POV iPhone action camera case review

Product X POV iPhone case attached to bag

The POV iPhone case allows you to use your iPhone 4 or 4S as an action camera. For commuters, it’s a good way of using your iPhone to record your cycling. For mountain bikers, you can share any trails you are doing on sites such as YouTube. It can be a useful addition to any action sport (or just kinda fun to play around with).

The big advantage is that the case costs £24.99, whereas a helmet camera such as the Contour+ will set you back over £150.

iPhone POV case camera at the back

The POV iPhone case features a fisheye style lens on the back. In reality this doesn’t massively effect the quality of the footage, but it does give you a wider view, which is useful for capturing action video.

Back of the iPhone POV case showing straps

Fitting the POV iPhone case

The first time I fitted the POV iPhone case to my bag, I found it a little fiddly. However, after about 3 or 4 repetitions, this becomes much easier.

Fitting is done via the straps on the back. The screen sits against your backpack straps, with the camera pointing outwards. Then, you loop the straps around and fasten them. It’s pretty crucial to firmly tighten the straps in place, as you don’t want the case coming loose with your iPhone inside.

Before you fit the case in to position, it’s a good idea to start the recording. This is because you won’t have much access to the screen, once it is fitted in to position.

Recording video

Product X attached to my backpack

With the iPhone case in position, you set off on your bike ride. The case is inconspicuous, unlike some helmet cameras. I tested recording while walking down the Kilburn high street and no-one took a second glance at the POV case.

The recording angle is good and it’s easy to adjust. As you lean forward when cycling, you’ll want this fairly high up on your bag straps.

There is a slight drop in video quality compared to when using the iPhone without a case. However, this is to be expected due to the fast movement.

Overall, it’s an impressive video quality, which you can see in the video review at the end of this post. It would certainly be more than enough to read out number plates, if you wished to use this as a safety camera.

Taking pictures

Picture taken from the POV iPhone case

Pictures taken with the POV case receive a fisheye style view. This can have some pretty fun results and is a nice side benefit from using the case, though definitely not it’s original purpose.

Limitations

View of the case with the iPhone going in

The limitations with the POV iPhone case, largely come from the iPhone as a recording device. Video recording is a battery intensive operation. In practise, I found that every 10 minutes I’d lose around 9-10% of my battery life. This means you’d get around two hours of recording. This is comparable to what you’d achieve on a GoPro helmet camera.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to run a charging cable to the bottom of the iPhone while it’s in the case. However, the headphone port remains accessible, if you wished to listen to turn by turn directions. Though of course, I recommend been careful when doing this, as you need to have all your senses in busy traffic.

Another limitation is the iPhone memory size. On a typical iPhone you get around 32 gigs of memory. A 7 minute video would use around 1 gig of memory. Therefore, it won’t take long to run out of space unless you are deleting the video. Fortunately, there are iPhone apps that allow you to discard anything older than the last 10 minutes of recording. Again, this is useful if you were to use this as a safety camera.

When you transfer the video to your computer, you can use free software such as Freemake Video Converter to change it in to MP4 format. This will drastically reduce the file size.

Overall, you’ll probably want to record only in around 20 to 25 minute bursts.

Review: To buy or not to buy

I like the POV iPhone case. It’s a clever way of making use of an incredibly expensive device (the iPhone) to record your cycling. I’ve found myself using it more than I thought I would, when pedalling around London. In particular, I can see this being useful for recording videos to show some of the errors cyclists make which can put them in an unsafe position. I can also see this case being useful beyond cycling.

There are some limitations. The case is water resistant, not waterproof. Recording video uses up a lot of memory and battery. The video quality isn’t quite as good as if I was using my iPhone without the case.

Despite that, it’s a useful accessory to have around.

The POV iPhone case retails at £24.99 on http://www.productx-iphonecases.co.uk/. Remember, this fits the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S only.

I’ll keep an eye on the comments to answer anything that wasn’t covered in the review.

pov-iphone-case-review

POV iPhone case
The POV iPhone case turns your iPhone in to an action camera so you can record your cycling.
Written by: Andreas Kambanis
POV iPhone case
Date published: 09/06/2012
4 / 5 stars

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14 Responses to POV iPhone action camera case review

  1. barton 06/09/2012 at 1:44 pm #

    The case looks to be canvas, is that correct? B/c then you could use an exacto knife (or something similar) to notch a small hole near the charging connector, then attach a solar charger to the outside of your backpack. Fiddly, what with the extra cords, but it would take care of battery life issues (except for the lack of sun found in your average London forecast).

    Doesn’t help with the space issue for saving the video of course….

    • Andreas 06/09/2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Yeh you probably could cut through the bottom. I’d be a bit worried about doing this Barton for a couple of reasons. I think that if the iPhone is using up a lot of battery power to film video and then you are also charging the battery at the same time – the iPhone will get very hot. Combine that with the fact the iPhone is inside a case so can’t get rid of heat as easily – you may have an issue.

      • barton 07/09/2012 at 6:47 pm #

        Fair point. I have burned (barely, but still) skin from an overheated phone before.

        I think it gets down to I really DO want one gadget that does everything for me instead of having the bike computer/GPS, the phone, and the vid camera all separate. The new phones are almost there – except if you go under a tunnel, all apps I’ve tried cannot seem to relocate the satellites for GPS, and if you are running multiple apps, you’ll never be able to go out for a 4-6 hour ride on your battery life.

  2. Kate 06/09/2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Stupid question, maybe, but what’s the functionality like for taking pictures? I would have thought it was quite fiddly to tap the screen to take the photo. I’m not that worried about having a full-length video, but it’d be good to be able to snap stages of the route, interesting things you see on the way, or dodgy drivers, of course.

    • Andreas 06/09/2012 at 2:15 pm #

      That’s right Kate. Assuming you don’t have a password lock on your phone then you could tap the unlock button and then hit the volume control to take a picture. It can be done but I think it would take you a while to master that technique. Plus, let’s say if you spot a driver doing something silly – I don’t know if you’d be able to stabilise your handlebars in time and then reach, unlock your phone and hit take picture.

      There is a solution however. If you had your iPhone headphones plugged in and the app was in the camera mode then to take a picture you could press the volume up button:
      http://lifehacker.com/5863222/use-your-iphones-headset-to-take-pictures-from-afar

  3. gordon 06/09/2012 at 7:55 pm #

    can’t see this being of any use to a road bike user as changing position on the bars would require constant adjusting, I think I’ll stick to a helmet mounted pov camera that records everything I look at, also it looks like it doesn’t point directly forward ( looks to me like it would point to the left rather than straight ahead ) and not to forget that after 2 hours riding I am still able to make an emergency call if needed.

    • Andreas 07/09/2012 at 10:06 am #

      Fair enough Gordon – definitely not a product for everyone and can see it struggling to win over those already happy with their helmet cameras

  4. James Rock 07/09/2012 at 12:17 pm #

    I am very interested in this because I want to capture stages of my route and this is an inexpensive way of trying this out. Also, problem with helmet cams is for those of us who don’t wear helmets.

    I’m actually so interested in helmet cams I may take to wearing a helmet but the last time I wore one, for the first time, I came off my bike and broke a bone!

  5. Gaz 07/09/2012 at 12:18 pm #

    So you have to wear a backpack or similar to use it?

    It fills a hole in the market with cameras but the overall quality of the video and the fisheye lens makes it a poor choice if you want to use it on the road for catching bad driving. Not enough detail in the video and the fisheye distorts distances on the edge of the video.

    • Andreas 17/09/2012 at 11:32 am #

      Exactly Gaz – no backpack and this accessory doesn’t have much use.

      You are right that the fisheye somewhat detracts from the video quality of the iPhone which is a shame – especially as you get really good HD recording.

  6. Mark 07/09/2012 at 1:45 pm #

    I like the idea of a bag attached camera, as my commute is 40-60 minutes it’s of no real use to me. Are there cameras out there that attach to bags rather than just helmets?

    • philcycle 07/09/2012 at 4:00 pm #

      I’m sure you can get ‘holders’ for attaching the Go Pro camera to almost anything – and they do a chest mount, so you don’t even have to wear a bag (hot and sweaty!).

  7. gordon 08/09/2012 at 9:45 pm #

    the veho muvi is a great little camera that with the additional mount kit can be placed on you’re handlebars, is cheap and uses a micro sd so it can slot it in most phones to check what you have recorded, ( you may need to download an AVI player )

    • Andreas 17/09/2012 at 11:33 am #

      As a follow up comment – if you are looking to convert your videos in to a format that takes up less space and can be viewed on more devices then you can use Freemake video converter to change files in to MP4’s.

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