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Summary:

Google’s Nexus One has been making lots of headlines this week, but one aspect that has been largely overlooked so far is how the phone performs as a video camera. We decided to find out and let the Nexus One compete against the iPhone 3GS side […]

Google’s Nexus One has been making lots of headlines this week, but one aspect that has been largely overlooked so far is how the phone performs as a video camera. We decided to find out and let the Nexus One compete against the iPhone 3GS side by side.

This shoot-out is especially interesting because Google’s Android OS has been supporting video capture even before the iPhone did. The company enabled video-recording functionality with the Android 1.5 update it rolled out last May. However, initial results didn’t really impress, as the HTC G1 was seriously hampered by its mediocre camera. So how did the Nexus One stack up?

The G1 only recorded video at a resolution of 352×288 pixels and with a frame rate of 12fps to 19fps, depending on the recording situation. The Nexus One, on the other hand, captures video at 720×480 pixels at 20fps or higher, according to specs provided by Google. That’s better than the iPhone 3GS, which only records with a resolution of 640×480 pixels, albeit with up to 30fps, according to Apple. But enough of those specs — let’s see some video.

Here’s a scene shot right outside our office in downtown San Francisco, with lots of moving objects.  First, the Nexus One:

And now the iPhone:

As you can see, both phones do reasonably well. However, watching the video in full-screen mode clearly reveals notable and distracting artifacts, while the Nexus One video still seems crisp enough to be acceptable. Verdict: This one goes to the Nexus One.

Things are a little different once you challenge the Nexus One with low light conditions. I shot this clip in our elevator:

Here’s the same clip shot with the iPhone 3GS:

The Nexus One has some issues adjusting to changing light conditions. It was OK filming the inside of the elevator at first, but adding some daylight for a second seriously screwed up its white balance, resulting in a dark and yellow-ish recording. The iPhone 3GS, on the other hand, has no issues with quickly adjusting to changing conditions, even though one could make the case the overall recording may be a little on the pale side. Still, the iPhone wins this one hands-down.

A few words about the user experience: Recording video virtually works the same on both phones, even though you might have noticed that I had some difficulties stopping the recording on the Nexus One at times. Google’s new phone does shine when it comes to uploading media to YouTube, automatically adding title and tags to the clip. The iPhone, however, was yelling at me for not adding a description or tags before I pressed the upload button. I’d give this one to the Nexus One if I hadn’t run into trouble actually uploading one of the clips, which seemed to abort every time.

The final verdict: The Nexus One is far from perfect, but it’s a pretty good video-capturing device if you learn to deal with its shortcomings, like the unreliable white balance. Overall, it’s at least en par with what the iPhone has to offer in this area, and at times actually excells Apple’s phone with better picture quality.

  1. Thank you Janko for this comparaison. For its usability I will go for the Iphone still. Although I expect to see better definition in the coming new versions.
    Fibol

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  2. [...] But which is better for video? Janko over on our sister site NewTeeVee has posted an interesting comparison of the two device’s capabilities, shooting video clips on both in order to assess their respective performances. Overall, he found [...]

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  3. is there any reason why you choose to not post the iphone in HQ youtube mode? The comparison is not equal until you do so.

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  4. I think that the audio on the iphone sounds better. Compare the traffic noise. Are there audio quality settings on the Nexus or iphone?

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    1. Actually, TheMadPaki, The Iphone doesn’t record in HD, thats why the option isnt available in the youtube portal, The iPhone records in 680 while the nexus records in 720. Thats why you dont see the HD option.

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      1. Exactly…

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      2. Nope. Nexus One records in 720x480p, as stated in the article, which is DVD quality, not HD (which would be 1280x720p or 1920x1080p), while the iPhone records at 640x480p. Neither of them are HD, but both are capable of having HQ quality.

        Doing the test on YouTube was wrong… I’d love to see both videos uploaded to vimeo, where we can have the option to download the uncompressed, unmodified resulting mp4 for a REAL comparison.

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  5. Merci pour les vidéo de comparaison qui me permettent de voir la différence.

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  6. [...] Nexus One vs. iPhone 3GS: Which Phone Is the Better Video Device? Google’s (s goog) Nexus One has been making lots of headlines this week, but one aspect that has been largely [...] [...]

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  7. YT will resize your video to 320×200 unless you choose
    HQ which is 480×360.

    So for us to see both videos like they are, you’d have
    to re-upload them in HD (720p) because even the iPhone’s
    video resolution is higher than HQ.

    see http://www.squidoo.com/youtuberight

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  8. [...] of the device. I was going to shoot a comparison between the iPhone 3GS and the Nexus One, but my friends at NewTeeVee beat me to the punch. There you can see two videos to [...]

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  9. [...] of the device. I was going to shoot a comparison between the iPhone 3GS and the Nexus One, but my friends at NewTeeVee beat me to the punch. There you can see two videos to [...]

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  10. [...] guys over at newteevee put the new Nexus One and the iPhone’s video recording capabilities to the test recently and [...]

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