Android Video Quality on Apps like TikTok and Instagram Reels (UPDATED!!)

desk setup peachy pink and white monitor stand planners in the corner ipad on pc on dreamlikediana instagram page on reels

So many Instagram strategists will try to say that editing is the same for both android and iPhone. When they're iPhone users themselves and don't know a thing about the problems Android users have! Editing and uploading are not the same for us. It is not a one box fits all, type of situation. I'm going to run through why this is today and what you can do about it to make Instagram Reels android quality a little bit more bearable. 

* If you're looking for the updated portion, you'll find it at the bottom of this post. *

WHY DOES MY QUALITY LOOK SHITTY WHEN I UPLOAD FROM AN ANDROID?

As silly as this is going to sound, I ended up in arguments with people who tried to say their outdated iPhone was better than my high-quality android phone because of the quality that is shown on Instagram. And I just have to say, that is a big lie. It’s a big joke. It’s a mask. You cannot believe what you see, but it’s because of what I’m about to say that makes Apple iPhones the go-to phone when people are selecting to upgrade their phone.

Apple and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook that is now called Meta) have had this problem for ages now. It's nothing new, it didn't show up with reels, it's just been revisited. If you understand monopolies and capitalism... it makes sense. On the flip side, it also all comes down to app development and coding, and if you understand anything at all about this it's honestly the main driving force.

Basically, Instagram not being optimized for androids drives people who want to be creators away from androids and into the laps of Apple products aka capitalism at its finest. You could have a professional camera, and it’ll still dull the quality unless it is uploaded with an iPhone or iPad. If not, it's going to suck ass. 

Watch this Shorts video about Adam Mosseri talking about Android phones and iPhones.

Now, before I get into this further, I don’t have this same problem when uploading to TikTok, but Instagram has admitted that they’re behind the competition substantially and it’s not just in terms of code, but also in the way TikTok’s algorithm works. 

So what is it really? It literally comes down to coding, developing, and optimizing. They will say it's because all androids have a different camera sensor, but that doesn't make sense to me. I can film on my android or DSLR, edit on my PC or android phone, and then upload it via iPad and it retains the quality. But if I did the same thing, and uploaded it via my android phone it doesn't work. Also, the Instagram android app doesn't have the option to opt-in for high-quality uploads, only my iPad Instagram does.

no optimization for instagram app android

There are two options of why it's possibly not optimized:

  1. Capitalism, for one. Drive the audience into the hands of a friend. You scratch each other's backs. Make it a luxury item. If these people want to be Instagram Influencers or Instagram Creators they NEED an Apple iPhone.
  2. There's something within PC & android coding that is harder to optimize for than Apple products.

I understand both COMPLETELY. They both make complete sense! On the latter, take it from someone who used to code websites, front end coding is just as bad as back-end coding, but I feel like back-end coding and development is so much worse. It is a headache. It is a nightmare. If you see anyone on TikTok posting about these kinds of jobs, it’s always the fact their code is being thrown off by 1 thing. ONE THING! A lot of people leave coding and developing because they hate their lives, it makes them miserable. Some people stay because… it makes them a lot of money. It's not something that can be replaced by a robot or automated. Unfortunately. But that's beside the point.

Instagram hasn’t found the time nor the need to optimize its app for every android phone out there because anyone can clearly see the difference in android and Instagram quality. People on Reddit will blatantly say, they like android but move to iPhone because of the quality on Instagram. Mosseri said it himself, "Our creators mainly use Apple; our users mainly use android."

So your answer is this: Instagram Reels android quality sucks because it's optimized for iPhone creators, not android users. And if someone wants high-quality optimization, they usually find themselves moving to iPhone at some point in time.

To optimize Instagram Reels for android phones, it would probably still be multiple new lines of new code because there’s not just one android phone and I'm not entirely sure what is the key for optimization. Here are some android phone brands: Google Pixel, Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, LG, Xiaomi, etc., etc., and then there are some really smaller named brands that we’ve barely ever heard about that are android also. 

The majority of Americans use and own Apple products, but outside of America, androids run the world. Not everyone can afford Apple products. They are a luxury item. When I go back to Poland, anyone who does own one is considered "rich" or "well-off" because they're 4x+ what the average person makes over there. In general, Androids are more affordable to get, especially since Apple has mentioned they age out their phones faster so outdated models won't work as well compared to all the newly released models. With Apple, you constantly need an upgrade, but with an android, you don't have to upgrade for years! 

Moreover, the only thing I wish was the fact Instagram was a bit more transparent on this issue, but capitalism never is. 

With that being said, the most recent Google Pixel 6 and Samsung phones are slightly optimized for Instagram Reels compared to older models of 2+ years ago. I tested this via my sister’s Google Pixel 6. 


Her outdated Google Pixel 4.

And lastly, I tested it with my OnePlus 6t. The examples will be shown below. 

I legit bought my phone at full price ($550) when it first came out; I do this for all my phones which I will talk about another day as to why. Moreover, I bought the phone specifically for a few reasons: storage, RAM, open-ended/customization, features, and camera. The first thing I look at in any phone is the camera specs. That’s something I can’t sacrifice on.

Anyways, the Google Pixel 4 and my OnePlus 6t obviously were struggling to upload good quality Instagram Reels via android. When my sister got her new phone, the Google Pixel 6, the quality looks amazing on Instagram Reels and she doesn’t do anything to it.

I’ve been researching a lot as to why things are the way they are for a while now, and how I could go about fixing it. I’ve found a few fixes and workarounds, they’re not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. 

WHAT CAN I DO TO FIX THE QUALITY?

So as I mentioned, there are a few workarounds for this entire issue. It’s not going to be a complete fix, unfortunately. But these all have been tested, and that’s why I’m bringing them to light. If you’re an android user by choice, like me, you probably already know them. If you’re not, because you can’t afford an iPhone, I’ll try to make it as simple as possible for you.

Workaround #1 - Film in 4k or 4k 60 FPS. 

This one is probably going to be the easiest workaround for decent quality on Instagram Reels via android device. They don’t support 4k, but if you film in 1080p and upload in 1080p, it’s not going to be 1080p. It’s going to be somewhere around 240p if not even lower. It’s absolute garbage, unusable, unwatchable, a disgrace!

For some reason, Instagram really compresses the fuck out Android phones. I’m telling you it’s not the same for Apple products. So when you upload a 4k vertical video to Instagram Reels, it’s not going to be 1080p, it’ll be like 480p or 720p. Compared to uploading a 1080p video, it becomes 240p or lower. 

If you’re going to be editing your video on your phone, make sure to use CapCut or VN because both allow you to export to 4k 60fps, the highest resolution possible. That way, you’re pretty much being rest assured your Instagram Reel will be decently legible after uploading and compressing. 

Now, this isn’t ideal. 4k and 4k 60fps take up A LOT of space on your phone, and really drags the battery level down. Don't even think about backing this up to Google Photos because it takes up too much room. I'm actually pretty glad I don't have to do this workaround anymore. 

It works, but of course, the video quality isn’t perfect. Honestly, I have also noticed if I upload a 4k 60fps video to Instagram Reels with no music or text, the quality is about 720p which is really decent. But the second you add music or text, that’s when it shoots down to 480p. I don’t know why that is, but again I don’t have the same problem with TikTok and this other workaround I have.

Workaround #2 - Get a cheap Apple iPhone/iPad

This clearly isn’t going to be everyone’s favorite method because you still need to shell out $150ish for an Apple product just so you have good quality Instagram Reels, Instagram Stories, and Instagram videos on their app.

For me, I have my mom’s iPhone 6s that she doesn’t use (she prefers her android; she’s 65 by the way), and I also own an Apple iPad 7th generation. I got it about 2 years ago? But I use my iPad almost every day, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of this workaround sooner.

Basically, I had this theory. The theory goes like this:

It doesn’t matter what you film and edit on, professional camera, point and shoot camera, android phone, PC editing software, as long as you upload it via an Apple product. Uploading it via an Apple product such as an iPhone or iPad will make the quality stick.

And guess what happened? It worked. It’s night and day, such a difference. I’m flabbergasted, but not surprised.

I filmed 1080p on my OnePlus 6t. I filmed 2 things: one I edited on VN and exported it as 1080p, 30fps, BitRate at Default. 

@dreamlikediana @passionplanner #passionplanner #planner #pashfam #pashambassador #plannercommunity #plannerinspiration ♬ Primavera - Ludovico Einaudi

The other, I filmed 1080p on my phone and didn’t do any editing to it. Both of which I uploaded to my Google Drive, and from Google Drive, I downloaded both videos to my iPad. Through my iPad, I uploaded both videos and the result is INSANE. No compression. No wonkiness. It is exactly as it’s supposed to be just because I uploaded it via an Apple product! Again, that’s insane, but it proves everything I’m writing here!

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Instagram is fake. Your android camera isn’t the problem, it’s Instagram and their monopoly. Not everyone can be influencers. It's a luxury, and if you want a part of that luxury then you need to think like a creator and have an Apple product which is another luxury. 

But it's also a monopoly because how many little accounts do you see on your feed? Barely any. It’s all cluttered by big named brands and influencers. But Instagram is still a major app to optimize for when trying to have a business when trying to be a blogger when trying to do anything. Unfortunately, even if you prefer androids you may just have to supply yourself with an outdated iPhone or get an iPad to do all the uploading for you. 

Workaround #3 - APK Packs

This one I’m not too fond of. Some people swear by them, but privacy and security reasons are what keep me away from this option. It works, but I can’t guarantee it’s 100% safe. 

So basically, there are these 2 APK packs InstaPro and Instander. They’re standalone apps that you won’t find in the PlayStore. You have to download it online and install it on your device. It’s the same thing as Instagram, you sign in via Instagram, but it has more options. You can turn off ads, they’ve optimized uploads to Reels and posts for android users. It’s not a bad workaround. There are definitely some people who do it and choose this method.

I don’t see why Instagram doesn’t just hire these people to do the optimization for their app for android users, but then again when you think again, it’s obvious why. Money. Monopoly. It’s worked out for them so well to not ever have to optimize for android users vs other apps who do and have to otherwise they fail flat on their face because they don’t have an android app or it doesn’t work well for Android users. 

Again, I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you’re totally cool with it. I was doing Workaround #1 for a while until I figured it out and realized, I should be uploading via my iPad or an outdated iPhone.

HOW IS UPLOADING TO TIKTOK & INSTAGRAM REELS NOT THE SAME?

TikTok does compress my videos a little bit, but not as much as Instagram does. The quality has a substantial difference. I can film in 1080p for TikTok and it uploads just fine. Not much changes to the quality.

@dreamlikediana waited an hour&half & i got there at like 9am... #philly #hellokittycafetruck #hellokitty #cherryhillnj #hellokittycafe #fypシ #kawaii #saturdayvibes ♬ Darling - Trees and Lucy

Look at this video. They’re the same video! I didn’t do anything different to them besides song choice. But you can tell the quality and colors are different. 

@dreamlikediana #pennsylvania #philadelphia #japanesesnacks #japanesestickers #japanese #asianmarket ♬ original sound - darcy 🦦
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And if I don’t film in natural lighting, it gets worse. Again, also if you add text to the screen on Instagram, it compresses your video making it uglier further. These are the SAME video just on different platforms.

@dreamlikediana no #manga was harmed or destroyed in this project put together @passionplanner #passionplanner #pashfam #planner #plannercommunity ♬ オリジナル楽曲 - はれ

WILL INSTAGRAM EVER UPDATE ITS APP FOR ANDROID USE?

They probably never will, and even if they do, it wouldn’t be for anything older than a 2021 release phone. If they do, it would be very surprising, and it wouldn’t be as close to exactly as iPhone quality is portrayed on the platform.

For me, as disheartening as it is, it's not what's going to make me choose an iPhone over my Android. I'll continue to use an android because I prefer Androids. I love their open-ended systems. I love having full control and developer options over my phone. I love being able to fully customize it uniquely to the way I want, versus everyone on iPhone may have pretty widgets but they all are the same thing just different images. With androids, you really get full control. 

But, with that being said, I could see myself also owning an outdated iPhone just to use for filming and uploading for TikTok & Instagram. Because now I’m only going to be uploading short-form content via Apple products and not my android. It would be stupid of me to only use it for one app.

ALL IN ALL,

I hope this clarified some things for some people regarding android quality on Instagram Reels. If an iPhone user is trying to tell you, an android user, what to do. Don’t listen to them. They don’t know shit. You have to listen to someone who understands this type of mumbo jumbo, unfortunately. 

Time and time again, every Instagram strategist thinks androids are the same as iPhones when they’re not. One box doesn’t fit all, and I’ve proved my point pretty well today if I say so myself. 

Oh and I'm sorry if this isn't the answer you were exactly looking for, but it's the harsh truth and nothing but the truth. There isn't much you can do to get good quality Instagram Reels on android devices. 


HUGE NEW UPDATE 

As of September 17th, 2022 at 11:38 pm, 

Android devices should now also have the option for High-Quality uploads! I checked it's on my OnePlus 6t, it's also on my newest android the Google Pixel 6 (which a new blog post will be out in a few weeks about tests I ran with it!)

high quality media uploads available on android

To select this feature and toggle it on, go to your Instagram account -> your feed page -> Settings -> Account -> Cellular Data Use and flick it on!!!

I can't promise that it'll make a difference, but this is a start in the right direction, FINALLY!! As I said above, I will be running a series of tests to post an update to this post. Stay tuned for that!

If you don't have this available on your phone, keep checking. Or it might be available to users who are a part of Instagram's Beta tester program, like me. With that said, just keep checking! And stay tuned for my tests blog which will be a part 2 to this one. I will link it here when it's up.

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Till next time!

~Diana


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