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[ November 21, 2008 ]

iPhone 2.2 Update Image Issue

There’s a problem with the iPhone 2.2 update that’s giving me serious headaches. My wife and I often take photos with our iPhone cameras and email them to each other. This has always worked well up until the 2.2 update. After installing the update, I noticed that every saved photo on my phone that I had received from her seemed corrupted.

I’ll walk you through what I’m seeing now. The following image is a screenshot of the Mail app. The image looks great. It’s exactly how I would expect it to look.

No blur here.

If I save this image and then go to the Photos app to view it, I see the blurred image below.


It appears slightly worse if I use it as my wallpaper image.


If I upload the image to a web server, the image appears normally in Mobile Safari. Note that the resolution displayed is 600x800.


Saving that picture and going back to Photos, I see the same result as before.


It looks like the image file has been downsized and then stretched to fit the screen. So I emailed this seemingly bad image from the iPhone back out to my work email. I received the following image.


It’s not the 600x800 that we saw above and that I would expect from an iPhone camera image. The resolution is now 90x120. And it’s not that the originating iPhone is emailing these photos as thumbnails — the photos are only being displayed at this resolution. Photos are still emailed at the 600x800 resolution, as seen in the image below, scaled to fit this column.

Full res.

As a further test to see if I could figure out why this was happening, I opened the original photo above in the excellent app CameraBag. To my surprise, it appeared at full resolution.

Full res.

So this leads us to the final test. I went to Gmail and saved the photo from the original email that my wife had sent. I then dropped this into an image folder that’s synced via iTunes. Once the image makes the trip back to the iPhone in this manner, it is displayed at full resolution. Naturally, it is resized to fit the iPhone’s screen, but it is significantly larger than the thumbnail above.


Based on these findings, the following appear to be true:

  1. There seems to be a bug that limits the display of images saved from Mail and Safari.
  2. These images are being stored on the iPhone at full resolution, so this was not an intentional move to save disk space.
  3. Emailing of photos from the iPhone that created them still happens at full resolution, so this was not an intentional move to conserve bandwidth.

This process of emailing photos back and forth has been my way around the lack of MMS on the iPhone. I actually didn’t miss MMS at all once the image saving feature was introduced, but this has ruined it for me. What was once a simple, daily function on my iPhone is now something for which I must involve my PC. Honestly, I somehow don’t think this was intentional. When you click a button that says “Save Image”, you expect to see a saved copy of that image. When a thumbnail is displayed instead, something is broken. I just hope Apple fixes this one soon. I really don’t want to wait a few months to get this back.

Update: Via Gruber, Brandon Iain seems to be seeing the same issue:

Also, Takayuki Fukatsu, author of the iPhone app ‘Toy Camera’, wrote in to let me know that his app is having trouble displaying pics. Based on his experimentation, he is under the impression that the bug is seen when any app attempts to display an image that is 600x800 or 800x600. Brandon’s test image above, however, shows that the problem is also present with images that are 640px high.

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© 2014 Scott Johnson
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