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MPEG4 vs MP4 : Are they the same?

MPEG4 vs MP4 Quick Explanation

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:34 am

Updated 24.11.2020

MPEG-4 and MP4 Confusion

You may be confused by MPEG4 and MP4.

Is MP4 the short form for MPEG 4?

At first glance, it seems so, but it’s not. Hence the MPEG4 vs MP4 explanation below.

MPEG-4 is a Video Codec

MPEG-4 is a video codec.

A codec is a short form for COmpression and DECompression.

When you have a video with a large file size you may use the MPEG-4 codec to compress it to a smaller size.

In this way, you can enable playback of it in supported devices, apart from saving on storage space.

Different Parts of MPEG-4

MPEG-4 consists of different parts, each supporting a different codec. Here are some popular examples.

MPEG-4 part 2 consists of the XviD codec for video.

MPEG-4 part 3 is for AAC audio codec.

MPEG-4 Part 10 uses the H.264 video codec.

MPEG-4’s Wide Use

Initially, MPEG-4 was aimed at improving the compression ratio of MPEG-1 and MPEG-2.

However, it was later expanded to cover a broader use. Today, MPEG-4 technology is relevant to the computer, television and telecommunications industries.

In the computer industry, it’s used in computer games, Internet, software and IP protocols.

In the television industry, it is used in movies, broadcasting and consumer electronics.

In the telecommunications industry, it is used in ISDN, DSL and switched-circuit network.

Before MPEG-4 came into being, these industries were separated, each with their own standards.

So, you won’t be surprised to find MPEG-4 used in:

  • Internet and intranet video
  • Wireless video
  • Video databases
  • Interactive home shopping
  • Video e-mail
  • Home movies
  • Virtual reality games
  • Simulation and training

MPEG-4 Audio

MPEG-4 audio is widely used in text-to-speech (TTS)applications. It transforms text content into a series of phonetic symbols.

It’s widely used in artificial storyteller, voice newspaper and voice Internet applications.

MPEG-4 audio usually comes with the .m4a extension.

MP4 is a Container Format

MP4, on the other hand, doesn’t compress a video file. It’s just a storage or container format.

A video container is where you can store various multimedia files that enhance the experience of viewing a video.

So, within  MP4 you can store audio, video, subtitles, and even images.

All this can be managed in a single file.

The MPEG-4 -MP4 Confusion Cleared

MPEG4 is for Compression.

MP4 is for Storage (Container).

MPEG-4 Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Play MPEG-4 Files?

You can use a universal media player like VLC Media Player which can play any video format thrown at it.

Can iPhone Play MPEG-4?

Yes, iPhone supports the playback of MPEG-4. However, it doesn’t support the playback of MPEG-1 or MPEG-2.

If you want to play MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 files on iPhone, you would have to convert them to MPEG-4 first.

How Do I Convert to MPEG-4?

Most video converters can convert any video file to MPEG-4. You can use a free software program like Handbrake. If you don’t wish to install software, you can use one of the free online video converters to do the job.

Further Reading

To understand MPEG4 vs MP4 better please read the introductory articles below.

Read More About Video Codecs

Read More About MP4


Understanding MPEG 4: Technology and Business Insights
By Sebastian Moeritz, Klaus Diepold

Visual Information Representation, Communication, and Image Processing edited by Ya-Qin Zhang

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