We recently linked to a Cydia app that was rumored to enable HD video recording on the iPhone 3GS. Apparently, that app didn’t work. There is, however, an easy way to enable HD recording through some file modifications on your iPhone 3GS.

The 3GS has had the ability to shoot in HD since it was released. Apple, for whatever reason, places a software limitation on the 3GS video recording capabilities. The ARM Cortext processor inside the 3GS is more than capable of handling 720p video encoding. I’m going to walk you through the easiest way to enable HD video recording on your 3GS…

This is a jailbreak tweak. There is a way to perform this exact tweak by installing .deb files via SSH in Terminal, but I found a nifty little application that will make the process a bit easier.

Before we begin, here are some things you should be made aware of:

There were originally complaints that this tweak caused the 3GS camera to be sluggish in low-light situations. You were also unable to playback the HD video on the device itself. This issue seemed to be related to the resolution that the tweak was originally set at.

The original file tweaks sets the Camera.app to record at 1080×800. Since then, updated file tweaks have been released that set the encoding resolution to 960×720, which seems to fix the problem in most cases. Hopefully a new update will be released that allows for a higher resolution without slowing down the 3GS camera.

Also, there have been rumors of a SBSettings toggle coming out soon for this tweak. We will stay on the look out for that.

Only iOS firmare 4.1 has been officially tested with this hack.

The default settings for video encoding on the iPhone 3GS are: 640×480 @ 3Mbps. This bypass allows encoding at 960×720 @ 30fps and at up to 20Mbps.

What you’ll need for this hack:

A jailbroken iPhone 3GS. (You have lots of options for jailbreaking: PwnageTool, GreenPoisOn, and LimeRa1n

A computer running Windows or Mac OS X and a copy of Phone Disk. Phone Disk is a disk mounting tool for iOS devices. The lightweight app is free through December 1st, and offers a 14 day free trial. You plug in your 3GS through a standard USB cable and Phone Disk mounts your device like a drive on your desktop. We will use this to view your iPhone’s file system.

The afc2add package for enabling USB browsing of your iPhone’s filesystem. You can search for this in Cydia and install it yourself.

The resolution file tweaks to install through Phone Disk and a backup of the original files (just in case something catastrophic happens). This hack shouldn’t brick your iPhone, but it’s also smart to play it safe and make sure that you are backed up.

Here we go.

Step 1: Plug your jailbroken, afc2add installed iPhone 3GS into a computer running Phone Disk. Your iPhone should pop up as a mounted drive on your desktop in OS X and as a hardware drive on Windows.

Stept 2: Have the “3GS_HD” folder open and ready in another window.

Step 3: Navigate in your iPhone’s directory to System/Library/CoreServices/SpringBoard.app and right click the .app file. Then click “Show Package Contents” and drag the “N88AP.plist” file from the “3GS_HD” folder into the Springboard.app directory. You will be asked if you want to overwrite the existing file, click yes. (Remember, you have the backup files in case something goes wrong.)

Step 4: Navigate back to System/Library in your iPhone’s directory. Scroll down to PrivateFrameworks/Celestial.framework/N88 and in this folder, drag the remaining 3 files from the “3GS_HD” folder (MediaValidator.plist, CameraRollValidator.plist and AVCapture.plist). You will we be asked if you wish to overwrite again, select yes to all.

Step 5: Reboot your iPhone and you’re good to go! Your 3GS should now be shooting video at 960×720.

If you’re new to navigating file directories like this, or if you’re still having trouble, I put together a little video walkthrough. Hope it helps.

Remember, you always can replace the files you changed with the backups in the “3GsHDBackup” folder.

Credit goes to Mike Pan for creating these tweaked files and publishing this process.

Was this tutorial helpful for you? Is HD video recording on your 3GS even enough of an incentive to perform this hack?

  • MMADEE

    My IPhone died after this (RIP), before trying this make sure to backup everything, coz i just restored and jailbroke and i don’t have BUP. 🙁

    • @MMADEE: What do you mean by “BUP”?

    • HD_Will_brick

      YES! Last time I did this.. u will never boot into your springboard again.. the apple logo with the loading icon keep spinning until it stop responding. So for you guy less experiences for manually mod, pls do not try this. There’s a solution, but not with the given files..

  • Interesting indeed, but this is going lead to a few inequalities. I find it weird to have the ability to record 720p videos, yet not be able to view them on your device (You can change the screen resolution, but if you don’t have the pixels to display them it doesn’t matter). Then there is the ram issue. That’s going to raise a few complaints. But nonetheless, a great feature.

  • Stevie_Belfast

    Mine just hangs on the apple logo at boot!

  • BrainCluster

    @whitlime

    You can view the recorded video on the 3GS no matter the resolution, and 256MB of RAM are more than enough for recording and viewing HD videos on the 3GS.

  • Stevie_Belfast

    Had to Winscp into mine while it was stuck on the apple logo, managed to copy back my backup files and phone is working again. Nice hack, but didnt work for me.

    • aaaand as you can see my statement is proving true.

    • Rey

      I agree Stevie, It was a VERY EASY fix.
      just SSH into your device while stuck on boot logo (System/Library/CoreServices/SpringBoard.app) and replace original “N88AP.plist” then my 3GS immediately booted to the main screen. Then in my SSH client I went to System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Celestial.framework/N88 and then replaced the original MediaValidator.plist, CameraRollValidator.plist and AVCapture.plist files. power off/on and back to normal!
      Noobs make me laugh! RTFM before you do these things and always backup!!! if you screw up it’s your fault and you can cry me a river build a bridge and get the F@ck over it!!! HAHAHAHA!

  • I did this a while ao, after someone linked to the article in the comments of the Fake Cydia app.
    And it works great, although I can not really figure out if it has actually lowered the quality of the Videoquality, it feels like it did.

  • HD_Will_brick

    I did enable it, but not with the provided files, the auto focus become faster just like iphone 4, much sharper coz higher resolution, frame rate are much more faster(lower lag at low light including while recording),but only not brighter than the original 3gs. After installed 3Gs face-it, it will going back to 480p again, there are the conflict within this 2 apps, might as well brick your 3gs again.. I did experiences it.

  • alex

    tried this method last week.
    Got stuck on Boot logo when starting up.
    Had to restore.

    Really, unless you seriously know what you’re doing, don’t attempt these dodgy modifications.
    Based on personal experience, I know that when a user (who isn’t advanced) starts messing around with SSH and changing important system files to get tweaks, that user is simply bored of his/her device and wants to try something risky for thrills, only to stare at that stupid apple logo or black screen which refuses to turn on.

    If you want this tweak, get it from Cydia. If the Cydia tweak doesn’t work for you, try this method after establishing to yourself that you know what you’re doing.

  • appletiser

    I tried this when someone linked (in the referred iDB article) to the exact same method posted on iphoneblogr. it worked as good as HDR Enabler, or in other words, not at all. there was no noticeable difference and, over a 27 second clip, no change to the recorded file size. like most of these ‘wonder’ tweaks it’s a bug fail.

  • appletiser

    just like HDR Enabler this method is a complete waste of time. I shot a 27 second clip and noticed no difference and no change in file size. like most of these so called ‘wonder” tweaks it’s absolutely useless.

    • appletiser

      sorry guys my browser crashed when I pressed to publish the first comment, I didn’t think it had worked. please delete if you so wish 🙂

  • Z

    For everyones record, back up your files before rewriting/deleting/replacing any default files.
    @Alex My N88AP file contains different information from yours, so I would remove the link and advise on backing individual files.
    Thanks for the tweak, with use of SDM and iFile I didn’t even need to use a Mac/PC.

    So far works great, will play around with the video recording tomorrow daylight to see if there is any quality difference.

  • beardguy

    yea i tried this before when it was first posted and it def locked me out of my phone (stuck at apple logo screen). I would def love to try this again if there is an update but for now this seems like a bad idea and a bad post due to no warning that is pretty much fucks everything and makes you completly new restore,I could not even restore from an earlier point Back up everything before you try this!

  • Z

    What the heck is everyone talking about? It is as easy as copying and pasting 4 files in the right directory followed by a reboot. These files are affiliated with the camera app, so what else does one have on his/her phone for it to NOT boot up? Just make sure to place files in the right directories and back up the original files that are to be overwritten.

    I am switching back and forth from default 3GS camera settings to the tweaked ones to see the difference in quality, and yet I haven’t faced a problem even once.

    • Theeeennn….that would make you that 1% who complained about the iphone4’s antenna issue; catch my drift?

      Anyway, liiiike I said….”I see my statement is proving itself true.”

  • Daflip

    This method works but got the files from different website the bitrate go 13.0 mbps size is 50mb for 30 sec clip quality is okay on fw 4.1!!! No problems here boot up went fine!

    • Phreekin Greate

      So where’d ya get ‘um from?

  • Phreekin Greate

    I mean pass it on, bra!