Smartphone Video

5G and the Smartphone Video Revolution

Posted July 15, 2021
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5G networks being rolled out around the world and 5G enabled smartphones are already having major impacts on how we use our smart devices. One area of particular interest to us is how 5G can change the way we produce and consume video with smartphones.

When the first cameras were integrated with flip phones they only took pictures — very bad pictures. One tiny lens that took some of the lowest resolution photos the world has ever seen.  Now, just over twenty years later our camera-phones, or smartphones as we call them now, have become intricate devices with broadcast quality camera systems on them. 

This evolution was a slow and incremental process. As each new model hit the market, slowly flip phones became smartphones, and the cameras on these devices increased their megapixels and quality with each new iteration. Now we live in a world where your smartphone can have multiple different lenses and shoot in 4K. Not only can you shoot professional quality video with them, but you can also do professional edits and upload to the web all from the same mobile device. 

Now, the next evolution is here, one that will have drastic implications than any innovation before — 5G.

The new 5G networks and 5G enabled devices offer a great leap in download and upload speeds for your devices when they are connected to them. At a base level this means that you can download video files faster, and upload them faster as well. This is also true for larger files and filetypes. So why is this revolutionary? There are a few basic implications here that will change the way a video producer can work with their phone. Let’s go through a few of them. 

The first is collaboration. The ability to send larger files faster can mean working on a project from different parts of the world will no longer be a serious hassle. In most cases today if you are working on a project, you shoot your video, upload it to a cloud service, and then send the link to whomever you are working with. This can take a lot of time and is dependent on being connected to wifi. In most cases, especially if you are working with 4K footage this is a nearly impossible order and requires a wired connection to the internet. Many people still ship hard drives full of footage to get around this issue. With 5G your transfers no longer will be tied to an ethernet cable. This is true whether you are uploading a large project file or raw footage. 

Another area that is bound to be improved by 5G capability is uploading to a video platform. When you are working with a video, there is a limit as to what you can do with your device. You can shoot it in the highest level of quality, you can professionally edit it to completion on your device, but if you want to upload it to the web you are again limited by the size of the exported file. At some point, no matter the capabilities of your device, you have to move over to a computer to get it onto the web. With 5G, that limit is pushed back further allowing you to do more with your device before having to turn to a computer. Theoretically, you can eliminated the computer from the process completely. 

Lastly is live streaming. Live streaming is one of the most exciting developments in the smartphone video revolution. It gave the power to broadcast live to anyone just using a smartphone. What once cost millions and required a satellite uplink, now is available to the public. However there is always a caveat with this — your internet connection. If you have good wifi and just want to point the phone and talk into it you are mostly okay. However, the more complicated you want to make your stream, and the more people you want to watch, the more strained your connection becomes. If you want to stream for a long time, include graphics, multiple cameras, pre-recorded material, then your connection needs to be constantly strong and your upload speed as high as you can get from your internet provider. Now if you take the connection that’s coming from your cellular network and increase it past what you are getting from your wifi, then these types of streams are no longer bound to the length of your ethernet cable, but rather to the full extent of the 5G network. 

The trend here is that with 5G not only is your smartphone more capable of handling more data, but also that the barrier to entry to producing high-quality content is drastically lower. Most of the problems solved by 5G could only be solved by large budgets before, but now, for the cost of a smartphone, those problems are no longer an issue. The playing field is leveled for video producers around the world.


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