A long time ago, Apple made it difficult for third-party developers to make a good media player for the iPhone. Thankfully, over the years they’ve loosened their restrictions, and now you can get a really solid video player with PlayerXtreme.
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Price: Free ($4.99 for Pro features)
- Supports plenty of video and audio formats: 3gp, asf, avi, divx, dv, dat, flv, gxf, m2p, m2ts, m2v, m4v, mkv, moov, mov, mp4, mpeg, mpeg1, mpeg2, mpeg4, mpg, mpv, mt2s, mts, mxf, ogm, ogv, ps, qt, rm, rmvb, ts, vob, webm, wm, wmv
- Simple, familiar folder-based interface that feels a lot like Finder, which also includes multiple ways to view and sort your library
- Various ways to search through your files
- Supports streaming over SMB, UPNP, and Wi-Fi
- Download files to the app over your local network
- Open files from directly from email attachments
- Great control over the look of subtitles
- Supports HD playback
- Change playback speed
- Hide folders that guest users of the app can’t see but you can
- Support Chromecast and AirPlay (Pro version only)
- Boost the volume of soft audio (Pro version only)
- Passcode protection to lock away files (Pro version only)
Where It Excels
PlayerXtreme can handle just about any file format you throw at it, which means that it can easily become your main video player without much effort. It does just about everything you need a video player to do: you can create playlists, add your own subtitle files, play audio in the background, play files from a variety of sources, and customize playback in tons of ways. If you buy the Pro version of the app for $5, you can stream videos to your Apple TV or Chromecast.
Where It Falls Short
Player Xtreme’s in-app purchase model can be a bit confusing, and honestly most of its best features are locked behind the paywall, so you should expect to shell out the $5 for it. The app will occasionally offer you a free upgrade to the Pro version if you leave a review. That said, it’s well worth the price, as the in app purchase unlocks Airplay and Chromecast support, as well as the volume boost feature, passcode lock, and subtitle support.
While you’ll find dozens of video player apps in the iTunes App Store, only a couple are really worth mentioning. The most obvious of those is VLC (Free). If you have no interest in paying for a video player, check VLC out before anything else. It plays a ton of video formats, syncs with the most popular cloud storage apps, and has excellent support for subtitles. VLC isn’t perfect though, it tends to be a bit buggy for some people and the general app design is unintuitive. VLC is also pretty outdated at this point, as its pushing almost a year since the app was updated. Still though, VLC is free, and if you can get past the quirks, it does its job well.
Infuse (Free/$6.49 a year) is probably the biggest direct competitor to PlayerXtreme. The two have a similar feature-set, though Infuse adds in support for cloud storage services and can sync with Trakt to track which shows you’re watching. If you’re on a newer iPad, Infuse also supports modern features like picture-in-picture and split screen. Infuse is an arguably better looking app than PlayerXtreme, as it relies much more heavily on big thumbnails instead of Player Xtreme’s folder structure, but which design you prefer is more a matter of preference. Since it operates as a subscription of $6.49/year, the cost of Infuse adds up though, though you can also pay a one-time free of $13 to buy it.
It’s also worth mentioning Plex (Free) here, though it’s not exactly a true media player in the same as the apps we’ve already talked about. Instead, Plex links up with your home media server and you can play files from there in the iOS app. Plex can play local files too, though it’s limited to what’s on your camera roll. If you have a Plex server at home it’s an obvious choice, but if you’re only interested in playing video files on your iOS device it won’t do you much good.