Problems transferring movies from iTunes to IPhone


Q: I’m having a problem getting “movies” onto my iPhone. Using Realplayer SP Converter, I converted a few little videos into MPEG-4 format and put them in my iTunes library, under Movies. Is this the wrong format? This does not seem to be addressed in the help files. I cannot drag them to the Movies section of my iPhone; I get the slash-circle symbol. When and how is this supposed to work? When I select my iPhone in iTunes, then select the Video tab, it just shows TV shows (there are none) and displays a message that there are no rented movies.

– Luc

A: Unfortunately, the video formats supported by the iPhone are quite limited when compared to the formats that iTunes itself is capable of playing. For example, while iTunes can play just about any video format supported by QuickTime, the iPhone and iPod devices are limited to either H.264 or MPEG-4 formats with certain maximum resolution and bit-rate restrictions. Even though your file is in MPEG-4 format, it may not be encoded to the specifications that the iPhone requires.

In general terms, the iPhone only supports video in resolutions up to 640 x 480 with a frame rate of up to 30 frames per second. H.264 video has a maximum bit-rate of 1.5 – 2.5 Mbps depending upon the profile used, while MPGEG-4 video has a maximum bit-rate of 2.5 Mbps. The detailed specifications can be found on Apple’s iPhone Tech Specs page.

Any video files that do not meet these requirements can’t be transferred to the iPhone. Unfortunately, iTunes is strangely unhelpful in this regard, providing no error messages or explanation as to why these files cannot be transferred but rather simply refusing to transfer them or show them up on the Movie sync settings.

You can find more information about iPhone and iPod video format support in our Guide to iPod, Apple TV and iPhone Video Formats.

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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.