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What is MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) Format? Everything about MP4 is Here!

What is MP4 format? MP4, or MPEG-4 Part 14, is a media container format, storing video, audio, subtitles and images, normally in .mp4 file extension. To make it more clear: e.g. MP4 container (.mp4) = MP4 format video (H.264 codec) + audio + subtitle.

As for the popularity, MP4 is the only game in town, to some extent, is a pretty well-educated guess in every single regard: itself (best balance of size and quality), powerful x264 encoder, compatibility with portable devices and the rise of streaming service. Keep reading if you wanna know deeper about MP4 format and everything related to MP4.

Part 1. Top Advantages of MP4 Format

The media format market is increasingly dominated by MP4 mainly for its quantum leap forward on data compression algorithm. In other words, just because of the appearance of MP4 with its advanced video encoding technique, you are able to enjoy better video quality at the same size. Specifically:

  1. Higher degree of compression and less loss of quality.
  2. Better quality and smaller file size.
  3. Suitable for video streaming over the internet.

The only problem lies in the editing. Accurate video editing requires more I frames, while MP4 (h.264) videos contains more B/P frames.

Part 2. Is MP4 the Most Compatible Format?

2.1 MP4 has the widest range of compatibility with devices and programs

MP4 file format was first released in 2001 as ISO/IEC 14496-1:2001, and was revised in 2 years later as ISO/IEC 14496-14:2003. It is based on QuickTime file format, but quickly becomes more popular than QuickTime format and others. And MP4 is natively accepted by computers, tablets, phones, game consoles, TVs and more manufactured by Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, Google, Huawei, Amazon, Lenovo, etc.

MP4 compatibility
MP4 compatibility

Besides, it's widely accepted by almost all media players, video editors, and browsers. In stark contrast, other formats are supported by limited devices and programs. For instance, MKV, WebM, and 3GP are recognized by certain Android devices, but excluded by Apple devices so far.

There is no other format that can equal the compatibility of MP4. This is why the average monthly searches for DVD to MP4 are up to 12,100, far higher than those for DVD to AVI (6,600), DVD to WMV (140), DVD to MOV (140), DVD to MKV (4,400), etc. And we'll see such kind of imbalance when comparing video to MP4 conversion with video to others, and MP4 download with other type of video download.

2.2 Usage of MP4

MP4 has penetrated into every aspect of our life. Teachers or trainers usually insert MP4 videos into PPTs to make further explanation. Companies always save their propaganda films as MP4 to fit for miscellaneous broadcast platforms flawlessly. Web surfers often download online videos as MP4 for fluent playback on media players, editing for further use, burning to DVD, etc.

The appearance of MP4 brings us many benefits in terms of movie playback, video transport, online video streaming and more.

  • Movie video, audio, subtitles and images can be merged into a single MP4 file which is available to play on various devices smoothly.
  • We can send MP4 to others via email without costing too much time because high level of compression produces small file size.
  • MP4 allows streaming over the internet. Small file size and low bandwidth consumption make MP4 streaming become popular.

2.3 What video audio codecs does MP4 support?

MP4 is a container format that can store video, audio and other data. So, what codecs does MP4 support?

  • Video codecs: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-4(A)SP, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, H.265, VC-1/WMV, Real Video, Theora, MPEG4 V2, VP8/9, MVC
  • Audio codecs: MP3, AAC, WMA, Opus, AC-3, DTS, LPCM, ALAC, DTS-HD
  • Caption/subtitle formats: MPEG-4 Timed Text

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe - Convert Video to MP4 Freely and Vice Versa

This No.1 fast video converter supports immaculate video conversion between MP4 and any other video formats, to help play any video on iPhone, iPad, Android, PSP, TV and the like regardless of the complicated parameter settings of the model.

Part 3. What Devices Can Support MP4?

3.1 Mobiles

Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch/Nano: MP4 format encoded with H.264 or MPEG-4 is fully compatible with all models of above Apple devices. iPhone 13/12/Pro, and iPad 7, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro are improved to support H.264 video up to 4K while precious models (before iPhone 6s) of iPhone iPad and iPod Touch/Nano can support the resolution up to 1080K.

Android Samsung, Pixel, HTC, LG, Sony, Moto, Nexus: all phones and tablets on Android OS inherit Android media format specs. Two codecs are used for MP4 format, H.264 AVC and H.265 HEVC. The former is compatible with Android 3.0 or above while the later is available on Android 5.0 or above to deliver higher resolution (4K/8K).

Microsoft Lumia, Acer Liquid, Surface Book/Pro, NuVision, HP, Toshiba: codec support of MP4 container varies from devices which run on different Windows Phone systems. For Windows Phone 8, MPEG-4 and H.264 are used to reach max resolution and frame rate of 1920x1080 @ 30 fps. Coming to Windows 10, advanced H.265 (HEVC) is added for 4K video playback.

Mobile devices
mobile devices

3.2 TV

Apple TV: shares video playback specs with other Apple devices, supporting MPEG-4 and H.264 with resolution up to 1080P @ 60 fps.

Sony BRAVIA Android TV: can read H.264 and H.265 formats up to 4K the same as other Android devices.

Smart (HD/4K) TVs: for example some big brands (Samsung, Sony, LG) fully support MP4 movie/video playback.

Smart TVs
Smart TVs

3.3 Game Console

Sony PlayStation - PSP: MP4 files encoded with MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC) or H.264 Main Profile (CABAC) (AAC) and Baseline Profile (AAC) can be well played on this model.

Sony PlayStation - PS5/4/3: The three models have alike MP4 support accepting H.264 High Profile (AAC LC) codec. On the other hand, PS5/4 can also support AC-3 (Dolby Digital) audio.

Microsoft Xbox - Xbox 360: can open H.264 with bit rate of 10Mbps and resolution of 1920x1080 @ 30 fps as well as MPEG-4 with bit rate of 5Mbps and resolution of 1280x720 @ 30fps.

Microsoft Xbox - Xbox One: H.265 can be read by Xbox One based on Windows 10 apart from the same MP4 codec support as Xbox 360.

Game Consoles
Game Consoles

Part 4. What Applications Can Play MP4?

As a matter of fact, all video player software features MP4 video playback. What's the best MP4 player? We will give you a detailed comparison of top video players (5KPlayer, VLC player, KMPlayer, RealPlayer) for your reference. Check out:

What MP4 Video Codecs Can Free Video Players Support?

  • 5KPlayer: H.265, H.264, MPEG-4
  • VLC: H.264, MPEG-4 ASP
  • KMPlayer: H.264, MPEG-4
  • RealPlayer: H.264, MPEG-4

Which MP4 Players Support MP4 Video Streaming?

  • 5KPlayer: Yes (via AirPlay & DLNA)
  • VLC: Yes (over computer networks)
  • KMPlayer: Yes (from PC to devices)
  • RealPlayer: Yes (via Xbox One, Roku, Chromecast)

100% safe

4K/HD Playback Yes Yes Yes Yes
3D/VR Playback Yes Yes
(via some modifications)
(3D mode)
Subtitle Support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Online MP4 Video Download Yes No No Yes
Platforms Windows, Mac Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android Windows, Mac, iOS, Android Windows, RealTimes for Mac/iOS/Android
Price Free Free Free Free download and premium plans

Part 5. Video Format Battles: MP4 vs MKV vs AVI vs MPEG2

MP4 vs MPEG 4

MP4 is a container for mpeg-4 video. MP4 can refer to a video file extension while MPEG4 cannot. Generally, when we say MP4 video, we're talking about a video ending in the file extension .mp4. 

MP4 vs MKV

Both are container formats to store video, audio, pictures, subtitles and multimedia data, and both allow streaming over the internet. MKV can store unlimited multimedia content, and MP4 has specific formats. 

MP4 vs AVI

Both AVI and MP4 are most widely used media containers and video formats. . MP4 can be played on more devices and media players than AVI. Besides, MP4 can also easily stream on the Internet while AVI can't. 

MP4 vs M4V

M4V is the derivation of MP4 video format, and they are very similar in many ways. The MP4 container can hold either MPEG-4 or H.264 video codec but the M4V container, designed for Apple especially, can use H.264 video codec exclusively.


MPEG4 coding standard is primarily used for portable devices and Internet streaming, while MPEG2 is the encoding method for television broadcast and DVDs. MPEG2 may encode a movie file that is 5 times the size of that by MPEG4.

MP4 vs MP3

MP3 files are mainly audio files; MP4 files are for multiple digital files. MP3 applies a form of lossy data compression. MP3 is for storing, transferring and playing audio files only on digital audio players. MP4 can handle digital audios, digital videos, texts and images.

MP4 vs H.264

 MP4 is a file container format, while H.264 is actually a video compression codec that requires a video container to host the encoded video. Normally, H.264 encoded files can be MP4 files as well as AVI or MKV files.

What Are Differences Between MP4 and Other Formats

Video Codec MPEG-2 Part 2, MPEG-4 ASP, H.265, H.264, H.263, VC-1, Dirac and others Almost All Almost anything through VFW MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2, H.264, H.263, H.261, Apple ProRes, Apple Pixlet, Cinepak, Component Video, DV, DVC Pro 50, Graphics, Motion JPEG, Photo JPEG, QuickTime Animation, Sorenson Video 2/3
Audio Codec HE-AAC, MP3, AC-3, Apple Lossless, ALS, SLS, Vorbis and others Almost All Almost anything through ACM AAC, HE-AAC, Apple Lossless, MP3, AMR Narrowband, MS ADPCM, QDesign Music 2, Qualcomm PureVoice (QCELP), IMA 4:1, MACE 3:1, MACE 6:1, ALaw 2:1, ULaw 2:1
Subtitle Format Support MPEG-4 Timed Text Almost All Support SubRip, SubStation Alpha and via third party modifications, XSUB via DivX Unknown
Variable Bit/Frame Rate Yes Yes Yes Yes
Resolution Highest (Up to 4K/8K) Up to 1080P Up to 1080P Up to 1080P
Compatibility Virtually any device and media software Special MKV player, editor and others. Microsoft devices, Xbox, PlayStation, partial Android devices and Windows-based media software Apple devices and Mac OS-based media software.
License Patented Free Unknown Proprietary

Part 6. How to Convert DVD Video to/from MP4?

6.1 Convert DVD/Video to MP4

Why need a MP4 video converter to convert MP4 video? As stated above, MP4 video format features a strong compatibility, high compression with smaller size while reserving superb quality, easy Internet streaming, etc., all of these have made the popular MP4 format the first priority when ripping DVD or converting videos.

Many people have a common need of converting DVD to MP4 video for later playback of the DVD movie on Windows (11) PC, Mac, iPhone (13/Pro), iPad, Android, etc., but how could easily realize it? WinX DVD Ripper Platinum, a solid DVD to MP4 ripper, enables users to smoothly convert any protected DVD (incl. latest Disney DVD) to MP4 or other formats/devices in about 10 minutes with highest quality.

Rip DVD to MP4
Rip DVD to MP4

As for converting video to/from MP4, WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe ranks on the top in consideration of conversion speed, ease of use, stable performance, versatile video editing features, etc.

6.2 Free Download MP4 Videos

Lags, stutters or buffering is troublesome when watching movies/videos online, but on the contrary, downloading videos to hard drive for watching offline ensures a smooth video viewing experience. Since the MP4 video file can be played by most players and devices, many of you may choose MP4 format when downloading videos from YouTube, etc. Then what's the best way to free download MP4 videos online?

6.3 How to Play MP4 Files on Desktop, Mobile and TV?

As the most welcomed container, general MP4 video file can be played facilely on computers, TVs and movable smart devices, like Windows Media Player (11/12) can play MP4 movies on Windows, QuickTime helps you watch MP4 files on Mac, iPhone's native Video app is able to open MP4 video clips be default, without help from any other hardware or software.

play MP4
Play MP4

But due to the multiplex combinations of video, audio and subtitles codecs, it yield MP4 file with dissimilar file extensions, and the media transmitting medium with inclusive player cannot play all MP4 file formats accordingly. This gives rise to hunt MPEG-4 codec pack up for further MP4 enjoyment. Otherwise, you must fall back on the third-party media player. Many situations also bother when MP4 fails to unfold, the gadget has no enough space for watching MP4 smoothly, or the aspect ratio of raw MP4 video does not perfectly fit the player screen...


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Jack Watt is a sought-after editor at Digiarty. He is responsible for digital and multimedia world, delivering definitive video and audio related software reviews, enlightening guides, and incisive analysis. As a fan of Apple, Jack Watt also brings his experience to more readers and focuses on writing of the Apple ecosystem at large.

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