There’s nothing more satisfying than holding beautiful prints of your iPhone photos, or even seeing them displayed as artwork on your wall! But how do you print iPhone photos from your phone? How big can they be printed? And what quality prints will you get? In this article you’ll discover all you need to know about printing iPhone photos – from small prints, to beautiful photo books, to large canvas wall hangings. You’ll also find out exactly how large you can print your photos, depending on which iPhone model you shoot with.
How Big Can You Print iPhone Photos?
The first question you probably ask when printing iPhone photos is: “How big can I print my pictures?”
This all depends on the quality that you want to achieve, e.g. excellent, good or fair quality. The table below shows the maximum sizes that you can print using these three different standards of quality.
As you can see, the higher quality the print, the smaller it needs to be. And the larger you print your photos, the poorer the image quality will become.
Why? Because a digital photo is made up of millions of tiny pixels (individual squares of color that make up the complete image).
As you increase the size of the print, you also increase the size of the pixels. When the pixels become too big, your picture will appear pixelated. Instead of a smooth and sharp image, it will look fuzzy because the blocky pixels are too large.
So the smaller you print your photo, the sharper, smoother and better quality it will look. The larger you print your photo, the more compromises you have to make in terms of image quality.
More Pixels Means Bigger Prints
The amount of pixels in your photo determines how big you can print at high quality. The more pixels your image contains, the bigger you’ll be able to print without it becoming pixelated and fuzzy.
In the table above there are two columns of print sizes, depending on the iPhone model that you’re using. This is because the pixel count of the newer iPhones is different from the older models.
The iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus all have an 8 megapixel camera, which means that your photo contains 8 million pixels.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and the iPhone X, XR, XS Max camera, and iPhone XS camera all have a 12 megapixel camera, which means your photo contains 12 million pixels.
An increase from 8 megapixels to 12 megapixels is huge – the image is 50% larger! So if you have a 6s, 6s Plus, 7 or 7 Plus you’ll be able to print iPhone photos much larger before you start to see the image quality degrade.
I print my photos on canvases, postcards, notecards, etc. and display or sell them in art shows, galleries, museums, fairs and boutiques.
Having a 12 megapixel iPhone camera allows me to print large, high quality prints that are perfect for displaying and selling.
What Quality Print Do You Need?
The type of print you’re creating will usually determine the quality that you’ll want to print at. There are two things to consider: How important is image quality? And at what distance will this photo be viewed from?
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, quality is extremely important. Your clients will expect extremely high quality prints and these prints will usually be viewed at a close distance in a wedding album. Therefore, it’s advisable not to print them too big.
If you’re printing some family snapshots to hang on your wall or stick on your fridge, you might be prepared to accept a slightly lower level of quality so that you can get bigger prints. Also, these pictures will usually be viewed from a distance of a few feet, so you probably won’t notice any small quality issues.
If you want to print a really large photo (such as a canvas to hang on your wall like the one shown above) you’ll have to print at an even lower quality. However, this kind of picture is usually viewed from a distance, and the further away you’re standing from the picture, the less you’ll notice any issues with quality.
So while you always want the best quality print possible, a larger, lower quality print can actually look fine as long as you’re not viewing it close up.
Understanding PPI (Pixels Per Inch)
When you print a photo, it will be printed at a certain PPI (pixels per inch), e.g. 300 PPI, 200 PPI, 150 PPI, etc. You’ll often see these figures when printing your own photos or when sending your photos off to be printed. But what exactly does this mean for you?
The more pixels you pack into an inch of your print (a high PPI), the smaller the pixels will need to be to fit into that space. This results in a smaller overall print size, but it will be high quality because the pixels are small.
If you print with a very low PPI, the pixels need to be much larger to fill each inch of the photo. This results in a larger overall print size which will be poorer quality (remember, large pixels make the picture look fuzzy).
So the higher the PPI, the smaller the print will be, and the better quality it will appear. The lower the PPI, the larger the print will be, and the poorer quality it will appear.
Here’s a more detailed look at the information for maximum print sizes at different quality settings, including the PPI (pixels per inch) values that produce different quality prints.
So if you have a 12 megapixel iPhone and you want an excellent quality professional-looking print at 300 PPI, the biggest you can print your photo is 14.29 inches by 9.49 inches. But if you’re willing to print at 150 PPI, you’ll be able to have a much larger photo.
If you’re interested in how to calculate these sizes, you simply divide the image size by the PPI. So if your image is 4288 pixels wide, divide that by the PPI of 300, and you get 14.29 inches which is the width of your printed photo.
Now that you know how big you can print your pictures at different qualities, let’s explore some of the options you have for turning your iPhone photos into beautiful prints.
How To Print iPhone Photos At Home
If you mostly want to print your photos at fairly small sizes on photographic paper, investing in a decent home printer could be a good option.
Remember that in addition to paying for the printer itself, you’ll also need to purchase ink. Printing iPhone photos at home can end up costing more money per print than using a printing service, but it gives you more flexibility and the option to print whenever you want.
With so many printers on the market, it can be difficult to choose which one to buy. Getting a recommendation from a friend or professional photographer can be a good starting point, and always check reviews online before you buy.
For quality home printing, an inkjet printer is the way to go. Prices will range from about $80-$300. Most printers take a maximum paper size of A4, so if you want to print larger than this you’d need to spend more to get an A3 printer.
If you want to print directly from your iPhone (without having to go through your computer), you’ll need a wireless printer that has Apple AirPrint capability (a technology that allows your iPhone to communicate with the printer).
To print to an AirPrint printer, you simply open the image in the Photos app on your phone, tap the Share icon (square with arrow) at the bottom left of the screen, then tap the Print option.
If you like to print iPhone photos at home, consider the type of paper that you’re going to print on as it can make a huge difference. Printing on ordinary copy paper won’t result in good quality prints! High quality photo paper will produce much nicer looking photos.
There are different types of photo paper that have different finishes, and they come in different thicknesses too. If you want a high-sheen finish, choose a glossy paper. If you don’t want any sheen, go for a matte paper.
Bear in mind that glossy prints are more likely to show up any quality issues. Glossy paper is designed to show crystal-clear, vibrant, high contrast photos. Matte paper is more porous and can be a bit more forgiving.
Use A Portable Hand-Held Printer
If you want an instant way to print your iPhone photos on the go, you might want to consider purchasing a portable hand-held printer such as the Instax printer from Fujifilm.
This compact device allows you to print your photos wirelessly from your iPhone in under a minute. Essentially, it transforms your iPhone into an old-school polaroid camera, allowing you to print your photos instantly to share with others or keep for yourself.
Of course, not everyone wants to print their photos on the go like this, but if it’s something that appeals to you, the Instax printer is a pretty neat gadget.
However, it’s not cheap! You’re looking at anything over $150 for the printer, and the film has to be purchased separately. It’s a bit of a luxury gadget!
Order iPhone Prints Online
If you don’t want to print your photos at home, or you want to print your images in a non-standard format such as a photo book, calendar, canvas print, etc. you can use a printing service to do the job for you.
You could use a pick-up printing service at a nearby store, but you’ll probably find it more convenient to use a mail order service.
Whatever service you use, it’s always good to go with a personal recommendation or ask for a sample print so that you can be sure they offer a high quality product.
I’ve heard numerous professional photographers say that some shops and online printing services offer sub-standard prints. In particular, they’ve experienced problems with crops being changed and colors being dull or inaccurate.
There are many great choices for online printing services. The most convenient option is to use an iPhone photo printing app.
This allows you to easily upload your images from your iPhone’s photo library and order whatever type of prints you want.
Here are a few online print services that you could check out:
Social Print Studio is a lovely, home-grown company from California that’s really expanded in the past few years. They offer a wide range of print types, including square prints, magnets, photostrips, photo books, posters and framed prints.
Another great app is PostalPix which allows you to order photo prints from your iPhone’s photo library as well as your Instagram feed. They offer several print mediums including standard prints, aluminum prints, iPhone cases and mouse pads.
If you want to create beautiful photo books from your iPhone photos, Printastic is a great app that offers a high quality printing service.
You can learn how to create photo books in our Printastic tutorial… and if you use our special discount code IPHONEPS20 you’ll get 20% off your order!
Chatbooks is another photo book app that’s well known for its high level of customer service.
You can even subscribe to an ongoing book series where a new photo book is automatically created each time you add 60 photos to a particular photo source such as Instagram, Facebook, or the Favorites album in your iPhone’s photo library.
Companies like Snapfish and Shutterfly are popular print services that offer many different options for printing your photos. They both offer an app for your iPhone, but for complex creations you might find it easier to use their website on your computer rather than your iPhone.
When I use these companies, I tend to upload my photos to my laptop and then order from there. Once a year I order calendars for my entire family, which they all really love to receive. I’ve used these sites for personal print jobs, party invites and holiday cards.
I should mention that I did have to send my holiday cards back to Snapfish last year as the prints I received didn’t match up to their prior jobs. I since discovered that they outsource their holiday card orders. They gave me a full refund, and I have some beautiful birthday card invites from them.
One more thing to mention is that it’s always worth looking out for coupons on the internet that will give you a discount code for some of these print services. You can often find some great deals if you look around!
Use A Professional Print House
Professional photographers don’t use websites and apps like those mentioned above. They use professional print companies, such as White House Custom Color (WHCC), who can guarantee superior print quality.
Professional print companies work in the same manner as sites such as Snapfish and Shutterfly – you send them the images and they send you the prints. However, you usually have to apply to become a customer.
There are a few differences between professional print houses and businesses like Snapfish and Shutterfly. For example, many of their printing machines are different, but the main difference is that they work to ensure the colors in your images are accurate.
I spoke to WHCC, and they told me that when you first sign up you have to calibrate your color. You send them five images, they print the photos and return them to you so you can make sure your prints mirror what you see on your monitor.
Some professional photographers go as far as buying a calibration kit which helps ensure that the colors you see in the image on your monitor are exactly what you see when the image is printed.
Once your have your monitor calibrated, shops like WHCC leave the rest to you. When you send them an image, they don’t do anything to alter the color of your image.
These extra steps to ensure that the color of your photos is as accurate as possible is why many hobby photographers don’t use a professional print house. But if you’re planning to sell your photos as prints, this might be an option you want to consider.
Find A Print Company You Can Trust
When I had one of my iPhone photos in the Mobile Photography Exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art, I wanted to find someone knowledgable and trustworthy to print all of my artwork.
I needed someone who could provide good advice and work with me to create the best possible prints. And that’s when I found Adam at a company called Artwork Avenue.
He asked me why I wasn’t selling more of my artwork, and I told him it was because my photos were shot using an iPhone, and according to professional standards I couldn’t print them very big.
He told me to erase those self-imposed boundaries from my mind. My photos could be printed… And they could be printed big! On canvas. On Wood. Even as a coffee table!
Since then, I’ve used Adam for much of my print work. I like Avenue Artwork because they actually look at each and every file that comes in. One time their designers darkened a few details in a photo of mine before they blew up the picture to a 40 x 40 inch canvas.
When I spoke to Adam recently, he told me, “At Avenue Artwork, we love working with iPhone images because it’s so cool to see the creativity that everyday people use their cameras for.”
If you’re looking to get your iPhone photos printed for display or selling purposes, I’d highly recommend that you find a print company that offers a service like Artwork Avenue.
Find someone who’s just as passionate about getting the best quality prints from your iPhone photos as possible. That way, you can concentrate on taking amazing iPhone photos, and you can leave the printing decisions to the experts!
Fred Zelders says
I live in the Netherlands, a country that uses the metric system.
Request: Please publish this data also in metric units.
Kate Wesson says
Hi Fred. Sorry about that! You can now find the information listed in both inches and centimeters 🙂
Fred Zelders says
Thank you Kate!
Grisel Kastre-jon says
Fabulous article! Thank you so much for all this information! Can’t wait to upgrade my iPhone, I’m dying to get the 12px camera and start printing away! 🙂
Hi, very interesting article. When I take a photo with native Camera it’s 8 MP (average) but when I edit on VSCO the final photo is less than 4 MP. I suppose there’s quality lost, any tips for to avoid this? Thank you!
Kate Wesson says
Hi Daniel. Do you mean Megapixels (MP) which is the total number of pixels in an image or Megabytes (MB) which is the amount of storage space it takes up on your device? VSCO Cam shouldn’t reduce the number of pixels (MP) when it saves a photo (unless you cropped it of course) but it does seem to compress the file quite a bit during saving so the edited version takes up less storage space (MB). A side-effect of compression is that you lose a bit of quality, so if you’re printing photos at a large size this can be a problem. Unfortunately VSCO Cam doesn’t seem to have any settings where you can specify the amount of compression when saving. I’ve just done a test with editing a photo in Snapseed and VSCO Cam… the original image was 2.2MB. Editing it in VSCO Cam compressed the file to 1.6MB and editing it in Snapseed only compressed it to 2.1MB. So Snapseed is a better option for editing photos to print as it barely compresses the file at all. I hope all that makes sense and is helpful! 🙂
Joanna Proffitt says
I LOVE the collage type photo with the clouds! Does Artwork Avenue make those???
Thank’s for that article. Very clear & good informations.
I have a 5s and I’ve had some of my photos printed off and matt laminated on press-board and they’ve turned out fantastic. The last bunch I actually had printed off at Costco (as my previous print source company sold off their business) and not only was Costco inexpensive the quality was very good, too.
I’ve also imported them into PS Elements 11 (on my MBP) and resized them, adjusting the DPI so that the clarity in the larger prints to something like 200 to 320 dpi for a print size of 12″x12″ or 16″x20″
Carolyn Leyboldt says
Finally found the answers to all the questions I had about print quality from a 6s. I’m a little disappointed that my 20×20 photos won’t be of “excellent” quality, but I think t can live with “fair” if I choose the right photos for my wall, which will be viewed from a distance. Thanks for the excellent article though.
Laine Rudolfa says
I’m glad that the print issue has sorted out for you, Carolyn! 🙂
Hi. I have printed pictures from my iPhone at target. The quality is very poor, even on just a 4×6. Is it target, or is it me? Thank you
Laine Rudolfa says
If your photos where in a decent quality and size, then the prints should look fine. You should definitely check the table in the article to see, how large you can print your photos. 🙂
Chari Pack says
Target prints dry (inkjet) now
If only Weston had had an IPhone 6s, he could’ve dumped that bulky Seneca 8×10 camera and tripod. Instead of Pepper #30 he would’ve had Pepper #3,769… on Facebook, to boot! Adams could’ve popped out Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico in 6 seconds!!!! AND they could’ve sent I-messages to each other while they were doing it. Dang it.
Hi! One thing you haven’t mentioned which is really important is how much an image degrades in quality every time you work on it with editing apps and filters and save. Please can you (or anyone here) enlarge on that…
Lisa Jo Rudy says
good topic! I will add it to the editorial list.
Dan Frankel says
I use my phone pics for sharing only. I use a regular camera for prints.Much better quality even in a point and shoot.
Lisa Jo Rudy says
That would certainly be the case if you have a high end DSLR, though the iPhone is a better lens than many of the low end stand-alone digital cameras.
Curious – If the largest print size for an image taken on an iPhone 6s is 28×19 and that’s for fair quality, how is Apple making giant billboards on the side of buildings promoting photos that were “shot on iPhone 6s? Is this false advertising on part of Apple?
I’m no expert, but I imagine they probably use a very high end suit of photo editing programs along with professionals who really know what they are doing. Financially difficult (re-impossible) on the users part, but not an out right deception on their part.
The perceived quality of an image depends on the viewing distance. Since billboards are typically viewed from a great distance, as compared to typical prints, they can look good at much lower resolution.
Heinrich Adlerflugel says
I’m trying to make a scrapbook for my girlfriend of pictures of us for our 3 year anniversary, but a lot of really great pictures are on my iPhone 6s.
May someone please point me in the right direction about where a good place would be to be able to print them off?
Kate Wesson says
You can make lovely photo books with the Printastic app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/printastic-create-photo-books/id966233845?mt=8
Here’s an article we wrote about Printastic: http://iphonephotographyschool.com/printastic-app/
I am planning to gift a print of a picture that my daughter had taken with her iPhone 6s. I want this to be a surprise so I need her to send the picture to me. I have an iPhone 6. Will the print be poorer quality(8 megapixels) as it is being sent to be print from my phone, the 6. Or will it stay at the 12 megapixels of her 6s phone?
Thank you so very much for sharing your knowledge and talent. Seeing your photos is pure joy.
Thank you for sharing information about iPhone printing services, and for sharing some of your excellent photos.
As suggested by the results obtained by these services when printing iPhone photos at larger sizes, there is more to perceived image quality on prints than simply megapixels.
While it is true that pixels would become larger, and become visible at the intended viewing distance creating a “pixelated” image, if individual pixels were simply magnified as the image is made larger for printing, modern printer software avoids this effect by interpolating (smoothing) between pixels. In addition, dedicated software such as Genuine Fractals (now incorporated in onOne Photo) is specifically designed to optimize image enlargement for large prints.
Remember that just a few years ago 12 megapixels in a high-end DSL camera was considered more than adequate, and many photographers were creating beautiful large high end artistic prints of excellent quality from images obtained with these cameras.
Provided that the lighting is adequate, iPhone images can be enlarged just as much. The only additional limitation introduced by the smaller pixels on the iPhone sensor relates to image noise in low light. To the extent that the noise cannot be fully corrected, it will be more apparent and degrade quality on larger prints.
To truly understand the relationship among print image size, quality, resolution, and pixelation, it is important to distinguish the size and number of pixels on the image sensor, the size and number of pixels in the object imaged, the pixel dimensions and depth in the original image, the pixel dimensions and depth of the enlarged digital image prior to printing, the image noise, and the available resolution (dpi number and accuracy of dot placement) of the printer for the combination of paper and ink utilized.
A final point is that the inherent resolution of an image (ability to separate small details that are close together, as measured in line pairs per inch and perceived as sharpness versus fuzziness) is determined by the size of the object and the number of pixels originally obtained to represent it. This inherent resolution cannot be improved by minifying an image, nor is it degraded by magnifying the image.
Roni McFadden says
I have a 6s. I just made a photo book with snapfish, and with most of the photos a warning sign would come up saying low resolution image may be blurry.. True some of those images were edited and cropped. But the majority were not. I made the book anyway and most pics are fine. Also there are pics on my phone for a newspaper article and they said they are not big enough. What do I do about that?
I so want to only use my phone for pictures. But it needs to be flexible for my different needs. I am an amateur. I can’t even seem to get all of my pics on my computer now that Picassa has stopped working in favor of Google Photos. Can’t get iCloud to work ectc.
Okay rant over. But can anyone explain these things to me?
Kate Wesson says
Hi Roni. Did the newspaper specify what size the images should be? The iPhone 6s has a 12 megapixel camera that produces images 4288 x 2848 pixels. Obviously if you’ve cropped the image, this resolution will be reduced.
Roni McFadden says
Well of course I can’t find the message. But I know she said this was 77.5 KB. I have no idea what that means or how to change it. She said it was too small for quality pic in paper. Is there a way to change it? I am trying so hard to learn all of this.
Roni McFadden says
She said this pic needed to be larger than the 77.5 KB that it is. I have no idea what that means or how to change
it. She said it was too small for quality pic in paper. Is there
a way to change it? I am trying so hard to learn all of this.
Kate Wesson says
Hi Roni. It sounds like you weren’t sending them the original photo (which should probably be around 4000KB). KB refers to the amount of storage space the image takes up on the phone or computer. It sounds like they have received a much smaller, compressed version of the image. How did you send them the photo? Was it via email? If so, make sure you select to send it at “original” size. It’s difficult for me to know why the file is so small without knowing details such as which camera app you shot the photo with, which editing app you edited it with, whether you cropped it much, how you sent the photo to the newspaper, etc.
Steve Overby says
Another great lesson
Kate Wesson says
Glad you found it helpful Steve.
Bonnie Cuddihy says
Check your aspect ratio. Your photo as taken might be a different “proportion” than the finished print or paper. It’s good to know your camera and what you see on the screen vs. a printed size.
Ardys Zoellner says
Excellent information in this article. Many thanks.
Kate Wesson says
Glad to hear you found this helpful Ardys 🙂
Thank you for this. Can a Walgreens print, too? Or has to be one of those mediums you suggested?
Virender Sangwan says
Its Very informative Content.
Kate Wesson says
Glad you found the information useful Virender.
Joanna Proffitt says
GREAT article! Thank you!
but… please can you tell me why, when I import an original iphone photo into photoshop, it shows up relatively small, and when I look at image size in the settings, it’s at only 72dpi but around 43 x 43cm in size. Does it mean we are always printing from a 72dpi? When I zoom in it gets pixellated pretty quickly. This has always confused me.. Do I need to change it to 300dpi? I like to play around with my photos in Photoshop, but I thought I needed them at 300 dpi to get a good quality print. I have a iphone 6s.
Kate Wesson says
When you go to print a photo, always check the ppi setting in the print options – if you want a high quality print, then yes, you should change it to around 300ppi. Printing at 72ppi will give you a large print but it won’t be good quality. Changing to 300ppi will result in a smaller print but much better quality. Hope that helps 🙂
Simeon Nartoomid says
The 72dpi you see in PS and the size 43cm x 43cm are relative. If you change it to 300dpi then the size will become much smaller. With an image as large as 43cm PS is scaling it down for display on-screen, you can scale it up. In the end what matters is what settings you use to print the photo, and yes, 300dpi is what you want. On your 43cm square @ 72dpi photo that would result in a photo print 10.3cm square on paper.
I need to have 300dpi print quality. I have an iPhone 6 (8 megapixel) – I also keep seeing 72ppi in photoshop. What process should I use to take photos with my iPhone and maintain 300ppi professional quality?
Kate Wesson says
Hi, all you need to do is ensure you have 300ppi selected when you go to print the image.
Great article. Thank you!
N Marks says
This is great. Question please: We are running a contest at work and winners will have their work hung in the building. We were thinking of photos as large as 16 x 20 or 20 x 30. Most people will be using Iphones to take the photos. Is there any way an Iphone photo can be printed that large? And would it help or hurt if we considered printing them on metal vs conventional framing. Thanks!
Em Kay says
My photos are very blurry even at 4×6. DPI is only 72; anything I can do to make them more printable? The image info in Irfanview says print size from DPI is 86.4 x 115.1 cm; 34.00 x 45.33 inches. Size of the image is 2448 x 3264 pixels. Anything i can do to get decent small prints out of these images? They’re from an iPhone 5 if that makes a difference.
Arline Vinson says
Truly appreciate this information. I’ve not had any photos printed. I’m glad to know my 6s+ will provide nice prints. Thank you.
Frangie W says
I have a 35mm w/Film. If I have it developed at Walgreens, walmart, CVS.
the photo’s look a little washed out. if I have them developed at a genuine camera store, the photos come out very clear and with great color.
Is this true with Digital photos ?
Tricia Sutton says
according to the charts above I should be able to make canvas prints of my paintings. Yet I joined Red Bubble just for that reason and they say phone pics are not accepted for prints bigger than a sticker. I asked around to other art printing communities and they all agree that phone pics are unacceptable. I have an Iphone 6s and have taken pics of every painting I did on them. And then I varnished them (you shouldn’t photograph a varnished painting due to glare). I also sold most of them and would like to start selling prints. It’s discouraging to find out I can’t sell prints of any of my past artwork due to using an Iphone. Yet you mention you sell framed prints at art shows. How big? bigger than a sticker as that’s the max size these prints companies will allow.
PS. the link to Artwork Avenue goes to related links as if they are out of business
Excellent article! Thanks so much for ALL this information! You explained DPI perfectly because I need to use portraits of people for printing on book covers!