Google Clips review

A smart camera that's not for everyone

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Digging into the specs of the lens, it’s fixed focus and tuned to work best at six to eight feet away. Things become a little fuzzy when you get closer than that, but it generally still looks good until about a foot away from the lens.

Covered in Gorilla Glass 3 to protect it from rogue keys in the purse and falls, this lens captures JPEG stills at a rate of 15 frames per second (FPS), ranging from six to eight megapixels in quality. 

Google’s machine learning algorithm is responsible for hitting record, but it’s also in charge of wrapping these photos up in 1080p footage with image stabilization, encoded in H.264. 

This lens has an aperture of f/2.4, which is best suited for capturing in well-lit areas. As we’ve shown in some of our samples, it can handle low-light decently, but it’s definitely not this camera’s forte. 

One are that we’re happy with so far is its wide field of view. At 130 degrees, it’s wider than modern smartphones are capable of. We were impressed with how encompassing the LG V30 was, for example, but this captures more of the scene – an essential characteristic for a device that’s set-and-forget.

This tiny camera has 16GB of internal storage built-in, and during our time with it, we haven’t even come close to filling it up. Google actually dared us to fill it to capacity, saying that even the Clips team had struggled to do so during its development.

App, compatibility and interface

Part of the charm of Clips is how it interfaces with its companion app, which is available for all Google Pixel phones, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S8 devices running Android Nougat, and a batch of iPhones running iOS 11, including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X and all Plus variants.

All of the footage that you record is stored on the camera only – not the cloud. But once connected over Wi-Fi direct to your phone, Clips can beam the files over with relative ease and quickness. From the Clips app, you can decide which files to keep and which to delete, including giving users the ability to save particular stills in a clip, and save in file formats, including GIF, MP4 format, the company’s own Motion images, as well as Apple Live Photos.

One particularly interesting setting within the app allows you to train the camera with your Google Photos library. To do this, it downloads a selection of photos from your collection, studies them, learning who and what you usually take pictures of, so that it can better and more quickly identify them when in frame.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.