What to Look for in Video Editing Apps
Video editing is a complicated task, even on a smartphone. Make sure the app you choose has the tools and features to make your videos the best they can be.
- Essential Tools: All video editing apps allow you to perform basic tasks like trimming and cropping footage, adding effects and filters, and adjusting picture and audio values.
- Advanced Tools: Some apps have tools that are usually found in desktop video editing software, like chroma-key (green screen), video stabilization, color correction, and audio mixing.
- Multi-track Editing: Most mobile video editors only have a single video track to edit with. Two or more video tracks allow you to create more intricate videos.
- Landscape Mode: Editing a video vertically gets imprecise and frustrating. Some apps let you switch the interface horizontally for a more traditional editing experience.
- Stock Media: You won’t always have all the elements you need to make a great video. The best apps have a library of free stock videos, images, and audio you can use to enhance your projects.
- Themes and Templates: Cutting down editing time is invaluable when you make videos regularly. A solid selection of themes and templates lets you make great videos quickly.
- Sharing Options: Getting your video in front of your audience is the whole point of the editing process. The best apps let you upload your creations to social media sites like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
- Multi-device Support: Switching from your iPhone to your iPad or computer isn’t something most video editing apps do. But, those that do offer superior convenience and versatility.
- Training Resources: No matter how intuitive companies make their video editing apps, there will always be a bit of a learning curve. The best apps have tutorials for every tool in their video editor.
- Free Download: Most of the apps featured below allow you to download and use them for free and offer premium subscriptions for their advanced tools.
Best Overall: LumaFusion
- ✓ Features multi-track editing
- ✓ Comprehensive toolset
- ✓ In-depth tutorials
- ✗ Step learning curve
- ✗ Lacks landscape mode
Of all the iOS video editing apps, LumaFusion is the closest you’ll get to the desktop editing experience. It features the most video and audio editing tracks (a total of 12) of any editing app in the app store, allowing you to create incredibly complex projects that aren’t possible with the other apps on this list. LumaFusion offers all the essential editing tools you need, like trimming, cropping, and adding effects, as well as the most advanced tools available like a chroma-key, video stabilizer, color correction, keyframing, slow motion, time-lapse and more. If you’re looking for professional-grade editing tools, LumaFusion is the app for you.
New editors may be slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of features LumaFusion has. However, the app features in-depth tutorials that show you what each tool does and how to use it. So, you can learn without ever having to leave the app.
Unfortunately, the iPhone version of LumaFusion only allows you to edit in portrait (vertical) mode, which makes editing complex projects more difficult. Your timeline will be shorter, and the tools can be harder to find. Plus, tapping the wrong button is easier than it should be. If a spacious area to fine-tune your timeline is critical, maybe you should invest in an iPad for video editing.
Also Great: PowerDirector
- ✓ Easy to use
- ✓ Basic and advanced tools included
- ✓ Edit in landscape mode
- ✗ Weak audio mixer
- ✗ Doesn’t upload to TikTok
PowerDirector is a fantastic free-to-use video editing app for iPhone. It rivals LumaFusion for the number of advanced editing tools. Things like speed adjustments, shakey camera correction, green screen tools, and more allow you to create to your heart’s desire. But there is one big exception. It doesn’t feature true multi-track video editing. While the program lets you insert picture-in-picture tracks, that’s not exactly the same.
PowerDirector allows you to edit video while holding your phone horizontally, which is great for people who have learned to edit on a desktop and are used to that layout and workflow. Additionally, the program has tons of stock images available for free, and the premium plans give you access to stock elements from services like Shutterstock. And when you’re done crafting your video, you can upload it directly to YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. Unfortunately, TikTok isn’t included, which is strange since it’s the fastest-growing video-sharing site in the world.
While new users should be able to pick up PowerDirector with few problems, there will be some that require some learning. The tutorial module has a library of videos that cover the app’s basic tools.
Best for Social Media: CapCut
- ✓ Simple to learn
- ✓ Great template library
- ✓ In-app uploads
- ✗ Few advanced tools
- ✗ No Twitter support
Bytedance designed CapCut specifically for social media sites like Instagram and TikTok. It features thousands of free video templates that let you craft posts and stories in just a few seconds. It also has the more traditional (vertical only) editing workspace that enables you to do basic edits like trimming, adding effects and filters, changing format (aspect ratio), and a few other essential tasks. CapCut is the perfect choice for the fast-moving, fast-posting social media acolyte looking to build a following.
However, if you’re looking for the advanced tools found in LumaFusion and PowerDirector, this isn’t the app for you. Since the app is hyper-focused on making as fast as possible, you don’t get things like multi-track editing, video stability, greenscreens, and the like. It’s just not that kind of app.
CapCut allows you to post your videos to TikTok, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram right from within the app. But it leaves out Twitter, which is an odd omission considering how focused it is on getting your videos to the largest possible audience.
Best for Creative Cloud Users: Premiere Rush
- ✓ Supports multi-track editing
- ✓ In-app video recording
- ✓ Projects compatible with Premiere Pro
- ✗ Lacks themes and templates
- ✗ Inconsistent performance
If you use Creative Cloud programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, Adobe Premiere Rush is probably the best iPhone video editing app for you. But you don’t have to be an Adobe acolyte to appreciate its simplicity, versatility, and power. Premiere Rush is one of the few iPhone video editors that offer multi-track video editing. You can add up to four video tracks and three audio tracks. The program makes it easy to add effects, trim and crop footage, rearrange elements on the timeline, enhance the audio and video, plus much more. And while it doesn’t have many advanced editing features, you can bring up any Premiere Rush project in Premiere Pro to fine-tune your mobile creation.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to build all your projects from the ground up with Premiere Rush. The app has no themes or templates to work from. And while that’s not a dealbreaker for most, new users may have to take a few more hours getting to know the ins and outs of the program without anything to guide them. Additionally, the app has occasional performance issues like hanging and crashing. It doesn’t happen too often. But, when they do, it’s very frustrating.
Premiere Rush has even more social media sharing options than CapCut. You can share Premiere Rush videos directly to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Behance (Adobe’s creative social media platform).
Best Free Video Editing App: iMovie
- ✓ Free forever
- ✓ Preinstalled on iPhone and iPad
- ✓ Easy-to-use themes and templates
- ✗ Single track video editing
- ✗ Doesn’t upload to social media
Before you buy anything, you should check to see if what’s already on your phone fits your needs. iMovie comes preloaded on every iPhone and iPad. It has all the video editing tools you need to craft simple projects. It’s easy to learn and features templates for dozens of projects like a video journal, cooking videos, how-to videos, makeup tutorials, product reviews, book reports, science experiments, and even movie trailers. You can even have the app make short videos automatically with just a couple of taps.
The editing module is very intuitive, and while it’s not as quick and easy as CapCut, you should be able to figure out the workflow within a few minutes of launching the app. You only get a single video editing track, but since Apple designed iMovie for anyone to use, it makes sense that they kept it as simple to use as possible.
The nature of iMovie (and its price) precludes it from offering advanced video editing tools like chroma key, video stabilizers, and color correction. However, the iMovie desktop app on your Mac contains some more advanced tools. And you can transfer iMovie projects from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac via AirDrop. So, if you run up on the mobile app’s limitations, you can always do more fine tuning when you get home to your desktop.
When you’ve finished editing your videos with iMovie, the app exports them to your Photos app. There’s no option to upload to social media sites, so you’ll have to share them manually.