iPhone 4S Taking Pictures Upside Down?

So here’s an interesting issue with either the iPhone 4S or iOS5: when you take a picture using the volume up button and then try to view it in a third-party program or on certain websites, the picture is either upside down or it’s rotated 90 degrees (sideways) in the wrong direction!

I just found this out because I normally only take pictures with my iPhone 4S using the virtual button on the phone. However, I decided to finally give the volume button a shot to see if it was easier and I liked it quite a bit. Anyway, I downloaded the pics to iPhoto and everything looked fine on my phone and on my Mac. Then I emailed them to some family and they told me some of the pictures were either upside down or half rotated from the correct angle.

I didn’t believe them at first and figured they must have done some wrong, but then I downloaded the pictures onto my Windows 7 machine and lo and behold, the pictures were upside down!!! Weirdest thing I had ever seen so far in dealing with my phone. I’ve taking thousands of pictures and I never ran into this situation. It’s probably because I use a Mac and so the photos are never opened on anything other than Apple products. However, when you use Windows or even upload those pictures to other sites like Picasa or Flickr, they have this strange rotating problem.

After doing some research, I learned that it’s been around for a while and no one is really sure if it’s Apple’s fault or problems with how third-party software interprets the data in the photo. Basically, every photo has some metadata that contains information about the picture like the camera, shutter speed, date and time, orientation, etc. This is called EXIF or Exchangeable Image File Format.


The orientation is the key problem with the iPhone 4S or with iOS 5.

Since it’s a few feature of iOS 5, it could be an issue with the software. I personally have only tested this on a iPhone 4S since that’s what I have, but it could be a problem on any device running iOS 5. Let us know in the comments if you are having this issue with a different phone or device.

Also, it seems that even some videos taken with the iPhone 4S are upside down when you watch them on a Windows machine:

upside down

So what’s the solution? Nothing really! Well at least there is not much you can do. In whatever way iOS 5 records the orientation of the photo, it’s either not according to the EXIF standard or it’s using some very latest EXIF standard that certain programs like Windows Paint don’t incorporate yet.

Here are a couple of solutions I have managed to figure out so far:

1. Sync it to iPhoto and then email the picture from iPhoto. For some reason, when you do this, the picture shows up right in Windows.

2. Enable Photostream. Then once you take the picture, wait for it to go into the Photostream. Then email the photo from the photo stream instead of your camera roll. Again, the picture shows up fine when I email it from the Photostream rather than from the Camera Roll.

3. Download an app like SnapBot from the App Store and send the pictures from there. They also show up fine sending them this way.

In conclusion, it seems like it is some sort of bug with iOS 5 as it doesn’t happen with all pictures and if you do these strange workarounds, then the problem also does not occur. And I can’t imagine that many third-party apps/services reading EXIF data incorrectly. Enjoy!

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