The best smartphones for video

The best smartphones for video
The best smartphones for video

Here we are, we have reached the point where we can use smartphones to make videos.
There are some limitations in making videos with smartphones, but today we are starting to have smartphones that work very well in this area, and we think it's worth talking about.
The article that we propose is divided into two parts: in the first one we simply point out the best smartphones for video to date. It will be a section that will evolve over time trying to keep up with the various smartphones with video shooting capabilities. The second part is dedicated to explaining how we chose them, and why.

So let's get started.
The best smartphones for video

If you want to know more about this ranking, which we will update periodically, go below. If instead you want an opinion on a specific model, you want to challenge us the ranking or you want to discuss, write us a comment!

If in the future we will consider it necessary - and after having done all the most important tests - we will propose a version of this ranking which also contains a list of the best smartphones for videos under 300 €. For now we do not set price limits.
Best smartphones for video

1. Huawei P20 Pro
Huawei P20 Pro smartphone for video It seems yesterday that Huawei was a completely unknown manufacturer, but in a few years the Chinese company has won many positions and today having a smartphone of this brand is not at all strange.
Huawei has pushed strongly on the video and photo production sector of its devices, always looking for new solutions, and the P20 Pro is the pinnacle - to date - of its range.
Perhaps you will not agree with us in saying that it is the best smartphone for video, but you will agree that it is among the best. To make the difference is the large sensor (for a smartphone: it is a 1 / 1.7 ", with for example the Samsung Galaxy S9 which has a sensor only 1 / 2.5") that manages to better render the dynamic range than most other smartphones and record very detailed images.

Another thing that the Huawei P20 Pro does very well is to keep the noise at bay even when shooting in low light, certainly still thanks to the size of its sensor.

But we are also talking about a defect in the P20 Pro: the stabilization is missing in 4K shooting mode. It's a real shame, because at lower resolutions (even at 1080p) the stabilizer of this smartphone works really well. Everything can be solved with an inexpensive smartphone gimbal - and this is the solution we suggest in all cases - but having this extra functionality would be nice.

Autofocus is very good, as is exposure control and white balance.

Speaking of prices, the P20 Pro is among the cheapest top of the range, and this makes it even more pleasant.

2. HTC U12 +

We have long been undecided whether to proclaim this HTC as the best smartphone for video 2018, because the Taiwanese company has done a great job giving a phone that offers so much in the second half. Starting from the double stabilizer (electronic and mechanical) that also works in 4K mode at 60 frames per second. And it's almost unbelievable, considering what camera manufacturers also offer from this point of view ...
The color rendering (which is not too pumped with a lot of light, and slightly more saturated than the competition with low light) and the white balance are also excellent, as is the detail in conditions of good brightness.

The only thing that does not convince us at all is the low light yield: in essence, HTC has decided to make the image smoother on uniform color backgrounds, preserving the detail especially on the transition areas and on the edges of the objects. It's a respectable choice, but we don't like it at all.

Another small flaw to point out is in the slight lack of shooting mode compared to other smartphones among those in the standings: the maximum slow motion stops at 240fps at 1080p resolution. But it is really a smallness, then considered how this phone can perform slow motion.

HTC has always accustomed us to price its smartphones a little higher than other brands, but with the run for the € 1000 (and beyond) of the various leading brands, it seems almost cheap. The HTC U12 Plus has a perfectly reasonable price, in line with the top of the range different from Apple.

3. Apple iPhone X

Apple didn't come first in this ranking. And it's strange, isn't it?
In general, bitten apple smartphones have always been among the best for photos and videos, and we can't say that even in the latest editions iPhones don't do a good job under this point of view.
But being expensive, and having a very high reputation, put you to the test in many different ways: from a phone that can cost as much as € 1000, a lot is expected.

The iPhone X certainly has one of the most effective 4K modes among all the smartphones available today, when it comes to shooting in conditions of good brightness, and certainly the fact that it has no limits on shooting time (unlike for example the Samsung Galaxy S9!) Is a beautiful thing. But it does not satisfy us completely when we are dealing with low light.

Moreover, the way in which Apple has decided to work on the dynamic range offered on video does not convince us completely. In essence, to preserve high and low lights it seems that in the parts of Cupertino they have messed up a bit, creating artifacts in the areas of the image where the brightness is higher.

Clearly this does not prevent us from thinking that the iPhone X is one of the best smartphones for video, and if you are a lover of the bitten apple brand it is certainly an excellent choice. Tip: if you have fewer budgets, look at the younger brother who can save you around € 200 today without major downgrades in terms of video image quality.

4. Google Pixel 2

This is a smartphone that we like in the video because of its ability to be well balanced from all points of view. Probably it does not reach the maximum scores in terms of sharpness, but the internal image processing engine of the Pixel 2 manages to maintain a very good balance between the preservation of detail, the reduction of noise and the capture of a wide dynamic range. In short: you will not see the individual hairs of your dog, but the overall image will be pleasant in all conditions.

One of the most interesting features of this video smartphone is the so-called Fused Video Stabilization: we refer you to this technical article by Google that explains it, but to make it short this stabilization method involves using the two types of stabilizer on the Pixel 2 (optical and electronic) operated in 3 steps. It is very effective, probably the best in its category.

The price of Google Pixel 2 is reasonable for the category it belongs to, and if you want a "smooth" Android experience associated with a great video and photo section, consider it.

Features of smartphones for video

In general, to complete this guide we have used as many smartphones as possible to make micro-tests of autofocus speed, detail rendering, light-holding capacity, file noise and general usability. Certainly we have not had the chance to analyze all the smartphones on the market, but we did it with the most important models released in the last year and a half.

In addition to our considerations and evaluations we have analyzed the list of devices that YouTube believes give the best experience on its platform, and for purely technical data we have relied on the measures of DxO Mark.

Finally we took the quality of these smartphones on video, but we also added a small corrector in cases where we were undecided: the quality / price ratio.
Optical and file quality

The first thing we have taken into consideration in drawing up the ranking is the optical quality and the files produced by the machines. In this very general term there is the sharpness of the image, which however must not be too forced, as well as the resistance to chromatic noise and the dynamic range.

In principle, in many respects the dynamic range of the new high-level smartphones has improved a lot, and this is probably achieved by working on the software rather than on the sensors. In any case, a wider dynamic range like the one we find on these devices allows us to work more easily in light post-production.

This term includes the ability to have commands that give more control over the smartphone's operation, but also creative ways of using it.

In particular it is important to have dedicated slow motion modes that are good enough to be used even on medium-sized screens. The not-so-excellent quality of video shooting with smartphones makes you forget if we have a good slow motion, which also helps in amplifying the feeling of stability of the shot in the most difficult conditions of movement.

And speaking of stabilization, this is one of the aspects we have kept an eye on. Also in this field smartphones have improved a lot, but sometimes some producers tend to overdo it, and so we looked for smartphones whose stabilization is not "too much".

Electronic stabilization can in fact cause problems with stretching the corners (which in practice are deformed in various directions) which are very annoying to a careful view.