Android 15 is fixing one of the worst parts of Pixel webcam functionality

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

long story short

  • Android 15 can fix USB webcam video quality by adding a dedicated high-quality mode.
  • This is an update to the plug-and-play webcam feature added in Android 14 QPR1.
  • While the feature is easy to use, the video quality is pretty mediocre, so this is a welcome change.

Unless you’re buying an extremely expensive webcam, chances are the camera quality on the Android smartphone you already own will beat your PC’s webcam. That’s why many people use their smartphones as webcams, and it’s easy to do with the help of third-party webcam apps. With the Android 14 QPR1 update for Pixel phones, Google is making this even easier by building USB webcam support into Android.

While Android’s webcam feature is very convenient to use because it doesn’t require downloading a specific app, unfortunately it leaves a lot to be desired.when Android AuthorityDhruv Bhutani put it to the test with the iPhone Continuity camera, and he was particularly disappointed with the video quality. He said the video quality when using the Google Pixel 8 Pro as a webcam was “pretty mediocre” and “not nearly as good as the iPhone.”

In my own testing, I found that video quality was significantly worse when using Android 14’s built-in webcam feature compared to running third-party webcam apps on the same device. This means the problem isn’t with the phone, but with Android’s webcam capabilities. My theory is that Google optimized the Android 14 webcam feature for long-term battery life at the expense of video quality. This is unfortunate because some video calls can be short, while some phones can output higher-quality video over longer periods of time.

Fortunately, Google seems to have realized that some users want higher quality video from their smartphones, which is why it’s added a new high-quality mode to Android’s webcam feature.

Android 15 High Quality Mode Webcam Features

When you enable the USB webcam feature in the latest Android 15 Developer Preview 2 build, you will see a new “HQ” symbol in the upper left corner. Clicking this button will enable a new high-quality mode that disables any power optimizations Google has made under the webcam feature.

If you’re looking to maximize battery life, it might be worth disabling High Quality Mode during long video calls. It’s worth mentioning, though, that during a video call that lasted nearly two and a half hours with high-quality mode enabled, my Pixel 8 Pro’s battery temperature only reached 37.6 degrees Celsius (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit). peak. Additionally, battery power dropped by only 8% during this period. I’m using a slow USB 2.0 cable to the base, though, so the temperature may rise more if using a faster charger (and conversely, the battery drain will decrease or stop).

If you’re wondering whether High Quality Mode actually improves video quality, I’m happy to tell you that it does – significantly, in fact.I recorded the entire episode 35 Loyal Android users Podcasting using my Pixel 8 Pro as a webcam with high quality mode enabled. I also recorded a short video (embedded below) that compares the quality of Android’s webcam functionality with and without high-quality mode.

(Note: I manually enabled the feature to get this footage, but it has been enabled since Developer Preview 2.)

We believe that Google should have included this high-quality mode option from the beginning, but better late than never. Now that Google has added HQ mode, will you try Android’s USB webcam feature? Tell us in the poll below.

Will you be using High Quality Mode and Android 15’s webcam features?

56 votes

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