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The next mobile battleground is video recording, and the iPhone is still way ahead

iPhone 13 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Pixel 5 Videography Hero
iPhone 13 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Pixel 5 Videography Hero (Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

For the most part, no matter what smartphone you buy, it's probably capable of snapping some pretty great pictures. And if you jump into the cameras Pro Mode, you can practically remove the need for using a DSLR thanks to the upgrades we've seen in both the actual sensors and software processing. So it doesn't matter whether it's the iPhone 13 Pro Max or the OnePlus 9 Pro — the smartphone market has almost plateaued.

It's part of the reason why we're seeing more companies focus on "gimmicky" features like being able to snap photos of the moon. Now, I'm not 100% convinced that there isn't some black magic going on to turn a picture of a potato in the sky into an actual clear image of the man on the moon. But I digress.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Long Term Review Camera

Source: Andrew Myrick / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Photography on mobile devices reached its peak, at least until newer camera sensors are developed for smartphones. So what's next? In my opinion, it's videography.

Gone are the days where you have to use a compact camera to record your kids playing or just to record something else that's memorable. Instead, the compact camera lives in your pocket or bag and fires up in no time. And even though we have phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra that can record 8K video, it's not the greatest experience to do so.

Video recording has its series of limitations, and unless you opt for a specific device like the Sony Xperia 1 III with its multitude of camera features, your videos might fall a bit short. We're living in an age where anyone can just hit record on their phones and upload a video to YouTube. TikTok is all the rage now, and it doesn't look like it's slowing down anytime soon.

Video recording on Android is ... not great

Google Pixel 5a

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Moving past that, though, we're at a bit of an impasse on the Android side of things. Most recently, the Pixel 5a went through a bit of controversy, as Google's latest device suffered from overheating issues when recording 4K video. As a result, the phone only records 4K video for less than 10 minutes before the phone gives you a warning.

This is even more frustrating because it's not like the Pixel 5a is the only device with these issues. Over the past year, we've seen similar problems plague the likes of the OnePlus 9 Pro and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Consistent issues with some of the best Android phones include the Snapdragon 888's chipset running too hot. Since this also occurs with the Pixel 5a and its mid-tier Snapdragon 765G chipset, it looks like it's more of a Qualcomm problem than anything.

OnePlus 9 Pro review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

One series of devices has seemingly managed to avoid this trend, and that's the iPhone. Say what you will, but Apple's custom-designed silicon has withstood any of these problems and continues to be the best smartphone for video recording. Some YouTube creators like Austin Evans have started using iPhones as "b-roll" cameras because whatever Apple is doing is working.

What's even crazier is that Apple has somewhat taken to Google's approach (until the Pixel 6 lands) by using a trio of 12MP sensors every year. The difference is that Apple almost always uses upgraded sensors with every release, but it's still just a trio of 12MP lenses. These aren't going to grab headlines like the Galaxy S21 Ultra's 108MP primary sensor or the 200MP Samsung ISOCELL HP1 sensor that will be coming to smartphones soon.

Non-gimmicky features

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

And it's not like Apple is staying stagnant with its camera feature-set either, as evidenced by a gimmicky Cinematic Mode arriving with the iPhone 13 series. A better example is Apple ProRes, which Apple describes as the following:

Apple ProRes codecs provide an unparalleled combination of multistream, real-time editing performance, impressive image quality, and reduced storage rates. ProRes codecs take full advantage of multicore processing and feature fast, reduced-resolution decoding modes.

That is from the Apple ProRes White Paper, that was released back in January 2020. So why does ProRes matter with the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max? That's because these will be the first smartphones capable of recording using these codecs.

iPhone 13 Pro ProRes Video

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

The first primary benefit of recording with Apple ProRes is that the formatting will retain more detail in the video file. In most cases, video recording on mobile devices is compressed, which is why you end up with less-than-stellar footage even though your phone is supposedly capable of much more.

But the ProRes format isn't without its caveats. Apple states you can only use this with the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, provided you have at least the 256GB model. According to some reports, recording just one minute of 4K ProRes video will result in a 6GB file being stored on your iPhone. It's definitely a frustrating limitation for some, but if you planned on using your iPhone to record videos regularly, you probably opted for a higher storage option anyways.

The battle isn't over

Google Pixel 6 Coming Soon Nyc Display Unit Orange Close

Source: Michael Fisher / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Michael Fisher / Android Central)

All of this is to say that if the Android world wants to try and make a go and cut Apple down a peg or two, it needs a device that can swing for the fences without compromise. Perhaps that will be the Pixel 6 Pro, with the Google Tensor processor handling all of the heavy lifting.

But until that day arrives, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max will remain the best smartphones for recording video. It's disappointing given the quality-parity between the best Android camera phones and the iPhone. The next mobile battleground is videography, and the Android world has a lot of work left to do to catch up to Apple.

Andrew Myrick
Andrew Myrick

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.

29 Comments
  • I'm still not sure why Apple is good for video? As an actual videographer, in order to get good video I have to rely on 3rd party apps and other tools but the iPhone by default has absolutely horrible tools for anything but basic video. Meanwhile phones like the x70 pro plus have manual video, log modes, and actual tools that make video recording good. Apple obviously has great cameras but they wrap them in a basic app with so little control it will never look like a "real" camera
  • Totally agree with you
  • It's the narrative Apple is selling and they're spending tens of millions on that marketing every year. It's a lie. Just like everything else these influencers sell. It's sad to see how predictably anti-Android this site has become. They don't even care any more, it's just full on Apple promotions these days.
  • Who are "these influencers" you're talking about?
  • Scroll up to the top to find one.
  • I assume you mean the top of the article, not the comments. If you think the articles author is an "influencer", you're very generous. Or you don't know what an influencer is lol.
  • The definition of an influencer is, a person getting paid to make other people buy stuff. That is what the writer is doing. Selling iPhones on an Android site. He's obviously no Henry Cavill, only needing to post a blurry instagram photo to help sell a million graphics cards, but there is no definition on how many or how few people you have to influence to be one.
    The only known here is, this site is going down the drain and will lose all its readers as no one with an Android device logs on to Android tech news to get Apple infomercials shoved down their throats every day.
  • The difference is that 3rd party app on iOS has full access to iPhone camera APK. Not so on Android. That is why Pixel needed PVC unit to allow access for 3rd party. So, IF you need more manual control on iOS, then just download anyone you like and it will have full access to iPhone camera system.
  • I don't get the hype for Apple's video. My iPhone 12 was very shody and unreliable and took forever to focus on a particular object that I needed in a pinch.
  • The overheating issue is true, but like other's mentioned: Androids camera apps (even the default ones) are feature rich software wise, which allows the user to adjust them to multiple different scenarios, those 10 minutes you get are pure gold in terms of quality and as camera apps improve, it'll get out of the issue and evolve just like it's always kept doing.
    iPhone stock cameras are inferior to Android's already, video capabilities will give you quantity over quality as well.
  • "...you can practically remove the need for using a DSLR thanks to the upgrades we've seen in both the actual sensors and software processing..." Maybe in the author's dreams! It's not just the MP size of the sensor it is also the physical size of the sensor. Many medium format cameras out there with less MP than a 35mm digital and yet, the medium produces a better photo due to a larger physicals size sensor.
    Also, a DSLR with even the cheapest lenses available have better lenses than on a camera phone and then add on some good consumer brand or better yet, some pro lenses and the camera phone is so far out of the picture (pun intended) it isn't even a laughing matter. Only thing a camera phone is good for are those photos people send their family members to view on a computer or other phone, or producing a small print that will normally be viewed from a few feet away. And they are good for lazy people who do not want to carry a DSLR and heavy lenses to get a decent photo. And I won't even discuss shutter lag that on my DSLR's is basically nothing; while on most camera phones is present and that shutter lag will mean do you get the picture of the dog/kid running or just an open frame with nothing but background or a blur. (Yea, you got a slow or lazy dog or lazy or slow kids...no problem.)
  • I don’t understand why people think Apple creating proprietary solutions for general features is somehow changing anything other than how much further into the ecosystem they can pull a customer. I personally feel that the iPhone does take better video than Android devices I’ve used, but ProMotion and PreRes are not industry changing technology, they are incredibly limiting file types. Or so is my understanding.
  • Apple knows what's trending and they are going to market like crazy their superiority in content creation. So that anyone who aspires to make videos will believe the iPhone has something special. If you're not on TikTok, it's hard to imagine how important video is becoming and it's a good strategy for Apple.
  • My Fold 3 says that Apple is miles behind...
  • Proudly switched from 12 pro max to fold 3. My first foldable.
  • Apple’s marketing machine is stunning. All those Shot on iPhone billboards and some wild arctic videos released recently make people believe that if you don’t have an iPhone , you are missing out and anyone aspiring to produce content (of any kind) will be compromised without the superior iPhone. And Apple mostly delivers on that promise in terms of providing great outcomes consistently in these spaces year after year. I’m sure Google could probably compete here (Pixel for photos does) but in a world where the younger generation live for video, it’s not enough. Maybe the Pixel 6/Pro will pull a rabbit out of the hat and deliver something special in this space. Who knows. I did find it odd to see yet another iPhone kiss kiss headline on this site (even if the content turned out to be quite true!) Time to rebrand the site ? TechCentral ?
  • Nobody cares about extreme camera features because only a handful of people use them. Those over 40 are thankful for what exists now... No massive VHS recording devices, etc. And... No professional would ever use a phone for anything... There is no need to compare DSLR cameras to phone cameras... They are two totally different markets... And the average person will never buy a DSLR these days. Honestly... How many people do you see out and about anywhere with a DSLR camera? That is correct..... Never
  • The average person will never need to shoot a film.
  • Honestly I see plenty of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras out and about. Especially when I am taking my DSLR out as a photographer. You will never convince me that any smartphone camera compares. The fine details just are not there. In a few years maybe not right now no. As someone else said the sensor is just too small. But I do see plenty of regular nonprofressionals out with an actual camera and not just a smartphone.
  • A big part of Apple marketing is the influencers. They make it so be having them repeat things over and over
  • I still record standard 1080p30 videos, bit should try higher quality videos. But article failed to mention a big iPhone video features as of 12 series which is natively recording videos in Dolby Vision HDR and being able to directly on device.
  • These comments are funny. IPhone’s video is better. Full stop. I’ve used Android since the OG Droid until last year when I got my first iPhone. I like Android much better than iOS, but come on guys, the video is WAY better on iPhones in my experience. It just is. I don’t understand all the butt hurt comments. Android and Google has tons of things going for it. Shooting video is not an example of one of their advantages. I find it’s always good to rely on your own experiences or those of someone you trust who consistently has used both. For me, it is precisely as this article states.
  • Nope. It's not better, period. I've used just about every iPhone ever released, and they've been overrated by tech sheep for as long as I can remember. Keep drinking the Kool aid though...
  • It is you who is smoking something weird….
  • 100%
    People get way too emotional and defensive. I much prefer Android and Google ecosystem over apple, but there can always be more to improve and video is a big one. Not just shooting video but editing and posting and sharing is so much smoother on iPhone and I wish Android can improve those things. Am really hoping the pixel 6 can bring Android ahead in this area. We'll see!
  • So what I gathered from this article is iPhone is better because it doesn't overheat during 4k? Let's ignore the fact Samsung uses larger sensors with better dynamic range and less noise in low light footage and has a much better app with pro features. Last year comparisons showed the iPhone 12 series lagging in things like image stabilization and audio quality which may or may not be resolved on the 13.
  • Not going to film phone porn anytime soon sorry. Ill pass.
  • Apple Central is it?
  • My son's Galaxy A71 5G videoing and editing capabilities seem to be light years ahead of my daughter's iPhone 12. My son is an avid railfanner and loves all things trains. He can capture excellent stills while videoing on his Galaxy and that feature (not available on iPhone) is one he values more than most. Also the stock iMovie app is basic and way behind other editing apps of course available to both Android and iOS. He has a 6the gen iPad as well but he prefers Power Director and all edits and creation on and with his Galaxy. The iPhone does video well but it's no better than Galaxy's or Pixel or other top Android cameras IMO. AND if you REALLY want good qualities for content creation most have an excellent Canon M50 Mark 1 or 2 or some of the Sony's like the ZV-1 which are superior and cheaper!!