iMovie for iPhone 4 - app review

iMovie for iPhone 4 is a video editing application designed by Apple. iMovie is also the name of the video editing software included in iLife, which is bundled with every Mac. iMovie is only available for iPhone 4. (Don't be sad, it needs the extra RAM and Apple A4 processing power).

As with most Apple products, iMovie is very easy to use and is fairly intuitive. If a tap doesn't do what you want, a double tap will. iMovie can be used in either portrait or landscape, but landscape seems more natural for me.

While in editing mode, the top center of the screen shows your movies, the bottom of the screen has the timeline, and the sides of the screen have options: projects, upload media, upload media directly from camera, and play. When choosing media to add to your project, there are three tabs: video, photos, and music. Videos are listed in reverse chronological order, but photos are listed in chronological order. I find this annoying because it's very likely that the photo I want to choose was recently taken and scrolling through hundreds a photos every time gets tedious. Not to mention, scrolling through photos is very laggy. This needs to be fixed.

Editing your movie is a breeze. You can drag clips around, trim the edges of clips, add titles, quickly switch between themes, and make minor edits to transitions. If there is a clip or photo you want to remove, just drag it off the timeline. There is one thing I want to mention about titles, however. They are very nice, but you cannot edit their length. Titles are automatically the same length as the clip you have the title attached to. Another simple feature that is missing is the ability to add plain text against a colored background.

Although there are a few little things missing from iMovie, I found it to be an excellent and quick way to edit a video. This is the first release of this app and I look forward to the changes that Apple may bring to it in the future. For only $4.99, iMovie is worth every penny.

Video and screenshots after the break! (To see a completed movie that was created with iMovie, check out my quick review of the iPhone 4's camera)


  • Very easy to use
  • Comes with 5 themes: Modern, Bright, Travel, Playful, News
  • Can add your own music or chose from Apple's theme music
  • Export as, medium (360p), large (540p), or HD (720p)


  • Titles last the entire duration of clip, with no option to set the length.
  • Cannot add more than one audio track
  • Cannot split clips
  • Must pan over images. Cannot have entire photo displayed in video.
  • Searching through photo library has major lag
  • Photos are listed in chronological order instead of reverse chronological order
  • Cannot add a text slide

[$4.99 - iTunes link (opens in new tab)]

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Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

  • So you're posting a review on the iMovie app, but you're not suggesting it to be one of the top 5 apps for the iPhone 4 that you had in one of your previous posts?
  • ok so what you're saying is that we won't be able to make high quality, sophisticated movies like we can on PC/MAC machines. Big deal--last I need is to stare at small screen to make a major motion picture.
  • Of course you can't make high quality, sophisticated movies like you can on PC/MAC machines. I don't think anyone was expecting to be able to make a "major motion picture" with a phone. But iMovie is a quick, easy, convenient way to make rather nicely edited videos. Sure, there's some limitation, but it's still pretty darn good. Not to mention, it's only $5. More sophisticated software for desktops are much more costly.
  • im with Glenn we dont need Hollywood video editing on the first version for a phone, it WILL be updated people relax
  • Thanks Leanna for posting this. It helped me a lot.
  • You did a great job and I just bought imovie for my new iphone. This will be a great app to send short clips to my family in Indiana. If I need to make longer ones, I will just use my camcorder and burn it to a CD to mail to them. But this looks like a fun app that will get lots of use from me.
  • Great ViD Leanna ! Keep up the Great work .. I know Rene wishes he could be posting some vids ( and doing a facetime call with ya..).
    We need to somehow get him hooked up with a i4 A.S.A.P .. Going to start a get Rene ( and Georgia ) a i4 petion.. lol ...
  • It's a great start; especially being able to output 720p HD. And as Steve mentioned in his keynote, music can be imported from your iTunes library. Something that I can't do with ReelDirector. Also ReelDirector does not output to 720p -- yet, so that means I'll be using iMovie for iPhone moving foward. Reel's app has more choices in transitions and with Ken Burns effects. For example, I can pinch a photo down to Start, then have it slowly come to full size at End, along with more movement than what seems possible with iMovie.
    Now my only other wish is for Apple's Aperture team to release a simplified version of Aperture for iPhone, allowing me to non-destructively adjust exposure, sharpen, raise black level, vignette, etc., on images taken with my iPhone 4 before importing them into iMovie for iPhone. I know other vendors have similar apps, but I want Aperture for iPhone. Come on Apple, I'd happily pay $5 for that app too!
  • I bought this app last night and must say that I'm impressed. No, I'm not looking to do any major movie or youtube productions. However, this will be a quick and decent way to spruce up some family videos on-the-go. For $5, you really can't go wrong with this software.
  • It's insufficient to requirement.
    In this case, my requirement was to polish a 1 minute video of a baby.
    - There's either title all the time, or none at all.
    - I tossed a picture in the front instead, intending to put the title on it. Sorry, you can't put a title on a picture.
    - There's just a few seconds at the start I'd rather remove, where we're still talking about what she's doing instead of recording it. Nope, no editing the clip here.
    - If you could edit the clip, you could split it and put the title just on one piece. No such luck.
    This is pretty basic stuff for a movie editing App. I feel like I wasted five bucks. The only consolation is what Glaw has to say: "it WILL be updated people relax." It probably will. I hope.
  • Can you begin to upload a video and close out of the program while it continues to upload in the background? Or do you need to have the program open to upload?
  • I too thought that the title was in for the whole clip...but I found a fairly easy work around.
    I had a 1 minute 30 second clip that I wanted to have a beginning and ending title. To do this I added my clip, trimmed it down to ~10 seconds and added the title. Then I added the clip again, and trimmed out the first 10 seconds. Then I added the clip a third time and trimmed out the first 1 minute 20 seconds and added the ending title.
    Added some music and trimmed a few seconds off of the end so that the clip ends at a OK spot in the music. Rendered @ 720p. Whole process about 10 minutes (most spent rendering).
    Result: (no audio since I guess I used a copyrighted song, and youtube looks to be processing for HD)
  • UPDATE -- redid the video upload at you tube..disregard previous link. This is valid:
  • She said 69.
  • Leanna~
    Thanks for your tutorial. I learned a few things. Should have watched it before trying to make the would have saved me some time. I have a question for you. My video is longer than my song. So partway through the video, the music just stops. Is there anyway to repeat the song in the movie to keep music playing throughout?
    Thanks, in advance, for your help~
  • I exported one test video but now the video I really want won't export. Everytime I try it just shuts down the app. I've tried restarting the phone but so far nothing works!!
  • I'm having the same problem as Sterbuck. Plead help!
  • I noticed that the video was almost 5 min and exported just fine. I amde a 2 min 15 sec slide show using pictures in transition with a song from my library and it wont export. it keeps crashing the app out Is there a size limit to slide shows?
  • A lot of people are having exporting issues...I hope they update the app soon
  • I don't have a Mac. Can the app be used on my Windows PC or do I have to do all the manipulating on my iPhone 4? I have just returned from a trip with 20 or so short videos on my phone and I want to string together and edit down. Is that a reasonable, not too time-consuming project to do on the phone?
  • fantastic points altogether, you just gained a brand new reader. What would you suggest about your post that you made some days ago? Any positive?