Mubi is my favorite iPhone app for when I travel

Screenshots of the Mubi app from the Apple App Store.
The Mubi app has a clean, simple design that focuses on the films. (Image credit: Apple App Store)

The Mubi logo from the Apple App Store

(Image credit: Apple App Store)

iPhone / iPad / Apple TV - Free (Subscription Required)

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Apple has revealed the best apps for iPhone and beyond in 2023, and I’m delighted that Mubi made the list. It was chosen as the best in the “Apple TV App of the Year” category, which makes sense considering Mubi is a streaming app with a fantastic collection of must-watch movies. You really should watch Mubi on a big TV. The problem is, you can’t always carry a big TV around with you, but you can always carry your phone.

That’s why Mubi is one of my best iPhone apps of 2023. I get how that sounds. It may seem disrespectful to the Gods of Cinema to shrink such great art to a tiny screen. But after spending the last few months traveling and waiting for delayed planes, trains, and buses, I’m here to tell you that Mubi did a fantastic job keeping me entertained – yes, even from the 6-inch screen of my iPhone 14 Pro.

If you’ve not heard of Mubi, it’s a film streaming subscription service (there are some documentaries and shorts, but it’s predominantly movies on offer here) that goes beyond blockbusters and mainstream films. Instead, a quality over quantity approach features a library of roughly 400 award-winning, arthouse and cult movies. It features recent releases and movies distributed by Mubi but has many other titles, some dating back decades. 

Generally, the movies will stream at the highest quality that your device and your connection will allow, often in HD and 4K, where possible. The films on offer will change depending on your territory, but when I was in Portugal and France over the summer, I didn’t notice anything on my watchlist was missing. Remember that Mubi is like any other streaming service; titles will come and go. I like that Mubi labels any films on their way out soon with how many days you’ll have left to watch them. 

The Mubi iPhone app has a simple, intuitive design and displays movies based on categories on your homepage. For example, right now, there are categories like “In the Mood for Love,” “Funny”, “Millennial Meltdown”, and “Family Viewing” on mine. You can create a watchlist, which I’ve found invaluable for keeping tabs on what I want to see next. You can also make other themed lists, as well as browse lists created by other people.

A Mubi subscription costs $10.99/£10.99 a month, including a 7-day free trial, offline downloads, and no ads. There’s also Mubi Go for $15.99/£15.99, which brings you all of the benefits of a standard subscription and throws in a cinema ticket once a week to go and watch a Mubi-distributed film – well worth it if you live near a participating movie theater.

Can you watch a movie from your iPhone?

Plenty of people have used their iPhones for movies since the early days. But many are still shocked when I say I watch movies regularly with my iPhone 14 Pro. Of course, it depends on the conditions, but if you push up the brightness and pair your iPhone with a good pair of noise-canceling earbuds, I think it’s a great way to catch up on your watchlist while you travel.

There are a lot of foreign language films available on Mubi, and I was worried the subtitles would be impossible to read on a small screen, but I tend to hold my iPhone fairly close to me, like on a tray table on a plane, so it wasn’t a problem.

Downloading movies is also incredibly quick and easy. Once you have them, they stay on your device, and you can watch them offline – making Mubi ideal for flights. You can switch to another device, like a laptop, when you land and start where you left off.

Look elsewhere if you want lots of choices and the latest blockbusters, however. Mubi is for those who take their movie-watching hobby seriously. So if that’s you, you’ll love the selection, the way the apps work – regardless of whether you’re using an iPhone or Apple TV – and the fact you can genuinely watch great movies on the move.


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Becca Caddy

Becca Caddy is a contributor to iMore, as well as a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than a decade, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality. Last time she checked, she still holds a Guinness World Record alongside iMore Editor in Chief Gerald Lynch for playing the largest game of Tetris ever made, too.