How Do I Convert Video For My Android Phone?

Dear Lifehacker, Converting videos for the iPod is so easy in iTunes, but I can't seem to get videos to play on my Android device. How can I convert videos so that they'll play in the native Android video player? Sincerely, Vexed by Video

Dear Vexed,

I actually wrestled with this recently myself. I tried configuring Handbrake manually and my videos still wouldn't play. After a little while, just for giggles, I encoded a video using Handbrake's iPhone preset, and it played perfectly on my Droid. And since the biggest difference between Android video compatibility and iPhone compatibility is the resolution, you can just use this preset and set the resolution yourself for easily playable videos on your phone.

Every Android device is different, but you can take a look at your phone's tech specs page to see what your screen resolution is (for example, here's the Motorola Droid's page, which notes the screen resolution as 480x854).

Thus, to convert a video for your phone, open it up in Handbrake and hit the "iPhone & iPod Touch" profile in the right sidebar. Then click on the Picture tab (or the "Picture Settings" button along the top of the HandBrake window, if you're on a Mac) and set the "Anamorphic" box to "loose". Change the width of the video to match the height of your phone's screen in pixels (since you'll be watching the movie with your phone in landscape format) — in the Droid's case, 854 (or the closest you can get to 854). Convert the video and then connect your phone and copy it to your SD card. It should play through Android's Gallery app without a hitch.

It may seem obvious, but it took me a lot of manual fiddling before I realised that the iPhone setting would probably work fine. So hopefully, those of you that are still having problems can use this method. Of course, if you have space to spare and would rather just watch DivX or MKV videos on your phone, you can always check out previously mentioned RockPlayer.

Love, Lifehacker

P.S. Got any of your own tips for watching videos on Android? Share them with us in the comments.


    I know you want to use the native player, but RockPlayer will play xvid/divx/etc ...

    Although you mentioned that ... /slaps forehead.

    I've been using Miro Video Converter to convert my videos to HTC desire. Fairly straightforward drag and drop...

    I've been using Vuze, its simple drag and drop and can be used with itunes and my tivo too. Early days but wrapped so far.

    Galaxy S seems to play most of what you throw at it, no conversion required.

    I still use an HTC Dream, which by this point is pretty obsolete. That said, modded software has dramatically extended the life of my phone. Cyanogen works great and is speedy.
    The major issue with tools like RockPlayer is that they are to bulky for the 600Mhz processor. Running the default format works much smoother, and more so if the screen resolution is right. this means that there is no scaling to be done which drastically reduces the amount of CPU which must be available to process the stream.

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