There can be no denying the fact that thanks to their high resolution Retina screens, Apple devices can hold their own against any smartphone in terms of display. The screen resolutions and other display aspects just keep getting better and better with each new iDevice release, but what’s the use of having such extraordinary hardware if you can’t play even the most popular video formats on your iPhone? While this could have been a real problem if users had to rely solely on the stock Videos app, thankfully there are a lot of quality video players available on App Store as well as Cydia. Many iOS users might not even be aware that their iPhone can play just about any video file, thanks to some awesomely feature-rich apps.
It’s all about finding the right app for your device, and that’s what we are going to help you with. In what follows, we will take a look at some of the best video players available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
Think of any video format, and it’s most likely that OPlayer supports it. The app also supports viewing subtitles for movies and playing audio files. There is an app-specific orientation lock, and any video’s sound will keep playing even when you are on the lock screen or the app is in the background. The app has a web browser of its own that can be used to play streams.
- Easy file transfer (USB, Wi-Fi and web)
- iTunes Backup
- Free version shows an annoying ad on top of all videos
- The playback loses some of its smoothness whenever you touch volume or some other control
Download OPlayer ($2.99)
8Player might not support as many media formats as some of the other entries in this list, but it is certainly among the smoothest apps of its kind. The app plays even 1080p videos without a hiccup on the rather old iPhone 4. There are some pretty interesting interface customization options too, letting users tinker with the looks of the app.
- Lightweight and smooth
- Interface customization
- DLNA support
- 3G playback
- Doesn’t let you keep more than 3 playable videos in the library unless you are a pro user.
- Navigation is a little confusing
Download 8player ($4.99)
This free video player has got just about everything. The interface looks professionally designed, and the playback is smooth for all formats. Most notably, if you want to share the videos from your library, RockPlayer2 is your best bet.
- Support for subtitles and lossless audio
- A lot of import/export options
- Customizable gesture controls
- Auto import for camera roll videos
- Audio doesn’t work under lock screen or in the background
- Choppy playback for 1080p videos
Video Stream is not a conventional video player, but the features it offers make it worthy of appearing on this list. You can transfer videos to it via the usual iTunes method, and there is also a desktop server of its own that lets you stream videos of any format from your PC or Mac to your iPhone. The player works pretty well too, offering both landscape and portrait modes, along with support for background and lock screen play.
- Full-screen mode
- Stream videos from your computer
- Convert any video to the default .MOV format from within the app
- Limit on streaming from desktop in the free version
- Struggles with some formats and large videos
Download Video Stream ($2.99)
Subtitles are Azul’s specialty, but other areas of the app are pretty decent as well. It handles most popular formats, plays video streams, and even allows you to add bookmarks to particular areas of videos.
- File renaming and sharing options
- Lets you choose subtitle encoding format
- Add text notes in videos
- Email export
- Audio extraction in iOS 6
- Crashes regularly on older devices
Despite having a lackluster interface, It’s Playing is the only video player for iOS that lets you tinker with different aspects of a video while it is being played. You can change playback speed, contrast, brightness and color saturation of the video on the go. If you don’t have subtitles, it is not necessary to look for them using a web browser since It’s Playing is capable of fetching subtitles automatically.
- Video adjustment controls
- Automatic subtitle fetching
- Passcode lock for folders
- Quality level selection for smooth playback
- Drab interface
- Doesn’t play sound when device is muted
For anyone who wants an app that can play most of the popular video formats without requiring extensive configuration and difficult file transfer, GPlayer is the perfect choice. It also supports Wi-Fi file transfer so that users can drag and drop files in their desktop web browser and access them on their phone.
- Wi-Fi file transfer
- Password protection
- Aspect ratio choice within the player
- Limited gesture controls
- MKV playback is not smooth
If you compare the number of features available in all iOS video players, CineXPlayer is sure to emerge as the winner. The app supports Dolby sound codecs, can be used to watch videos in 3D, and has a web browser of its own. We would have been tempted to label CineXPlayer the ultimate iOS video player had it supported as many formats as some of the other entries in our list.
- Dolby Digital Plus (AC-3) support
- 3D support
- Download manager for videos and subtitles
- Dropbox integration
- Lack of support for several popular formats including WMV and FLV
- Video quality could have been better
Owners of high-end devices will love GoodPlayer due to its amazingly high quality color rendering. Unfortunately, the app isn’t too smooth and playback of even the most basic formats can be choppy. Though its gesture controls are great for changing track and subtitle files on the go.
- Great for watching videos with subtitles and multiple tracks
- 24-bit true color
- Sleep timer
- Bad interface
- Playback can be choppy
Owners of older jailbroken iDevices must give this app a try. In our experience, it played even 1080p videos without any jitter on our iPhone 4. Unlike other Cydia apps covered here, RushPlayer+ offers Wi-Fi file transfer so you don’t need to have any knowledge of SSH and WinSCP.
- Super-smooth playback
- Hardware acceleration
- File system access
- Speaker balance
- Navigating through file system to find videos can be a bit hectic
VLC Media Player
VLC Player was hugely popular in its tenure in the App Store. Unfortunately, it was pulled from there due to copyright issues, and is now only available in the Cydia store. It is not the most feature-rich app out there, but you will get support for plenty of formats and it is even smart enough to warn users in case their device isn’t capable of playing a file smoothly.
Update: VLC Media Player has returned to the App Store with a bunch of additional features. Read our review of the new VLC for iOS for further details.
- Neat interface
- Compatibility warning for low-end devices
- Difficult method for importing videos (via SSH)
- Laggy on older devices
Here’s a quick feature comparison chart of all the iOS video players discussed above:
So now that you’ve checked out some of the best video players available for iOS, don’t forget to tell us about your favorite one in the comments below.