Mobile devices are frequently used to watch videos nowadays, and they definitely are a convenient option. However if you want to watch videos or encode videos to be watched on mobile devices – the format and settings that you use are important.

Video Format for Mobile Devices

The video format for mobile devices is important for a number of reasons. In many cases however the container that is used by the format is less important than the codec, as the latter determines the compression and whether or not it can be viewed.

Hardware support for the video codec is also important for mobile devices. Without it the processing power required to view videos will be high, and that will affect the battery life of your device.

In term of the video codec, the options that work best are:

  • H.264 which current has hardware support on most mobile devices. It also provides relatively good compression.
  • H.265 (HEVC) has hardware support on most new mobile devices. It provides up to 50% better compression rates than H.264.

As far as the container is concerned, most mobile devices can recognize and support common containers such as AVI, MPEG, MKV, and so on. The most popular however is definitely MP4.

Video Settings for Mobile Devices

Aside from the video format, the other settings that are used when encoding videos can play an important role as well.

The main video settings that you should consider are:

  • Resolution

The resolution of videos should depend on the resolution of the display of mobile devices. Most mobile devices currently have 1080p displays (in landscape), which makes it a good option.

  • Aspect ratio

The aspect ratio of videos for mobile devices should be based mainly on how you want it to be viewed. Typical HD widescreen videos use a 16:9 aspect ratio, or 9:16 for vertical videos. Some social media videos use square (1:1) aspect ratios for mobile devices.

  • Frame rate

Most mobile device displays are limited to a frame rate of 60, so anything above that is unnecessary. In fact any frame rate above 30 is generally considered to be good.

  • Video bitrate

The video bitrate should be based on the format (codec), resolution and frame rate that is used to encode the video. However in some cases you may want to reduce it to compress the video file size. If you do it may affect the video quality and cause compression artifacts.


Keep in mind that you don’t actually need to download and install software if you want to convert videos. Nowadays there are many web-based converters and it should be easy enough to find an AVI to MOV converter online, or one to convert to MP4 with H.264.

Knowing what video formats and settings work best on mobile devices, should help you to decide which options to use. At the end of the day that should ensure that you have fewer issues viewing videos on mobile devices – and at the same time let you optimize their file size and power consumption.

Sam Bocetta

Independent journalist. Naval defense analyst. Privacy, security and the right to be forgotten.

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