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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.