I have an iPhone. With a USB connection, I can use tools such as Macroplant iExplorer or Apple's Image Capture to transfer files from the iPhone to my computer. When I transfer files over USB, the file modification times are preserved.
crisp:test2 work$ stat -F IMG_3134.jpg -rw------- 1 work staff 2039650 Jun 7 11:21:38 2015 IMG_3134.jpg
I also have many old iTunes backups, which iTunes stores here:
iTunes encodes the backups using some voodoo, and so tools such as iPhone Backup Extractor or the python tools by Padraig Kennedy (http://supercrazyawesome.com) are required to unpack the system files from the backup archive.
The files these tools produce do not preserve file modification times, because as they unpack the archives, they create new files.
crisp:test2 work$ stat -F IMG_3796.JPG -rw------- 1 work staff 942653 Sep 25 17:31:33 2015 IMG_3796.JPG
My question is, does iTunes preserve file modification times in these backup archives, either in the archive itself, or in some sort of database? Is it a shortcoming of these tools that they do not preserve/restore the timestamps? Is there a way to extract the mdbackup files that preserves this data?