The iPhone 4S has a stunning amount of detail in its videos - it beats the other five hands-down. The level of detail comes at a price though, and that's storage. A short 20 second video weighs in at nearly 60MB and you can't choose 720p to save space either. A long 10 minute video grows to 1.7-1.8GB - owners 4S with 16GB will have to offload their videos quite often if they want room for other stuff.
Even in the dark, videos have a lot of detail but there's noticeable noise. Still, it's the best performer in poor lighting.
The AE/AF lock and video stabilization make things even more certain - if you want the best FullHD video on the market now, the iPhone 4S is the one to get.
The one thing that lets it down is the audio - it's mono sound recorded at 64Kbps (AAC). Also, in video mode its field of view of 40mm is quite less than the 30mm wide angle FoV of the still camera.
Here's a FullHD video sample that shows the video recording skill of the iPhone 4S in both good and low light. Don't forget to choose 1080p and view it in full screen.
The Nokia N9 is one of the 720p shooters and videos have very poor detail. Low contrast areas show signs of too much compression. Videos can be a bit choppy depending on the situation (not quite hitting the 30fps mark, closer to 25-27fps) and there's a hint of excessive rolling shutter effect too.
Highlights and shadows are properly exposed. Color saturation is boosted a bit and white balance is off (towards cooler hues).
Despite the camera's wide aperture, low-light videos come off pretty noisy and with noticeable motion blur.
Videos have stereo sound with a bitrate of 132Kbps (AAC).
You can watch the following video - it shows the N9 recording video in both good and low light (best viewed in full screen).
Samsung Galaxy S II
The Galaxy S II captures good amounts of fine detail across the whole frame. White balance produces cool colors, just like the still camera. Other than that, colors are mostly OK and there are no complaints about the video quality. By the way, colors are much, much better if you switch to 720p mode.
In the dark, noise kills a lot of the detail but videos are still nice. Framerate for FullHD videos drops to 25fps in low light situations, but 720p videos remain at a solid 30fps.
Audio is mono at 60Kbps (AAC).
Here's Galaxy S II's video sample - don't forget to select 1080p resolution and view it in full screen. Click here to view the 720p sample of the same scene.
Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S
The arc S shoots 720p videos and the level of fine detail is mostly good. We say mostly, as the compression is heavier than it should have been and that results in softness in some areas. Videos don't quite hit their intended 30fps mark when there isn't enough light.
The backlit sensor fails to keep noise at bay when the lights go out and there's not much fine detail left in the videos.
Videos are captured with 128Kbps stereo sound (AAC codec is used).
Here's the video sample for the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S (best viewed in full screen).
HTC Sensation XE
Videos from the Sensation XE have a lot of detail in them, but compression artifacts manage to kill the detail in the low-contrast areas. The motion blur is more noticeable than on most of the other competitors. Colors are oversaturated.
In poor lighting conditions, quality drops noticeably - as does the framerate. Both 1080p and 720p are below the 24fps limit in the dark.
Videos have stereo audio with 128Kbps bitrate (AAC).
Don't forget to click 1080p when viewing Sensation XE's video sample (and it's best to watch it in full screen). You can view the 720p sample here.
The HTC Titan videos have very good detail for the 720p mark, but again heavy compression kicks in to smudge things out in some areas.
Results in the dark are quite alright - noise is kept in check and the amount of captured detail is surprisingly close to that in well-lit videos.
The Titan's videos have stereo sound too (AAC codec is used again).
Here's Titan's video sample - hit full screen for a more detailed look.