Mobile Live Streaming: How to Broadcast from a Smartphone

mobile live streaming

Mobile live streaming is becoming more popular as smartphones and related software improve to suit the needs of professional broadcasting. This approach to broadcasting is often more accessible because it is relatively easy and cost-effective.

In this post, we are going to fill you in on everything you need to know about broadcasting from your smartphone. We will talk about the benefits of this streaming setup and what sort of technology makes it possible. We’ll share some general information on how to live stream from your phone before diving into the different things to consider when creating your mobile live streaming setup. 

To wrap things up, we will briefly review the value of making broadcasts available to viewers on mobile devices. Without further ado, let’s dive into the ins and outs of mobile streaming.

Table of Contents

  • Why Use Mobile Live Streaming?
  • The Technology Behind Mobile Streaming
  • How to Live Stream from Your Phone
  • Best Apps for Mobile Streaming 
  • Additional Equipment for Mobile Live Streaming
  • 5 Tips for Improving Mobile Streams
  • Watching Broadcasts on a Mobile Device
  • Final Thoughts

Why Use Mobile Live Streaming?

mobile streaming app
Mobile streaming from a smartphone App comes in handy for broadcasting from remote locations.

Two things that make mobile streaming so attractive are its convenience and affordability. It is much more cost-effective to stream from a device that you already own as opposed to investing in an entire recording setup. 

Streaming from your phone is a great way to cover events and occurrences that are outside of your studio or workplace. This sort of broadcasting setup is valuable for covering sporting events, fundraisers, company events, and local news. 

Some news outlets and reality TV producers have turned to streaming and recording on mobile devices to continue to capture moments and create content during the pandemic. People could film themselves without having to endanger camera crews and production teams.

Of course, nothing beats a professional recording setup with TV-grade cameras and equipment, but a mobile streaming setup definitely comes in handy in some situations.

The Technology Behind Mobile Streaming

mobile video streaming
The development of smartphones has changed the mobile video streaming game.

The most important thing to point out when it comes to the technology behind mobile broadcasting is mobile devices themselves. These devices have seen so much development over the past decade.

The iPhone 12 Pro, for example, has a camera that supports HDR and 4K recording with up to 60 fps. It also provides support for stabilization, night mode, audio zoom, and other advanced recording tools.

The iPhone 6, which was released six years earlier, only supports 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps. Broadcasting is possible on this phone, but the quality of the stream would be much less professional.

The development from earlier smartphones to the ones we have access to today makes mobile live streaming at the professional level much more attainable.

Aside from the recording devices and the app you use for encoding, the technology behind live streaming is practically identical to the technology behind streaming from a camera.

Your phone captures the video content which is processed by a dedicated app. The app encodes your video and adds any overlays or preset visual aspects that you have set up. The app sends the file to your online video platform via RTMP ingest. 

The online video platform then sends the files to the content delivery network, and its servers deliver the files to HTML5 video players via the HLS streaming protocol.

How to Live Stream from Your Phone

live stream from iPhone
Today, many apps support live streaming from smartphones which comes in handy any time when you need to broadcast live and on the go.

Let’s take a look at 7 steps for live streaming from your phone.

1. Prepare for Your Stream

In order to successfully live stream from your iPhone or another mobile device, you’re going to need a few different types of apps, software, and live streaming equipment

Before we dive into the process of choosing and setting up these tools, it’s important to talk about planning to reach your specific goals. You’ve likely identified what sort of audience you’d like to reach and what sort of content you’d like to share with them, but have you figured out where they will access your stream?

Will your viewers head over to your branded website or mobile app? Will they catch your stream on Facebook?  

Identifying your goals and intentions will help you produce a more successful mobile live stream.

2. Choose an Online Video Platform

No matter where you’re streaming too, we recommend using a professional online video platform, like Dacast, to host your stream since it will give you access to professional features, like tech support, monetization, security, branding customization, and more.

You can use simulcasting to stream to your website or app and Facebook at the same time, but this is something to work out before you get started.

3. Choose a Mobile Streaming App

Next, you’ll need to choose a mobile streaming app with RTMP encoding tools that work with your chosen online video platform. We will cover a few of the top options with RTMP ingest shortly, but you’ll want to make sure that your chosen app offers the features that you need to reach your streaming goals. For example, if text and graphic overlays are important for your unique needs, choose an app that offers that.

4. Connect Your OVP and Streaming App

Once you’ve chosen both an online video platform and software, you must connect the two. Setup will be unique to each combination, but we recommend taking a look at our guide to live to streaming from your iPhone for general connection instructions. For more detailed support, please feel free to contact us.

5. Create a Detailed Plan 

It is also a good idea to have a detailed plan for the content of your stream before you get started. Write out a script or bullet points that you’d like to cover. If one person is filming a subject or an event but is not on camera, they should have an idea of what angles to film at. However, if the subject (whether it’s you or an associate) is filming with the front camera, this shouldn’t be a concern.

6. Test Your Setup

From there, take some time to conduct a few trial runs to make sure your setup is running smoothly. It is best to make mistakes and work out kinks before you’re broadcasting to a live audience.

7. Start Streaming

Once you’re confident that you can stream seamlessly with your setup, it is time to get started. Get the camera rolling and start your stream.

Best Apps for Mobile Streaming 

Mobile Streaming App
Professional mobile streams require some help from a dedicated mobile streaming app.

One of the essential elements of mobile live streaming at a professional level is a dedicated app that allows you to encode your video files before they are transmitted to your online video platform.

Here are a few of the top apps for mobile live streaming:

  • Larix Broadcaster
  • nanoStream
  • Wirecast Go
  • Airmix Solo
  • Broadcast Me

Head over to our comparison of the Top 5 Apps for Live Streaming with RTMP ingest for an in-depth comparison and review of these applications.

Additional Equipment for Mobile Live Streaming

Although you can stream from your smartphone alone, there are is some additional mobile live streaming equipment that can help make your mobile broadcast a bit more professional looking.

Each of these tools is relatively inexpensive, but they will make a big difference in your final results.

External Microphone

Using an external microphone can help you improve the quality of your stream’s audio. Depending on the style of your broadcast, a lapel microphone or handheld microphone will do the trick. You can get a lapel mic that plugs into your headphone jack or the iPhone Lightning charging port for $20.

In less professional situations, broadcasters may use the microphones on their AirPods or other wireless earbuds.

Phone Stabilizer 

Although smartphone cameras have built-in stabilizing tools that reduce the appearance of shaking in videos, it is still a good idea to use a tool to keep your iPhone stable.

A small gimbal and portable tripod are great options You can get a gimbal built for smartphones for around $100.

Mobile Lighting Equipment

Ring lights were a major trend in 2020 as many people started spending more time on camera, whether it be recording content to publish, creating training materials, or taking endless Zoom calls. 

With that trend came the birth of mobile lighting equipment. Small lights that you can clip onto your phone or laptop became popular for professionals in all sorts of roles.

These small lights make a huge difference in the quality of video content, and they can be purchased for under $20. 

Adorama offers a mobile live streaming equipment kit for under $200 that comes with a gimbal, tripod, microphone, and light.

5 Tips for Improving Mobile Streams

 live stream from phone
Check out these five tips on stepping up your mobile live streaming game from your phone.

Mobile live streams used to be associated with poor quality and unprofessional results. However, there are a few things that you can do to ramp up your mobile live streaming game.

Here are five tips for making your mobile broadcast a success.

1. Find Great Lighting

Lighting makes a huge difference in the quality of your video content. Since you’re streaming on the go, you probably will not have the professional lighting setup that you’d have in a studio.

Although some new smartphone cameras have nighttime modes, most do not so live streaming in the dark is not a good idea. Other lighting setups can pose challenges, as well.

Luckily, there are different techniques that you can use to navigate poor lighting situations. For more information, please check out No Film School’s guide to film lighting.

2. Use Smart Shots and Angles

The shots and angles you use determine how your subjects will look in the video. In fact, you can use angles and shots strategically to convey a message or set the tone for your content. 

Studio Binder has a great guide on camera shots and angles for film, and we highly recommend giving it a read. 

3. Pay Attention to Audio

The quality of your live stream’s audio is very important. There are a couple of ways to improve your mobile live stream’s quality.

As we mentioned, it’s a good idea to use an external microphone. Although many modern smartphones have superb cameras, the built-in microphones have room for improvement. An inexpensive lapel mic will make a huge difference.

Additionally, be mindful of background noise. Some noise is natural, but filming near a lawnmower, busy road or a large group of people may drown out your voice in the broadcast. 

An external mic will likely make a difference here, but be sure to test your setup on-site before you get started to make sure you’re able to get your intended results with the setup that you have.

4. Use a Reliable Internet Connection

In order to stream without any issues, you will need an internet connection that is both fast and secure.

A tethered internet connection is the most ideal for live streaming, but that isn’t an option when you’re streaming from your smartphone. A private Wi-Fi network is the next best choice. If you are in public, a private hotspot is a good alternative.

We only recommend using cellular data as a last resort. It is a less reliable option.

5. Be Smart with the “Selfie” Camera

If you’re recording yourself with the phone’s front “selfie” camera, make sure to hold the phone an arm’s length away. Holding the phone closer causes the camera to morph your face. 

By holding your camera at an arm’s length, you can maintain a natural appearance of your facial features. This approach will produce more flattering results.

Watching Broadcasts on a Mobile Device

mobile html5 video streaming
Mobile video streaming using HTML5 technology is the future of cross-device compatibility making it convenient for viewers.

Mobile live streaming has certainly opened many doors for broadcasters who want to record and stream from beyond the confines of a studio, but the advances in handheld, internet-enabled devices have created opportunities for accessing video content on the go, as well.

The ability to watch online video content from a smartphone has changed the way that people consume media and how businesses reach their audiences.

The HTML5 video player, HLS delivery, and RTMP ingest are three major technological developments that have made this possible.

The HTML5 video player was designed as an alternative to Adobe’s Flash player, which was not compatible with many different types of devices. HTML5 is considered universal and accessible since it is compatible with pretty much any browser and any device.

HLS is a protocol that was developed by Apple to deliver content from online video platforms to user-facing HTML5 video players. Back in the time of the Flash player, RTMP served this role. However, RTMP ingest is now used for ingesting video streams rather than delivery. It brings the video content from an RTMP encoder to the online video platform.

Additionally, API and mobile SDK access is a resource that some online video platforms (including Dacast) have which makes it easy for broadcasters to customize their video players and add them to mobile or smart TV streaming apps.

Final Thoughts

mobile streaming
Will you use mobile broadcasting to stream on the go?

Live streaming from your phone is a great way to cover events and create content outside of the confines of your office or studio. It is pretty easy to do, and it is a lot less expensive than filming with a proper professional setup.

Want to learn more about mobile live streaming with Dacast? Get in touch with our support team and knowledgeable representatives will answer any questions that you may have.

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In the meantime, please head over to the Knowledgebase section of our support center, and type “mobile streaming” into the search bar. You’ll find tons of articles that cover different topics surrounding mobile live streaming.

For regular tips on live streaming from a community of experts, as well as exclusive offers, you’re invited to join our LinkedIn group.

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