The Best Apps to Stream Free Movies on Android – January 2018

We all know about the Netflix’s and Hulu’s of the world. Nearly every streaming platform out there requires an $8 to $12 monthly fee for access to their rotating library of films and television shows. And sure, paying for one or two streaming platforms is affordable enough, but to gain the widest variety of access, you’ll need to add in HBO, Showtime, and six or seven other platforms to your collection. Soon enough, you’re paying $80 to $90 a month just to stream movies to your phone—and even then, you still have to deal with their rotating libraries of movies and TV shows, not to mention the cost of your internet access just to load the sites on your smartphone or computer.

Luckily for us, there are a bunch of free-streaming apps on Android that let you watch their collection of films for free, while being supported financially with ad breaks during the film. Sure, advertisement breaks in a film aren’t great, but for some users, it’s a world better than paying $10.99 a month for access to Netflix. We’ve tested a bunch of different streaming applications on Android, to check for quality and performance, as well as legality. Nearly every application on our list is both legal and downloadable from the Play Store—with two notable exceptions we’ll highlight at the bottom of the list.

So, if you’re tired of overpaying for streaming apps, and you don’t mind putting up with a few advertisements during the film, come along and join us for our roundup of the best streaming movie apps available right now on Android.

Everyone else

Popcornflix is a streaming service similar to Tubi TV, but both the content library and the layout of the film leave a lot to be desired. There are some films on here worth watching that you won’t find on other services—The BurbsThe Manchurian Candidate, and Clue are some decent standouts—a lot of the library is very similar to what we saw earlier when exploring Tubi TV. The family sections is severely lacking, filled with old and forgotten cartoons like The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and The Legend of Zelda, and both comedy and drama genres alike leave a lot to be desired in their lineups, with no major titles not already available on Crackle or Tubi. Most of the titles here won’t register to most users, with a large portion of the titles available simply not familiar outside of specific genre circles. Playback was smooth enough, with less commercial interruption than Crackle, and the timeline did show when advertisements would appear during the stream of the films. But a streaming app is only as good as its library of available titles, and Popcornflix leaves a lot to be desired there. It’s worth installing to check out forgotten and misbegotten horror and western titles from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, but overall, you won’t find much here that can’t be done better elsewhere.

MovieFlix, with its similar name, falls into a similar category of streaming application as Popcornflix: a poor user interface and a lacking lineup. As usual, there are some titles worth highlighting—we were delighted to see Mike Birbiglia’s comedy special What I Should Have Said was Nothing on here, and Hitchcock’s Psycho was one of the older highlight’s we’ve seen while reviewing streaming apps. But MovieFlix has two major problems with the application: first, even more so than Popcornflix, the content lineup here was either made up of forgotten 60’s and 70’s films like Shark! and Constantine and the Cross, or modern, direct-to-DVD titles like Burning Dead and Exorcist Chronicles. Second, the app only managed to play back a film for us once—nearly every time we hit the Watch Movie button on a title, regardless of which title, the app would crash and return us to the home screen. When we did finally manage to get Psycho playing, the video player was buggy and nigh-impossible to use or control. MovieFlix is still updated relatively regularly, but overall, we’d caution against using this one—it was unstable and particularly not enjoyable to use.

Viewster’s a bit of an outlier when it comes to free movie streaming apps, because its collection of streaming films and TV shows really only fits one niche audience: fans of obscure anime and Korean dramas. While other apps we tested typically list at least a few blockbuster-level productions, Viewster is exclusively focused on highlighting anime, as well as web content fans of anime might enjoy. Browsing through the selections of streaming content, there were a few titles recognizable to anyone who’s even flirted with the anime fandom, including Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Kill la Kill. But beyond a couple recognizable titles, Viewster is a whole lot of nothing. Outside of their animated efforts, they have a selection of unknown Korean dramas (or K-dramas) and some D-grade horror titles including, in all seriousness, Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned and Redneck County Fever. Yikes. Outside of these “films,” you’ll find some curated content pulled from YouTube channels like “The Escapist,” “SMOSH games,” and “Tekking101.” Even if you’re a fan of any of these contributors, there’s no reason to watch their videos on Viewster as opposed to YouTube, which offers a better video experience. Viewster isn’t a bad app, but unless you fit into one of the small groups of people interested in some unknown selections of anime and bad mid-2000’s digital films, you’re better off elsewhere.

This one’s a bit of a cheat, since technically speaking, Amazon Instant Video is not free—it requires a $99/year Amazon Prime membership. It squeaks into the list though, because depending on how much you use Amazon to order assorted goods, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that it’s an included benefit with your two-day shipping, instead of a platform by itself. If you’re looking to spend absolutely nothing on streaming, regardless of what comes with the purchase, you’ll want to look elsewhere on our list. But for your $99, Amazon Instant Video is a great way to gain access to a good streaming service while also being able to use two-day free shipping, Amazon Music, and a bunch of other Prime-exclusive features. Instant Video has a ton of great films and shows up for streaming currently, including Manchester by the Sea, The Big SickIron Man, and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Since the service is bundled in your Prime membership, there aren’t any advertisements to speak of here. And Amazon has some great exclusive shows like CatastropheTransparent, and The Grand Tour. One sour note here: the app doesn’t support Chromecast, though rumors abound that it’s coming to the app sooner than later. More importantly, the app is finally able to be accessed through the Google Play Store. Overall, Instant Video is a great app if you already have Amazon Prime as an annual subscription but haven’t check out their streaming library yet.

This is a tough situation, because not including an app as popular as Showbox would certainly detract from our list, but Showbox also isn’t exactly a legal free streaming application. So, we include Showbox with one major caveat: use this application at your own legal risk. Showbox is an application for Android that hosts streams or downloads of major movies and TV shows, including recent major Hollywood releases. Showbox is and should be treated as a piracy app, often hosting streams with hardcoded Korean subtitles familiar to those who have pirated content in the past decade or so. The streams hosted are not ad-supported, though the app itself does have a banner advertisement at the bottom of the screen, a bit shady considering the legality of the application. The app requires a sideload APK, as Google doesn’t allow apps with pirated material onto the Play Store. The app itself is usable, and certainly a better experience than using something like Movieflix, but overall, we can’t give Showbox a recommendation because of the illegal content hosted on its servers. Use at your own risk.

If Showbox is a shady site to stream movies for free to your smartphone, Popcorn Time takes it to a whole new level. If you’re unfamiliar with Popcorn Time, the original version was popular in the early 2010s, used to stream torrents over the web instead of having to download a copy each time to your computer. Though the original app was shut down in 2014, several different versions of Popcorn Time have sprung up in their place, and perhaps most importantly, an Android version has come with it. Unsurprisingly, Google hasn’t allowed Popcorn Time to list the app in the Play Store, thanks to its ability to pirate content instantly, but the app is available from outside the Play Store using the app’s own website. The app has a modern Android interface that makes it easy to browse new releases for both movies and television shows. In fact, browsing through the app is incredibly similar to navigating Google Play Movies, which makes watching films through the app feel natural. Clicking on a selection for each film shows a gorgeous display of information, including fan reviews, trailers, and more. It’s important to keep remember that, like Showbox, Popcorn Time is incredibly illegal to use, and your ISP could very well land you in hot water for using it. Still, it’s available to those looking for an option to watch content on their phones.

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