AAE files are a type of sidecar file that is created by the Photos app on iPhones and iPads. These files contain metadata about changes made to a photo using the editing tools in the Photos app, such as adjustments to exposure, color, and cropping.
When you make changes to a photo in the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad, the app creates an AAE file alongside the original image. This file is used to preserve the original photo and the changes you have made separately, so that you can undo or modify the changes at any time.
AAE files are small and typically not visible unless you are browsing the files on your iPhone or iPad with a file manager app. If you delete an AAE file, it will not affect the original photo, but it will delete the editing history associated with the photo.
If you have edited a large number of photos and want to free up storage space on your iPhone or iPad, you can delete the AAE files without affecting the original images. However, keep in mind that doing so will prevent you from undoing the changes you have made to those photos using the Photos app. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep the AAE files unless you are sure that you no longer need them.