Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+ may have the most advanced smartphone camera ever made, but the iPhone X’s camera beats it in one big way.
Prospective Galaxy S9 users might be disappointed to learn the new flagship Android phone can’t record video in 4K resolution at the highest (read: smoothest) 60 frames per second frame rate as long as the iPhone X can.
A video uploaded to Reddit has revealed the Galaxy S9 and S9+ only records 4K video at 60 fps for a maximum length of five minutes.
That may not seem like a deal-breaker (seriously, maybe it’s not), but it’s somewhat disappointing when you compare it to the iPhone.
On the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, you can record videos in 4K resolution at 60 fps for as long as you want — so long as you have enough storage.
There are various reasons why Samsung might be limiting the S9’s full video recording capabilities. When you record high-resolution video at higher frame rates, the camera captures and writes more data to the storage. As a result, recording in 4K60 usually taxes the system-on-a-chip (SoC), which contains the processor and graphics chip and more, and leads to overheating.
By capping recording time at five minutes, the S9 essentially stops all processing and data-writing to prevent a meltdown or unexpected shutdown.
New users may be surprised to hear this limitation, but it’s not really shocking if you’ve ever used a Samsung or Android phone before with a Qualcomm chipset.
For its flagships, Samsung typically sells two versions: one with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip and one with its own-designed Exynos chip. It would appear that Samsung phones with Snapdragon chips have long had a limit for their video recording.
For example, a Galaxy S7 with a Snapdragon 820 chip could only record full HD video at 60 fps for a maximum of 10 minutes, whereas there was no such limitation on a Galaxy S7 with an Exynos 8890 chip.
Why’s there a difference? Simple: hardware architecture. Samsung phones with Exynos chips seem to be less prone to overheating and therefore can withstand longer recording times. We’ve also reached out to Samsung for a more detailed explanation on why 4K60 capture is limited to five minutes and will update this story if we receive a response.
Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t need to worry about these problems because it designs its own more power-efficient silicon for its iPhones. In other words: Apple’s vertically-integrated hardware and iOS are more capable than lumping together a bunch of off-the-shelf components with Android.
Should this limitation discourage anyone from buying a Galaxy S9 or S9+? Probably not. Nobody should be recording videos that are longer than five minutes, anyway. Just break that footage up into several clips. You’ll be glad you did when you have to edit your clips later.