Just about every Android phone, tablet or set-top box comes with a pre-packaged media player that can handle basic music and video needs. So why ever bother with a 3rd party video player app?
While generic players handle the most common formats, they often don’t support XVID, DIVX, and other formats that many of us make use of on a daily basis. Not only this, they often have clunky UIs and not-so-impressive extra features.
If you are looking for a better solution, you’ll find a sea full of options on Google Play, but figuring out which of these players are worth downloading isn’t always easy.
Worry not, we’ve taken the time to put together a list of the top three free video players available for the Android platform.
1. MX player
MX Player is easily considered the most popular video player for Android, and for good reason. Not only is MX Player very stable, but it’s also extremely versatile with a wide range of support for different file formats – both common types and rarer, specialized formats as well.
Just to name a few, you get 3gp, f4v, mkv divx and mkv support.
As for the interface, it is clean and easy to use. Right from the first launch, the app automatically searches for video and places their folders onto the main screen. From there, you merely tap open a folder, choose a video and it starts up.
Once a video is open, MX Player also supports gesture controls with swiping up and down changing the brightness setting. Swiping left and right then fast-forwards or rewinds the video.
Cool Tip: While MX Player does support ads, if you are looking for a total ad-free experience, you can always pick up the paid version, MX Player Pro.
MX Player also supports both software and hardware decoders, which means that the MX Player will work on a very wide range of Android handsets and tablets.
Plan on using MX Player for music as well? The app also has the ability to play media files in the background and can even display a mini control pad through the notification bar, which will allow things like skipping to a new song.
2. Mobo Player
Right away you’ll notice that the Mobo Player looks (for the lack of a better word) prettier than MX Player. Like MX, the UI is clean, easy to navigate and offers way to quickly and nearly instantly search for existing media.
Another similarity to MX is that Mobo supports nearly every file type imaginable and seems to be rather stable. Every video file I played around with loaded up instantly and without any choppiness or distortion.
Unlike MX, Mobo also introduces a variety of customization options such as allowing you to change the background color, display battery power and time while watching vids, different file view modes and more.
Mobo Player also features a unique floating window that sits on your homescreen and allows you to watch your videos without being stuck within the app interface.
3. QQ Player
While QQ Player is certainly the least fancy of these three players, after some careful consideration I decided to add it to the list over a few others – including VLC Beta.
Mainly because, what it lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for by performing very fluently on just about every device you throw it on. Add that to the fact that it also supports a near endless supply of video and music formats, and you have a winner.
The QQ Player might not have video streaming or any complicated features, but it does offer basic touch gestures, a built-in screenshot taker and automatic video stretching.
Honorable Mention: VLC Beta
I seriously thought long and hard about putting this one up as one of the top three. After all, in many ways it is better than QQ Player with its beautiful interface, great gesture features and impressive list of supported files. Ultimately though, VLC Beta is an unfinished product, and that means it isn’t the most stable player out there and should only be considered if you don’t mind running Beta software.
For more details about the VLC Beta for Android, check out our full review.
Rocking an iDevice that needs a good 3rd party multimedia player? You might want to check out our detailed VLC for iOS review.
So which one of these players is really the best? Honestly, the answer to that depends on what you are looking for.
All three (or four rather) players have their pros and cons, and it ultimately comes down to which player best meets your individual preferences and needs.
What media player do you recommend, and what do you feel is its best feature?