Tip: use Messages low quality image mode to conserve precious cellular data

iOS 10 Lock screen Messages notification 3D Touch iPhone screenshot 001

Apple’s Messages app provides an optional iOS-only mode which cuts down your cellular data consumption to a bare minimum when sending image attachments. I don’t know about you, but I worry about sharing high-resolution images when cellular data is on. In my experience, most normals are oblivious to the fact that sending a single shot-on-iPhone photograph through iMessage burns through one to five megabytes of data, sometimes even more.

In low quality mode, Messages uses only 100KB per image attachment. Another way to think about it: you can send 30 to 50 images for the same amount of data required to share a full-resolution attachment in Messages. In this brief tutorial, we’ll teach you how to tell Messages to send lower quality images in order to optimize your cellular data consumption and prevent unwanted overage fees.

How to enable low quality image mode in Messages

1) Go to Settings → Messages on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

2) Flip the Low Quality Image Mode knob to the ON position.


“When this is on, images sent will be lower quality,” states Apple.

You can now attach photos to iMessages as you normally would—be it directly from within the Messages app or from other apps, using iOS’s multi-purposes Share sheets—and trust iOS to automatically rescale them before they’re sent.

Don’t worry, this mode has no bearing on the images stored in your photo library: it most definitely will not downscale or overwrite full-resolution shots stored in the Photos app.

RELATED: iOS 10 Messages low quality mode uses circa 100KB per sent image

Messages intelligently adjusts both image resolution and compression quality on the fly to keep the attachment at or slightly above 100KB. The exact file size of the sent image is contingent upon the quality and resolution of the original photo.

In my tests, none of my friends could tell any difference in quality between the original resolution photos I shared with them and their downsampled counterparts I sent in low quality mode unless they zoomed in.

As Apple clearly states, this mode only applies to sent, not received images. If you want to receive lower-quality images, too, ask the sender to enable Low Quality Image Mode on their end.

How do you like this tip? Can you think of a few scenarios where you’d want to enable this mode? If so, share them with the iDownloadBlog community in the comments.