Don’t Be Afraid To Go Big

Don’t Be Afraid To Go Big

When 19th century photographers were experimenting with camera obscuras, collodion emulsions, and Daguerreotypes, they were on the cutting edge of a new artistic medium.

I’d like to see the look on their faces today – instead of carrying around big boxes and asking our subjects to stand completely still for multiple minutes, we’re able to take focused, crisp pictures at the drop of a hat and right from devices we have in our pockets.

Updates to the camera happen with every new iPhone or Google Pixel release, but just how big can we print our photos?

Photo print printed at 5x7", 11x14", 16x20" and 16x24"

I took this picture with my iPhone 7 when I was traveling in Mexico City this past summer. The picture looks crisp and clear on my phone, but I was hesitant to see how it would look if blown up.

I printed it in various sizes: from 5×7” up to 16×24”. The results? Still crystal clear – right up to 16×20”! Overall, the 16×24” looked pretty good, but some of the details in the building became pixelated, which you can see in this close up:

pixelation of photo print

However, this Print would still do just fine hanging on a wall!

For good measure, I also tested printing pictures from the iPhone XS and the Google Pixel 2. The iPhone XS is known for its super cool camera features, like Portrait Mode and Depth Control. But just how large can it print?

16x16" print and 20x20" photo print

Even though the XS boasts a much better camera than my iPhone 7, I still found that the Print quality lessened at the 20×20” size. While the subject of this photo is adorable, you can see some pixelation occurring at his scruff and whiskers:

pixelation of photo print

Google’s Pixel phone is also celebrated for its camera specs. For this picture, taken in Portugal, I went the square route again, printing 14×14” up to 20×20”.

16x16" print and 20x20" photo print

Similar to my other two tests, this photo lost some of its crispness once it reached the 20×20” size. You can see the top of the rock looks quite pixelated:

pixelation of photo print

Printing these photos has shown me just how powerful our phones are! Remember: before you go big with your phone pictures do the following:

A note about HEIC files: Nowadays, most iPhones default their image files to be HEIC files, which are incompatible with most photo uploaders. You can easily change this setting by navigating to Settings > Camera > Formats and then tapping Most Compatible. Have phone pics that are already HEIC and need to convert to JPG? I typically just add them to VSCO (a free photo editing app!) and then re-download them back to my camera roll.


  1. Tony Alvarez

    For us serious photographers taking pictures with our phones feels like blasphemy to be honest. But, to each his own my dad always use to say.
    I have over 24K in photographic equipment that I have invested and still feel short of the equipment I need to Express myself thru the medium I totally love.
    I will try you guys on in the not too distant future and leave my local print shop for a bit.

  2. Peggy Bonelli

    I have a panoramic photo from an iPhone XR that I would like to print as a 16 by 20 but the orange triangle comes up. I would like to print it in a more permanent way also but same problem. Any suggestions?
    Thank you.


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