Your iPhone defaults to capturing video in 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second (FPS). With iPhone 6s or later, you can shoot crisp 4K video at four times the pixels.
And with latest devices, you can do so at twice the frame rate.
Devices with the A11 Bionic chip or newer, like iPhone 8 and iPhone X, can shoot in 4K at a film-style 24 FPS or a silky-smooth 60 FPS and capture 1080p/240 FPS slo-mo video (twice the frame rate of older models).
Supported iPhone shooting modes
The following high-definition filming modes are supported on iPhones:
- 1080p HD at 30 FPS (default)—iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
- 1080p HD at 60 FPS (smoother)—iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
- 1080p HD at 120 FPS (slow motion)—iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
- 1080p HD at 240 FPS (ultra slow motion)— iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
- 4K at 24 FPS (higher resolution, film style)— iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
- 4K at 30 FPS (higher resolution)— iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
- 4K at 60 FPS (higher resolution, smoother)— iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
At 3,840-by-2,160 pixels, 4K has four times the pixels of 1080p (1,920-by-1,080 pixels).
Higher frame rate modes like 1080p/240 FPS and 4K/60 FPS require hardware codec support (HEVC, also known as H.265) built into the A11 Bionic chip and up.
File size shootout: H.264 vs H.265
One minute of H.265-encoded 4K/60 FPS video takes up 400 megabytes of storage on the device. By comparison, a minute of 4K/30 FPS footage (half the frame rate) compressed with the older H.264 codec will cost you about 350 megabytes of storage.
Bottom line: the more modern H.265 codec needs only 50 megabytes extra per minute for smooth 4K video at twice the frame rate of its H.264 counterpart, without any loss of quality.
Here’s how to set your iPhone to shoot 4K video at a silky-smooth 60 FPS.
How to shoot 4K/60 FPS video on iPhone
1) Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
2) Tap Camera in the list.
3) Hit the Formats option.
“High Efficiency” uses HEIF/H.265 for half smaller videos and photos without quality loss
4) Choose the “High Efficiency” setting to turn the H.265 codec on.
5) Swipe right from the left edge of the display to return to the previous screen, or tap the <Camera label in the upper-left corner of the interface.
6) Now tap the Record Video sub-section.
7) Select “4K at 60 fps” from the list.
8) Go back to the Home screen and launch the Camera app.
9) Choose Video at the bottom of the interface.
TIP: To stop Camera from resetting your last-used mode like Video or Photo every time it’s launched, go to Settings → Camera → Preserve Settings and toggle on the option labeled Camera Mode.
10) Tap the Record button or press either Volume button to start and stop recording.
Your H.265-encoded 4K/60 FPS video will be saved as a .MOV file inside the Photos app.
About watching 4K video on iPhone
There’s no need to shoot in 4K unless you plan on enjoying your high-resolution footage on a 4K/5K iMac, Apple TV 4K or an external 4K monitor. No iPhones or iPads can reproduce 4K video pixel by pixel—iOS downscales 4K video clips to the display resolution, which results in loss of detail.
Plus-sized iPhones have a 1080p display and iPhone X with its 2,436-by-1,125 pixel screen isn’t a 4K presentation device either. The 60 Hz display refresh rate allows iPhones to reproduce the smoothness of 60 FPS video, 4K downscaling notwithstanding.
About capture formats and compatibility
As mentioned, iPhone 8 and iPhone X default to the H.265 video codec.
H.265 delivers similar video quality at around half the file size of the older H.264 codec. H.265 videos also take up significantly less storage space on your device, sync with iCloud faster and consume less bandwidth when streamed or shared. Choosing either 4K/60 FPS or 1080p/240 FPS video recording mode automatically turns on the H.265 codec.
Third-party apps like FiLMiC Pro support video capture with the efficient H.265 codec
To switch between H.264 and H.265 media capture, go to Settings → Camera → Formats and select either the “Most Compatible” (H.264) or “High Efficiency” (H.265) option.
Selecting the “Most Compatible” option prompts iOS to save newly captured photos/videos in the more compatible JPG/H.264 format (this won’t auto-convert your existing HEIF/H.265 media in the Photos app). The Formats menu is unavailable on unsupported devices.
Video recording using the H.265 codec is supported on devices powered by Apple’s A10 Fusion chip or newer, like iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X and 2017 iPad Pro models.
Transferring H.265 media to a Mac or Windows PC via USB?
iOS 11 gives you two related options underneath the Transfer to Mac or PC heading in Settings → Photos: “Automatic” and “Keep Originals”.
The ”Automatic” option transcodes your H.265 videos into the H.264 format and HEIF images into JPEGs. iOS perform conversion on the fly, without touching the originals in the Photos app.
The “Keep Originals” option always sends the original files to your computer—i.e. HEIF images and H.265 videos are transferred to your computer without conversion as .HEIC files and H.265-encoded .MOV items, respectively. Conversely, JPEGs and H.264-encoded videos are sent as standard .JPG and H.264-encoded .MOV files, respectively.
iOS even takes care you don’t run into compatibility issues with HEIF/H.265 media—every time you share HEIF images or H.265 videos using AirDrop or one of the Share sheet services such as Mail or Messages, the operating system always uploads your media items in the more compatible JPEG or H.264 format.
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