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How long can your 4K Smartphone camera record UHD video for? four phones compared

by on June 21, 2016

Stephan Jukic – June 21, 2016

As smartphone cameras become more sophisticated, they start to become capable of photo and video feats which were once the domain of only high quality digital cameras. As a result, with many of the best smartphones today, users can enjoy the benefits of awesome technologies like massive 20 megapixel+ photo sensors, amazingly powerful zoom functions, image processing engines that are fit for a professional camera and other cool recording goodies like laser autofocus, high aperture numbers and low light shooting capacity due to remarkably high ISO power.

The above apply particularly to photography but many of these and other features have also started to be the case as far as video recording is concerned, especially now that many high-end smartphones from almost all of the major brands offer up 4K ultra HD recording.

However, as great as this 4K video capacity is (along with all the other stunning video and photo capabilities of these phones), it does have its limits, in terms of storage, processer generated overheating and consequently also due to hardwired limits imposed on 4K recording times in many UHD smartphones.

With that said, we’ve taken a look at four major smartphones with internal 4K video recording chops and measured up their maximum recording times in one go. Some of these are limited by storage limitations and others by apparently programmed stop times for 4K video footage.

The phones we’ll be looking at now consist of the powerful new Samsung Galaxy S7, the iPhone 6S Plus from Apple, the LG G5 and the Xiaomi Mi5.

Samsung Galaxy S7


The Galaxy S7 offers up a 12 megapixel rear camera module and a 5 megapixel “selfie camera”. The rear 12MP camera is the one which offers up 4K recording and in the case of this phone, it seems to be a case of however much storage your unit has inside it. In the Galaxy S6, a 5 minute 4K video clip takes up 1.7 GB of internal or microSD storage and the maximum storage capacity of this model is 328GB, which theoretically means a long recording time. However, since the phone does lightly heat up as it’s shooting said footage, with the video recording in UHD also eating into battery power quite quickly, We’d guess that shooting at a single stretch would allow for a limit of maybe 1 hour of UHD video, though said  4K video quality would be stunning, as this professionally done example shows.



LG’s flagship G5 phone for this part of 2016 offers up a 16 megapixel rear camera with laser autofocus and a front-facing selfie camera with a hefty 8 megapixel resolution. It’s maximum internal storage space with microSD combined totals up to 288GB and as far as we can tell, the G5 is also capable of shooting 4K video without a programmed limit. It will shoot until the storage fills up or the phone’s 2800 mAh battery dies. We suspect the capacity to manage more than an hour of 4K recording at a stretch with full storage capacity ready. While shooting 4K video the G5 does tend to heat up at a moderate pace and after 15 minutes of recording becomes quite warm. This was a problem the previous flagship, the G4 also had but worse, since it overheated after just a few minutes of UHD recording.

Xiaomi Mi5

Xiaomi’s Mi5 flagship phone comes with a 16 megapixel rear camera and a weak 4 megapixel front camera module. The rear camera shoots its 4K video and comes with a 2.3GB 8 minute size limit programmed into the phone. This is probably a good thing since after 8 minutes of 4K recording, the phone definitely overheats in an uncomfortable way.

Apple iPhone 6S Plus


Apple’s superb iPhone 6S Plus is still the company’s 2016 flagship phone even though there are plenty of rumors about a late 2016 iPhone 7 with some stunning specs coming up. This mobile device comes with a superb 12 megapixel rear camera whose lower resolution belies the high quality of the photos it takes. There is also a 5 megapixel selfie camera at the front of the phone. Like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5, the iPhone 6S Plus also apparently has no programmed limit on its 4K recording capacity. It will capture footage in UHD for as long as its 128GB of internal storage allows and this amounts to roughly 40 minutes of footage from what we’ve seen, with minimal overheating to boot. The iPhone 6S Plus has in fact already been used to film an entire professional documentary in 4K UHD.

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  • Mr T
    December 7, 2016 at 4:33 am

    I’ve been using my 128GB iPhone 6S as an in car camera recording in 4K UHD & have had no issues with overheating etc 2 hour long journeys. This is done on a regular basis. If there’s no accident or reason to keep the recorded 4K video I just delete it. If an accident occurs, it’s no trouble to transfer the recorded 4K video to Google Drive. I can access & play the video from my PC easily. Image quality is outstanding!


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