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4K video face off: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Acer Liquid S2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2

4K is no longer the reserve of sports networks and Hollywood, now you can shoot eye-wateringly, memory-sapping video files at four times Full HD on the humble smartphone.

We captured footage from four 4K-capable phones for you to enjoy, then pushed the footage to a 55-inch 4K TV to see which one pushes pixels the best.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The first phone to hit the market from our lineup capable of capturing 4K video; the killer hardware of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a force to be reckoned with.

  

If you watching content locally, the 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen is probably the best of the bunch and the fast quad-core processor alongside its 3GB of RAM ensure this phablet can offer up a great 3D gaming experience too.

  

The 4K footage it outputs is incredibly crisp, but sometimes suffers from a few dropped frames and motion wobble, particularly on fast moving objects. If you like video with all the high contrast, saturated style of a Michael Bay film, this one’s worth considering.

Acer Liquid S2

Acer makes the most affordable 4K-capable offering in our lineup and coincidentally the largest too, in the form of the Liquid S2.

  

For under £430 you get a Full HD 6-inch display, an almost vanilla Android Jelly Bean experience that’s nice and snappy, and a decent 13-megapixel rear camera with a quad LED ring flash.

  

It’s successor may already be waiting in the wings, but the S2 does a great job of capturing the smoothest footage in our lineup. It’s less saturated than the Note 3 and a little softer too, which won’t be for everybody, not to mention that hunting autofocus can be a prevolent problem. But for those on a relatve budget the S2 is a great option.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung’s 2014 flagship is a powerful phone in a waterproof body and amidst a slew of camera modes; UHD shooting is just a few taps away. Samsung’s loaded a ton of features into the KitKat-powered S5, but slimmed down the once convoluted user inteface, so it looks better and it’s easier to navigate.

  

The 4K footage that comes out of it has the same strengths and weakness as its brother, the Galaxy Note 3. High contrast, high saturation footage with a preference on slow moving subjects, but it pushes out nice detail and drops the fewest frames of the bunch.

  

Unlike its phablet brother, the S5 is also capable of holding up to a 128GB microSD card. Handy considering 4K video files get very large, very quickly. So large in fact that all four phones max out at five minutes for individual clips of 4K footage. It’s also available on O2’s Refresh Tariff as of right now.

Sony Xperia Z2

One of the first Sony flagships that’s earned a prestigious five-star Recombu review in recent memory, the Sony Xperia Z2 is an absolutely stellar phone. It’s also the company’s first phone to offer 4K recording, not to mention it’s captured through a mammoth 20.7-megapixel sensor.

  

The dedicated 4K shooting mode produces in our opinion the best overall footage, with natural colours and great image stability. However, it has become widely known that shooting in 4K for too long and the Z2 overheats in spectacular fashion, leaving you without a camera for a few minutes whilst it cools back down. Not cool…

 

If you’re still not sold on 4K, just think; these phones all typically come on two-year contracts and there’s every chance that down the line 4K will be a household resolution. Shooting 4K footage now ensures your clips will look better, for longer.

So which handset do you think filming the finest 4K? Do you even need it as a feature? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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