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Your iPhone Pro camera has a professional RAW mode — here's how to turn it on

An iPhone being held up to take a photo
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you're not sure why you'd want to take RAW photos on iPhone, you soon will be. By default, your iPhone saves images as HEIC files once you press the shutter, although many people change their default photo format to JPEG, which allows more compatibility than HEIC when opening images on other devices. With an HEIC or JPEG file, the phone has compressed the image file, so it takes up less space, effectively eliminating lots of image data and sacrificing quality.

While you won't notice the quality difference unless looking very closely, the removal of image data gives you very little flexibility when editing your photos, as your image file will not contain as much color data for making color corrections, nor as wide dynamic range for adjusting highlights and shadows.

With a RAW file, you have what your camera's sensor saw, with no parameters modified (or at least very few) and minimal or no compression, meaning more of the image's original data exists. What this means is that you have much more freedom with a RAW file to edit an image, adjusting its parameters and changing the things you don't like.

For anyone who likes editing their images, having the ability to take RAW photos on iPhone is great, and another reason why Apple devices are often considered among the best phones. What's more, it's super easy to set your iPhone camera to RAW mode, so if you're interested in doing so, all you need to do is read on.

Before we get started, we should note that this feature is only available on the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

How to take RAW photos on iPhone

1. Open Settings, then scroll down and select Camera.

(Image credit: Future)

2. Tap Formats.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Under Photo Capture, tap the Apple ProRAW switch to toggle it on. 

(Image credit: Future)

4. Open the Camera app and tap the RAW icon, top right. When you first open the camera the icon will feature a strikethrough. When tapped the strikethrough will disappear, signifying that you are taking photos in RAW mode.

(Image credit: Future)

You're now taking photos in ProRAW. If storage space is a concern on your device, bear in mind that each RAW photo will take up around 25MB of space, compared to the 1MB that HEIC files use. You may need to upgrade your iCloud storage if you plan on taking lots of photos in RAW.

After taking your RAW photos, the next step is to get editing. Thankfully, we have a range of Adobe Photoshop tutorials to help you get started with that too, so why not check out how to add a border in Photoshop, how to add a background in Photoshop and how to add a drop shadow in Photoshop.

Having trouble opening HEIC files on you computer? Make sure you read how to open HEIC file on Windows. Want to blur the background of an iPhone photo? You'll want to read how to blur the backgrounds of iPhone photos.

Fancy learning some more general iPhone tips? Start with how to set a ringtone on iPhone and how to transfer data from iPhone to iPhone.

Peter Wolinski
How-to Editor

Peter is the How To Editor at Tom's Guide. As a writer, he covers topics including tech, photography, gaming, hardware, motoring and food & drink. Outside of work, he can usually be found telling everyone about his greyhounds, obsessively detailing his car, squeezing as many FPS as possible out of PC games, and perfecting his espresso shots.