Mobile Media: How To Record Quality Video on Your Mobile

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Dec 13, 2010

Many mobile phones can capture video footage. This has enabled both trained journalists and citizen reporters to more easily capture footage including images that were rarely seen before. The Polk Journalism Award in 2009, for example, was awarded to a video from Iran captured on a mobile phone. Today, more and more journalists are using mobile phones to record video and quickly transfer content to their newsrooms via mobile data connections.

Using mobiles to capture video isn't new news. But there is good news: You don't need a high-quality video camera to do high-quality reporting, be you in the U.S. or elsewhere. Many journalists and citizen reporters today use smartphones to capture video footage. Examples abound. Vancouver journalism students use an iPhone with some additional hardware and software to do all their video editing on the phone. Voices of Africa uses a Nokia N-series smartphone. In his book Mobile Journalism in the Asian Region, Stephen Quinn uses both iPhones and Nokia smartphones. This post will provide some tips and tools on how you can record quality video and audio from your mobile phone.

Make Sure Your Phone is Capable

Phone hardware is constantly improving and getting cheaper. With an older phone, you may consider video enhancement software, which can offer a cheaper way to get better quality video content. For high quality video recording on a mobile, the best phones available today feature 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames per second. 320 x 240 pixels at 15 frames per second produces acceptable web-quality video.

Lower resolutions will look grainy and pixelated without software enhancement, and video below 15 frames per second will look choppy. On the high quality end, these are some good mobile phones with excellent video cameras:

  • PC Magazine featured these five video-phone models with varying price ranges. The article includes lengthy reviews and a matrix comparison of the phones.
  • For high end phones, take a look at these articles: CNet's top 5 video phones of 2009, Wirefly's top 10 2009 video phones, MSNBC's video phone review with 5 recommendations, the iPhone 3GS, and the Motorola Droid.
  • The database features 1800 phones with video capabilities, 70 of which are listed on this page. The site allows you to search for cameras based on various criteria and links directly to carriers around the world who are selling these phones.
  • The Nokia N series phones are generally highly recommended for video recording. The N82, N93, and N95 are mentioned often by independent reviewers.

Go Shoot (good) Video

When it comes to shooting video, the major difference between mobiles and mainstream camcorders is that mobile phones have simpler (and smaller) cameras. It is important to understand what makes for good quality video given these limitations. Some suggested tools and tips are listed here.


Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 08, 2009
audioTagger data sheet 2392 Views
Organization that developed the Tool: 
Main Contact: 
Eva Sjuve
Problem or Need: 

The mobile phone is the most ubiquitous tool of the moment; using a mobile phone (rather than an audio recorder) to record spontaneously produced sounds will result in opportunities to capture more true-to-life field recordings.

Main Contact Email : 
Brief Description: 

audioTagger uses the sound recorder in mobile phones to capture sound in urban spaces. The audio file is then mapped using Google Maps to visualize the location of the audio tags. audioTagger is a momentary exploration of urban space, using mobile technology to captures a sonic moment. Anybody with a data-enabled mobile phone can participate and contribute to audioTagger's exploration of the environment, using the mobile phone as a field recorder.

Tool Category: 
App resides and runs on a server
Key Features : 
  • Mobile email-enabled
  • Broadcasts SMS 


Main Services: 
Voting, Data Collection, Surveys, and Polling
Location-Specific Services and GIS
Tool Maturity: 
Under development/pre-launch
Java ME
Current Version: 
Program/Code Language: 
Number of Current End Users: 
Under 100
Number of current beneficiaries: 
Under 100
Languages supported: 
Handsets/devices supported: 
All Internet-enabled, Java mobile phones.
Is the Tool's Code Available?: 
Is an API available to interface with your tool?: 
Global Regions: