Of course everything depends on how good your connection is.  If you have a decent 3-4 bars out of 5, you’re in a good spot.   Stand still Don’t move!!

So once you have a decent connection how long does images take to upload or download?

First calculating the size…..

How to figure out how many bits in any file/image/video?

Whether it be pictures, files or video, computer coverts all of it to bits particularly when transmitting them.  Just like you can’t move an entire lake from one location to another, it has to be moved in pieces.

Let’s take a typical 3 megapixel image from the iPhone 3GS.  The 3 megapixel picture is 2,048 pixel wide by 1,536 pixels tall.

So you take 2,048 pixels x 1,536 pixels = 3,145,728 bytes

1 byte are made up of 8 bits.  So because of that it needs to be converted with this formula: 
3,145,728 bytes  x 8 bits = 25,165,824 total bits for a typical 3 megapixel image.

This same calculations can be done for anything digital files.

Upload speeds for posting pictures in particular:

Megapixels: Picture size /
Total bits
2G
(36.6Kbit/s)
3G
(512Kbit/s)
4G
(1Mbit/s)
 *Ideal *
(10Mbit/s)
Technologies   EDGE LTE
HSPA
HSPA+
LTE Adv
WiMAX
LTE Adv
0.1 320 x 240
(614,000 bits)
16 secs 1.2 secs 0.6 secs 0.06 secs
0.3 640 x 480
(2,457,600 bits )
67 secs 4.8 secs 2.4 secs 0.25 secs
1.3 1280 x 1024
(10,485,760 bits)
286 secs /
5 mins
20 secs 10 secs 1.0 secs
2.0 1600 x 1200
(15,360,000 bits)
420 secs /
7 mins
30 secs 15 secs 1.5 secs
3.0 2048 × 1536
(25,165,824 bits)
687 secs /
11 mins
49 secs 25 secs 2.3 secs
5.3 2580 × 2048
(42,270,720bits)
1,154 secs /
19 mins
82 secs 41 secs 4.2 secs
8.0 3264 x 2448
(63,922,176bits)
1,746 secs /
29 mins
124 secs 62 secs 6.4 secs

 

Download speeds for getting pictures in particular:
(download speeds are generally given more bandwidth so you will get things faster than you can upload)

Megapixels: Picture size /
Total bits
2G
(115.6Kbit/s)
3G
(1Mbit/s)
4G
(2Mbit/s)
 *Ideal *
(10Mbit/s)
Technologies   EDGE LTE
HSPA
HSPA+
LTE Adv
WiMAX
LTE Adv
0.1 320 x 240
(614,000bits)
5.3 secs 0.6 secs 0.3 secs 0.06 secs
0.3 640 x 480
(2,457,600bits )
21 secs 2.4 secs 1.2 secs 0.25 secs
1.3 1280 x 1024
(10,485,760bits)
91 secs 10 secs 5 secs 1.0 secs
2.0 1600 x 1200
(15,360,000bits)
133 secs /
2 mins
15 secs 7.5 secs 1.5 secs
3.0 2048 × 1536
(25,165,824bits)
218 secs /
4 mins
25 secs 12 secs 2.3 secs
5.3 2580 × 2048
(42,270,720bits)
367 secs /
5 days
41 secs 20 secs 4.2 secs
8.0 3264 x 2448
(63,922,176bits)
555 secs /
20 years
62 secs 31 secs 6.4 secs

 

In Conclusion:  All this information is good to know but hard to put into practice.    And because every picture you take has unknown once in a life time potential.  You should always take pictures at their highest quality setting. 

So consider the following:

  • Always take pictures at their highest resolution but when uploading to services like Facebook / Path / Google Plus etc.  shrink the size of the image to 2 mega pixel.
  • Whenever you can, wait to do heavy bandwidth activities like uploading and downloading large digital files until you get onto WiFi where you can typically get 10x the transfer rate and it’s free!!
  • Always make sure you have at least 3-4 bars before even trying to upload or download large digital files.

Most good services like Intagram, Pinterest and such do what’s called thumbnailing.   So when you upload your image they will make multiple sizes of your image so you can get the best experiences on your mobile device when you try to download and view it.   The thumbnails are typically 128 pixel by 128 pixels which is about the size of a large avatar.  That can be downloaded in seconds if not almost instantly.  Where you have to then click to request the final full image.  

So your download / viewing experiences is affected by these following things:

  1. Sophistication of the service you’re using.  ie. websites that knows you’re browsing from a mobile device and gives you thumbnails instead of the large original but most websites do not do this.  However most dedicated mobiles do.
  2. Whether you’re viewing it from a browser or an app.   Browser is less likely to resize the images before giving it to you versus a dedicated mobile app designed from the beginning to give you the best mobile experience will use thumbnail technique so you can browse quickly
  3. And of course if you’re connected to the fastest possible connection like 4G with LTE or WiMax vs just 3G with no enhancement technologies like LTE or HSPA.

-Nurdologist