Your iPhone 14 Pro’s High-Quality Photos May Take Longer to Transfer

It's the price you pay for better pictures

  • Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max can take 48-megapixel ProRAW photos—four times as many pixels as iPhone 13 models.
  • Full-resolution ProRAW photos taken with the iPhone 14 Pro can be large, sometimes coming close to 100MB per file.
  • The new iPhones continue to use Lightning cables, and their slow data transfer speed means transferring 48-megapixel ProRAW photos may take a while.
An attendee holds a new Apple iPhone 14 Pro during an Apple special event on September 07, 2022 in Cupertino, California

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Apple's new high-end iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max can take 48-megapixel ProRAW photos with file sizes sometimes nudging 100MB, but its reliance on Lightning cables makes transferring those images to a computer time-consuming.

While competing smartphones use USB-C cables that handle faster charging and speedier data transfer, Apple's continued use of Lightning means speeds top out at around 480Mbps (60MBps). That means anyone who takes a lot of high-resolution photos on an iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max will find themselves waiting a bit when offloading them to a computer for editing.

"I have definitely heard some murmurs about Lightning-based syncing bottlenecking file transfers," camera app developer Sebastiaan de With told Lifewire via direct message. "It's kind of a 'luxury problem.' Now that we have very large, detailed files, we have to transfer them, the regular wired connection is slower than before as a result."

A Very Specific Problem

Experts agree that transferring files as large as those created by an iPhone 14 Pro could take some considerable time to transfer, especially when full 48-megapixel ProRAW images are used.

"USB 2.0 (the protocol Lightning uses) has a transfer speed of roughly 60MBps, which means that one image in full resolution and ProRAW format from the iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max will take one second to transfer," Brandon Wilkes, marketing manager at The Big Phone Store told Lifewire via email. And that's being conservative, some reports say the files are even larger.

"In isolation," Wilkes continues, "this does not sound particularly slow; but in professional use cases such as photoshoots or instances in which large blocks of images need to be transferred from the device to a PC, the time will quickly add up with a minute wait for each one of 60 images to be transferred."

But while that's true, some photographers don't believe that many people use iPhones for professional photoshoots.

"As a photographer, the iPhone was never a true tool for most applications," Patrick Nugent, head photographer and owner of Camera 1 Corporate Photographers, told Lifewire via email. "It is an excellent asset for creating behind-the-scenes content, or quick videos, GIFs, and Reels to go along with professional content, but as a camera [the iPhone] has many, many limitations."

Freelance photographer Kari Thorleifsson agreed when asked by Lifewire via email, saying that while Apple's camera improvements are "a step in that direction," the iPhone isn't ready to replace dedicated cameras just yet. With that in mind, just how many photographers does the slow transfer speed really impact?

A (Temporary) Solution

For now, many iPhone photographers make do with wireless connections like AirDrop to transfer files, something de With confirmed during conversations with Lifewire. 

"A good solution in the interim is wireless transfers; they tend to be faster than USB2 for me," he said, adding that a "better solution in the future will have to be a faster (Thunderbolt, preferably) port and faster device-to-device wireless." A Thunderbolt connection would allow photos to transfer at up to 40Gbps, for example.

Now that we have very large, detailed files, we have to transfer them, and the regular wired connection is slower than before as a result.

Apple is already rumored to be readying a switch to a new cable, possibly as soon as next year. New EU legislation is set to force Apple to use USB-C soon enough, with the knock-on effect likely to be faster file transfers for those who need it. Most USB-C connections would be faster than Lightning, but Thunderbolt would also be an option since it uses the same connector and cable as USB-C—possibly opening the door to that 40Gbps connection mentioned earlier.

No matter which method people use to send files, experts agree that iPhones are better cameras than ever before. But those file sizes are an unfortunate result.

"Shooting images in ProRAW format on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max camera may offer increased sharpness and a greater range of adjustments," added Wilkes, but for now, "it's a matter of weighing up the perceived benefits of greater image quality and adjustments vs. ease of use in terms of transfer times."

With a faster cable likely to be used in the near future, maybe we could have both.

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