Video Quality

At a high level, video recording seems to be mostly similar. Both the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 continue to rely on EIS for video stabilization, both seem to use somewhat similar optics and sensors, and both can only shoot 1080p video. However, the details are really where we see improvements in the iPhone 6. For starters, the iPhone 6 now has 1080p60 video support, which is definitely helpful for improving spatial resolution and general performance. There's also 720p240 slow motion video, which is an addition to the 720p120 video that we saw in the iPhone 5s.

Video Encode Settings (Approx.)
  iPhone 5s iPhone 6
1080p30 17 Mbps High Profile H.264 17 Mbps High Profile H.264
1080p60 - 27 Mbps High Profile H.264
720p120 27 Mbps High Profile H.264 31 Mbps High Profile H.264
720p240 - 42 Mbps High Profile H.264

As you can see, there's really not a massive difference in encoding bitrate, at least for the standard video record settings. However, even casual examination shows just how big a difference there is when comparing video from the iPhone 5s to video from the iPhone 6.

While the YouTube compression is likely to make it hard to see whether the iPhone 6 really has better video quality, when viewed at full resolution with Quicktime it seems that there is some level of improvement, but this could be due to the smaller field of view that is used when compared to the iPhone 5s. This tighter FOV also seems to be part of the reason why the stabilization is more effective than before. At various points in the video, it's quite obvious that the iPhone 6 is also benefiting greatly from PDAF as we see seamless transitions throughout the video and consistently better focus while the iPhone 5s is locked from the start and would require multiple taps to refocus the video.

1080p60 brings significant improvements to temporal quality, as capturing fast motion is noticeably more fluid when compared to 1080p30. Video stabilization is also retained, which makes 1080p60 an easy choice when capturing fast-moving objects.

As with the iPhone 5s, the original video on NAND is saved to play back at either 120 or 240 fps, but on the phone and when uploaded to social media the slow motion versions play back certain parts at 30 fps. As far as I can tell, there's relatively little difference in the image quality between the two modes, but this advantage is unlikely to hold when in lower light situations as the frame rate inherently caps the exposure time.

Camera: Still Image Performance Audio Quality


View All Comments

  • rUmX - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Wait for USB Type-C. Reply
  • mrochester - Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - link

    Why are we waiting? We should have had it 2 years ago when Apple released the iPhone 5. Reply
  • grayson_carr - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Can't agree with you there. My wife has been through countless lightning cables. Apple branded cables either come apart at the seam between the connector and cable or just stop working after 6 months to a year with heavy use, even if there is no visible external damage. Just look at the reviews of Apple's lightning cable on their website and you'll see how terrible they are: (80% are 1 star out of 5). Apple covers one replacement, but after that you're on your own. Third party lightning cables, no matter how reputable the brand, always either stop working after a while or the iPhone will suddenly start saying the third party accessory is not compatible.

    I think the chip Apple requires in lightning cables is the culprit for most of these headaches. I think they die quickly, far before the lifetime of the cable itself, which is why cables will suddenly stop working for no apparent reason or start being labeled as not compatible.

    Whatever the cause, I have NEVER had a micro USB die on me. Micro USB cables are also much cheaper than lightning cables. Finally, all of my other electronics use micro USB (Chromecast, Android phones, Kindles, cameras, etc.) which is awesome! I can have a single cable in my car that charges all of my gadgets (except my wife's stupid iPhone of course). For those three reasons, micro USB is far superior to lightning. Being able to insert the stupid cable either way doesn't come close to outweighing the benefits of micro USB I just listed.
  • mrochester - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    And to respond to that, I've never had any Apple cables, whether it be the old dock connector or lighting cables and ports, break. Contrary to that, my sister's USB port in her Galaxy S3 broke, her Samsung charger ended up with bent pins and my partner's Samsung Galaxy S2 charger ended up fraying at the micro USB end. Reply
  • mrochester - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Of course, being able to insert the cable in any orientation and it being more reliable makes the benefits of the lighting connector far outweigh micro USB. Reply
  • grayson_carr - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Well, since reliability could go either way depending on your luck, we have...

    1) Being able to insert the cable in any orientation


    1) Much lower price
    2) A standard that is compatible with many more devices (Cameras, e-readers, Android phones and tablets, Windows phones and tablets, hard drives, portable speakers, etc., etc., etc.)

    I would take the bottom two benefits any day over the top single benefit. Imagine if every company was as stubborn as Apple and designed their own cable. I would have to have 20 different types of cables lying around my house and it would be a HUGE pain trying to find the correct cable for the device. Instead, I can have one or two micro USB cables that can work with pretty much anything in my house, excluding iOS devices of course. That principle alone is enough to make me dislike Apple's lightning cable. Standards are a good thing. Proprietary sucks. Thank God other companies haven't followed Apple's footsteps in that regard yet. If they ever do, we're all screwed.
  • mrochester - Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - link

    And I'd take the top one over the two things you listed. Having loads of micro-USB cables that are used by absolutely no devices in my house (my Canon camera is mini USB) isn't a whole lot of use. There's no need to have 20 different cables lying around your house, just 2. Your lightning cables for your iPad and iPhone, and a micro-USB cable for everything else that's stuck in 2012. Reply
  • GerryS - Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - link

    I agree. The reversability is nice, but not much of a feature to me. Every other cable I use, except circular power connectors, requires a specific orientation. It never takes more than two tries to find the right one. Reply
  • techconc - Thursday, October 2, 2014 - link

    @grayson_carr - Your argument falls apart in multiple places. For starters, you assume reversibility is the only advantage of the lightning cable. It's not. The lightning cable allows for 12W charging while USB is limited to just 9W. Further, you mention the ubiquity of the USB cable as if there is just one type of USB cable. I seem to have a variety of USB types of cables including micro, mini, Type A and Type B (not to mention other proprietary variants) around the house. Please explain to me how this "standard" is working any better for me or the public in general? Reply
  • grayson_carr - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    By the way, if you're in the same boat as me, I have a tip... buy your lightning cables at RadioShack. You can buy insurance on them and it will then only cost $2 to get a replacement when they inevitably stop working. Reply

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