How long can an iPhone record video? It depends

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Matthew Wilhelm Kapell
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If you're wondering how long an iPhone can record, the short answer is that it doesn't have a set limit, but it depends. Will you be working on a new project that involves filming using an iPhone? You've seen the "Shot on iPhone" clips. Now is the time to adopt them in practice. This guide will cover the factors that matter most when filming with an iPhone and offer some tips along the way.



How long can an iPhone record video?

The iPhone is a great camera replacement thanks to Apple's focus on building top-notch phone cameras and providing polished apps for editing. The maximum duration of iPhone videos will mainly depend on the iPhone model, the frames per second of the video, the resolution, the format and other details such as the available battery.

Storage: One Thing to Consider When Shooting with an iPhone

Storage is an integral part of the filming process as it impacts the length of a video. This section will cover the different ways to approach storage.

Your available storage space

Internal storage is a crucial factor to consider when shooting video clips. Unless you have 512 GB of storage, you will eventually need additional storage for your device. Android owners can effortlessly expand their storage; However, you cannot say the same for an iPhone. For example, Androids and many other phones have an SD card slot, but iPhones do not.

If you're not sure, follow these steps to find out how much free space your iPhone has:


  1. Open "Settings".
  2. Select “General”.
  3. Tap "About" and search for "Available", which displays your available storage.

USB flash drives

If your internal storage is not enough, you can opt for USB drives. While they aren't exactly aesthetically pleasing, they make up for it by offering good storage functionality. To use these lightweight accessories, you must attach them via the charging port. Many manufacturers make them, such as LEEF.


Hard drives connected to WI-FI

Although they won't come in handy when recording, you can opt for Wi-Fi connected hard drives to store your recorded videos. Make sure it supports your iPhone. The advantage is that you can even add terabytes of storage to your phone. The downsides are much less portability and a different app ecosystem.

Nevertheless, you can use this storage option not only with your phone but also share videos with other devices. This option is especially convenient if you often use a computer and other devices at home.

Cases with storage and battery

Another storage option is to get cases with extra storage, though you should check to see if someone makes them for your model. Some cases like these even come with a battery. The extra power can be useful for long sessions in case you can't find better power sources.

Cloud

You can opt to upload your videos to the cloud to make space for future filming. Apple iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox are just a few of the many alternatives available. They all come with a free and paid version, so they are worth trying.


Resolution can vary space and length of a video

Your iPhone can create videos using different resolutions. Lower resolutions will take up less space, allowing you to create more videos using the same storage, as expected. Therefore, this trade-off is between quality and quantity.


Newer iPhones can record resolutions of at least 720p and 1080p effortlessly. Starting with the iPhone 6S series, the next iPhones in line add 4K HD resolutions and slow-motion captures at 120 and 240 frames per second.

Besides resolution, the video encoding format is also important for storage. Devices running iOS 11 use HEVC by default.

To change your recording format:

  1. Go to settings. »
  2. Select "Camera", then "Formats".
  3. Choose “high efficiency”.

High Efficiency is short for High-Efficiency Video Coding, HEVC or h.265.

For example, according to Apple, hour-long 1080p videos shot at 60 fps use about 11,7 GB for h.264. HEVC nearly cuts that amount in half, especially at 5,4GB.

Examples of video length with different recording options

All of the following recording options, such as frames per second, format (HEVC), and resolution, will produce a 12 GB video:

  • 720p HD movies at 30 fps will make a 5 hour video using 12 GB.
  • HD 1080p at 30 fps will produce approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes of video.
  • 1080p HD at 60 fps will make a 2 hour video.
  • HD 1080p slow motion at 120 fps will produce a 1 hour 6 minute video.
  • HD 1080p slow motion at 240 fps will produce a 24 minute video.
  • 4K HD at 24 fps will create an hour and 24 minute video.
  • 4K HD at 30 fps will make a video of 1 hour and 6 minutes.
  • 4K HD at 60 fps will produce a 30 minute video.

The recording times given will increase with more storage which is proportional and decreases at worst. So, if you have 24 GB, you can expect the length of the previous video to roughly double.



Tips for iPhone Video Recording

Check out the following tips to get the most out of your videos.

Use better alternatives to the default Apple Camera app

Perhaps you want to produce higher quality videos than what the official Apple Camera app offers. If so, you can opt for another video recording app, such as Film Pro, found in the App Store. This application allows you to use 50 Mbit/Sec, a rate higher than the standard 24 Mbit/Sec. Consider that the higher the bitrate, the more space the video will take up.

Lighting matters

Make sure the area you are going to record in is well lit. Light is a factor that affects all mobile cameras. Also, try not to use different light sources as the camera lens may have difficulty combining the different colors emitted by each light source.

Adjust your screen brightness for recording

If you plan to record for a long session, keeping the screen brightness as low as possible will reduce battery consumption. This allows for slightly longer sessions if for some reason you cannot charge the iPhone while recording.

Adjust your white balance

If you want to make sure your video looks natural and has the right colors, you can manually adjust the white balance. Adjusting the white balance allows you to achieve as accurate colors as possible.

Record horizontally with a stand and using airplane mode

Make sure to record your videos horizontally in airplane mode. Bring a support to the table for stability, if needed. This combination allows for better video output, saves battery life and brings more productivity by eliminating unforeseen distractions.

Grids and rule of thirds

Use the rule of thirds to properly frame your production. This rule is used in photography and video. It describes the basic compositional structure of your film. To use, enable your camera app's grid for capture.

A good microphone is worth it

Good sound can make all the difference. So, if you are unhappy with your phone's microphone, you can opt for a high-quality external microphone to ensure that your sound quality is top-notch.

Make sure the microphone is compatible with your model.

Reduce your videos to save space

You can always shrink any video to get that extra space, regardless of the video type. Check out these steps to shrink videos on iPhone:

  1. Open the video you want to cut.
  2. Select "Edit" at the top right or bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap an edge of the video scroll bar at the bottom of the screen. This will show yellow edit handles.
  4. Move the edit handles to where you want to start and end your video.
  5. Hit "Done" and "Save as new clip".

Shoot long shots with the iPhone

Apple is certainly not afraid of the fact that its phones make decent recordings. For example, the company officially recorded a five-hour video titled "Hermitage" using the iPhone 11 Pro. This video was shot continuously at 1080p and ran for 5 hours and 19 minutes. At the end of the long shoot, the iPhone still had 19% battery left.

Still, some people have reported that their video recordings on iPhone sometimes shut down abruptly. It happened randomly, but only when they were recording very long movies.

Although the iPhone 11 Pro sets an outstanding record for filming on battery power, in practice, any iPhone's battery will drain much faster when using non-default apps like Filmic Pro, especially the older a phone gets. Therefore, it would be best if you keep the phone plugged in while recording.

What is your longest recorded video to date? What and how do you plan to film next? Let us know in the comment section below.

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