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Summary:

The iPhone 4 records video in 720p HD — how does this actually compare to video shot with a Flip? We wanted to find out, and so we recorded some footage with the lastest iPhone and Flip side-by-side. Check out or video to pick your winner.

iphonevsflip

Is the iPhone 4 a Flip killer? That’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves ever since Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the latest iPhone generation with HD recoding capability in June. Well, it looks like Cisco’s line of consumer camcorders isn’t going down without a fight. The company has just released an update to its device lineup, and its top-of-the-line camcorders now feature 720p HD recording at 60 frames per second, as well as image stabilization. The iPhone 4 on the other hand allows recording of 720p at 30 fps.

So how does the iPhone 4 stack up against this new and improved Flip camcorder? We decided to find out by recording some footage with the new Flip UltraHD 8GB and the iPhone 4 side by side. Have a look for yourself:

The iPhone actually competed fairly well in the first part of the clip, which was shot outside our office in downtown San Francisco. The iPhone’s footage is a lot brighter, but the Flip does a better job at times of capturing rich colors. The Flip is also better at adjusting to sunlight, and it captures details that are lost in the iPhone’s overly bright footage. Pay extra attention to the signs of the Italian restaurant around 0:26, and you’ll see what I mean.

Things look much more decisive in the second part of the clip, which I shot in the hallway and elevator of our office building. The Flip especially shines after entering the elevator, as it gracefully adjusts to the low-light conditions. The iPhone’s footage, on the other hand, has a noticeable yellow tint throughout the elevator ride, and it seems incapable of capturing details like the structure of the elevator floor around 1:34 as clearly as the Flip. The phone’s camera does recover quickly once the elevator doors open to our office, even though the footage at the end of the clip looks a little out of focus.

The final verdict: The iPhone 4’s recording quality isn’t quite up to par with the new Flip. However, on a sunny day, you won’t notice that much of a difference, especially if you’re just shooting a quick YouTube clip. The Flip still clearly has the upper hand in low-light situations, and it adjusts better to changing light conditions as well. These are essentially the same challenges that plagued the HTC Evo 4G’s camera when we took it onto a similar elevator ride back in June.

A few words about the recording experience: I appreciated the iPhone’s vibrant 3.5-inch screen — until I tried to record something with it in direct sunlight. Of course, the Flip faces its own challenges on this front. The screen worked much better in sunlight, but its tiny two inches still made my eyes hurt.

Flip is also trying to make its cameras more attractive by adding accessories via a new proprietary port at the bottom of the camcorder. Some of the accessories will include additional battery packs, external microphones and an adapter for Seagate’s GoFlex hard drives, making it possible to download footage without a computer.

Of course, the iPhone one-ups the Flip in this area, offering its users the ability to not just backup footage without a PC, but actually upload it to YouTube and even edit videos on the device with the new iMovie app. Flip hinted at WiFi integration when it was acquired by Cisco in early 2009, but we’re still waiting for this feature. I asked Flip representatives about this when they recently came to town to show off the new camcorders, but they didn’t want to comment on any plans to add WiFi to their cameras.

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  1. Side-by-side: Flip UltraHD vs. iPhone 4: Video « | Dr-Net Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    [...] link: Side-by-side: Flip UltraHD vs. iPhone 4: Video « [...]

  2. The iPhone4 video here looks surprisingly wider than that of the Flip (even though I find the iPhone cam not wide enough most often!) I’d still consider iPhone4 better than Flip because I can surf the web, use it as a gps, ipod, photo frame.

  3. Thanks. I watched the video first and then went back to 00:26 and only then did I notice. Was the sound from the iPhone or the Flip? For me, it’s taking a good video, importing to Final Cut and making adjustment. Just like I do with my simple D5000 DSLR, I try to take the best picture I can and then rely on Photoshop to help tighten it up. So for me a smaller video camera is needed when a true video camera is not available therefore, I think the iPhone solves that “wish I had a camera / video camera right now” problem better than most. Really enjoyed my first visit to your site…I’ll be back! Thanks and keep up the good work.

  4. And don’t forget about the Kodak Zi8. 1080p and a microphone input.

    (This was my latest use (only at 720p) for a little entertainment: Jodi Beck sings Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Waters of March” http://vimeo.com/14064432.)

  5. @matthew

    The new flip does have mic in.
    The new flip port and third party devices include wireless mics, fixed mics, plug in card reader, plug in battery boost.

    J

  6. Nikon Coolpix S80 Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Excessive design meets hi-tech along with the come out of the ultra-slim, Touch Control Nikon Nikon S80. This is the new camera that has launched out by Nikon. Check it out guys! Nice sharing for you blog.

  7. The HD camcorder technology has a long ways to go. I think the Flip camcorders are very impressive considering their price. The iPhone is an amazing piece of technology but the Flip UltraHD makes for a great gift. Affordable, stylish, super easy to use and upload to facebook.

  8. mediagarage » 181 Iphone 4 vs Flip HD Monday, September 27, 2010

    [...] Via Gigaom [...]

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