Nexus One vs. iPhone 3GS: Which Phone Is the Better Video Device?

25 Comments

Google’s (s goog) 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 (s aapl). 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.

25 Comments

Shandra

Merci pour les vidéo je me rend mieux contre maintenant et je peux me faire une opinion plus clair.

Joey

I keep my iPhone in a drawer and my Nexus One in my pocket. Need I say more?

3Gs_to_Nexus

The sooner you guys admit that the Nexus one is truly the better one out of the two, the sooner you’ll experience the difference first hand. I love both my phones, but I give the N1 the edge, yes there are few things I wish the nexus have that the iPhone has, but theres a lot more the nexus has that the iPhone doesn’t.

Maybe when Apple comes up with another iPhone, then well compare it again. But for now, I’m nexus all the way.

Good luck to those people who are trying to decide which phone to get. The iPhone is still worth it, but its just not a nexus :-)

danny van groningen

im deciding to get the n1 or the 3gs.but im a computer freak and dont own a mac or use i tunes so i kinda know already the n1 would be better.but i just wanna know what is a better phone in general battery life/txt wise and browsing the web is most important,and toughness of the phone in case i drop it which i hope will never happen but ya never know.if i would to buy any i would buy the 3gs locked to vodafone and the n1 unlocked.and comments and suggestions welcome

HD

One thing to note is the 30FPS from the Iphone. This means, I can import the files to my movie editor Final Cut and actually use it for something like broadcast, dvd, or whatever. 20 fps is utterly pathetic. Both have jello effect but the Nexus One is by far worst.

Sophie

i don’t know which to choose iPhone or nexus one i am eligible to get both and am having a hard time choosing what to get. Which is better?

ruslanio

i don’t like nexus sound quality in videos. it’s just 8KHz.. very poor… :( hope they will fix it in future.
iphone’s sound in videos is 48Khz

Yordan

You never mentioned that the iPhone has much better sound during the videos.

Imo

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

Jo

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

The Real Pae

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.

Arturo Goga

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.

Themadpaki

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.

Fibol

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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