In this post, I am going to discuss the best phones for videography. We will only focus on the biggest smartphones brand like iPhone, Samsung, and Sony. In the last, I will recommend the best budget phone for video recording. Smartphones are becoming more and more powerful tools for shooting video tools. The cameras in these devices especially in the flagship phones are really challenging. Every video camera smartphone has its advantages and disadvantages 2 mighty brands, in particular, have been fighting to produce the best video shooting experience in a smartphone i.e. Apple’s iPhone 12 range and Samsung with their S20 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20.
Roughly 50 trillion hours of video is uploaded to the internet every single day and with the rise of services like TikTok. If you want to get involved as well and want to create looking video for sharing with random strangers online then you’ll definitely meet a smartphone with a seriously good camera. So strong selection of mobiles with bonus features to raise your uploads to the very next level is important.
Which one is looking best phones for videography in 2021. there are more niche brands like Sony and LG, also push the video shooting side of their devices. Before we start discussing devices, we need to mention how smartphones are different from regular cameras and that’s the increasingly powerful software being developed such as Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and all kinds of stuff which is now working in your smartphone to boost the look of your videos.
There’s a bit of a confusing conflict that’s been brewing about the Best phones for videography, most of this software is developed to be implemented using the native app of the phone in auto mode but many smartphone filmmakers love to use apps like Filmic Pro, McPro24fps and so on.
There are many kinds of advantages and disadvantages to using auto mode or manual control and when someone records a live smartphone video. Using Filmic pro gives the option to switch between auto and manual control depending on what you want from the shot and things like tone remapping can sometimes conflict with your manual control app. Problems like flickering skies or a camera that refuses to retain the exposure settings you just set and start to ruin your shot. So that’s something really important you need to think about before going ahead and choosing a device, especially if you are hoping to use manual control. Let’s take a look at the best phones for videography in 2021.
Best phones for videography 2021
1. Apple Smartphones:
Apple has been changing the landscape of filmmaking but not only with their iPhone range since they dropped intel chips from their laptop and desktop computers. They have opened up an exciting new era, where their smartphones and computers will operate under the same system. The new Macbooks and Mac minis are lightning-fast but it’s more affordable speed than before and by comparison, the launch of the new iPhone 12 range created less of a buzz despite the popular retro look of the iPhone, which is much loved by iPhone fans.
The general feeling is these cell phones for video recording themselves haven’t made any giant leaps, from the iPhone 11 some improvements here and there. The one dominant change for filmmakers is the integration of Dolby’s vision in the iPhone 12 range. Dolby Vision is a system designed to shoot master and deliver 10-bit HDR, which is a high dynamic range video.
Why does this matter in video recording?
In the past smartphones like many other non-professional DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have captured video in an 8-bit H.264 or H.265 codec. This is heavily compressed to decrease the file sizes and allow them to be shared or streamed but it also means the removal of any information from the video, which reduces dynamic range and makes it harder to color grade. This kind of video falls apart if you try to push it too much with color grading software. Keep in a mind video shot in Dolby vision will only provide the extra HDR quality. When viewed via a system that supports it. For example, if you upload your Dolby vision video to Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and so on, Dolby’s vision is not supported. Therefore, what you get will be the standard dynamic range version of the video.
As Dolby vision needs a license to use, so it is complexed regardless of whether you have Dolby vision display or not. The iPhone 12 range of devices can use that extra information for colorwork later, which for filmmakers who want those color grading options is a big plus.
The good news for iPhone filmmakers comes with the top of the range 12 Pro Max. This device is very big and comes with a 6.7-inch display. There’s a 2.5 times telephoto lens although that’s only half the power of the top range Samsung’s with their five times telephotos. The iPhone Pro Max also comes with a larger sensor than the rest of the iPhone 12 range which gives it a better low light performance.
Now the iPhone 12 range and specifically the iPhone 12 Pro Max produce top of the range video with 4k resolution up to 60 frames per second. There’s also support for 120 and 240 FPS at 1080p resolution. Some people said that there are some issues, so let’s mention the minus points.
Sometimes we want lens flares but users have started to complain about the recent iPhone and the way they produce nasty looking reflections when light hits the lens at certain angles. We can call reflections lens flares but this issue does not seem to have been fixed and may even be more in the iPhone 12 range. Now you also get these flares in other devices but usually, it’s just a small dot but in the iPhone, it seems to be much more prominent. If you’re going to label something pro then surely a minimum for professional filmmaking is a manual control for shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and so on. But Apple’s iPhone still don’t carry their own native manual control with their devices. So we can install one of the many third-party apps like Filmic Pro, Mavic Pro, and so on.
The only problem then is all these software wizardries like tonal remapping sometimes conflicts with these apps and you get flickering skies and auto-exposure overriding your settings. Well, these two gripes aside iPhone still produce amazing quality.
2. Samsung Smartphones:
Samsung brought out their 20 range of devices including Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Samsung Galaxy note 20 ultras in two stages in 2020. The Samsung Galaxy S20 range in February and the Samsung Galaxy note 20 in august. Samsung will launch the Galaxy S21 range on January the 14th next year but the quality of video produced by Samsung devices is basically equal to the iPhone. Samsung tends to add more saturation but otherwise, there’s really not much between them. As you would expect the higher up the Samsung range you go, the better is the cameras and video shooting performance but all the Samsung S20 and Note 20 range include 1 front camera and 3 rear cameras, regular wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto.
Samsung and iPhones videography differences:
Plus, Points in Samsung:
- The note 20 models have 5 times telephoto.
- Samsung ultra-models has the ability to shoot 8k resolution.
- Samsung’s Pro video mode. This is a native camera function that allows you to set and lock shutter speed, ISO, focus, and all the rest.
- Instead of Dolby’s vision, Samsung devices come with the HDR10+ system while apple is only just introducing this.
- iPhone can shoot slow motion at 240 frames per second, Samsung’s latest devices have the super slow motion of 960 frames per second option but this feature is limited to 720p which is still considered high definition.
Minus Points in Samsung:
- Samsung only allows you to access the main camera in Pro video mode, there’s no access to the selfie camera, ultra-wide or telephoto. If Samsung permitted Pro video mode to access each lens then you can choose for yourself will be best, even third-party apps like Filmic Pro cannot access the telephoto.
3. Sony Xperia Smartphones:
Which smartphone maker is the Best phones for videography, is it Apple or Samsung. The answer is Sony, unlike Apple and Samsung. Sony creates specialized level cinema cameras, so it’s not surprising. They introduced the first smartphone range with a serious native manual control Cinema Pro app including Sony Xperia 1 and Sony Xperia 5. These phones and the apps are developed alongside Sony’s professional cameras.
Sony has now released the new version of these phones Xperia 1 II and Xperia 5 II. The Xperia 5 version mark 1 and 2 is almost the same as the Xperia 1 but a bit smaller. Both versions have the same front and rear cameras, for rear cameras there’s the now-standard wide, wide, and telephoto. This triple-camera array combines technology from both Sony alpha and Zeiss optics. The Xperia’s have 3 times telephoto with a 12-megapixel sensor. In fact, like apple, Sony has stuck with the 12-megapixel sensor for all their cameras, however, these sensors are slightly different in terms of pixel size and bigger pixels means better low-light performance but the big difference is that their native camera pro app allows you to access all these lenses. Therefore, you can happily choose which lets you want to use, the cinema pro app has been updated for the new release.
There’s now support for 25 frames per second, autofocus, custom white balance, and some user interface improvements. There’s also 2k (10 bit HDR) at 120 frames per second and 4k (10 bit HDR) 60 frames per second. Both old and new versions of the Xperia allow 10-bit color depth, which you know has only just arrived for the iPhone. Now let’s discuss some downsides.
Sony Xperia Minus Points:
Some missing features in the cinema pro app compared to apps like Filmic Pro and Mcpro24ps are:
- No scopes or histograms but hopefully this is something Sony will bring in in the future.
- The Xperia produced a video that has its own look, which is rather more muted than other devices.
4. LG Smartphones:
LG phones have included a dedicated pro mode video app for manual control since the v10 version released in 2015, but the LG V range has a reputation of being great phones for shooting video at a lower price than their better-known competitors. However, the most recent LG V60 ThinQ is still selling for around 700 or more. Like the best Samsung phones, the LG V60 can make up to 8k video, nobody can view it but you can record it. This device also lacks the telephoto lens carrying only a wide and ultra-wide for rear cameras. The manual mode for video in the LG V60 ThinQ includes all the controls you would expect i.e. focus, ISO, shutter speed, white balance, and so on. You can even set bitrate, which many filmmakers will tell you is almost more important than your resolution setting. The LG v60 thinQ also allows you to shoot in HDR 10+ like the Samsung range. In fact, you could say the output and functioning of the LG v60 thinQ are pretty similar to the Samsung phones but without the telephoto option.
One nice touch is the simplification of the frames per second setting rather than having things under a time-lapse or a slow-motion menu, all the options are in one list. So you can choose from 1 frame per second for time-lapse up to 240 frames per second. For slow-motion most of the devices so far are over 700 dollars more like 1000 dollars or more for the top range phones, but what about cheaper devices.
5. Cheaper best phones for videography:
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro is the best cheap smartphone for Video Filmmaking and Recording, which is currently going for around 240 to 250 dollars. The latest 5G model of this phone comes with four rear cameras. Although one of those is a depth sensor, the others are regular wide, ultra-wide and a macro lens, these specs are slightly different depending on the version. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro captures videos up to 4k at 30 frames per second but Xiaomi phones also come with a dedicated Pro video mode, which includes focus, shutter speed, ISO, and all other controls plus can also shoot 960 frames per second slow motion at 720p resolution. The quality of the video is not quite up to the level of the thousand dollars or more flagship devices but for 250 dollars these perform amazingly well. The 5G version of the device even comes with a 108-megapixel main sensor. I think this one is the best low-budget smartphone for filmmaking.
Conclusion to Best phones for videography:
We have discussed the pros and cons of all big brands of smartphone companies. So according to your preferences, you can choose one for your video recording or filmmaking. If you can afford to buy the biggest expensive phones, they are recommended but if you cannot then there many other cheap best phones for video recording that you can use instead of costly phones. I hope you found the Best phones for videography article useful and let me know in the comments about your experiences or opinions.