If you wanted to live stream an event a couple of years ago, you were forced to choose between quality and simplicity. One of them had to be sacrificed in order to produce the results you were looking for.
These days you can get quality and simplicity or outstanding quality and complexity. For the ones who enjoy pursuing the best quality and being disruptors in their industry, an iPhone will never be an option. For everyone else, I’m here to show you why it is your best choice.
#1: Portability matters
When creating a smartphone live streaming kit, you only need to focus on a few key components:
- Microphone (we use Rode Wireless Go II)
- Gimbal (recommended, but not required)
If you want to go for a higher-end setup, you can add a few more components, such as an audio mixer, a shotgun microphone, and a WiFi hotspot (recommended, but not required).
Here is a great example of one of our live streamers, Ben Reeder from Live Stream Lancaster:
When comparing portability of this setup to a camera with a laptop or hardware encoder, OBS, and all the cables you need, the smartphone is a clear winner. The biggest inconvenience with the camera setup is that is usually requires a table to lay out your gear and be able to stream comfortably.
#2: Preparation time
Our clients think that we only work for an hour or two when they hire us because they don’t see the behind-the-scenes. You and I know that preparing the entire kit, charging batteries, and making sure that we’re not leaving that one backup at home, can be stressful and time-consuming.
Going for a smartphone setup means bringing your phone, a $30-50 USD battery bank, and simply focusing on charging your mic and gimbal before the event. That’s it. If your business depends on it, having a backup phone is definitely recommended.
Preparation time goes from “follow every step on the checklist” to “did I charge my mic after the last event? Good to go!”.
Even if you didn’t charge your mic or gimbal after the last event, everything can be powered with that one battery bank you brought to the event with a USB-C cable. One cable for all your items means less stress and less time.
#3: Connectivity Problems are almost gone
Dealing with multiple devices, a poor signal on your laptop or hardware encoder, and messy hotspots that disconnect when you walk away are problems of the past.
As long as you have 4G/LTE (5G in some areas), you are connected and receiving the best possible signal on your device. No need to troubleshoot your dropped frames on OBS or encoder this time. Simply press Rec, and you’re streaming to the world.
If you’re lucky enough to be working at locations with great WiFi, use it. If not, the phone will almost always receive a better signal than your laptop connecting through a WiFi hotspot.
#4: Low Investment, easy to start!
How would it feel to pay for your entire live streaming kit by booking a single event?
Assuming you have a phone, the entire kit would cost you about $450 USD and I’m talking about premium components:
- $159 for the latest DJI gimbal: OM5
- $190 for the Rode Wireless Go
- $100 for a Manfrotto Tripod
Are you on a tight budget? Replace the OM5 for the OM3 ($99), the Rode Wireless Go for Synco WAir-G1-A1 ($63), and replace the Manfrotto tripod with a $30 light stand or monopod.
Your entire live streaming kit now costs $192 without decreasing the quality at all.
Just so you know, you don’t need the latest phone for live streaming as online video compresses quality a little bit. Any iPhone after the 11 offers outstanding quality, but I tested the iPhone 8 as well as a Galaxy Note 10 and both delivered great results.
If you have to consider the phone price for this setup or want to get one just for this purpose, you can get an excellent iPhone 11, iPhone 12 Mini, or iPhone 13 Mini for $500-1000.
Not an Apple fan? A Samsung Galaxy S21 starts at about $600 and an S10+ sells for about $300 on Amazon. Google Pixels, Huawei, Xiaomi, or any other brand will be alright too.
Comparing these prices to a camera setup, you would be able to buy a single camera without a lens (using an EOS R at $1800 as an example, or a Sony a7III at almost $2000) for the same price. When you start adding a laptop, encoders, and even good-quality cables, the price goes up considerably.
#5: Ease of use
Live streaming events is fairly easy these days. It used to be extremely difficult and expensive, but not anymore.
Going live from your phone only requires an app, such as EventLive, that allows you to live stream events in less than 5 minutes. It’s as simple as it gets.
If you know how to record videos on your phone, you can live stream events on location. All you need to make sure is that you have a stable internet connection before you start.
In comparison, live streaming from a camera can be easy only if you already know how to use the tools that the job demands. You can add your EventLive RTMP keys to OBS and go live to the same beautiful event page, but not many people know how to do this.
Setting up camera angles, locking focus, connecting HDMI cables to an encoder or laptop and choosing the right lenses can feel like a daunting task. You can definitely pull it off, but it’s nowhere as easy or as quick as pulling your phone out of your pocket, setting it up on a gimbal with a mic, and pressing the big red button.
#6: Similar quality to a camera setup, without the hassle
Before you yell at me, I said “similar”. It’s not the same for us because we work in an industry that’s led by image quality and creativity, but our clients don’t see it the same way.
I’d never sell something that looks cheap, so I’m not suggesting you do that. I’m making a case for why Smartphone streaming is usually a great choice for anyone who is looking for an easy way to offer live streaming, even if you are a full-time pro, or a videographer that has to take care of other things during the event.
The most important thing for us are our clients. We want them to be happy, and happiness in the live streaming world usually comes from being able to experience the event in real-time, with good image quality, and great audio.
Is a professional camera better than a phone? In most cases it is. For live streaming, sometimes it’s not.
Is the difference in quality noticeable? It usually is, to the trained eye. Unless you’re live streaming with a wide aperture lens or a telephoto and blurring the background of the scene, most viewers would never be able to see the difference or identify an iPhone from a very expensive camera during a live event.
#7: The audio is what makes or breaks your broadcast
Here’s the truth most people ignore.
The most important thing about a live stream is not the image quality or resolution, it is the audio (well... technically is the internet connection, but you get the point).
After reviewing hundreds of live streams on our platform, we identified the biggest problem with inexperienced streamers. They tend to focus on choosing a camera, choosing the right placement for it, and ignoring the audio altogether.
The result? A good-looking stream that nobody wants to watch. Some viewers join and then leave because it’s hard to follow what’s going on without being able to listen.
A simple smartphone live streaming setup simplifies audio.
If there is a good sound system in place, any modern phone will be great at capturing audio. If there isn’t, you need a decent microphone to create an enjoyable experience for viewers at home.
For comparison, the onboard microphones inside modern cameras are much worse than the onboard microphones installed on modern smartphones, even if they cost 3 times as much.
Cameras are designed to be used with microphones, but not all of them have the proper inputs to make them work. You would need a Microphone input that cannot be found on some of the more affordable models.
In any case, I recommend you to choose a wireless microphone for live streaming if you have to buy one, as it will simplify your job and allow you to move freely without messing up the experience for family and friends watching from home. If you already own a microphone, you can connect it to your smartphone using an adapter.
Live streaming can be as simple or as difficult as you want it to be. EventLive simplified the process so much that you only need to download an app and press Rec on your phone.
Your clients will love the experience as long as they can hear the event clearly and you will love the simplicity of being able to broadcast events anywhere without having to drag expensive equipment with you.
We know that smartphone live streaming isn't for everyone, but if you're still doubting if it's worth it, I can promise that you will end up using it more than you can think of.
It is THAT good.