How to download movies and TV shows to your phone or tablet, be it iPhone, iPad or Android. Avoid big data charges and watch your favourite video wherever you roam, with our offline video guide.
We’ve all heard horror stories of people who tried streaming an episode of Will & Grace on their smartphone, and ended up with a bill for thousands of pounds. Thankfully this nightmare can be avoided by downloading movies or TV show episodes to your iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet before you leave the sanctity of your home WiFi network.
Here’s our how-to guide to the best services which allow you to download video to your phone or tablet. Note that some require subscription, while others are free of charge.
How to download movies and shows to your tablet or phone with a monthly video subscription service
Some online movie and TV services allow streaming only, which means you can only watch when your phone or tablet is connected to the internet, with no option to download to your device.
However, there are some exceptions.
How to download movies and shows to your phone with an Amazon Prime Instant Video subscription
The Amazon Prime Instant Video app allows you to download a selection of its catalogue to your Android phone or tablet, iPad or iPhone, and Amazon’s own Fire devices. Not every single movie or show is avaiable to download sadly, but the majority can be saved for offline viewing.
There is a time limit involved with downloaded videos sadly, with content typically expiring a month after download or 48 hours after you begin viewing. You’ll need to connect to Amazon’s servers after this period expires.
Simply download the Instant Video app and sign in with your Amazon account details. Browse the video selection and if you find something you like, tap the download button (a circle with a downwards-facing arrow). It will be saved to your phone or tablet’s storage, so you can watch it by heading to the ‘Downloads’ tab.
How to download movies and shows to your phone with a Netflix subscription
Netflix may have been well behind Amazon Prime when it came to offering movie and TV show mobile downloads, but finally we have it. You only have a small selection to choose from sadly, but even a little bit is better than nothing, right?
How to download movies and shows to your phone with a Sky subscription
Sky TV also allows you to download video to watch offline, via its Sky Go app. You need to have Sky Go Extra to qualify, with four mobile devices supported per subscription. You can also take movies and shows on the road with Sky’s new Sky Q service.
You have a set time period to watch your video content (typically one month) and bear in mind that movies and shows will self-delete 48 hours after you first start watching them, so if you start a film on your outward journey, you’ll have to finish it pronto.
To download Sky movies and shows to your phone or tablet, you just need to grab the Sky Go app from the Google Play store or App Store. Browse for something you like and tap ‘download’ and it will be queued up.
Download movies and TV shows to your phone or tablet with a pay-per-view video service
Loads of companies now offer a selection of movies and TV shows that you can purchase individually and download to your iPad, iPhone or Android device. For instance, Apple fans have the iTunes store, while Android users can browse and buy movies or TV series using Google Play.
Just open the app on your phone or tablet, select the video you wish to purchase, top up your funds with a credit or debit card if needed, and you’re all set. Any videos you buy are yours to download and enjoy whenever you like, while you can also rent movies and shows for a short time for a couple of quid.
Of course there are plenty of rival services now, such as the ever-popular Blinkbox. However, buyer beware – while you can download Blinkbox purchases to watch offline, you need to have an internet connection when you come to watch your movies or shows, so Blinkbox can verify the download. Not much good if you’re abroad with no data roaming.
How to download movies and shows to your phone or tablet for free
While you’ll find plenty of dodgy websites that offer free movie downloads, legal ones are sadly thin on the ground. BBC’s iPlayer app allows you to download a selection of recently-broadcast films free of charge to your phone or tablet, to enjoy offline – although there’s a time limit of around a week. And of course you can download a big selection of the Beeb’s shows to enjoy offline.
DVD and Blu-ray downloads
Some DVD or Blu-ray discs also come with a free download code, so you can grab a digital copy to carry on your tablet or phone. Disney films are a prime example, while many Blu-rays come with an ‘UltraViolet’ code for downloading a virtual copy to devices without a drive.