[Android] Best free video player

One of the best features on my Samsung Galaxy S was that it supported most, if not all, video codecs and could play almost any type of video. My Nexus S, on the other hand, does not have this extensive codec support; and I am sure many other Android phones don’t either. If you are one of the unlucky Androidities who’s phone cannot play all the videos you want, you need a third party video. Luckily, you have dotTech to help you find the best free video player.

This article is part of our Best Free Android Apps repository. Feel free to drop by when you have time!

Table of Contents

Best Free Video Player

App Name: MoboPlayer

Developer: MoboTeam

Download Size: 3.6 MB

Version Reviewed: v1.2

Requires: Android 1.6 and up

Pros

  • Has extensive codec support: Plays almost all videos.
  • Has a user friendly interface with support for touch gestures.
  • Allows users to create playlists.
  • Supports subtitles.
  • Can play HTTP/RTSP protocol streaming videos.
  • Has extra codec plugins – downloadable from Android Market – for users who have trouble playing videos.
  • Supports app2sd.
  • Ads-free.

Cons

  • Cannot play SWF videos.
  • One minor bug.

Discussion

When I started writing this article, I thought I had a tough job ahead of me on the count of there being so many video players on Android Market. However, after researching and testing over a dozen video players, I have discovered no video player comes even close to MoboPlayer. Indeed what I thought would be a hard verdict turned out to be very simple: MoboPlayer blows the competition out of the water. MoboPlayer is the only free video player I found that can play almost all video types*, supports subtitles, has a user friendly interface with touch gestures support, allows users to create playlists, can play streaming videos (via HTTP/RTSP protocol), and is ads-free.

(*According to the developer, MoboPlayer can play AVI, MP3, RMVB, RM, 3GP, WMV, MP4, MOV, MKV, FLV, 3GPP, MPG, MLV, MPEG, M2V, VOB, TP, TS, ASF, RA, RAM, HLV, OGG, F4V, and M4V files. I tested MoboPlayer with FLV, AVI, WMV, MP4, MPG, MOV, 3GP, ASF, MKV, VOB, and SWF video formats; MoboPlayer was able to play all of them except for SWF.)

For those people that have trouble playing videos, Mobo Team has put together individual codec plugins users can download (the plugins are based on your CPU type, so be sure to download the right one) to improve performance.

Aside from the obvious extensive codec support, my favorite features of MoboPlayer include being able to make the background color of the video player whatever color you want (this does not change the background color when watching videos, obviously), being able to change the aspect ratio of videos while viewing them, and being able to control what folders MoboPlayer scans to look for video files. (Users can make MoboPlayer scan the whole SD card, if they wish, or just scan specific folders.)

Now as I mentioned already, MoboPlayer cannot play SWF videos. While it would be nice to have SWF support, this isn’t too big of an issue (definitely not a deal-breaker) because 1) SWF is less of a video format and more of an interactive medium 2) I highly doubt many users will want to view SWF videos on their Android phone. However, there is a minor but important issue that needs to be fixed.

When playing videos, users can lock/unlock the screen (locking the screen is not turning off the screen but rather disabling all video controls; this is done to prevent accidental touching while viewing a video) by pressing the menu key. I noticed that after I lock the screen and touch the screen, two very small green and white lines (I don’t know for sure but I would say one pixel in width) appear at the top and bottom of the screen. They don’t go across the whole top and bottom – only about half way – and by no means do they destroy the viewing quality of videos; but they are noticeable to the observant eye and they are annoying. I am not sure if this issue only happens on my Nexus S or if other phones are also experiencing it; I have not tried to download any of the codec plugins to see if it makes this go away. Whatever the case may be, it needs to be fixed.

Other than the two minor issues mentioned above, I see nothing else wrong with MoboPlayer. If there was such a thing as a perfect app, MoboPlayer would be the perfect video player. It definitely is the best free video player you will find.

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14 comments

  1. mukhi

    i have to give thumbs down for mobo as it does not play DTS. samsung galaxy tab 2’s default player does not play DTS either. good news is that after trying these two and MX player, dice player, BSPlayer is finally the player that plays all so far.

  2. best tablet for the money

    This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.

    Simple but very accurate information? Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  3. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Pax: Sorry to hear about the video player. Maybe if you submit a request to MoboPlayer devs they can add the feature in a future release.

    While I do think ASUS Transformer 2 will be a great tablet, I don’t think tablets are the appropriate replacement for netbooks… for productivity purposes, anyway. If you are looking for entertainment, though, then go for it. For what it is worth, though, in my book the best tablet out there right now is the iPad simply because of the tens of thousands of apps for it. However, if one owns an Android phone then it is hard to justify an iOS tablet.

  4. Pax

    @Ashraf:

    Thanks for the reply. The Nexus One is working out pretty well. I’m an old PDA user from years back (Palm, PocketPCs, others) and small handheld computer enthusiast (HP 200LX and others) so today’s handheld OSes don’t have the same ‘wow’ factor as they do on the younger generation.

    I actually waited for Android to advanced far enough (which it’s doing in leaps and bounds over iOS, imo, especially when it comes to the filesystem and support for external devices/drives) to make it a viable purchase. Still no luck on a video player with the ability to adjust aspect ratios, though…

    I’m looking at the new ASUS Transformer 2 (when it comes out) as a replacement for my XP-driven netbook. I have to admit that the ASUS TF2 + ICS does ‘wow’ me. I haven’t felt this way about a combination of software and hardware in a long time. I’m hopeful that ICS apps will advance enough over the next year that the apps I use on my current desktop will have similar counterparts on Android.

  5. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @tim: I have no idea. Sorry.

    For what it is worth, I always use DroidWall to block Internet access for apps that I know don’t need it. So for whatever reason Moboplayer requires the ability to see known accounts, it can’t do anything bad since it doesn’t have access to the Internet.

    @rash: You are welcome!

    @Pax: You are welcome! How are you liking the Nexus One?

    I can’t think of a video player off the top of my head. If I do I will get back to you. Have you found any, yet?

  6. Pax

    Great review. Thanks.

    I just got my first Android device (Nexus One) and was looking for a fairly simple video player (mp4 and avi is fine) but with the ability to change aspect ratios and perhaps brightness levels.

    Do you or anyone have any suggestions for a video player that allows changing the aspect ratio from 16:9 and 4:3. Optionally, 2.35:1, 3:2 and 16:10 would be awesome.

    Thanks to anyone with any suggestions.