What to look for in video editing apps
Editing videos 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.
- Basic tools: All video editing apps allow you to perform basic tasks such as trimming and cropping footage, adding effects and filters, and adjusting image and audio values.
- Advanced Tools: Some apps have tools typically found in video editing software, such as chroma-key (green screen), video stabilization, color correction, and audio mixing.
- Multi-track editing: Most mobile video editors only have one video track to edit. Two or more videos allow you to create more complex videos.
- Landscape mode: Vertical video editing becomes 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 videos, images, and audio that you can use to enhance your projects.
- Themes and Templates: Cutting down on editing time is invaluable when you’re shooting videos on a regular basis. A solid selection of themes and templates allows you to quickly create great videos.
- Sharing options: Presenting your video to an audience is the whole point of the editing process. The best apps allow you to upload your creations to social media sites like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
- Support for multiple devices: Transferring from your iPhone to your iPad or computer isn’t something most video editing apps do. But those that offer the ultimate in comfort and versatility.
- Training Resources: No matter how intuitive companies make their video editing apps, there will always be a slight learning curve. The best apps have tutorials for every tool in their video editor.
- Free download: Most of the apps shown below allow you to download and use them for free and offer premium subscriptions for their advanced tools.
Best Overall: LumaFusion
- ✓ Contains multiple edits
- ✓ A comprehensive set of tools
- ✓ Detailed tutorials
- ✗ Steep learning curve
- ✗ Landscape mode is missing
Of all the iOS video editing apps, LumaFusion comes closest to the desktop editing experience. It contains the most video and audio editing tools (12 in total) of any editing app in the app store, allowing you to create incredibly complex projects not possible with other apps on this list. LumaFusion offers all the basic editing tools you need, such as cropping, cropping, and adding effects, as well as the most advanced tools available, such as chroma-key, video stabilizer, color correction, keyframing, slow motion, time-lapse, and more. A lot of that. If you’re looking for professional editing tools, LumaFusion is the app for you.
New editors can be a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of features that LumaFusion has. However, the app contains detailed tutorials that show you what each tool does and how to use it. So you can study without having to leave the app.
Unfortunately, the iPhone version of LumaFusion only allows you to edit in portrait (vertical) mode, which makes it difficult to edit complex projects. Your timeline will be shorter and tools will be harder to find. Plus, tapping the wrong button is easier than it should be. If a spacious area for fine-tuning your timeline is critical, you may want to invest in an iPad for video editing.
Also great: PowerDirector
- ✓ Easy to use
- ✓ Basic and advanced tools are included
- ✓ Edit in landscape mode
- ✗ Weak audio mixer
- ✗ Not uploaded to TikTok
PowerDirector is a fantastic free video editing app for iPhone. It rivals LumaFusion in terms of advanced editing tools. Things like speed adjustments, camera shake correction, green screen tools and more let you create to your heart’s content. But there is one big exception. It does not contain true multi-track video editing. Although the program allows you to insert picture-in-picture tracks, it is not quite the same.
PowerDirector lets you edit video while holding your phone horizontally, which is great for people who learned how to edit on a desktop and are used to that look and workflow. Additionally, the program has tons of images available for free, and premium plans give you access to stock elements from services like Shutterstock. And when you’re done making 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 covering the basic tools of the application.
Best for Social Media: CapCut
- ✓ Easy to learn
- ✓ Great template library
- ✓ In-app transfer
- ✗ Several advanced tools
- ✗ No support for Twitter
Bytedance designed CapCut specifically for social media sites like Instagram and TikTok. It contains thousands of free video templates that allow you to create posts and stories in seconds. It also has a more traditional (vertical only) editing workspace that allows you to perform basic edits such as cropping, adding effects and filters, changing the format (aspect), and a few other essential tasks. CapCut is the perfect choice for quick and fast social media posts that want to gain followers.
However, if you are looking for the advanced tools found in LumaFusion and PowerDirector, this is not the app for you. Since the app is hyper-focused on being as fast as possible, you don’t get things like multi-track editing, video stabilization, green screens, and the like. It’s just not that kind of app.
CapCut allows you to upload your videos to TikTok, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram directly from the app. But it leaves out Twitter, which is a strange omission considering how focused it is on getting your videos to the largest possible audience.
Best for Creative Cloud users: Premiere Rush
- ✓ Supports multiple editing
- ✓ Capture video in the app
- ✓ Projects compatible with Premiere Pro
- ✗ Themes and templates are missing
- ✗ 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 wizard to appreciate its simplicity, versatility and power. Premiere Rush is one of the few iPhone video editors that offer multiple video editing features. You can add up to four video tracks and three audio tracks. The program makes it easy to add effects, crop and trim footage, rearrange elements on the timeline, enhance audio and video, and much more. And while there aren’t many advanced editing features, you can run any Premiere Rush project into 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 with. And while this isn’t a problem for most, new users may need a few more hours to learn the ins and outs of the program without anything to guide them. Additionally, the app has occasional performance issues such as hangs and crashes. That doesn’t happen too often. But when they do, it’s very frustrating.
Premiere Rush has even more social 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
- ✓ Pre-installed on iPhone and iPad
- ✓ Easy-to-use themes and templates
- ✗ Single track video editing
- ✗ It is not shared on social networks
Before you buy anything, make sure what’s already on your phone fits your needs. iMovie comes pre-installed on every iPhone and iPad. It has all the video editing tools you need to create simple projects. It’s easy to learn and includes templates for dozens of projects like a video magazine, cooking videos, how-to videos, makeup tutorials, product reviews, book reports, science experiments, and even movie trailers. You can even have the app automatically make short videos with just a few taps.
The editing module is very intuitive, and while it’s not as fast and simple as CapCut, you should be able to figure out the workflow within minutes of launching the app. You only get one ribbon for video editing, but since Apple designed iMovie for everyone, it makes sense to keep it as easy to use as possible.
The nature of iMovie (and its price) prevents it from offering advanced video editing tools like chroma key, video stabilizers, and color correction. However, the iMovie desktop app on your Mac includes some more advanced tools. And you can transfer iMovie projects from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac via AirDrop. So if you run into the limitations of the mobile app, you can always fine-tune when you’re back home on your desktop.
When you’re done editing your videos with iMovie, the app exports them to your Photos app. There is no option to upload to social media sites, so you will have to share them manually.