If you want to get all bullet time with your smartphone, the iPhone 5S hands you the red pill at 120 frames per second. Slow motion video capture never ceases to captivate, but not all of us can pony up a few thousand bucks for a Phantom—the gold standard camera for mind-bendingly good slo-mo. Happily, the new iPhone delivers on that front now, and casually so.
The iPhone 5S offers a regular video mode capable of shooting 1080p HD. But swipe to the left in iOS 7's impressive new camera interface, and you'll be met with the "slo-mo" option, which can capture moving pictures at 120 frames per second. It's easy to accidentally shoot in regular video mode when you think you're in slo-mo, but a handy note that the shooter is in 120 fps mode on the bottom right below the shutter button helps differentiate the two modes.
In slo-mo, the iPhone 5S's video quality drops down to 720p. But if you're like us, on the small screen you won't notice—you'll be too busy going whoaaaa. By default, in playback mode, videos captured in slo-mo begin replaying at normal speed, switch into slo-mo and then switch back to normal speed. You can also edit the part of the video that appears in slow motion—two cool tricks that amplify the whoa effect.
Below are video embeds of our sample images (in portrait, forgive us), all shot with an iPhone 5S on a sunny day at the beach. The undulations of dune grass, the ebb and flow of the tide and the sand itself were perfect testing grounds for some impressive slow-motion action.
The iPhone 5S isn't the first smartphone to offer slow-motion capture by any means, but Apple's iteration, like all of its recent forays into photo and video, proves very refined. Still, on the software side, we do have some complaints. It's impossible to share a slow-motion video on Instagram (or any other app not present in the iOS 7 pop-up share screen) without exporting the video first to another iDevice or emailing it to yourself.
This issue could be remedied in a future software push from Apple, but if we're going to bother with shooting video for the whoa factor, we'd like to be able to share them on any app of our choosing. Still, as you can see, slo-mo in the 5S is impressive. It's not a killer feature per se, but at the very least, it's a lot of fun to play around with.