The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus can shoot 4K video. That’s about four times the resolution of 1080P. It looks incredible, but is it worth shooting?
The example video above was shot using the iPhone 6S Plus in 4K (Make sure to click on the Settings gear at the bottom to change the quality to 4K). The footage is straight out of camera with no color editing or post-stabilization. (Note, the iPhone 6S Plus model does have optical stabilization while shooting video!)
Now, just like Live Photos, this new 4K video feature creates a love/hate situation.
To summarize: the main problem with 4K video is that it takes up a lot of space, and it’s not really easy to view on anything. For more details you can read my thoughts below.
4K video on the iPhone takes up about 375MB of space per minute. So 1 gigabyte of storage space fills up in less than 3 minutes when you’re shooting in 4K!
Personally I’m not too concerned about the storage issue, as we opted for the 128GB models, and I have tons of storage space on my computer. The problem is with the size of the videos and iCloud.
You cannot turn off 4K videos from being uploaded to iCloud (unless you turn off iCloud all together). Not only do I not want to waste my internet bandwidth uploading every 4K video I take to iCloud, but I also don’t want to waste storage space on iCloud. The 4K videos take up way more room than the photos, and it’s already forced me to up upgrade my iCloud subscription after just two weeks.
Also, you can’t view 4K videos on the web from iCloud (they look super blurry). You can download them from iCloud, but iCloud won’t stream 4K.
Lack of viewing devices
Right now I don’t own any displays (TV or computer) capable of displaying a full resolution 4K video (I can view 2K on my computer monitor). The only product Apple makes that is capable of displaying 4K is the 27in. iMac Retina 5K. Even the new Apple TVs do not support 4K.
To be fair this isn’t so much of a “problem”: 4K video still looks great when reduced to a lower resolution on 1080P displays. It’s just a fact that most people don’t have 4K televisions or displays, so you can’t really take advantage of the 4K resolution.
But even if you do have a 4K television, you can’t easily watch your 4K iPhone videos on it.
(Note: YouTube does support uploading and viewing 4K video, so that’s a bonus!)
What I’m Doing
I’m thrilled that Apple included 4K with the iPhone 6S, and it’s bizarre that the first 4K camera I own is a smartphone.
Even with the problems I mentioned I still have my iPhone set to record in 4K. I figure that despite the mess of shooting in 4K and the lack of viewing options, it’s the best quality option right now. I don’t think I’ll regret shooting 4K video of my kids when I’m looking back on things 10-15 years from now. And it’s going to get easier!
Hopefully Apple releases an update that allows more control over how 4K videos get uploaded to iCloud. For now, I won’t be able to get around wasting bandwidth uploading 4K videos to iCloud (unless I turn iCloud off on my iPhone which would pause photo syncing between Lauren’s iPhone and mine). I will be able to juggle some storage space on iCloud by occasionally downloading my iPhones 4K videos onto my computer and then deleting them from the phone.
In 2-5 years everyone is going to be looking at 4K screens – probably faster than that. So the final problem is that now that I can shoot 4K video, I want a new screen I can see it on!
P.S. If you do decide to shoot 4K on your iPhone, make sure you’re not syncing to iCloud over cellular networks. It’ll eat up your data plan fast.