The best phones of 2023: Video test – The iPhone is (no longer) the reference in many areas

The question of which smartphone is the best for video recording can only be answered when you take into account how much you personally prioritize individual factors, as in comparison to photography, the differences can be huge. While the iPhone is almost dogmatically used as a clear reference for videography in certain YouTube circles, we already laid this myth to rest during our last video test. One generation later and the 15th generation of the iPhone (Pro version) still remains one of the best phones to record videos on, however, in many areas, Android delivers much better results — especially when it comes to image sharpness and low-light performance.

In turn, the iPhone 15 Pro Max can barely be beaten in all things video stabilization in daylight — especially if you have a very unsteady hand. The Apple phone neutralizes movement very well and keeps a good focus. However, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is the clear winner when it comes to low light, where the iPhone 15 Pro Max seems to be a little inconsistent.

The Xiaomi 13 Ultra could very well be the measure of all things in terms of image quality, but unfortunately, Xiaomi has once again overdone it with its saturated red tones. It remains a matter of personal taste whether its strong video sharpness outweighs its relatively artificial-looking red tones. However, the large discrepancy between the stabilization of videos in 4K30 and 4K60 as well as 8K is also one of the Xiaomi flagship’s weaknesses. In contrast, if you often record moving images at night, then you can use the 13 Ultra without hesitation — no other smartphone currently records better videos in the dark.

Which is currently the best smartphone for recording video strongly depends on your own personal use behavior. 

The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s results showed fewer extremes and it instead delivered consistently good results. However, Samsung artificially sharpens a lot of its footage — the same as in its photos. We noted some smaller weaknesses in terms of image stabilization compared to an iPhone 15 Pro Max as well as its picture quality in low-light conditions. Especially its 8K option with surprisingly good stabilization in daylight sets the Samsung phone apart from the competition.

The Pixel 8 Pro performed just as surprisingly weak when it came to video recording. Last year, it was a bit of a secret favorite but now, it seems that the Pixel 7 Pro’s successor can’t be classed as a camera elite. Its low-light performance in particular is a lot worse than that of the competition. We will just have to wait and see whether its announced AI cloud-based optimizations actually improve the phone’s video quality or not.


Haven’t found the perfect smartphone yet? But still on the hunt for a good camera phone. Then take a look at our list of the best photography smartphones — here, you will find a regularly updated list of the 10 best camera phones taken from our reviews.


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