any of the metadata, you need to upload the files with another app first.

One free option is to use the WeTransfer iPhone app or Android app.

You can install the WeTransfer app on your phone. WeTransfer allows you to send up to 2GB in a single file transfer and keeps all original metadata as part of the file as well as keeping full resolution. If you need to send large video files that are more than 2GB, there are paid plan options as well. You can see in the comparison below that sending these same files via WeTransfer keeps all relevant location and EXIF metadata intact. The only thing it does not preserve is the file name, as you can see in the screenshots below.

File saved from WeTransfer app
Original Sony a7 file

Once you upload your files in the WeTransfer app, either copy the link and paste it into a WhatsApp chat or open the share sheet and paste it into a chat from there.