Your phone may be great at shooting videos, but it’s probably not so smart at editing them – even the simplest clean-up tasks will usually require a little help.
If you’ve got some heavy-duty editing in mind then transferring your footage to a desktop PC will doubtless give you access to a larger screen and a more powerful CPU, very handy when you’re working with HD footage.
But if you’re looking for convenience, it’s surprising just how much you can get done by installing a free Android app. Trimming, cutting, picture enhancements, captions, special effects, audio tweaks and more are generally just a tap or two away, and some of the best choices get close to desktop-level power.
You need to be wary of catches – ads, watermarked logos, an ‘x minute’ limit on video length – but choose carefully and you can pick out a capable editor, as there are plenty of them around. Keep reading for ten of our favourites, and check them out for yourself.
Quik is an excellent app which replaces the usual ‘try this, no, undo, try something else’ video editing workflow with something much better: it automatically creates movies itself.
Just give Quik your source material and it analyses your clips, finds interesting scenes, frames portrait images, adds transitions, special effects, even syncing key moments with the soundtrack (there are 70+ free songs included, or you can use your own).
You do get some manual control, with the ability to reorder and trim clips, add titles, or choose from 24 video styles with their own transitions and graphics. But Quik’s real strength is in its automation, and the way the app generates very professional movies in just a few taps.
CyberLink’s PowerDirector is one of the best desktop video editors around, so it’s no surprise that the Android edition tramples all over most of the free – and commercial – competition.
The professional timeline interface will have experienced users feeling at home right away. Getting started is as easy as dragging and dropping your source material, effects and more. Then you can trim, crop or split your clips, adjust colours, apply excellent slow motion effects, tweak and boost volume, and of course share your work on Facebook and YouTube, or save it locally.
There are one or two issues – you really need a tablet to get the most from the UI, and the free version places a watermark on your movies – but if you’re after a real video editor on your mobile device, PowerDirector is hard to beat.
VivaVideo is a fun video editor with a lengthy list of features: you can capture with various ‘creative lenses’, trim and merge clips, explore a good basic set of editing tools, add 200+ special effects and filters, make easy annotations with a host of stickers and themes, and share your movies via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, Vimeo, email and more.
The end result is targeted at the consumer, rather than the professional user (forget keyframe editing, learn to love animated GIFs and ‘cute’ themes instead). The free build also has some major restrictions, with video watermarking and a very annoying five-minute limit. But VivaVideo still offers a good deal more features and functionality than most of the competition, and if you just want to create and share quick fun clips with friends then it’s a good choice.
The app doesn’t just offer basic trims and merges, for instance. It has some quality filters, effective video speed control, various picture fixes, animated titles, and a very wide range of audio tools – everything from inserting music from your library to recording narrations and, uh, inserting laughter, explosions or farts. Finished results can be shared on Facebook, YouTube and more.
Other apps may have more features, and we’ve seen complaints about a few bugs. Videoshop delivers a lot for a free video editor, though, and an impressive 4.4 star Google Play rating suggests most users are very happy.
Adobe Premiere Clip
An Adobe video editing app, for free? Amazingly, yes, although this isn’t quite as good as you’d hope.
Premiere Clip does give you simple trimming, excellent lighting and colour filters, some professional audio tools and the ability to automatically sync image transitions with your soundtrack, before exporting the results to Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.
If you’re a Creative Cloud user you’ll also appreciate the ability to seamlessly switch between Clip and Premiere Pro CC and have all your assets, edits, music markers and settings carried across and ready for use.
The app doesn’t have nearly as many tools or settings as the best of the rest, unfortunately – there’s no crop, resize or rotate, no colour adjustments, basic speed control – but Clip still bundles enough quality features to squeeze into the bottom half of our list.
FilmoraGo is the mobile edition of Wondershare Software’s Filmora, a feature-packed but still relatively basic desktop video editor.
This Android version also seems to have a lengthy feature list, including import from social networks, fast and slow motion tools, simple transitions, overlays, filters, titles and more, along with sharing to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, Vimeo and more.
There’s not a lot of power to most of this. Some functions are slow, and the app adds a logo to the end of your clip (although you could use something else to cut this out). But FilmoraGo works well as a simple video editor, and even total novices will be creating fun clips within a few minutes.
VideoShow is one of the most popular free video editors around, and it’s easy to see why. A straightforward interface helps you quickly combine photo, video and audio files, add effects, filters, titles and more, and share the results with friends.
Some of the tools are a little basic – it’s not aimed at the professional user – but you do at least get lots of transitions, stickers and other options to explore.
As usual with free video editors, there are some annoyances, including ads and a small logo on the exported video. But at least there’s no limit on the length of your clip, and the logo can be removed for seven days if you install a free ‘sponsored’ app.
Mobile video editing apps are often disappointingly limited, but AndroVid delivers a host of desktop-like features: trim, split, cut and merge, along with brightness, contrast and saturation tweaks, histogram equalisation, rotates, flips, frame capture, transcoding, and of course a pile of special effects.
It’s not all good news. We can live with ads, but having them appear over the toolbar sometimes is frustrating. The app isn’t as polished as the best of the rest – it has a few bugs and doesn’t get updated as often as we’d like. But it’s still a likeable product overall, and if you’re more interested in actually editing a video as opposed to adding fart noises or snowflake overlays, give it a try.
WeVideo’s imaginatively-named Video Editor delivers the core trimming, captioning, effects-adding and social network-sharing features that you’d expect from a modern app. It’s all very straightforward and you’ll be producing your first movie in just a few minutes. (Don’t take our word for it, there’s a simple guide here.)
Most of these features are basic, and demanding users may soon be frustrated by the lack of control (imprecise trimming, no crop or zoom, limited image enhancements). The free version adds both a logo and an outro screen to your movie, too. But if you can live with that, Video Editor’s simplicity and ease of use might be very appealing.
KineMaster claims to be “the only full-featured professional video editor for Android”, and we’re tempted to agree. Frame-level trimming, splicing and cutting, 3D transitions, multiple video layers (on some devices) and audio tracks, volume envelope control and colour LUT filters are just a few of its unusual high-end features.
The app hasn’t forgotten about the fun side of video, either. There aren’t as many stickers and effects as the more consumer-oriented competition, but it’s still easy to put together a quick clip and share it on Facebook.
You will have to live with a logo on the finished movie, and upgrading involves expensive subscriptions rather than small one-off payments, but if you really need KineMaster’s power it could be a good deal.