How to Set Your Smartphone to Actually Shoot in Its Highest Resolution

How to Set Your Smartphone to Actually Shoot in Its Highest Resolution


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There was a time long past when cellphone cameras were hot garbage. These days, however, smartphones shoot incredible video. Hollywood has even made a feature film or two on these things. But if you want to take full advantage of that great video quality on your iPhone or Android, you’ll need to make sure its actually shooting in the highest resolution possible.

What is video resolution anyway?

When we talk about video resolution on smartphones, we’re really referring to the number of pixels that video contains. The more pixels, the more information your camera is taking in. 1080p is short for 1920 x 1080, which means the video is 1,920 pixels wide, and 1,080 pixels tall. 4K, on the other hand, stands for 3840 × 2160, which is 3,840 pixels wide, and 2,160 pixels tall. We call it 4K because that 3,840 is roughly 4,000.

8K, which isn’t all that common yet, is short for 7680 × 4320, which—you guessed it—is 7,680 pixels wide, 4,320 tall. Just like 4K, 8K gets its name from those 7,680 pixels being just shy of 8,000.

Why isn’t my smartphone set to record in 4K already?

Smartphone manufacturers love to tout the video cameras on their smartphones. So why would they ship them without that full video quality already enabled?

There’s no official reason, but we can take an educated guess: 4K video takes up a lot of space. On an iPhone 12, for example, shooting 4K video uses at minimum 150MB per minute, and at maximum 440MB per minute, depending on your video settings. Compare that to 1080p, which uses 65MB per minute minimum, and 175MB per minute maximum, once again depending on the settings.

The Galaxy S20, on the other hand, is capable of shooting 8K video at 600MB per minute. The file sizes are so large that Samsung breaks the file up into separate pieces every 4GB. While 8K isn’t the norm, both it and 4K simply take up more storage than 1080p. Our guess? Smartphone makers are prioritizing their customer’s storage needs over video quality, since most will probably like the look of their 1080p recordings just fine.

For those of us who don’t want to settle for less than best, however, here’s how to make sure you’re shooting in the highest quality possible.

How to check if you’re shooting in 4K on iPhone

The fastest way to know what video quality you’re shooting in on your iPhone is to take a look at the numbers in the corner of your screen (if you’re holding your iPhone vertically, they’ll be in the top right).

By default, you’ll see HD 30. That’s code for 1080p at 30 fps. The secret? You can tap that HD button to switch resolution over to 4K. The same can be done for the frame rate—just tap the number to switch between your options.

Of course, you can see all of your 4K options in the Settings app. Just head to Settings > Camera > Record Video, and choose whichever 4K option you’d like.

How to check if you’re shooting in 4K (or 8K) on Android

Just like on iOS, you can change the video quality on Android from the Camera app itself. While Android camera apps can vary, you should find the video quality settings either on a settings gear, a drop down arrow, or an ellipsis. For example, on the Pixel 5, you can tap the arrow on the side of the display, then change the resolution from there. Just make sure 4K is selected, rather than 1080p.

 



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