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MPEG4 Versus MP4: Is MPEG4 the Same as MP4?

I've been looking for info about "MPEG vs MP4" and I've heard of movie files called both. I'm pretty sure they're the same thing, so I was just looking for some confirmation. If not, what is the difference between MP4 and MPEG4? And, the box of my device which I want to buy says it supports mpeg4 files. Does that mean it shall run mp4 files too? Thanks in advance.

Is a MPEG4 video the same as a MP4 video? What are the differences between MPEG4 and MP4 format? If you have the same doubt about MPEG4 and MP4, scroll down to figure out.

Part 1. MPEG-4 vs MP4: Definition

In this part, we'll explain what MPEG4 is and what MP4 is. Knowing the definition of MPEG4 and MP4 helps you get a basic understanding of these two video formats.

What does MPEG-4 stand for? MPEG-4 stands for Moving Pictures Expert Group 4. It refers to a well known compression method of the MPEG group, especially designed for low-bandwidth (less than 1.5MBit/sec bitrate) video/audio encoding purposes.

MP4 is also known as MPEG-4 Part 14. It is a standard specified as a part of MPEG-4. Different from MPEG-4, MP4 is a digital multimedia container format used to store video, audio, and other data like subtitles and still images. It can be used to encapsulate MPEG-4 content. But MP4 isn't the only container format for MPEG-4. Besides MP4, there are some other media container formats that can be used for videos encoded in MPEG-4, including AVI, Matroska, MXF, Ogg and QuickTime.

In addition, MP4 can refer to a video file extension (.mp4) while MPEG4 cannot. Normally, when we say MP4 video, we're talking about a video ending in the file extension .mp4. .mp4 is the only filename extension for MPEG-4 Part 14. MPEG-4 files with audio and video generally use the standard .mp4 extension. Besides MPEG-4, .mp4 can also be the extension for files using H.264, H.265, and other video codec formats.

From the simple describtion above, we know that MP4 is a video container format, a video file extension, as well as a video format, while MPEG-4 is just a video codec format.

What is a container format? What is a video codec format? It is as simple as this formula: Media Container = video format (video codec) + audio format (audio codec) + subtitle

MP4 vs MPEG4
MP4 vs MPEG4

Hot search: VVC H266 vs AV1, H.266 vs H.265

Part 2. MPEG-4 vs MP4: Formula

To make the difference of MP4 and MPEG4 much clearer, let's apply the formula to the "mpeg4 vs mp4":

  • MP4 (.mp4) = MP4 video format (.mpeg4/.h264 video codec) + audio format (mp3, aac, etc) + subtitle
  • AVI (.avi) = AVI video format (.mpeg4/.h264 video codec) + audio format (mp3, aac, etc) + subtitle, or other codec formats.
  • MKV (.mkv) = MKV video format (.mpeg4/.h264 video codec) + audio format (mp3, aac, etc) + subtitle, or other codec formats.

Common video container formats include MP4, AVI, MKV, WMV, MOV, FLV, to name a few. MPEG-4, MPEG-2, HEVC, Divx, VP8, VP9 are all video codec formats. Video container formats > video codec formats.

Part 3. MPEG-4 vs MP4: Compatibility

Almost all media players support MP4 container/format (MPEG-4). A rare few like RealPlayer only supports partial MPEG-4. If you try to play an .mts (mpeg2) video in iPhone, which somehow shows you "Unknown Video File", what is the solution? Surely, iPhone only supports .mp4, .mov and .m4v videos. So you can re-encode your video accordingly, meaning converting MTS to video formats like MP4 (mpeg4), MOV (mpeg4) or M4V (mpeg4) with a MP4 MPEG4 video converter.

Most devices and programs supports MP4, which means MP4 container format is widely accepted, however, the MP4 video file compatility also depends on which codec it uses. Some codec formats such as HEVC, AV1, are not universally compatible.

Part 4. MPEG-4 vs MP4: Common Misunderstandings

To make you get clear on the difference between MPEG4 and MP4 as simply as I can, I will first adopt the method "proof by contradiction" as follows. Check if you make the same mistakes.

  1. MPEG4 file format equals to MP4; (Incorrect)
  2. MPEG-4 is just the long version of what is commonly called MP4; (Incorrect)
  3. MP4 is just audio and music. MPEG4 is video, used in movies and TV shows, etc; (Incorrect)
  4. MP4 is video files on or for mobile devices while mpeg4 is just regular video files; (Incorrect)
  5. MP4 is a container for mpeg-4 video. There are other containers, like MKV, which also can have mpeg-4 video files in them. When devices, like iPhone, do not support MKV (MPEG-4), you can convert MKV to MP4/mpeg4. (Correct)

Part 5. FAQs about MPEG4 and MP4

Is MP4 and MPEG4 same?

No. they are two different things. MP4 is a container. An MP4 file includes a video stream that can be coded using a variety of video codecs, including MPEG-4, part 2 or MPEG-4, part 10 (AVC or H.264) or even H.265.

MPEG4 vs MP4, which is better?

Since they are two different kinds of things designed for different purposes, we can't compare them.

MP4 MPEG4 vs MP4 H.264, which is better?

H.264 is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10, Advanced Video Coding. H.264 isn't same as MPEG4. In an equal video quality condition, the compression rate of H.264 is 1.5-2 times of MPEG-4. So, H.264 is better than MPEG4.

Is MPEG4 good quality?

Yes. MPEG4 can maintain high-definition video quality. It takes advantage of its high rate of compression to provide high-quality video and audio with small file size across mobile networks. Besides online streaming, MPEG4 is also used to compress AV data for CD distribution, voice (telephone, videophone) and broadcast television applications.

Is MPEG4 lossy or lossless?

MPEG-4 files can be lossless, but more commonly they're lossy.

MPEG4 vs MPEG2, which has better quality?

Compared with MPEG2, MPEG4 provides a lower video quality. But it doesn't mean that MPEG2 is better than MPEG4. Each formats has their own strengths and weaknesses. For more details, you can read our detailed comparison between MPEG2 and MPEG4.

Is MPEG4 good for YouTube?

Yes. MPEG4 is one of supported YouTube file formats. But H.264 is the most recommended upload encoding format.

How to convert MPEG4 to MP4?

It's easy to convert MPEG4 to MP4 with Free Video Converter. Simply download and install this video converter on your computer and follow the three steps below to convert MPEG4 to MP4.

Step 1. Open WinX Video Converter and click + Video button to load the MPEG4 video you want to convert to MP4.

Step 2. On the auto pop-up Output Profile panel, choose a MP4 preset. There are many MP4 presets for different purposes with H.264, MPEG4, and H.265 encoding format to choose.

Step 3. Hit RUN to begin converting MPEG4 to MP4.

Convert MPEG4 to MP4
Convert MPEG4 to MP4

External resources:

MPEG-4 Part 14(MP4) on Wikipedia, including format history, filename extensions, data streams, metadata, and more. Check out detailed introduction of MP4 format.

MPEG-4 on Wikipedia, including development background, profiles and levels overview, licenses patents, a full list of contents about MPEG-4 codec format.


author - Kistent Waung

Kistent Waung twitter icon

Graduated from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, she employs herself in IT related content creation (since 2013) and happens to perfectly combine her major (computer & science) and her gusto (writing). She's seasoned at offering video audio conversion workarounds and always passionate about new trends, from hot HEVC, 4K to the new AV1 codec.

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