The tradition of Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, proclaiming the latest iPhone as the best ever continues. This assertion, however, seems rather commonplace. It’s logical to assume that a smartphone manufacturer wouldn’t release a device inferior to its predecessor. Apple’s annual practice involves introducing new features, incorporating some from long-standing Android functionalities, and presenting them as revolutionary.

The iPhone 15 series adheres to this pattern, aligning with Android’s photography features but surpassing them in one aspect—video.

The recent launch of the iPhone 15 series follows the established routine. It showcases features like pixel-binning, lossless zoom, and a periscope-style zoom lens—features long familiar to Android users. Despite this Android inspiration, the iPhone distinguishes itself significantly in one area: video quality.


Competing with Android

The Apple iPhone lineup has consistently boasted impressive cameras, though they have struggled to match the hardware and software capabilities of the best Android camera phones. Tests reveal Apple’s cooler color tones and inconsistent HDR performance, leaving room for improvement.

Notably, it took until 2022 for Apple to integrate a high-resolution 48MP sensor, capitalizing on pixel binning advantages. The 2023 lineup extends this sensor across models, including the more budget-friendly iPhone 15 variants. Results are commendable, showcasing enhancements in HDR performance and a reduction in oversharpening issues.

Despite improvements, the iPhone’s photography advancements fall short of pushing the boundaries of imaging technology. Instead of a significant boost to low-light photography, Apple opts for a 2:1 bin for higher-resolution shots, which may seem underwhelming, considering similar features on Android phones since 2018.

Software upgrades include the ability to set focal length preferences, similar to features seen on Pixel phones and other Android cameras. While iPhone photography keeps pace with Android alternatives, its videography takes a notable leap forward.


Leading in Mobile Cinematography

In general, iPhone video quality surpasses that of Android phones, excelling in detail extraction and offering lower compression. Despite struggles in HDR photography, Apple delivers a cinematic color profile for video, coupled with smooth stabilization, making it a preferred choice for on-the-go videographers.

The iPhone 15 Pro’s significant video upgrades focus on improved stabilization, low-light video, and action footage. Real-world comparisons with the Pixel highlight a substantial quality difference, with the iPhone providing brighter, detailed, and smoother videos. The advancements leverage the A17 Pro chipset’s faster neural cores, emphasizing Apple’s vertically aligned approach and efficient integration of lenses, sensors, and the image signal pipeline.

The iPhone’s ability to smooth out high-action shake stands out, enhancing usability in various scenarios, such as running, biking, and climbing. The faster neural cores play a crucial role in AI and ML-based enhancements, surpassing many Android counterparts.


Action Button and USB-C: A Focus on Video

An unexpected photography enhancement is the iPhone 15 Pro’s Action Button, serving as a silent mode toggle by default but also ideal as a shutter key or video camera shortcut. This tactile button adds to the camera-like experience while reducing shake during video recording. The USB-C focus enables pro users to shoot high-res RAW video directly to external storage, aligning with Apple’s emphasis on pro-camera-like features.

While the iPhone’s video capabilities were showcased in shooting Apple’s recent Mac event, its primary use in professional production environments remains limited. However, these features enhance the user experience for those familiar with advanced smartphone camera functionalities, as evidenced by high-quality videos shot exclusively on iPhones and showcased on platforms like YouTube.


The iPhone Leads the Way

While Android phones like the Xperia 1 V and Xiaomi 13 Ultra offer advanced manual controls and Dolby Vision video recording, these features are often restricted behind high price points and complex interfaces. The iPhone makes such capabilities more accessible, affordable, and overall superior.

It’s noteworthy that videos shot on a modern iPhone outperform those from a three-year-old $3000 camera in everyday use and semi-creative YouTube work. Despite imperfections, like the iPhone 15 series retaining USB 2.0 speed and lacking a USB 3.0 cable in the Pro variants, it maintains a significant lead in video capabilities.

In conclusion, the iPhone 15 Pro’s strides in enhancing mobile footage contribute positively to the smartphone’s status as a preferred option for budding videographers. The hope is that these advancements spur improvements in Android smartphones beyond niche circles.