The Fastest Way to Start Recording Video on Your Smartphone

The Fastest Way to Start Recording Video on Your Smartphone
Photo: Ceri Breeze, Shutterstock

You never know when you’re going to need to record something on your phone. Maybe there’s a rat in the subway bringing its slice home for dinner; maybe a pedestrian on a call is about to spill the beans on someone’s living situation. Whatever the case, if there’s a viral moment unfolding in front of you, there’s no time to waste — you need to start shooting.

We all know how to record videos on our smartphones: Open the Camera app, switch over to Video mode, press the red record button, and get on with it. You might even know how to make sure you’re recording your video in the highest quality possible. But when the moment counts, you don’t want to fiddle with buttons or menus, and that’s why iPhone and Android both sport an option to record video instantly from Photo mode without requiring you to jump to Video mode first.

Apple has an official name for this feature, which it dubs “QuickTake.” It makes the feature available on iPhone XS and later. It’s not clear which Android phones support the feature and which don’t, however; for context, I’m using it on a Pixel 4 running the latest Android 12 beta.

How to quickly record video from Photo mode on iPhone and Android

All you need to do is open the Camera app, then long-press on the shutter button or long-press one of the volume buttons. When you do, the shutter button will turn into a red record button, and your phone will begin to shoot video rather than take a photo.

You have a few options from here. While keeping your finger glued to the display, you can swipe up to zoom in on your subject, and swipe down to zoom out. Other apps, like Snapchat, allow you to zoom like this as well. If you don’t want to keep holding down the record button the whole time, you can swipe over the lock icon on-screen; on Android, you’ll find this icon to the left of the record button, while on iOS you’ll find it to the right.

Just know that none of these options work if you’re using the volume button on iPhone, however. To stop recording, you can simply lift your finger off the shutter button or volume button.

Quick-recording doesn’t result in the best quality video

The only caveat here is that you won’t be able to record video in your phone’s full resolution. On iPhone, QuickTake used to record 1080p video at 30 fps, but it seems Apple upped that resolution to 1440p. Android, on the other hand, appears to record 768p video, which is far from its maximum 4K quality. As such, you’ll want to use this feature when you need to record video fast, not when you have the option to take your time.

Alternative methods to record video faster

You don’t just need to rely on your phone’s version of QuickTake in order to jump into a video faster. Alternatively, you can long-press on the Camera icon on your phone’s Home Screen, then choose “Take a video” (Android) or “Record Video” (iPhone). That will launch Video mode rather than Photo mode in your Camera app, so you can get right to shooting.

If you’re on iOS, you can also adjust your settings so that the last used camera mode will appear the next time you launch the app. If you know you used Video mode the last time you used Camera, it’ll stick to Video mode when you open the app again. You can learn more about this setting in our full guide here.

What happened to the iPhone’s Burst mode?

Holding down the shutter used to initiate “Burst” mode on iOS, which would take a series of pictures in rapid succession. You can still use Burst mode, but it’s really hidden. When you first press on the shutter icon, drag your finger to the left. Doing so will enter Burst mode, and your iPhone will start taking photos one after another.

You can also choose to designate the volume up button for Burst mode; open Settings > Camera, then make sure the toggle next to “Use Volume Up for Burst” is enabled.

 

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