HEIF vs. HEIC: What Are Them & What You Should Know About Them


New file formats are emerging that help to provide better quality, compression, and efficiency. Among them are HEIF and HEIC. These formats are becoming more popular because they can change how we store, capture and share images. Apple is replacing JPEG images with HEIF or HEIC. A lot of Apple users are finding this very beneficial. This is because these image formats are designed to use less space and still retain high-quality images. This post explores everything you need to know about HEIF vs. HEIC.

heif vs heic


Part 1. Basic Info About HEIF File Format

Not sure what HEIF is? Check below to understand better this important file format:

1.1 What Is HEIF Image Format?

HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format) is a new photo format that uses advanced codecs for efficient management. Designed to be efficient and lightweight, the HEIF format stores high-quality images but with reduced size than JPEG (old version). This means that the HEIF file format is better when compared to JPEG. HEIF utilizes the H.265 or HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Compression) video format used on the new iPhone.

The HEIF format was produced by Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) in 2015, and many phone manufacturers have adopted it, including Apple, Canon, and Microsoft. Apple made HEIF file format available with iOS 11 in 2017, allowing images to take up less space on iOS devices. The latest version of iPads and iPhones now uses HEIC as the default image format.

Except for those with smartphones with Android version 9 and above, Android users cannot use this HEIF technology. According to Apple and MPEG, the size of the HEIF image format is half that of a JPEG image file while maintaining the same quality. HEIF images are not only good in terms of size and quality, they have additional features that are not found in JPEG format. This includes 16-bit color, transparency, and also animations like GIFs.

1.2 What Kinds of Data Can HEIF Store?

HEIF is a container format that stores image sequences and individual digital images. It may also store other media streams, including video, audio, and timed text. When you compare the HEIF format with other image file formats, it can hold various image types and data, such as:

  • Still images.
  • Sequences of images allowing for the creation of animations or image sequences.
  • Burst photos, which are multiple photos captured in rapid succession.
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) images which capture a wider range of brightness and color compared to standard images.
  • Depth maps along with corresponding images.
  • Audio data within its container enabling the synchronization of audio with image sequences.

Part 2. Basic Info About HEIC File Format

Below is the basic information about the HEIC file, what it does, and more. Check out:

2.1 What Is HEIC Image Format?

what is heic

When taking a photo with your Apple iPad or iPhone, you will find that the photo will be saved with (.HEIC) file extension format. What does it mean? The HEIC (High-Efficiency Image Container) is a file container or extension that holds HEIF sounds and images encoded with HEVC format. It may contain one or several images, with metadata describing each image. This file format was introduced when Apple decided to make this the default format when saving images on macOS High Sierra or iOS 11. If you take an image using your iPhone with Live Photos enabled, it will generate a HEIC file that stores several images.

Some operating systems, such as Android and Windows, do not support this file extension format. Therefore, you must first convert the HEIC image to JPEG file format to be compatible with non-Apple devices.

2.2 What Kinds of Data Can HEIC Store?

There're no inherent differences in the data types that HEIF and HEIC can store. HEIC is simply a file extension used to indicate that the file is compliant with the HEIF standard. The capabilities and types of data that can be stored are the same for both formats.

Also read:

[iOS 11] How to Disable High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF)?

How to Download HEIF Images from iPhone to Mac/PC?

Part 3. How to View HEIC & HEIF Files?

how to view heif

HEIC files have many advantages, one of which is that they take up less space on your device. Although the latest iOS and macOS devices have bigger storage space, it will never be enough to keep all your data. Therefore, any idea to minimize file space will be highly appreciated.

The problem is that not everyone uses Apple devices. Some individuals love using devices with other operating systems, such as Android and Windows. However, if you are glued to Apple devices, you just need to make sure that your iPhone has the latest iOS version, and you will be able to open HEIF easily. However, if you have not updated your iOS version, viewing HEIC and HEIF Files will be difficult.

To learn more about how to open HEIC files on a Windows computer, read this guide >

Directly Open HEIC File on Windows Computer in 6 Effective Ways

Part 4. Operating System Compatibility of HEIC & HEIF

The best thing is that both Microsoft and Apple support the HEIF images in their operating systems. This makes opening and viewing them super easy. All iPhones on iOS 11 and newer versions can software-decode HEIC images and HEIF content. However, only Apple devices with an A9 chip can open HEIF images. To view 8-bit video content and HEIC photos on Mac, the device must have newer CPUs and use Intel's 6th Generation. For 10-bit video content, the device should have newer Intel CPUs and use Intel's 7th Generation.

use heif or hevc media on ios

If you have a computer that runs on Windows, you have to update your Windows operating system to the latest version to be able to open the HEIF file. Third-party post-processing tools and Internet browsers do not support viewing HEIF photos and content. Unless you use an application such as Affinity Photo or Lightroom, you need to wait until your favorite software supports software decodes HEIC files later. Meanwhile, you can use third-party tools to convert your HEIF image to another file format that supports your browser, e.g., JPEG.

More relevant articles:

How to Convert HEIC/HEIF Images to JPG/JPEG Format? [Free]

[Simple Guide] How to Recover HEIF (.heic) Images on iPhone and iPad?

Part 5. Pros & Cons of HEIC & HEIF File Formats

5.1 Pros of HEIF

  • HEIF files are smaller in size compared to JPEG.
  • Advanced compression algorithms, such as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding), achieving significantly better compression efficiency compared to JPEG.
  • Support a wider color gamut and higher dynamic range, allowing it to capture and display a broader range of colors and tones.
  • HEIF is a container format that can accommodate various types of data beyond images, such as audio, text, and depth maps.
  • Both lossless and lossy compression supported.
  • Built-in support for generating thumbnails and previews without decoding the entire image.
  • Store multiple images, including image sequences and image collections, in a single file.

5.2 Cons of HEIF

heif not supported

  • Not universally supported across all platforms, software, and devices. Even major web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Apple Safari do not open HEIF files.
  • HEIF employs advanced compression techniques that allow for efficient storage of both images and videos. However, this compression is lossy.
  • Complexity of the data stored - making it more challenging to implement and work with HEIF files. It may require specialized software.
  • Patent and licensing concerns, which may lead to potential legal or licensing issues for software developers and users who want to incorporate or use HEIF in their applications.
  • You can't print the HEIF file since printer manufacturers do not support it.

5.3 Pros of HEIC

  • Higher compression efficiency compared to JPEG.
  • Improved image quality.
  • Smaller file size.
  • Support for advanced features such as transparency, alpha channels, and depth maps.
  • Store various types of data beyond images.
  • Initially adopted by Apple devices.

5.4 Cons of HEIC

heic not supported

  • Similar to HEIF, not universally supported across all platforms and devices.
  • Similar to HEIF, the compression of photos is lossy, meaning some data is discarded during the compression process.
  • Limited editing options, especially when it comes to third-party software or online image editing tools.
  • Inconvenient for users who regularly share or exchange images with others who do not have HEIC-compatible devices or software.


Without a doubt, HEIF is an excellent file format when compared to PNG, GIF, JPEG, and other file formats. It is a versatile format and can store all kinds of media. It also has a superb compression level making it smaller than other image formats like JPEG while retaining high-quality image levels.

Related Articles:

[Solved] 5 Ways to Convert HEIC to JPG in Google Photos

How to Convert HEIC to JPG on Windows 11/10/8/7 PC

CopyTrans HEIC Review: Is CopyTrans HEIC Safe, Free, and Best to Use?

Convert Photos from HEIC to JPG on iPhone: Things You Need to Know

5 Ways to Batch Convert HEIC to JPG in 2023

iMazing HEIC Converter Review & Its 7 Alternatives

    HEIC Converter     HEIF vs. HEIC: What Are Them & What You Should Know About Them
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Batch convert HEIC to JPG/JPEG/PNG without losing image quality.
Keep the image EXIF info and adjust image quality if needed.
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