Monday, July 26, 2010

Video Formats Supported by Nokia 5310 Phone

Yes, I know it is silly...watching videos on a Nokia 5310 is far from optimal since it has such a small screen.  However, if you ever find yourself in situations where you want to watch some videos to kill some time, the information below will help you get playable videos/movies on your phone.  This article lists the video formats supported by the phone and provides Handbrake presets that will allow you to transcode movies for your phone.

Supported Video Formats (Nokia 5310 XpressMusic)
Here are the video formats supported by the phone (I gathered the initial info from this link):
  • 3GPP formats (H.263)
  • H.264/AVC
  • MPEG-4
Even though the Nokia 5310 has a screen resolution of 320x240 (in landscape), the max video resolution supported by the phone is:
  • 176x144.  I have run some tests and this is indeed the max resolution, but I have found that 176x128 resolution videos provide the proper ratio to fill the screen when watching videos in fullscreen mode on the device (where you turn the phone sideways into landscape mode).  At first I tried to encode movies in anamorphic 176x144 modes to retain as much detail as possible, but the phone doesn't handle anamorphic video properly.  Since anamorphic video isn't supported, the video has to be stored with a 1:1 pixel ratio, and I found that 176x128 was the best resolution to use.  If you try to encode movies beyond these resolutions, you will hear audio but you won't see any video playing.
Handbrake Presets
Handbrake is an application that can convert/transcode your DVDs into smaller/alternate video formats.  I have saved several presets from this application that can be used to encode video for a Nokia 5310.  In this case, I was using the Linux version of Handbrake (Handbrake-GTK).  I would assume the presets I have saved can be imported into the Windows version of the software as well, but I haven't tested it.  You can download my saved presets from: here.  You will see the following presets in a 'Nokia 5310' folder after importing them into Handbrake:
  • Low (100kbps mpeg-4) - This preset renders watchable, but somewhat blocky video.  You probably only want to use this preset if you need the smallest video size possible.
  • Medium (200kbps mpeg-4) - This preset will still exhibit some blockiness, but it is a good compromise if you don't want to use the highest setting.
  • High, 15fps (100kbps h.264) - This preset uses h.264 video, which produces the best looking video, but it will only be at 15fps. I tried to encode h.264 videos at higher framerates, but they looked choppier than those encoded at 15fps...probably because the phone couldn't keep up with h.264 at higher framerates.
  • High (300kbps mpeg-4) - From my tests, 300kbps mpeg-4 video provides the best balance of smoothness (fps) and video quality but at the expense of storage space.  An mpeg-4 file at this bitrate looks almost as good as the h.264 preset but will take up about 1.8x more storage space (around 300MB for your average movie).
All of the presets use mpeg-4 video except 'High, 15fps' which is configured for h.264 video instead. All of the presets are configured for AAC 128kbps stereo audio.  I tried mp3 instead of aac, but the audio didn't play on the Nokia 5310 when using that format (this could just be an issue with how Handbrake adds mp3 audio to .mp4 files or a bug on the phone...who knows).

After selecting any of these presets in Handbrake, you may want to modify some other settings before starting a transcode job.  You may want to enable 2-pass encoding and you will most likely want to change the crop settings so the resulting video fills the phone's screen:
  • 2-pass encoding - On the 'Video' tab in Handbrake, just check the 2-pass encoding box if you want to enable this option. It should produce better video overall than the standard 1-pass encoding.
  • Crop Settings - If the movie you are transcoding is in a widescreen format (e.g. 16:9), you will most likely want to crop the video so it will fit the phone's screen (4:3 format).  As mentioned earlier, cropping the file so it ends up at 176x128 (4:3 format) is the optimal resolution for this phone's display and decoding capabilities.
The picture below shows an example of the crop and storage settings that are available in the Linux version of Handbrake.  These settings can be seen when you click on Picture Settings.
When modifying the crop settings, you need to uncheck the Auto Crop and Loose Crop boxes as seen above.  Next, Change the left and right side crop settings until the the Storage column shows a width of 176 and height of 128 (in this case, 100 pixels were chopped off each side of the movie to force it into a 4:3 format).  You will probably need to keep resetting the width back down to 176 after modifying the crop settings because the numbers can change automatically when the other fields are modified. Also, make sure that Anamorphic is Off and Alignment is 16.  I tried smaller alignment settings but the Nokia phone didn't handle them too well...16 is standard (I believe all this means is that the width and height values need to be multiples of 16).

One of the only things left to mention is that after you have copied a movie over to the phone, make sure you let the phone update the media library before trying to play a video, otherwise videos will play back a little choppy.  To initiate the process, open up the music player on the phone after copying the files over and it will automatically start updating the library (showing the status as it progresses).  If you don't manually start this process after transferring movies to the phone, the library update process will still run but it will run in the background without reporting progress.  The advantage to manually initiating the update process is that you can see when it is finished, so you know when you can start playing videos without them being choppy.

NOTE: Just as a side note. I inserted a 16GB microSD card in the phone and the memory status screen reported the correct size, used space, and free space on the card.  Even though the manual for this phone says it only supports up to 4GB, I believe some of the larger SDHC cards should work. I didn't have a chance to test the 16GB card over a longer period of time, though, so I'm not sure if using a card of this size will negatively impact the phone's operation in any way.  At any rate, a 16GB card would work well for sticking a bunch of videos on the phone.

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