How to Select the Best Video Format for Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are known to be a bit more particular about video formats than computers generally are. For most computers if you encounter a format that you can’t play you can download a codec or player that will let you play it – but that may not always be the case with mobile devices.

That is why if you’re encoding or converting a video specifically to be watched on mobile devices you need to know how to select the best format – and that will be based on several factors:


It goes without saying that the format you choose needs to be compatible with the mobile device so that it can be decoded and played. The compatibility of mobile devices can vary however, so you will need to either use a format that is widely-compatible – or look up the specific formats that your device supports.

Keep in mind that hardware support is important, as without hardware acceleration the mobile device will need to use software to decode video. That requires processing power, and is likely to impact the battery life of your device.


Another important fact to remember about mobile devices it their storage tends to be limited. As a result you will want to use a codec that offers the best possible compression rates – while still being compatible.

Often a compromise is required in terms of compression as many mobile devices do not have hardware support for newer codecs with better compression.

Other features

If the video that you are encoding or converting has other specific features such as menus, chapters, or subtitles – the container that you choose needs to support them. However if the video does not have any other features or you decide you don’t need them this factor can be ignored.

Although evaluating the factors listed above and finding the best format may seem complicated – in practice it isn’t that difficult. In fact as things stand there are two main formats that you need to consider: MP4 with H.264 or MP4 with HEVC (H.265).

Overall MP4 with H.264 is the best format for general use on mobile devices. It is widely-supported and you should have no trouble playing it on any device.

That being said if you have a newer device that supports HEVC, it can provide better compression and reduce the file size of H.264 videos by up to 50%. That makes it worth using – if it is an option.

Once you’ve decided which format you want to use, learning how to convert MOV to MP4 is really straightforward and there are lots of video converters out there that can do it. For example you could use Movavi Video Converter.

It should be noted that although right now MP4 with H.264 or HEVC are the two formats to consider – that is subject to change. If other formats should start to be more widely-supported by mobile devices, you can evaluate them based on the factors described above to decide which is best.