Instagram confirms it’s (finally) doubling the dimensions of images uploaded to its service

by Gannon Burgett

posted Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 1:49 PM EDT

First reported by The Verge, Instagram has now confirmed it’s increasing the size of images uploaded to the Facebook-owned social network; a long overdue change, as smartphones have grown in resolution exponentially since Instagram was founded in October of 2010.

Photos from Instagram will now measure in at 1080 x 1080 pixels (1.2-megapixels) -- still small by most standards, but a substantial upgrade from the thumbnail-sized 640 x 640 pixel (.4-megapixel) resolution Instagram photos have been restrained to for almost five years now. Instagram says the resolution update will be gradually rolling out on both iOS and Android.

The reasoning behind keeping the resolution at ‘only’ 1080 x 1080 pixels is unknown, but it’s likely due to bandwidth and subsequent performance. Considering Instagram has always been a mobile-first app, the development team has made sure to keep the experience as fast and smooth as possible.

Increasing the resolution of images by 440 pixels in both dimensions might not seem like that big of a deal, but that’s almost twice the processing time for uploading. And for a team that spent an unimaginable amount of time cleverly uploading images just to make the upload experience a few milliseconds faster, it’s no surprise they take this increase in resolution seriously.

Something else to take into account is the amount of storage this will take up. Storage is cheaper than ever, but with over 58 million photos being uploaded to Instagram’s servers every day, that’s an extra ~29-terabytes worth of images stored each day, assuming the file size of an Instagram photo increases from ~500KB to ~1MB (although it's safe to assume Instagram has a very efficient compression algorithm that ensures the size isn’t quite doubled). In a year, that’s roughly 10.5-petabytes of extra storage.

All in all, it’s a welcomed change for all Instagram users. No update or download is needed for this change to go in effect; it will roll out in whatever version of the app you’re currently running.