The HTC Desire HD and the iPhone 4, like Mega Shark and Giant Octopus, are locked into a battle to the death for the crown of king of smart phones. They both boast HD video recording, but which one slaps the handycam in a virtual high-five of creativity?
The iPhone 4 records 720p video up to 30 frames per second. The HTC Desire HD also does 720p, its fps rate isn't specified, and it has two LED lights rather than one.
We took the iPhone 4 and the Desire HD on a typical lark about town, joining the CNET UK team on a trip to a local lunch spot. Indoors and out, in bright sun and through windows, we stretched the cameras on the two phones to a tolerable limit.
Shooting was quick and easy with both phones, although we had a little trouble with the Desire HD. Because it has touch-sensitive buttons on the front, we occasionally hit one of the those while we were trying to hold the phone. The iPhone 4, with its single home button, didn't have that problem. On both phones, the on-screen controls were similar, and we had no trouble with either.
Outdoors, we put both phones to the test in bright, sunny conditions, filming through a reflective window, and in a noisy environment. But this is where we encountered our first hiccup. In our hungry pre-lunch confusion, we recorded everything in portrait mode. The iPhone 4 managed to sort out our foolishness, displaying black bars and playing the video right-side up. The Desire HD took us at our word, and displayed everything sideways. That's been sorted out in YouTube for you so the videos are watchable and comparable.
Bust out the full-screen and ensure you're on the max HD quality to really get to grips with these videos.
In the noisy environment outside the Tate, the iPhone 4's sound quality gives it the edge. We also detected some slight judders in the Desire HD video, where the recording hangs. We see the same problem in the sample below.
Indoors, the Desire HD also had some problems rendering colour properly, giving both Rich and his pile of mash a distinctly blue tinge.
Sharing videos was easy from both phones, although we had more choices of destination with the Desire HD. The iPhone 4 offers email, MMS, MobileMe or YouTube. The Desire HD throws in Twitter, Flickr, Picasa and plenty of others based on what apps you have installed.
The iPhone 4 has the advantage in editing, with a simple, touch-friendly video editor built into the gallery that lets you clip those embarrassing starts and ends of videos. But iMovie is the iPhone's secret weapon -- and it's a killer.
Available for £2.99 from the app store, iMovie is an app for editing video on the phone. Although slightly fiddly in places, iMovie made editing our clips into an epic film dead easy. If you really fancy becoming a mini-Scorsese on your phone, iMovie is the quickest path to that tiny Oscar.
We tried using YouTube's online editor on the Desire HD to do some editing in the cloud, but uploading our clips took far too long to be practical, even over Wi-Fi. The editor isn't designed for mobile devices, so it warns you that all features may not work. In a nutshell, it's no fun.
We had no luck finding a video editor in the Android Market that could compete with iMovie, so there's a hole waiting to be filled by a good developer. Let us know in the comments if you can recommend a video editor for Android that works for you.
And the winner is...
Overall, both phones were easy to use and we'd happily depend on both for capturing a quick moment in time. But the iPhone 4 beat the Desire HD for video and audio quality, and made editing movies on the phone easier too. The Desire HD wins for sharing video with a variety of services, but other than that, the iPhone is our choice for pocket-sized cinematography.