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Group test: Which smartphone has the best video camera?

iPhone, Nexus One, Palm Pre and Motorola Milestone

Video capture is standard on smartphones these days, but not all camcorders are created equal. We put four popular smartphones to the test to determine which has the best video quality.

Smartphones boast a wealth of useful functions from email and web browsing to video and music playback.

With ever-improving sensors, on-board editing tools, and wireless sharing features, smartphones are also a popular device when it comes to capturing video on the go.

But not all smartphone camcorders are created equal. In my head-to-head tests, I found that certain phones handled motion more skillfully than others, some performed better in dim lighting while others floundered, and some produced noticeable pixelation in my test shoots.

The contenders

I tested the camcorders on four popular smartphones: the Palm Pre Plus, the Google Nexus One, the Motorola Milestone and the Apple iPhone 3GS.

The camcorder specs for each are as follows:

  • Palm Pre Plus
    3Mp sensor, 640x480-pixel videos, up to 29 frames per second
  • Nexus One
    5Mp sensor, 720x480-pixel videos, up to 20 frames per second
  • Motorola Milestone
    5Mp sensor, 720x480-pixel videos, up to 24 frames per second
  • Apple iPhone 3GS
    3Mp sensor, 640x480-pixel videos, up to 30 frames per second

The Milestone and the Nexus One, both running Google's AnMilestone 2.1 OS, do not have any on-board video-editing features.

The Palm Pre Plus and the iPhone 3GS, in contrast, allow you to trim video length by dragging a handle through a series of thumbnail-size stills.

All four phones let you upload directly to YouTube or send clips to friends via email or MMS; the Palm Pre Plus also permits you to upload directly to Facebook.

Which smartphone camcorder had the best video quality? Read on.

NEXT PAGE: Bright lighting test

  1. We pit four of the most popular smartphones head-to-head
  2. Bright lighting test
  3. Dim lighting test
  4. Sound quality

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