Video formats for cell phones

In a nutshell

  • Videographers can use mobile formats like HEVC (H.265), AVC (H.264), VP9, AV1 and MPEG-4 when exporting videos.
  • Effective distribution methods for mobile videos include AirDrop, video streaming sites, social media, messaging apps, cloud storage and email.
  • The best format you should use will depend on your use case and your video’s destination.

Today, mobile video consumption is at an all-time high. According to recent statistics, mobile video traffic now accounts for over 70% of global internet traffic. Today, more than two billion people worldwide regularly consume video content on their smartphones, making mobile video the dominant form of media consumption. The popularity of mobile video has earned it the title of the Fourth Screen, after movie, television and computer screens (first, second and third, respectively).

This trend is reshaping how we consume content, with more people watching TV shows, news and social media videos on their smartphones than ever. It’s now important for videographers to account for mobile formats when exporting their videos.

Cell phone video formats

As the popularity of mobile video continues to rise, understanding the current formats used in online video is more critical to making sure you have the proper and quality to compete in the marketplace. Here are the ones you should know:

HEVC (H.265)

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265, is the successor to H.264. It offers up to 50% better data compression at the same level of video quality and is ideal for high-resolution video on mobile devices. HEVC is supported by most modern smartphones, including the latest iPhones and Android devices. It’s perfect for streaming 4K content with minimal buffering.

AVC (H.264)

While newer formats like HEVC and AV1 offer better compression, H.264 remains a widely used video format due to its compatibility and performance. H.264 is supported by virtually all mobile devices, web browsers and streaming services. It’s a reliable choice for ensuring your video can be played on any device without compatibility issues.


Developed by Google, VP9 is an open and royalty-free video coding format designed to replace H.264. It provides great compression efficiency, rivaling HEVC and is widely used for YouTube streaming. Most Android devices and modern web browsers support VP9, but it’s still not as widely adopted as other previously mentioned codecs.


AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) is an open, royalty-free video coding format designed to succeed VP9. AV1 offers 20 to 30% better compression than VP9 and HEVC, making it a popular choice for high-quality video streaming at lower bitrates. Major tech companies like Google, Apple and Netflix support AV1.


MPEG-4 is a classic video format that balances quality and file size. Because of this, it suitable for mobile video playback and streaming. Although not as efficient as newer formats like HEVC or AV1, MPEG-4 is still widely used due to its compatibility with older devices and software.


To determine what format you should export your mobile video in, you need to determine how and where you’re going to distribute it.

Thankfully, distributing video shot using cell phone is easy, as there are a multitude of online services and methods to get your video out to others. Here are some of the most effective ways you can share your mobile videos in 2024:


For iPhone users, AirDrop remains one of the quickest and easiest methods to share videos. AirDrop uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to transfer files directly between Apple devices. This method is perfect for sharing high-quality videos directly without any data loss.

Video streaming sites

YouTube is still the go-to platform for video distribution, allowing users to upload, share and monetize their content. With the support for high-resolution formats like 4K and HDR, YouTube is a viable option for those that want their videos to be viewed in higher resolutions. Other notable platforms include:

  • Vimeo: Known for its high-quality playback and professional community, Vimeo is ideal for filmmakers and creatives.
  • Twitch: Popular among livestreamers, Twitch is a great platform for streaming live video content.

Social media

Social media platforms are essential for video distribution. With vertical video becoming the norm for short-form content, platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat are all acceptable ways to share both personal and professional video.

Messaging apps

Instant messaging apps also are great for sharing videos quickly with individuals or groups. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and even your phone’s native SMS system are all acceptable ways of sharing video content in a personal setting. For more security when sharing large videos with groups, Telegram is a good way to go.

Cloud Storage

Using cloud storage services to share videos ensures that your files are easily accessible through a shareable link. Using these services also allows you to secure your videos, meaning you can manage the access and permissions of specific users. Google Drive is a common cloud storage option because it provides up to 15 GB for free, along with multiple paid plans that provide up to 10 TB. Other common services include Dropbox for professionals and iCloud for iOS users.


While not the most efficient method for large files, email remains a viable option for sharing smaller videos or sending download links from cloud storage services. Many email services now support large file attachments through integrated cloud storage options. For example, when trying to share a large attachment through Gmail, it’ll automatically upload the file to Google Drive and attach the file.

Choosing the Right Format

When selecting a video format for your content, consider the following factors:

  • Compatibility: Ensure the format is supported by the devices your audience uses, as well as the platform that you plan to share on.
  • Quality: Choose a format that maintains the highest video quality necessary for your uses.
  • Compression efficiency: Opt for formats like HEVC or AV1 for better compression while also reducing storage and bandwidth requirements.


The variety of video formats available today allows content creators to optimize their videos for different devices and platforms. Understanding the strengths and limitations of each format will help you decide on which video format you should use. Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all format. Your format will be determined by your use case and destination. So, determine that information, and you will have your answer.

Contributing authors to this article include: Jim Martin and Kyle Alsberry

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.

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