Your iPhone has an amazing video camera, but that doesn’t guarantee great footage, and even the best of movies can benefit from a few cuts, trims and well-chosen effects.
The App Store has a host of free video editing apps which claim they can help, but actually have many hidden catches: ads, watermarks, an ‘x minute’ limit on video length, even sneaky requirements to post a 5-star video to unlock key features.
Fortunately there are also some quality video editors out there, perfect for enhancing and sharing all your latest movies, and we’ve uncovered ten of the very best. Take a look.
Free for modern iOS devices, Apple’s iMovie is a straightforward, easy-to-use editor.
Add video clips and photos locally, from iTunes or iCloud, and you’re able to move or trim them, add filters and effects, adjust speed, audio and more. Built-in templates and themes help to coordinate graphics, titles and transitions, or you can take manual control and do things your own way.
This is all very basic, with only a few relatively limited tools. Still, what you get works well, there are some features you won’t always see elsewhere (save to 4K or 1080p60, if your device supports it), and none of them require spending big money on in-app purchases.
Video editing apps are often dumbed-down and overly basic, but GoPro’s Splice feels different. The timeline interface brings real desktop power to the package, and there are some capable effects, controls and options to help enhance your footage.
This does also mean there’s a little more to learn, and Splice doesn’t have as many fun effects as some of the competition (it’s more about core editing features than giving you hundreds of emojis and sound effects).
Splice isn’t exactly difficult to use, though. There’s plenty of fun to be had while perfecting your project, and once it’s finished you’re able to share the results on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and more.
Adobe Premiere Clip
Don’t be fooled by the name, Adobe Premiere Clip doesn’t have anything like the power of the desktop app Adobe Premiere – it’s very much about editing essentials only.
That’s why Clip is free, of course. It’s fine for simple tasks – mixing videos and images, splitting clips, adding titles, using faces or adding a soundtrack – and less commonly seen features include lighting adjustments for exposure, highlights and shadows.
Clip is particularly convenient for Creative Cloud users. Start a project on your iPhone, open it on desktop Premiere at a later date, and you’ll find all your assets, edits, music markers and settings carried across and ready for use. Neat.
The good news: VivaVideo is a fun video editor with capable trim and merge tools, speed control, audio adjustments, bundled background music, and a ton of templates, effects, filters and more.
The bad news: your movie is watermarked on this free version. It’s limited to five minutes, maximum, and you can’t export to anything higher than 480p.
VivaVideo isn’t a good choice for any serious editing, then, but the sheer weight of fun features – stickers, GIPHY support, special lens and selfie effects – mean it’s still handy for creating and sharing quick clips.
Video Trim & Cut
Video Trim & Cut is a specialist app which does exactly what it says on the tin: trims or cuts video clips at the frame or time you specify, exporting the results as an MP4 or QuickTime movie.
This might sound basic, but if your preferred video app makes trimming very awkward – or maybe doesn’t support the feature at all – then it could make your life easier.
There are no deal-breaking restrictions, either. Video Trim & Cut displays ads but doesn’t restrict the length of your source video, or add a watermark, so works well in just about any situation.
Video editing can often be a complex and highly technical process, but Magisto changes all this by taking a very different approach – it does almost all of the difficult bits itself.
Add a few photos, a video, record something new, select some music, and that’s about it. Once you’ve chosen a style Magisto goes to work, choosing scenes, making smart use of facial recognition, applying effects and filters and delivering surprisingly impressive results (usually, anyway).
Magisto’s ease of use and unusual enhancements (video stabilisation) helped it squeeze into our list, but beware, the free edition has major restrictions including a 75-second limit on movie time. It’s strictly for brief social media clips only.
Creating great videos doesn’t have to mean lots of tedious scrolling around on timelines. With VideoFX Live you can choose and apply a host of special effects while you’re recording.
Okay, that’s not always convenient, but you can also apply effects before or after filming. A simple trim function helps remove unwanted footage, and you can share the results on Facebook or YouTube with a tap.
VideoFX Live isn’t much of a video editor, and there are endless in-app purchases. But it’s a simple way to build short fun movies for social media, and if your main editor is light on effects, VideoFX Live may be worth a try.
At first, Cameo might seem like just another basic video editor. Import clips (no photos), trim or reorder them, apply filters, add a soundtrack and share the results with the world.
But try it out and you’ll find the filters and styles look good, there’s a wide selection of music (even searchable by genre), custom audio level adjustment per clip, and saving up to 4K video on the latest devices.
Cameo still has plenty of limitations, but its main functions work well, there are welcome extras, and you don’t have to worry about stupid restrictions like ‘it won’t work on Tuesdays’ – this app has no strings attached.
Quik (previously known as Replay) is an intelligent app which automatically creates videos based on your source photos and videos. Just choose your preferred style and soundtrack and it detects the best scenes, recognises and frames faces correctly, inserts transitions and even synchronises them with the beat of the music.
This works much more often than you might expect, and even if it fails completely, you can take manual control and trim clips, reorder them, reframe images, add captions, text overlays and more.
Quik isn’t the most substantial of editors, and there’s a logo on your output in the free version, but it’s a likeable tool which produces quality movies with a minimum of hassle.
FilmoraGo is the mobile version of Wondershare Software’s Filmora, a feature-packed desktop video editor for home users.
The app offers a capable feature set with some welcome plus points. You’re able to import photos and videos from Facebook and Instagram, as well as locally. Clips can have as many fast or slow motion effects as you need, and you’re able to tweak your titles by setting colour, font, size, position, motion and timeline. Furthermore, unlike some of the competition, FilmoraGo realises you might want to export in 16:9 as well as 1:1 aspect ratio.
There’s a catch, as usual with free apps, but it’s a small one – an outtro screen with a FilmoraGo logo. If you can live with that, or you’re happy to pay £1.49 ($1.99 in the US, or AU$2.99) to remove it, give this app a try.