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iPhone vs. Android: which is better for 360 photos and videos in 2021?

iPhone vs Android for 360 photos and 360 videos in 2021
iPhone vs Android for 360 photos and 360 videos in 2021 

Which phone is better for editing 360 photos and videos in 2021: iPhone or Android?  Is one faster than the other?  In this post, I discuss their respective advantages and disadvantages for 360 camera shooters.

Apple announced that they are having a launch event on September 14, and it’s widely expected that they’ll reveal the next iPhone.  Should Android 360 shooters care?

Arguments over iPhone versus Android may seem unnecessary as both now offer similar features and capabilities.  However, there are still important differences between them, including for 360 shooters.  Are the differences big enough that they might cause you to switch from one camp to the other?  A few years ago, when Samsung Gear VR was the most viable VR headset platform, I switched from iOS to Android primarily to be able to use Gear VR.  But Gear VR has been practically discontinued and Oculus Quest can be used just as easily whether you are on iOS or Android.

Although the difference between iPhone and Android for 360 cameras has diminished, there are still significant considerations even in 2021.

Android advantages for 360

Native support for 360: Many Android phones have native support for 360 photos and videos.  I can open a 360 photo or 360 video on my phone gallery and it will be recognized as such, with no need to launch a 3rd party app just to view the photo or video.  I can even view them in Google Cardboard view.  Meanwhile, for iOS, 360 photos and videos still appear equirectangular on the iPhone’s Photos app, which is a downright shame in 2021.

360 photo and 360 video editing apps: There are many more apps for viewing and editing 360 photos and videos on Android than iPhone.

Theta Z1 Dual Fisheye Remote: If you have the Theta Z1 and use its excellent Dual Fisheye plugin, you can remotely adjust the settings and remotely trigger the shutter with the Dual Fisheye remote app, which is available only on Android.  The app also enables you to change settings such as the aperture that are available for DFE only with the app.  Note: the app currently only works with the original Dual Fisheye plugin and not the newer Dual Fisheye Raw plugin.

DFE’s developer Yoichi Hirota has said that he will never develop a version for iOS, not because of lack of interest, but because of Apple’s insane bureaucracy.   Mr. Hirota actually spent a long time to develop a DFE app for iOS but Apple rejected it because they said it was not an authorized app for the Theta even though Mr. Hirota sent them a copy of a letter from Ricoh itself supporting the app.  I hope you realize what you did, App Store gatekeepers.

Micro SD card slot (on some phones): 360 photos and 360 videos can take up a lot of space, and some Android phones have a Micro SD slot for increasing your storage inexpensively.  I put a 512GB Micro SD in my phone and I never experience anxiety from running out of space on my phone despite having huge 360 photo and 360 video files.

iTunes restrictions: there are some apps such as the Insta360 app that restrict access to your iTunes library due to copyright reasons.  On the Android version of the app, you can use any music file from your phone.

Folding phones: There are several Android phones that have larger folding or rolling screens.  I don’t have one of those phones but I’m supposing the large screens could make it easier to edit photos or videos.

Smartphone 360 cameras: There are a few smartphone 360 cameras — 360 cameras that connect directly to your phone, such as the Qoocam Fun, and they are available only for Android at the moment.

Qoocam FUN is an affordable 360 camera for vlogging
Qoocam FUN is an affordable 360 camera for vlogging

iPhone advantages for 360

Insta360: Insta360 is one of the most popular 360 camera brands and they have slightly better support for iPhone than Android.  In the past, Insta360 apps tended to be released earlier on iOS than Android, and in some cases, cameras such as the Insta360 One became available for iOS a couple of months before it became available for Android.  In 2021, iOS and Android versions of Insta360 apps have been released almost simultaneously.  However, there are a few features that are available only for the iOS version, such as additional image adjustment features (e.g. adjusting brightness, contrast, etc.).

Insta360 app for iOS has additional editing adjustments not available for Android
Insta360 app for iOS has additional editing adjustments not available for Android

Faster processing: when I export 360 videos from the Insta360 app, they appear to render a lot faster on iPhones.  My iPhone SE 2020 can render a lot faster than my Samsung S10+, even though the SE 2020 is a low-end iPhone.  For example, I loaded a 28-second video from Insta360 Go 2 shot in Pro mode and exported with Color Plus and Remove Grain.  On iPhone SE 2020, it took 25 seconds to export.  On my Samsung S10+, the same video took 35 seconds to export.

Apple Watch: you can use the Apple Watch to control some Insta360 cameras.  There is no equivalent app for Android smartwatches.

LIDAR camera: iPhone 12 Pro has a LIDAR camera that can be used to capture 3D models for virtual tours.  The LIDAR camera also gives it greater accuracy for the Matterport app.  Most importantly, LIDAR produces more accurate AR effects and in theory could be usable for VR.

LumaFusion: If you want multi-track video editing on your phone or tablet, LumaFusion is one of the best apps for that, and it’s available only for iOS.

Conclusion

Android and iOS each have advantages for 360 photo and 360 video editing.  In my view, the Android advantages such as Micro SD slot are more useful on a day-to-day basis.  And for Theta Z1, the DFE remote app is a huge advantage.  On the other hand, if you have an Insta360 camera and frequently edit on mobile, iOS may be a better platform for you.  Another option is to have the best of both worlds with an Android phone and an iPad Pro.

About the author

Mic Ty

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  • Hi Mic,

    Sadly some companies only do a simple port of their software to other OS.

    It reminds me Adobe who became famous developing for the Apple OS and see what is happening slowly (but surely).

    There’s a bit more than burocracy on the Apple side, Weird choices are made, impacting on millions of users.
    But maybe it’s what the y mean when they say “Think different”. 🙂

    Honnestly, if you’re are in the 360 business the better choice is clear inho.

  • Great analysis Mic!

    I also think a good ios tablet is a great side Kick to assist with Mobile editing besides Android.

    However ios devices keep being too expensive over 512gb of internal storage and they keep blocking us from expanding the internal storage through a sd card like we can on Android tablets…

    Regarding the ios smartwatch android users can actually bypass that through the roadie remote and the only handicap would be the lack of gps/ stats but nothing the smartphone can’t solve and even the roadie remote can be set aside too

  • I like my Android for sideloading Google Camera and taking freehand 360 photos for Google maps and for the fun of it. Works great with small stitching errors that can be fixed with TouchRetouch as long as the photo is taken in the open and usually best results when outdoors.