iPhone 4 features: Hands-on with 5 megapixel, front-facing, and 720p video camera

The iPhone 4 was officially launched today and after picking mine up, I was eager to test out the new cameras. The rear camera is 5 megapixels and features 5x digital zoom and 16:9, 720p HD video recording. It also has a built-in LED flash that can be used for photos or video. The front-facing camera is VGA quality and can be used for both 1.4 megapixel stills and 360p video as well.

So how do the iPhone 4 cameras perform? Find out after the break!


Photos taken with the rear camera are beautiful. They are very crisp and the iPhone 4 does an excellent job with exposure and focus. As with the 3GS, I am extremely impressed with the macro ability of the lens. Here's a few pictures I took with the 5 megapixel camera.

The quality of the VGA front-facing camera also impressed me. The photos are, as expected, not as good as those taken with the 5 megapixel camera, but they are still very nice. This self-portrait was taken with the front-facing VGA-quality camera:

The LED flash is much better than expected. I have not been able to test it while recording video because it's still daylight, but photos taken with the flash look great. Here's a sample of a photo taken with and without flash.

I will admit to being a skeptic about the 5x digital zoom. Optical zoom is so superior to digital zoom that I expected it to look horrible. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that software behind the digital zoom does a great job with the photos. Clearly, they are not as good as they would be without the the zoom, but not too bad. Here's a series of photos I took in increments of 1/4 of the full 5x digital zoom.


HD video recording on the iPhone 4 is a dream come true. The ability to record 720p video with my iPhone feels like such a luxury. The video comes out crisp and beautiful and is so easy to edit with iMovie directly on the device. My only complaint is that the tap to focus feature can be a bit touchy (pun intended!). When standing still while recording, tap to focus works wonderfully. However, if you've walked around for a bit and then decided to tap to focus, the iPhone sometimes struggles to grab a good focus. I demonstrate this in the the video below.

The VGA-quality front-facing camera also captures video, and although it's not HD, the quality is still pretty good.

Here's a video I put together with iMovie for iPhone with video and photo samples. What do you think? If you've put your iPhone 4's video recording to the test, we want to know your experience and thoughts as well. Sound off in the comments below!

[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

iPhone 4 features: Hands-on with 5 megapixel, front-facing, and 720p video camera


Leanna definitely disappointed. I know, unless you are special. That you didn't get a white iPhone! Ugh! Now I'm going to be forced to buy a black one. End of July is waaay too long to wait.

Yeah, I'm loving the new iP4 myself and the cameras are wonderful - even compared to my 3GS.

@Max - HAHA! We just moved yesterday! Give us a break! We got to move in early for free if we agreed to do the yardwork. My husband is going to do it over the weekend.
@Gregg - Oh, don't worry! I WILL get the white iPhone! I will use my husband's line to get one at a subsidized price and cell my black one :)

Great Camera Review.... I'm finally getting the ipad tomorrow and I have a question about your griffin jumper review. Was the one you reviewed blue and white or was it black because I've been looking for a blue one and I cant find it.

I need someone to do that for me. Thats a good idea!! I still want white, but I cant wait that long. I dont want to miss the upgrade window for next year!!

@Gregg I am waiting for the white iPhone and I to also thought about the upgrade date for next year but I think that Apple will realize that they screwed up and talk to At&t about giving us early upgrade eligibility like they did this year maybe a month or so.... but that's just a thought

How do you get the 720 video to YouTube? Can you upload direct with compressing? Or do you have to rip it from the iPhone with iPhoto or Aperature and then uupload? I can't figure it out.

the wait time over here at Brea Mall in SoCal is not that bad. 5 hours if you have a reservation and the people from apple are pretty cool and helpfull. they were giving most of the people waiting in line drinks and snacks. =)

I think the focusing problems are more related to low light than merely moving the camera around. Most cameras have problems with autofocus in low light and the locations you had problems with were darker than those where you experienced good focusing. They were just not that noticeable as being darker because the exposure adjusted to compensate. However, that exposure compensation does not overcome the fact that there's little actual light to assist the autofocus process.

very nice review. thanks for making it.
i still have a question regarding zooming while in video mode. seems like iphone can focus in that mode, as you indicated, but can't zoom while videoing. for example, if i'm looking at a great blue heron at the far edge of a large pond and i were using an iphone 4 i would not be able (without swimming to the middle of the pond!) be able to capture that heron on video. is that correct. what if in camera mode i zoomed in on the heron, then switched to video mode. would that work? thanks again.

as far as i have tried, i cannot figure out a way to actually zoom in and out on the video camera feature for iphone 4. This would have been a really nice feature!!

Thanks for the review! I was really enjoying my iP4, however, not anymore now.. After 3 weeks the built-in speakers are not working anymore. Shame..

Thomas just take ur iphone direct to any apple shop they should be able to do something especially under a years warrenty aswell. They will try to fix the problem if they cant then deffo they will replace it with a new one! Apple is just brilliant like that.. Their known for their good reputation :)

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