Best 4K Video Smartphones 2015

August 8, 2015

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I love shooting videos using my smartphones, and I do it quite frequently. It’s such an amazing thing to be able to capture our precious memories and be able to see them when we come back home and even in years to come. I personally want to be sure that when I but a new smartphone, it has the features that I need to capture the best looking videos in 4K (Ultra HD). In this article we made you a list of the Top 5 cell phones for recording 4K videos. If you need it to record yourself for a YouTube channel, searching for a 4K video recording device to view videos on your 4K display, or just for casual shooting, any of these phone will server you well. The phones are listed in no particular order; OK let’s begin!


LG G4 rear facing camera
The LG G4 smartphone has one of the best main cameras on the market, but it can also shoot very high-quality 4K videos as well. The LG G4 rear-facing camera has on of the best specs on the market, including:

  • a 28mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.8 aperture lens
  • 3-axis Optical Image Stabilization (OIS 2.0)
  • Laser Autofocus system
  • Flash LED and Color Spectrum sensor
  • A 16-megapixel Sony IMX234  Exmor R relatively large 1/2.6-inch, 1.12 micron pixels,  16:9 back-illuminated sensor
    The same sensor size used in the Galaxy Note 4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
  • 5.5-inch 1440×2560 pixel IPS LCD display
  • LEF flash
  • Manual focus

The LG G4 is also great for stills with a broad range of camera manual controls.  The LG G4 has all the features you can ask for to capture amazing 4K UHD videos in 30 FPS.

So what makes the LG G4 video quality so good? It’s all about the specifications. First of all, the LG G4 camera has a very fast f/1.8 aperture. The aperture f-number (F1.8) signifies the size of the hole through which light passes through in the lens. The larger that hole, the more light that can pass through . LG G4 has the fastest lens on the market as of the time of writing.  For example, The Galaxy S6  has a f/1.8 lens. So the LG G4 lens can absorb 1.1x more light than the S6. A fast lens means better low-light performance and shallower depth of field effect when shooting close subjects. As you can see in the video, the Bokeh is very smooth when shooting macros.

The LG G4 4K videos are vivid, super sharp and natural looking videos. The Optical Image Stabilization is super effective in reducing camera shake when shooting and walking at the same time. The LG G4 innovative laser autofocus make sure that the camera will continuously track the subject when it moves across the frame. The AF is more effective for close-range subjects, compared to phase-detection, which can be found on other smartphone cameras like the iPhone 6 Plus and Motorola Moto X Style smartphone.

Here’s a LG G4 Low Light camera test video shot in 4K UHD.

All in all, a great 4K video recording smartphone, especially when shooting at night. One of its main cons is quite noticeable rolling shutter effect (“Jello/Wobble effect”)so you need to keep your hands steady, but keep in mind that it’s true to all smartphones in some degree or another, but on the LG G4 it seems a bit more noticeable.

Sony Xperia Z3+

Xperia Z3+ rear facing camera

Announced on May 26, 2015, the Sony Xperia Z3+ is yet another amazing phone for recording 4K video clips. Let’s take a look at the key specs.

  • 1/2.3″ 20.7 MP Exmor RS Stacked Back-illuminated sensor , 1.12 micron pixels
  • 25mm F2.0 Sony G Lens
  • LEF flash
  • SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode
  • Video HDR
  • ISO 12800 (3200 for video)
  • 5.2-inch 1080×1920 pixel IPS LCD display
  • Waterproof IP rating of IP65/68

The Sony Xperia Z3+ sensor utilizes Sony’s latest Stacked Sensor technology innovation. The LG G4 uses a regular back-illuminated sensor. The Z+ greatly outshine in low-light due to the it’s sensor technology, sensor size, a maximum ISO 3200 sensitivity (higher for photos), f/2.0 aperture and HDR technology. All those things help the Xperia Z3 Plus to prevail in low-light, the iPhone 6 Plus can’t compete with such performance.
Here’s a Sony Xperia Z3+ Low light underwater camera test shot in 4K UHD 2160p.

Yep, people shoot with it even underwater. and according to its IP certification. I personally didn’t understand from the official website whether te phone can indeed be sued to shoot underwater. There is a 1.5 m icon, so it might suggest that you can. But at the bottom of the page is says that it isn’t designed to be used underwater, or it is just  say not to use it in salt water, seawater, chlorinated water or liquid drinks according. I’m still puzzled on this, but you can check out the official website yourself.

The Sony Xperia Z3+ uses Sony G lens optics. This is Sony’s optical lens designed to the highest standards or optical performance. This means a sharper image, significantly reduces chromatic aberration and lens distortions, higher contrast image and better out-of-focus areas (Bokeh effect).  The Sony Xperia Z3+ lacks an optical image stabilization, but uses a digital video image stabilization with Intelligent Active Mode. This stabilization uses the input from the phone’s gyroscope sensor, and will actually delay the saving of the video and save it after the corrections have been applied. You can turn the Intelligent Active mode on or of.Some swear by this feature and say that it works even better than the optical stabilization counterpart. That being said, the “Intelligent active mode” is only supported in 1080p (Full HD), not in 4K.

The Sony Xperia Z3+ will give ou very high-quality 2160p 4K videos. Videos are well stabilized, sharp and have very pleasing colors. A highly-recommended phone for shooting videos in low-light and you can even shoot with it underwater!  Keep in mind that the Z3 Plus camera lacks phase-detection autofocus and an OIS.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge / S6

Galaxy S6 Edge rear facing camera

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge has a superb camera for stills, but it also excels in video recording. Let’s take a look at the specs.

  • 16MP 1/2.6-inch Sony Exmor IMX240 BSI Stacked sensor; 1.12 micron pixels
  • 28mm (35mm equivalent) F1.9six-element (plastic) lens
  • Dual-axis Optical image stabilization
  • Image Plane Phase-detection AF (PDAF)
  • Digital video stabilization
  • 4rd generation Single LED flash

As of the time of writing, Galaxy S6 Edge takes the firs place on DxOMark mobile tests.  The S6 Edge (and S6) can capture very high-quality videos but you there aren’t many features to play with. Recording is straight forward  and low-light performance is good overall. Some reviews reported strong compression in 4K recording mode
Check this Galaxy S6 Edge 4K sample video by PHoneArena

In some phones we can some features missing, but the S6 Edge has both an optical image stabilization, phase-detection AF and also a fast aperture which make it great for recording high-quality videos, especially when shooting moving subjects. The AF system is very important in that aspect. Without a good AF system, videos won’t look as smooth for the viewer as the camera slowly tries to focus on the subject. With PDAF AF works much faster, so it can track subjects more accurately and your videos will look more professional. The S6 Edge main strength is in daylight, but it does a decent job in low-light with relatively low-noise, good white-balance adjustment and good color reproduction.

I my opinion, the Galaxy S6 video quality is among the best I’ve seen when shooting in daylight. Image is tack sharp with very vivid and natural colors, I’m really impressed with the S6 camcorder image quality. You can check out

Sony Xperia M5

Sony Xperia M5 rear facing camera

Sony has another superb 4K snapper, the Xperia M5. The Xperia M5 is a host of great features that makes it very good for video shooting. Let’s take a look at the Xperia M5 key specs.

  • 21.5 MP Sony Exmor RS Stacked BSI sensor
  • 0.25-second Hybrid AF (phase-detection and contrast-detection)
  • SteadyShot digital video stabilization
  • f/2.2 aperture lens
  • up to ISO 3200
  • 720p 120fps high-speed videos in Timeshift mode
  • Waterproof and dust tight (IP65/IP68 certified)
  • 5-inch 1080×1920 pixel IPS LCD display

The Sony Xperia M5 uses Sony’s next-generation Stacked BSI sensot technology and an advanced Hybrid AF system. “Hybrid” means that the phone’s camera utilizes two AF technology: contrast-based AF and phase-detect AF, bot at the same time. This allows the camera to provide much more accurate and faster AF performance; especially important when recording videos of fast-moving subjects. The M5 lacks an OIS, but the SteadyShot should no a very good job stabilizing the image. For still OIS is obviously preferred, but digital IS solutions have come along way and they work amazingly well.
the Sony Xperia M5 can also be used to shoot outdoors in the rain without worrying about damaging your phone and camera. This means that you’ll be able take some unique shots that other people won’t be able to if they don’t have a waterproof phone. The 720p 120 fps high-speed video recording is a great feature as well.

Keep in mind that the Xperia M5 has the slowest aperture among the cameras we compared here. The Stacked Sensor does help to improve some of the aperture limitations, but by all means it’s not slow. You can still use it in low light, but you’ll have to use a higher ISO, which will result in more image noise. If you want to take pictures of your kids running around in the back garden or shooting any type of fast-moving subject in 4K videos, the M5 is a great choice. The M5 main selling point is its fast AF system, waterproof design and new-gen sensor. In the future we are going to see more smartphones with 4K videos recording that use the Stacked Sensor technology and Hybrid AF.So the M5 might be less appealing because of its relatively slow aperture and lack of OIS.

Motorola Moto X Style

Motorola Moto X Style Rear facing camera

The Moto X Style camera uses Sony’s new IMX230 sensor. This relatively new 21MP 1/2.4″ Stacked sensor was optimized for better low-light photography, image quality and video AF performance.

There are a total of 192 AF pixels incorporated into the image sensor’s screen. The camera uses those pixels to accurately major subject distance when focusing on moving subjects. The sensor also incorporates real-time video HDR which helps reproduce better details and rich gradations in highlight and shadow areas. The good new is that the HDR function is also compatible in 4K recording mode. The camera also incorporates white sport correction and advanced noise reduction (NR).

The Moto X Style grabbed the 3rd place on DxOMark a few days after it was released and boasts an excellent photo and video overall score. Obviously the sensor has a lot to do with it, and you can be sure that many future smartphones will be equipped with the high-performing image sensor.

Let’s take a look at the specs:

  • 21MP 1/2.4″, 1.1 microns, Sony IMX230 sensor
  • 192-point Imaeg plane phase detection AF
  • Video HDR
  • f/2.0 aperture lens
  • CCT dual LED flash
  • Digital Video Stabilization
  • 720p 120 fps slow-mo video recording
  • 5.7-inch 1440×2560 pixels LCD display
  • Certified IP52 (Water Repellant Nano Coating)

Let’s take a look at a Motorola Moto X Style sample videos (by Sam Pullen).

The Moto X Style doesn’t have the fastest lens among the five not an OIS, but early reviews and tests shown that it has a very capable camera. You’ll appreciate the fast AF performance and high-resolution images if you mainly shoot in daylight.


As of the time of writing, theser are my to picks for the best smartphones for shooting 4K videos. Starting at 2014 we’ve seen many new smartphones taking advantage of the new sensor technologies. Those sensor technologies are directly responsible for the improvement in image and video quality. We can expect many other phones to incorporate Sony’s latest image sensor technologies to improve the ovearall performance of the game.

No doubt that 4K videos look great when wathcing them on 4K display. Those 4K displays are still expensive, but as the price of those display goes down, so does the demand for a 4K recording devices.  If I had to choose one of thse phones, I would probablay would have taken the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. I really liked its videos quality. The vidoe was very sharp, with excellent contrast and gorgeous color reproduction. You just can’t understand how important it is until you see some comparison videos side by side. I watched some videos taken by gsmarena and I was amazed by the differences. You can check their YouTube sample image channel and see it for yourelf.

Which phone do you think is the best for 4K videos? Share your opinion in the comment section below. Thanks for eading and please don’t forget to LIKE and share this article if you found it useful. Cheers.

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