Editing video on your Android phone can seem like the the Wild West. Vast prairies of options, and seemingly no law and order as to what works best – and what doesn’t work at all. iPhone users have iMovie as a good and stable starting point. Not so for Droid users. We decided it was time to figure out the best editing app for yourAndroid smartphone. My colleague Thaddeus Bouska has an Android smartphone; he surveyed Android video editing apps.
We tried out dozens of apps, and found many that claim to be video editing software, and just aren’t. Many are buggy, designed poorly, or are just clumsy to use. We waded through the morass and found some fun, easy-to-use, powerful apps that will allow you to create edited-in-the-camera videos, or be able to fine tune, making great cuts in no time.
We recommend shooting videos from inside your smartphone’s video mode. Each shot is a different video, just like a series of still photos. When you’re ready to link your shots to make your film, open the editing app and import the shots. We don’t recommend shooting videos from inside the editing app on Android, as the image quality degrades.
Our top picks are in order of preference
1. Viva Video Pro – $2.99 in the Play store.
We start simple, with one of the easiest to use and most straightforward apps. It’s also the app we give our strongest recommendation to. “Viva Video” by Qu Video, Inc.
You start by trimming your videos, and then adding them to your project. After adding them one by one, you can change the order that you want them in, and then press done. The “editing” is as simple as that – but for most videos that’s all you’ll need.
The app gives you a choice to add some crazy transitions and effects, some fun and some tacky. You can also add text, titles, dub voiceover, add filters, and even amend your video with other clips. Then you can export the clip. The app renders automatically and quickly.
The app is fairly cheap at $2.99, but if you’re not sure try out the free version. The free version is almost full featured, but it has a limit on your video length – 5 minutes, and it watermarks your videos. Going “Pro” lets your videos be unlimited length, and removes the watermark. It’s one of the few apps whose full paid version is a one-time payment without any other hidden costs, which is a big plus.
2. KineMaster Pro – Free download, 4.99/monthly subscription for full features, in the Play store.
KineMaster is undoubtedly the most “professional” option for editing smartphone video. We’d give it our full recommendation, if it weren’t for it’s vague and costly price structure. The app claims to be free, but after you’ve edited your video and are ready to export it, the pricing scheme appears. Seems pretty sleazy. If you don’t mind their watermark covering your video, the export is free. Removing it costs $4.99/ month or $39.99/year.
Oh, and the app isn’t fully supported by all android devices. Make sure to check to see that yours is supported. Some devices (like my first generation HTC One) are partially supported – meaning they don’t work with full 1080p HD footage, only 720p.
Plus, there is no way of knowing if the app supports full-HD video on your phone until you download it and see that all your videos have a little exclamation mark in the middle of the screen.
The app will convert everything from 1080p to 720p for you, but the process takes time and it’s frustrating not to be able to use the “raw” camera video. Editing on your smartphone should be a very fast, easy process. I don’t want to set my phone down for fifteen or more minutes to let videos “cook.” That’s for real editors to do! You can also record 720p video straight to the app, but the footage looks terrible. I don’t recommend doing this.
It’s hard to believe they fit so much into a little mobile editing app. It has a proper video timeline, like iMovie or Final Cut, there’s fairly advanced audio editing and transitions. The transition options are easy to learn and use – and by default they’re disabled which is a blessing onto itself. This app is wonderful to edit with, if you can actually use it and don’t mind paying a considerable monthly fee.
3. WeVideo – free trial, then in-app purchases to export. In Play store.
WeVideo is probably one of the more fun apps we tested. When you first download the app you have a free trial period. For a limited time, and the limit of that time is difficult to determine, everything is free, included 1080p HD un-watermarked videos. After that “limited time” trial, you’ll have to pay to export your videos.
Free accounts receive 5 minutes of free export time a month. After, there’s a complicated export-credit payment system outlined here. $0.99 per 720p export, $1.99 per 1080p export. You can also buy these export credits in bulk for a discount, or subscribe to a monthly unlimited plan.
The app itself is sleek, and probably the most fun to use that we tried. You can apply it’s pre-built themes, or disable them easily. The Titles and effects are easy to use. The app does limit the amount of control you have over fine-tuning your trimming. You can only trim in broad strokes, you have little ability to fine-tune your trimming.
It exports quickly, faster than any other app we tried. If it didn’t have such a strange pricing mechanism and such limited trimming, it would be our favorite.
4. Video Maker Pro – Free in Play store.
This app crashed every time I tried to download and install it, on my HTC One, and many people have the same issue. Why am I recommending an app that crashed on my device, and that I haven’t used? Because it’s completely free! It’s the only worthwhile seeming App on the Play Store that was absolutely free. No export credits, in-app purchases, or anything else. Reviews from people who get it to work are fairly positive.
If you can run it, the app is a robust and simple-enough editing app. Effects, audio editing, trimming, everything the above software. It just also is very buggy on many people’s devices. See if it works for you, and if it does you’ll save yourself a few bucks.
5. Magisto – Free version with limited HD downloads and storage, limited movie length. “Premium” version $4.99/mo or $19.99/year with unlimited everything. In Play store.
This isn’t really a video editor, but I had too much fun with it not to mention it. This app takes your videos into its cloud, and automatically edits them into something. I was going to say interesting, but only if you like where their cuts are made. The first time you use the app, it truly feels like magic. You pick a theme, pick your source videos, pick your final video duration. The edit is done automatically. You have no control and you don’t even need to keep the app open after the upload. Magisto sends you a notification when your video is ready. It will also go through your videos and edit together clips for you without your telling it to do so and send them to you as “surprises.” Anyone creeped out?
This could be useful if you don’t want to do any work at all to cut down your video. It lets you pick the time up to 1:15 for a short little video, it’ll cut a 15 second Instagram, or longer if you go premium.
The results? Depends! One of my videos came out beautifully, the other made no sense. Whatever process the app uses to make edits doesn’t seem particularly sophisticated. It seems to favor motion from the middle of clips, which doesn’t always work well. What’s fun is the effects and titles it generates, and seeing how “The Cloud” would have cut your video. Feed your gallery to it, and see what it cooks up! Just don’t be surprised if the videos feel a bit… inhuman.
Final Impressions? Go with Viva Video.