So why would you want to record con­tent in 4K if you don’t have a de­vice to play it on? Read on.

HWM (Malaysia) - - LEARN -


4K video record­ing is still fairly new, and only a hand­ful of man­u­fac­tur­ers have been able to add it as a fea­ture on their pre­mium flag­ship smart­phones. Qual­comm’s Snap­dragon 800 chip is the first SOC ca­pa­ble of cap­tur­ing 4K footage and as such, all smart­phones ca­pa­ble of 4K video record­ing are pow­ered by ei­ther a Snap­dragon 800 chip or its suc­ces­sor, the 801. Out of the more prom­i­nent smart­phone man­u­fac­tur­ers to­day, cur­rently only Sony’s Xpe­ria Z2, Sam­sung’s GALAXY Note 3 and GALAXY S5, and LG’s G Pro 2 and G3, are ca­pa­ble of record­ing 4K video.

The ac­tual process of shoot­ing in 4K res­o­lu­tion is fairly sim­ple. While it dif­fers from phone to phone, gen­er­ally you just ac­cess the cam­era app, se­lect video, and then change the res­o­lu­tion to 4K. It is worth not­ing, how­ever, that a few smart­phones limit what op­tions are avail­able when record­ing in 4K. For ex­am­ple, both the Sam­sung GALAXY S5 and Note 3 de­ac­ti­vate image sta­bi­liza­tion (as well as HDR) when shoot­ing in 4K.

The big­gest lim­i­ta­tion of record­ing in 4K af­fects ev­ery smart­phone: none of them can record in 4K for more than five min­utes at a time. This is due to how Qual­comm’s Snap­dragon 800/801 chip pro­cesses 4K video data. Both Snap­dragon 800/801 chips uti­lize soft­ware-based HVEC (H.265) en­cod­ing/decoding, rather than a hard­ware-based so­lu­tion like those found in ded­i­cated 4K video cam­eras. This means that all the heavy lift­ing while record­ing videos has to be done by the CPU it­self, which puts it un­der heavy load. In turn, this leads to the pro­ces­sor over­heat­ing within just a few min­utes of use, re­sult­ing in the phone shut­ting down the cam­era app to pre­vent the CPU from fry­ing it­self.


If you own a Sony Xpe­ria Z2 smart­phone how­ever, there’s ac­tu­ally a way to get longer 4K videos. While 4K video on Sam­sung and LG’s smart­phones is strictly lim­ited to five min­utes, which is de­ter­mined by the app it­self, Sony’s cam­era app doesn’t have a fixed time limit, and only shuts down when the CPU tem­per­a­ture reaches a cer­tain point.

With the help of some ex­ter­nal cool­ing this means that you can ac­tu­ally go over the five minute mark. If you’re record­ing in­doors, try set­ting the air con to the low­est pos­si­ble set­ting, while out­doors a por­ta­ble fan might give you a few ex­tra min­utes of record­ing. Of course, the eas­i­est so­lu­tion is to take ad­van­tage of the Xpe­ria Z2’s IP58 wa­ter­proof rat­ing and sub­merge the phone in a bag of ice/cold wa­ter - all ex­cept for the cam­era lens of course.


With over 8 mil­lion pix­els com­pared to about 2 mil­lion of 1080p record­ing, 4K videos take up a lot of stor­age space. In our test­ing, across all 4K ca­pa­ble smart­phones, on av­er­age, one sec­ond of footage took up about 11.6MB of stor­age space. In com­par­i­son, one sec­ond of 1080p footage used up only 2.2MB. Here’s a rough idea of how much stor­age space you will need to record 4K movies:

As you can see, record­ing in 4K will quickly use up your phone’s stor­age ca­pac­ity. As such, it is rec­om­mended you use a high ca­pac­ity mi­croSD card to store your movies. For­tu­nately, Sam­sung, Sony and LG’s 4K ca­pa­ble smart­phones all have mi­croSD card slots with sup­port up to 128GB ca­pac­ity. It’s also a good idea to in­vest in a high-speed mem­ory card to en­sure your video is recorded smoothly with­out buffer­ing and slow­downs that can oc­cur with free or en­try-level mem­ory cards.

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