How to Play Unsupported Video Formats on Android Devices

At some point or other you’ve probably tried to play a video on your Android device only to find that it can’t play, or an error pops up telling you that the file can’t be opened, or it is unsupported. Essentially that means that the video format isn’t supported by your device, and so it is unable to be decoded and played.

Just because a video format is not supported does not mean that you can’t find ways to play it, however, and there are two main options to play unsupported video formats on Android devices.

Download a Media Player with the Right Codec

One of the most frequently-used ways to play unsupported video formats on Android device is to download a media player app that has the codecs that are required. Essentially you’ll be adding the capability to decode the videos to your Android device if you opt to do so.

Two of the most widely-used media players for that reason are the VLC Media Player and MX Player. Both support a wide range of audio and video codecs, and you should have no trouble playing practically any video format on your Android device if you use either one of them.

That being said as easy as it may be to download and install a media player app, it is not an ideal solution. The fact of the matter is that using this method will rely on software decoding, which is processor-intensive and will consume a significant amount of battery power.

Convert the Video to a Supported Format

Instead of relying on a special media player to software-decode the video, a better solution would be to convert the video to a format that is supported by your Android device. That way it will be able to use hardware acceleration to decode the video, which is a lot more efficient and will consume less power.

For the majority of Android devices, the best format to convert the video to would be MP4 with H.264. It has widespread support, and you should have no trouble viewing it on any device that you require.

Additionally, converters that will let you convert the video format to MP4 are easy to find. For example, you could use Online Video Converter to convert M4V to MP4 in a matter of minutes.

It should be noted that some newer Android devices have hardware support for codecs such as H.265 (HEVC) – which can provide better compression. However most still do not, so you will have to find out whether or not yours does specifically if you want to convert to it.


Overall it will work out far better in the long run if you convert the videos that you want to play on your Android device to supported formats. That being said it doesn’t hurt to also install a capable media player such as one of the two mentioned above – just in case you ever need to play an unsupported video in a pinch.