iPhone 8 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 8: Which phone has better video?

 In Technology

For capturing still photos, the iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 are on a pretty even field. But does the same apply to video recording?

I found the biggest differences between the iPhone 8 Plus and Note 8 came down to three categories: audio, the front-facing camera and low-light performance.

Video specs

Galaxy Note 8 iPhone 8 Plus
Recording resolutions 4K (30fps) 1080p (30/60fps) 720p (30fps) 4K (24/30/60fps) 1080p (30/60fps) 720p (30fps)
Slow motion 1080 (120fps) 720 (240fps) 1080 (120/240fps)
Aperture f/1.7 (wide-angle); f/2.4 (telephoto) f/1.8 (wide-angle); f/2.8 (telephoto)
Stabilization Optical (both lenses) and digital Optical (wide-angle only)
Front camera resolution 8 megapixels 7 megapixels
Front camera aperture f/1.7 f/2.2

To compare these two phones, we took them to Slide Ranch, California for our photo and video tests. And to ensure the field of view between the two phones was as similar as possible, we mounted them side-by-side using a single grip. As a result, both were subjected to the same level of handshake and the lenses were positioned close together.

All video was taken on automatic exposure settings using the default camera app.

As with any comparison, it’s important to remember that a lot of these findings are subjective and come down to what you like. Your display also makes a big difference, so your results may vary depending on whether you watch video on a phone screen or a computer.

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iPhone 8 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 8: Video camera comparison


Exposure, color and autofocus

In outdoor sunlight, both the iPhone and the Note produced well-exposed, sharp video images. I noticed that the iPhone generally produced images with more pleasing colors and skin tones for people. The Note did tend to wash out skin tones a little more.

From a screen-grab of the same video shot on both phones, you can see the iPhone 8 Plus image (right) looks more warm, while the Note 8 (left) looks somewhat flat. You can also see the loss of highlight detail in the back right of the iPhone video.

Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET

When the lighting got a bit more challenging (such as filming in the shade with bright areas in the background), the iPhone had a tendency to blow out highlights while the Note adjusted exposure more fluidly. I noticed this the most when moving the camera around a subject and the background was constantly changing.

Speaking of motion, the autofocus on the Note shifted quickly when the subject in the frame moved, but it was so fast it looked jerky. In contrast, the iPhone adjusted focus more slowly, but it was smoother and produced a more natural, cinematic look.

Keeping it steady

In the case of the Note, both rear lenses have optical image stabilization (OIS). The iPhone 8 Plus has just the wide lens with OIS. (Like the Note 8, the iPhone X has OIS on both rear lenses.)

For video recording, the Note uses a combination of optical and digital stabilization.

When walking with both phones, I noticed the image from the iPhone looked a little more twitchy than the Note, which was smoother. OIS usually produces a smoother result than just digital or electronic stabilization, but seeing as the Note uses both types it’s even more fluid.

Selfie city

Switching to the front-facing camera, the iPhone’s image had more contrast and better color accuracy than the Note’s, especially in backlit situations.

Galaxy Note 8 on the left, iPhone 8 Plus on the right.

Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET

Like your vlogs to get up close and personal? The Note’s selfie camera cropped into the image and resulted in a more narrow field of view than the iPhone. I didn’t find it to be particularly flattering.

Sound and vision

There’s no better place to see how a phone captures audio than at a live concert, recording Moonalice live on stage.

Listening to playback on the same set of headphones, to my ears the audio from the Note video sounded like a true stereo experience and a lot richer and fuller than that from the iPhone.

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