What’s the difference between MP4 & MPEG-4?

With the advancement in technology worldwide, there are many different video files and video container formats available for different systems and realistically, it is quite easy to lose track of them. You can erroneously confuse one format with the other, due to the manner in which they are named. MP4 and MPEG-4 (MPEG4) are no exception, due to their names being almost indistinguishable.

MP4 (History)

Multimedia format is the term used on an MP4 digital format granted its ability to store video and audio formats. Prior to the development of MP4, the MP3 digital format was extensively utilised on the internet. Of benefit, MP4 includes data features such as narratives and static snapshots. The technology is popularly used in companies concerned with portable media players for internal use or commercial purposes. MP4 are also regularly used in 3D graphic and computing commands. Developed in 2001, the format was upgraded a few years later in 2003. MP4 is widely used on the internet, freely allowing people to simply download selected content on the web. MP4 is also referred to as MPEG-4 part 14. Some examples of media players which use MP4 digital formats are iTunes, Winamp and Quicktime.

MPEG-4 (History)

MPEG-4 (MPEG4), are compressed visual and audio files, used on devices such as iPods, CD’s, telephones and Satellite television. Introduced in 1998, MPEG-4 files are still used by the majority of people worldwide and probably into the future. Initially, when MPEG-4 files were developed, the formats were directed at standard video communications; however, it subsequently incorporated multimedia technology. The speed of transmission per second now ranges from very low (Kilobits) to very high (megabits).

Functions of MPEG-4:

  • Encoding of audio, video and speech in media data.
  • Clear communication in visual or audio functionality to the subscriber from the recipient.
  • Ability to communicate effectively without experiencing failure on devices.
  • Overall efficiency in coding has improved.

MP4 vs MPEG-4

The similarities

Before looking at the difference between the two formats, it is essential to observe the similarities. There is only one instance in which MPEG-4 and MP4 are quite alike in their relationship with devices. MP4 and MPEG-4 are linked with visual and audio files of such devices.

The differences

Negligible differences would be the appropriate term to use when comparing MP4 and MPEG-4 but in technological space, many users will find the variances altogether obvious.

The glaring variance is the functionality of each file format.

  • MP4 is a multimedia container format used for data storage.
  • MPEG-4 is a video encoding algorithm enabling compression and decompression of files.

A broader look at the variance will help differentiate the two:

MPEG-4 or M4A is a file format that is used to compress audio and visual digital data on a computer. Comparatively, MP4 is a container format used to store the audio and video files. Confusion among users arises due to the naming of audio MP4 files to MP4 and MP4, permitting the storage of video file subtitles. Several methods of saving compressed video and audio files are a storage feature obtained in MP4 container file formats. The compression and conversion of pictures into data is not a primary concern of MP4 format. The main concern is dealing with the accurate storage of audio and video data, content, subtitles and pertinent information inside the file.

The availability of music videos on the internet is substantial, but this does not automatically imply one may download material, as free downloads may not be permissible. The .mp4 extension on a file denotes copyright-protected content. An MPEG-4 player is a device once can use to store and play MP4 video and audio files in a compressed state. MP4 files are popularly used on the internet as they are easier to share and transfer among users.


Continued progression in technologies worldwide for system developers, IT service providers and users of the internet, in general, are the numerous opportunities created by MPEG-4. Improvement of service delivery to end users will remain the fundamental principle for hardware and software developers. MPEG-4 provides the platform for continuous improvement in quality service delivery. MPEG-4 provides for the easy accessibility of accurate data on the internet. With the assistance of standard operating procedures, MPEG-4 is translated and converted into a range of communication data compatible with most systems.

Our MP4 and MPEG converters allow the conversion of these files to various other formats like MP3, AVI etc.

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