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Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and streaming sticks like Roku and Amazon Fire have spoiled us when it comes to watching our favorite streaming services at home, but when you’re on the go, you’ll need some free movie apps. Due to limited cellular data and the quirks of traveling, entertaining yourself on the go can be a hassle. Seemingly every service available has their own app, but which are worth find permanent space for on your mobile device? Wonder no more. Here are the best movie apps for your iPhone and Android
The best free movie apps
It’s easy to watch free movies on YouTube, thanks to its archives of out-of-print and hard-to-find films of any service online. YouTube’s basic free service doesn’t allow for downloading videos, but it has features that help you save data, like the ability to turn off HD video when you’re not on Wi-Fi. You can also rent movies on YouTube or watch some incredible free documentaries. And if you upgrade to YouTube Red account, which unlocks an ad-free version of the service, you can download content for offline viewing.
Crackle works harder than any other free streaming service to get your attention. The company creates original content, from movies like Joe Dirt 2 to its series adaptation of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, includes box office hits and TV classics in its catalog, and has an app that’s gotten increasingly better over the years. Similarly to other free movie services, Crackle inserts ads into everything you watch to keep the lights on. Why are you complaining? It’s free. Unfortunately, Crackle does not offer an offline viewing option, leaving you to use your mobile data or Wi-Fi to watch, but when you’re ready to get started, here are the best movies on Crackle this month.
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Popcornflix isn’t the best movie service or app, but if you want to watch movies for free online, Porncornflix comes in handy. Think of it as a reliable pal you only call when you need their truck: You might not be close, but in a pinch, they’re a lifesaver. Offering hundreds of theatrical releases for free streaming, with the occasional ad mixed in. Don’t expect recent hits, but don’t be surprised to find titles like Shutter Island or The Running Man. Porcornflix’s biggest downside, other than the ads, is its lack of a downloading function.
The best paid movie apps
The reigning champion of streaming rules on your smart device just like it does at home. Hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows wait at your fingertips, from heart-pounding kidnapping movies and thrillers to true crime, anime, and sad movies. If you’re one of those folks with an unlimited plan, you’re ready to start watching right now, but for the rest of us who budget data each month, Netflix has offers downloads of most of its content for offline viewing. At the very least, you can download every Netflix original series, docuseries, documentary, and original movie. Just make sure you download your content when you’re on Wi-Fi, or you’ll be in for a nasty surprise when your cellphone bill arrives.
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Amazon Prime is giving Netflix a run for its money when it comes to the title of top streaming service, thanks to its continually growing catalog of content and ability to rent titles that aren’t already streaming elsewhere. The app’s X-Ray feature lets you dive deep into the backgrounds of your favorite movies, finding songs, trivia, and details related to your title during playback. Prime video users can also download movies and TV shows to watch offline, just like Netflix can. One area Amazon trumps Netflix is its subscription options. For a small fee, you can add HBO, Cinemax, Starz, Shudder, and more services to your Prime account, letting you watch all your favorite premium channels from one app. To help get you started, here are the best movies on Amazon Prime this month.
Starz has been quickly building a name for itself in the past few years thanks to its impressive movie selections and incredible original series. From the critically acclaimed American Gods to the criminally underrated Power, Starz’s original shows rival any service on the market, and it also offers some of the most significant box-office hits around. You might be surprised to see Starz ranked above HBO Now, but in this race, it all comes down to special features. Starz lets you download movies and shows for offline viewing, and HBO Now does not. Until that’s fixed, we’ve got a Starz in our eyes.
If you always find yourself in the horror section of every streaming app, consider giving Shudder a try. This budget-priced streaming service from AMC only costs $4.99 per month and gives you a massive collection of the best horror and suspense films from around the world. From obscure classics to slashers you know and love, Shudder is Netflix for people who’d rather wear a hockey mask than a suit. The app works great, even on hotel Wi-Fi connections. There’s just one small catch: Shudder doesn’t currently have an offline viewing mode, so unless you want your data plan to get slaughtered, use it wisely.
HBO Now is an incredible service with great programming and occasionally frustrating quirks. The app is quick, smooth, and easy to navigate. Streaming, whether over mobile data or Wi-Fi, is clean and crisp. HBO Now should be the ideal when it comes to premium video services online, but despite being the most expensive option on the market, it doesn’t allow you to download content for offline viewing, which is a major bummer. Still, there’s no other way to watch the new season of Game of Thrones in real time, and you can’t discount HBO’s movie selection or documentaries.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.