We already know what the reviewers thought of many of the best reviewed smartphones, we thought that we could better help our readers by running the best smartphones around through a series of tests that many other places don't do. Or review of the best smartphones revealed different winners than this test.
If you look at the world around us, you see more people using their phones as cameras than anything else. Often it's not for photographs but for videos of special events or important moments. The other day, a friend showed me her iPhone to show the her foster puppies, she didn't show a photo but a video of the puppies running around in the backyard.
Today we though it would be interesting to go over to the where volunteers are decorating Rose Parade floats and to see how the top rated devices compared when shooting video. It's a typical kind of event people will shoot video, it's colorful, has a lot of people, noise and kids, but no puppies. We discovered some interesting things, we at Wireless and Mobile News would like to share with you.
We record to take the videos in the same location, at about the same time and about the same distance.
Cases Hold & Grip
The one thing reviewers did not rate often is the texture of the phone for holding tight. Although the Samsung Galaxy S III has shiny plastic finish to make it light, it is very slippery and at times, we were worried that we may drop the SG S3 on the float below. The flip cases that Verizon Wireless and other carriers are promoting for $29.99 for the Galaxy models make photo shooting much easier because you can stabilize your hand on the cover. The Samsung Galaxy Note II was a little big to hold and slippery. We shot the Note video with a Samsung flip case, which helped a little.
The Nokia Lumia 920 has a soft plastic curved back that is easiest to hold and also has a dedicated camera key which we give five thumbs up. The recording numbers on the screen where largest and was the easiest to hold and use.
The flat metal edge and Kevlar coating of the Droid RAZR HD MAXX made it easier to grip and it was the second easiest to hold followed by the LG Optimus G that has rounded bevel and width for holding.
We found one nice thing about the Droid RAZR HD, that no other reviewer had mentioned, the plug-in USB wall charger has two USB ports.
All the videos were transferred via the USB cable that came with each unit. In general, it is frustrating to have to wait for the the video to transfer and having to wait for drivers.
Here are the steps for each model to get photos on to the PC via a USB cable.
- Droid RAZR HD - required the installation of Motorola Media Sync software and then an update the total time was over 20 minutes waiting. Note this RAZR had not been tested before.
- Nokia Lumia 920 - a Window popped open suggesting a Windows Phone media sync software could be installed, but the Lumia 920 was recognized as a Windows supported device. We didn't have to install software to copy the photos.
- LG Optimus G a notice appeared on the phone to load the driver on to the PC, it installed in less than a minute. The photos and videos were stored on the microSD card by default, therefore we had to look on the LG Optimus G to figure out where the media was stored.
- Samsung Galaxy S III/Note ll - after connection, the PC recognized the S III and Note II automatically displayed at media device, for file transfer.
All cameras were left at the default settings. We then uploaded the videos to YouTube with no editing.
The Samsung Galaxy S III did a decent video job, but it's thinness and shiny surface made it harder to hold and stabilize.
For the Samsung Galaxy Note II YouTube noted that "We detected you video is shaky, would you like to correct it? The size of the Note may have been the problem.
The Nokia Lumia 920 appears less shaky, image stabilization appears to be working. There is a weird flash of light that changes the colors.
For the Droid RAZR MAXX HD the image was a little shaky and sound appears to have more echoes. The colors seem a little darker.
On the LG Optimus G, there appears something wrong with the sound, it was probably off, the image is almost as shaky as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. We took another video in the office and the sound was fine. We can't go back to figure out what went wrong with the sound.
There are few things we learned from this exercise:
- For important events, don't automatically assume the video camera on your phone will work properly.
- If you can, play back the video where you can hear it, to make sure you have sound.
- Having a good grip and separate camera button on the phone makes recording easier because you don't have to look at the phone to find the record button.
- Size and shape of the phone does matter for holding a stable image.
- A relaxed steady grip is important, if you start worrying the image might become shaky.
- Install all your drivers and software as soon as you get the phone.
- In general all the videos were decent enough to convey the event.
- As video becomes more important, it enters into your buying choices.
- The Rose Parade continues to be such a big success because of the bright flowers and dedicated volunteers.