Back in April, at the time of launch of iPhone 3G S, it was rumored that the next iPhone (current iPhone 3GS) would be capable and enabled to play true HD video in 720p and 1080p to television via the Apple Composite AV cable. When it was finally released the iPhone 3GS still played video like its predecessors only supporting SD 2.5Mbps Mpeg 4 or H264 video.
As things turn out this is an arbitrary limit set by Apple possibly to conserve battery life or to simply match previous models.
A user of chinese site WeiPhone did a lot of testing with the iPhone 3GS and discovered it can smoothly play back HD video at 30 Mbps in 1980×1080 resolution. The test was done by uploading various HD movies to the iPhone 3GS using the program FileAid and then running them via the iPhones built-in video player.
Not that this has any real usage in everyday life since HD video doesn’t have much of a point on the small iPhone screen. You could however pick up one of those Apple Composite AV cables and run some high-def from iPhone to TV if you REALLY needed to.
Talking about the Hardware, Samsung-branded system-on-a-chip (SoC) featuring a multi-format codec with untapped HD video playback and capture capabilities.
“The S5PC100 enables the integration of various functionalities, such as, wireless communication, personal navigation, camera, portable gaming, portable music/video player, mobile TV and PDA into one device,” the South Korea-based electronic maker says in a PDF published to its website. “The S5PC100 adopts a 32-bit ARM Cortex A8 RISC microprocessor and a 64/32-bit internal bus architecture, and operates up to 833MHz.”
Apple appears to have chosen run the chip, which is rebranded with the following markings, below its maximum clock speed for optimal power consumption. But the additional 233MHz aren’t the only capabilities of the S5PC100 that Apple has chosen to forgo in the iPhone 3G S.
Samsung also notes that its chip sports a high definition multi format codec enabling higher resolution multimedia functions at low power consumption. Specifically, it states that the S5PC100 “features a built-in, 720p multi format codec (MFC) video Engine which ensures smooth 30fps video encoding and playblack at low power consumption, and supports three types of TV out interface (NTSC/PAL/HDMI).”
Apple has thus far decided not to take advantage of these HD capabilities for video recording, as the iPhone 3G S video camera will only capture clips in VGA-quality. Early reviews of handset were mixed in their assessment of the resulting video quality, with some saying it pales in comparison to that from the popular $229 Flip pocket camcorder, while others called it “quiet decent” and said the quality was “impressively smooth and natural.”