iPhone 3G S Video Recording Quality, YouTube Compression Info


[wpvideo hm36ksFp w=500]

Over the weekend, it finally stopped raining long enough for me to use the new iPhone 3G S (s AAPL) video recording function. After 64 seconds of recording our deck and backyard, where I often work in the summer, I published the video to YouTube right from the handset. The video compression takes place on the device, which makes sense, as a compressed video file is smaller in size and therefore will take less time to transfer over 3G or Wi-Fi. After adding a title, description, category and some tags, the video uploaded and about five minutes later, it was viewable on YouTube. Overall, I was very impressed with the ease and speed of the process. Here’s the video:


The video quality on YouTube is passable. Not great by any means, but not bad either. Distant objects are less clear than closer ones. I downloaded the video and ran it locally through QuickTime to get a feel for the specs: 30fps, 480×320 (scaled down from the VGA source), 3.7MB in size and a 480kbps bitrate. I suspect that YouTube will never show an “HD” or higher-quality version, either; the compressed source from the iPhone isn’t enough to do so. It’s basically meant for watching on phones. As a result, the YouTube video isn’t the truest representation of the iPhone 3G S recording quality. For that, you can watch the source video, which I’ve uploaded to WordPress. Of course, that gets compressed also, but not nearly as much thanks to the snazzy WordPress player we use. Here are the specs of the original source file that I pulled off of my iPhone over USB: 30fps, 640×480, 27.8MB, and a 3646 kbps bitrate.

For quick, basic video, posting directly to YouTube is simple but will of course sacrifice a little quality. To get better quality video, I recommend pulling and working with the source content from the iPhone 3G S.



I have an iPhone 4 and whenever I record videos and upload to YouTube , it’s horizontal and narrow , how cone it doesn’t record in landscape mode ??

Haroun Kola

Thanks for this great post. For some reason, I’m getting an error posting my video to YouTube (no reason, just a “There was an error posting this vidoe”) and emailing a video greater than 1 minute.

Any ideas?

How do I pull the raw video over into my pc, I know, I know, I shouldn’t be using a boring old PC but my upgrade to a Mac Book Air is still a few months away and I’m stuck with my trusty little machine still :)

Simon Stepsys

Great Video!

The new iPhone 3G S is amazing! Best phone/device on the market by a mile.

However I am having this problem uploading to YouTube…?

How do you get it to upload in the Widescreen landscape mode? When I upload with my new iPhone 3G S it uploads in narrow screen even when I hold the phone on its side in landscape mode? Having said that 1 video I recorded & uploaded to youtube did work in landscape mode? Any ideas? Please advise?

I have tried many videos now holding the camera upright & sideways but to know avail?

Any ideas?


Mitchell Fox

I noticed (and tested with someone else) that after an iphone3gs video reocording is emailed (it is compressed by the iphone before emailing( the audio is definitely of lower volume or more mufffled than when I listen to it on the iphone or listne to it after it has been imnported into the computer through itunes.


if we’re going to wish, lets go 1080P AVCHD + 12MP still, with 128GB flash and a FW port to hang off extra storage


I’ve been playing with my video features. I uploaded a few things and they looked pretty decent. Important thing is good light, at least that’s what I noticed. Apple should have put a 5MP camera in it.


Wow that is an awesome looking backyard. Oh nice video btw.


Hi, Kevin, this week i will have my G2 new phone, so maybe it will be a good idea to make a little test about video capabilities of the Android cupcake phones video recording, comparing it with the iPhone 3G s. Hope u can show us where is going Android in this way. Maybe isn´t as good as the one i see in this test but sure u can give us an idea of how it works. And if it´s so simple to upload too. Thanks in advance


Ok kevin where do you live? cause I’m moving on over!


Thanks for this post, I was googling the video format used for recording and couldn’t even find that on Apples site, which is broken using Chrome.

That is a very good quality for a device like this. If it wasn’t so expensive this would be the final nail in the coffin to make me switch to an iPhone.

Kevin C. Tofel

Ironically, you’re a few months too late. It actually WAS on the market for about 8 months. Sold about 6 months ago. There is still a house for sale in here, but it’s the biggest one in the development… no small amount of change. ;)


Hi Kevin

I see what they mean by the wide open spaces. BIG BACK GARDEN.

All you need now is two goal posts and you have a football pitch (SCOCCER for you guys in the US.)


Kevin can the new iPhone 3GS play WP Video from the web browser? The point for you to be able to use the iPhone to upload videos is something that most people do for quick things, and if you wanted to upload something a little better then you could always do what Kevin also did. That’s by getting the video out of the iPhone, which I also wouldn’t it to be compressed at all so you could get the best out of the video you took. Maybe there is a application or some how you could convert the video file without to much compression and upload to YouTube. If there is you might want to be connected to Wi-Fi. :) I also was expecting to see some cows. ;)


Kevin said: “It records in .mov for QuickTime. I’d rather have the direct source without compression to work with. At this rate, around 40 minutes would take 1GB and I wouldn’t keep it on the phone. I’m not worries about space.”

Does iTunes allow for the download of that raw video onto the PC? I’m assuming it does. I agree, I’d rather have the uncompressed source and then do any editing or compression through Quicktime Pro. Can that be done?

Great post by the way. I’d been anxiously awaiting some sample, real life videos to be posted on the interwebs. It certainly looks acceptable quality in the WordPress player above.

Kevin C. Tofel

Yup, you can get the source .mov files right out of the iPhone. I just used iPhoto to pull them in as if I was pulling media from any other camera. From there, you can use the source in QTPro, iMovieHD or whatever else you want.


What did you guys grill all the cows or something? I expected to see a whole herd of them out there. ;-)

Kevin C. Tofel

Well, it IS summertime and that means plenty of grilling. ;) No, the cows actually graze a few fields over. We get the essence when they spread manure on the fields behind the house though!

Christian Karlsson

Why does the iphone record in 4:3 and not in 16:9? Everything, including youtube, moves toward widescreen…


Thanks for posting Kevin. Question – why does the WordPress video seem to be more truncated (more letterbox for lack of better description) on the aspect….The Youtube video seems to have the same width though as far as field of view, yet more height that the WordPress video – does that make sense?

Kevin C. Tofel

Gary, your question makes perfect sense. We often shoot using an HD camera and therefore use a 16:9 widescreen format with our WP player. I forced that same aspect (out of habit), hence the difference that you see. Good eye! ;)



You have a great house and back yard!

Oh, the video looks great!



28MB for a minute long clip? Yeesh! What format/codec is it coming off in? I’m surprised the phone doesn’t do any compression at all to the source, though I suppose Apple feels most users won’t be worried about space, what with the 16/32GB storage.

Kevin C. Tofel

It records in .mov for QuickTime. I’d rather have the direct source without compression to work with. At this rate, around 40 minutes would take 1GB and I wouldn’t keep it on the phone. I’m not worries about space.

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