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How to get better results when converting video

When converting videos, most people use presets for ‘iPhone’ or simply ‘MP4’. But using them might result in poor video quality, or you might end up with files that are too big, and use up a lot of your phone’s storage. If you want to be more precise about things such as resolution, bitrate and aspect ratio, you need to understand what the jargon means. We explain what you need to know.


If you’re converting video from an 4K source, such as a GoPro, you’ll start with a big, high-quality file. Let’s say you want to watch that video on your smartphone. There’s little point in retaining the video’s full resolution of 3096×2160, even if your phone can play it.

Manual video settings

In your video converter, enter the resolution of your phone’s screen. This will reduce the size of the resulting video file, and it should also make it look better on your phone, as well as saving the phone from having to downscale the video to fit.

Aspect ratio

This brings us neatly to aspect ratio. 1080p video has an aspect ratio of 16:9. Divide 16 by 9 and you get 1.77, which is the same as dividing 1920 by 1080. To find your phone’s aspect ratio, divide the resolution of its longest size by its shorter side.

Some of the newest phones have 18:9 screens, or 2:1 – they’re twice as wide as their height.

When your converted video has a different aspect ratio to the original, you either lose information (chopping off the sides or top and bottom) or gain black bars at the sides or top and bottom.

Each video converter is different, but it should give you the option of how to handle an aspect ratio change.


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