Mobile screens are getting bigger and bigger, with better resolution and sometimes even HDR, being the ideal alternative to watch videos wherever you are. For this you only need one video player of the hundreds available on Google Play, although not all are the same
How does a great video player differ from a mediocre one? What are the best video players? With so many alternatives in the Google store, you may be lost on which players are worth your time and which ones are more of the same. Here we analyze the seven best players of the moment.
What do we ask of a video player?
Taking into account that your Android undoubtedly comes with a video player, even if it is to play the videos recorded with the camera, the most obvious thing that we ask a third-party player is that it surpasses what we already have, either in added features, better performance, a nicer look, or all of them at once.
These are some of the Aspects to consider When choosing and scoring how good a video player for Android is, and the basis that we will use to compare them in the comparison table, later:
Formats: The more video formats it supports, the better. You are probably not going to play videos in 100 different formats on your mobile, but a fair support can lead to problems opening old or downloaded videos from the Internet.
Codecs: Does the player include its own codecs? Are they downloaded separately or is it limited to using the codecs pre-installed on the system?
Chromecast support: If your mobile screen is too small for you, an option that is always appreciated is to send the content to an external device such as a Chromecast or television.
Streaming: In our comparison we ignore video streaming services such as Netflix or YouTube, but a good player should not have any problem playing videos from the Internet.
Subtitle: One area where many OEM players fail is the limited or non-existent subtitle playback. A good player supports a reasonable number of subtitle formats and allows you to make minor adjustments to their timing and appearance. Or, even better, search and download them from the Internet.
Window mode: It is always interesting to be able to continue the playback in a floating window, in case you need to do other things with your mobile while you play a video. Support for the split window of Nougat or higher is another plus.
Free or almost: With so many free quality players, it’s hard to find excuses to checkout. We will focus on free players in our comparison, if possible without advertising or not being very intrusive.
Size: Does it take up little or a lot? The size of a video player can be quite large if it includes many codecs, so it is a fact of interest for those who go with the right storage.
Idiom: It is probably not the most important element since what is important is the video and not the application itself, but we will also analyze whether the applications are available in Spanish or not.
Additional features: Finally, do you have anything that makes you special apart from the previous points?
Our selection of candidates
Taking into account all the above, we have selected seven candidates under the conditions that they are more or less up to date (that is, they have been recently updated) and that they maintain a good feedback by users.
Poor-quality apps and clones of open source options like VLC abound in video players available on Google Play. In our selection we have focused on more original options that we would recommend in 2020.
On the other hand, we have used Google Photos as the control subject. Most manufacturers include their own video player, but in the few that do not, Google Photos is the last resort to play video. The idea is not so much that it is a good video player (spoiler: it is not), but to use it to compare what the others bring back in comparison.
We begin our review with the control subject: the video player that (almost) all mobile phones have pre-installed. Obviously, we cannot say that Google Photos is a video player, but rather an application that, among other things, plays video. What Gallery app on the purest Android, the photo app has to double the functions as a video player as well. Unfortunately, Google Play Movies is only used to play movies purchased from the Google Play Store and not the videos on your mobile.
As a video player, Google Photos is a disaster. When it finds a format that is not supported, it just leaves the window blank without any warning, it does not have support for subtitles and the menu To see in, which opens the video in other players, gives us a hint that Google really doesn’t think you want to watch videos here unless you have no choice.
Now that we know how (little) Google Photos offers us as a video player, let’s move on to much more complete proposals third-party that is worth downloading on your Android.
Google PhotosVaries by device
VLC is a heavyweight among video players, although it took a long time for it to end up on Android. The interface is one of its strengths, resulting not only pleasing to the eye but also intuitive and very agile. For example, it is extremely easy to connect to a network drive and play shared content, which in other players can be a headache.
VLC has the advantage over other players that it is totally free, Whithout ads. It includes its own codecs, which can solve problems for you if you have problems with the pre-installed ones. The official list of supported videos is MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS, Wv and AAC.
Subtitle support is also very good, both those embedded in MKV and separate files in the usual formats. Can download subtitles automatically from the internetAlthough it doesn’t give you any control over the process, which is faster but can also be error prone.
Includes advanced features such as playback to configurable speed from 25% to 400%, the sleep timer or the audio and subtitle delay, ideal if you have problems adjusting the subtitles.
VLC for Android
MX Player has managed to stay at the top of video players for years. It is offered in two versions, free, with advertising, and paid, for 6.10 euros. The advertising it’s not very nice, appearing full screen the first time you open the app. Otherwise, there are no differences between the two versions.
MX Player uses hardware acceleration and multi-core decoding to get the most out of your mobile’s power: no matter what you throw at it, if your mobile is half decent it will play it smoothly. Format support is extensive as is, but has additional codec packs that are installed separately.
The subtitle support MX Player is very good, with support for text format and all popular formats (SRT, SUB, IDX, SSA, ASS and more). You can even search for the subtitles in OpenSubtitles and download them directly, without leaving the application. Magic!
MX Player is an old dog and it shows in the amount of options and additional details that others have not yet had time to implement, such as off timer, the possibility to choose the audio delay or to be able to choose precisely the playback speed. Luckily, despite being a legendary application, it has managed to keep its appearance up to date, and even has different topics to change its appearance.
MX Player has several modes to fit the video to the screen and can even correct the aspect ratio automatically, but if none of them fit perfectly, which is rare, you can always do manual zoom, as if it were a photo. Similarly, it includes gestures to modify the volume and screen brightness easily.
MX playerVaries by device
GOM Player looks like a regular video player, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it supports a good number of video formats (in our tests, only an old AVI has survived). The interface is clear and intuitive, without much frills but with all the buttons in sight to perform most of the functions.
The curious 360 button stands out that plays any -yes, any- video in 360 degree view similar to the Facebook viewer, that is, it uses the gyroscope to move the screen. The result varies depending on which video, but it certainly deserves a look.
For the rest, it also has a mode of floating window resizable and gives you the possibility to modify the playback speed from half to twice as fast. The sleep timer is very close at hand, just a touch away.
GOM Player ups the ante on connecting to KM Player’s cloud storage services, including support for Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, FTP and WebDav, although it is missing that it looks for shared units in network: instead, you must connect yourself manually.
KM Player is another old acquaintance of desktop video players although in this case, unlike VLC, the adaptation for Android is not very good. The main problem is the codecs: Of all the players we have tested, this is the one that has had the most problems, frequently asking you to download video codecs even for common formats.
Apart from this -big- catch, KM Player is still an interesting player. It has, for example, a mode of resizable floating window and support for Subtitle, with the ability to fine-tune the timing. In this case, you must provide the subtitles yourself: do not search or download them from the Internet. Finally, you can connect it with Google Drive or its own cloud, KM Connect, to play videos that you save there.