Choosing the best video format for mobile devices is not as straightforward as you might think. For starters mobile devices are fragmented between iOS and Android, which in turn is further fragmented across numerous different types of versions and types of devices.

HOW TO: Choose the Best Video Format for Mobile Devices

HOW TO: Choose the Best Video Format for Mobile Devices

Factors to Consider

If you want to select the best video format for a mobile device, there are generally three factors that you should consider:

• Compatibility

It goes without saying the format needs to be compatible with your mobile device. In other words, it must be able to be decoded.

It is worth noting that videos can either use software or hardware decoding. The former can be added by installing apps that support certain formats, but the latter needs to be built-in.

• Power Consumption

The power required to playback videos can be significant in some cases seeing as mobile devices have batteries with limited capacity. It is the reason why hardware decoding is preferred over software decoding in almost all cases, as it requires less processing power.

• Compression

Storage space on mobile devices tends to be limited, which is why compression should be considered as well. However it needs to be viewed in conjunction with the other factors, as newer codecs with better compression often have limited support on mobile devices.

As you can see each of those factors will be important to help determine which format is ‘best’ for a mobile device. And on different mobile devices each factor may be slightly different in turn.

Popular Current Mobile Video Formats

While you could technically go over a list of video formats and attempt to evaluate each one using the factors listed above, that will be time consuming and tedious. Instead, there are a currently a two popular mobile video formats that you could use as a starting point:

• MP4 with H.264

Overall MP4 with H.264 is a safe format to use for mobile videos as it is supported (with hardware decoding) on almost all mobile devices. Its compression may be a bit dated at this point, but it is still better than other options such as MPEG-4.

• MP4 with H.265 (HEVC)

Recently a growing number of mobile devices have started to have hardware support for HEVC – but not all do. If your device does support it however, you could reduce the file size of a H.264 video by up to 50% using HEVC instead.

Needless to say that should simplify your decision significantly. In most cases MP4 with H.264 is a safe choice, and you can convert your videos to it if you visit this site. If HEVC is supported however, you may want to use it to conserve storage space.


Keep in mind that you may want to eventually consider other new formats that are released – such as AV1. If you are ever considering any new format, you can fall back on the factors described previously to determine whether or not they would be better for your mobile device.