Why You Should Never Watch Movies on Your Smartphone

Tim Chawaga 10-04-2019

None of us should live in a world where we consider the in-flight movie screen on an airplane to be an upgrade. No matter how big your smartphone screen is, you should never watch movies on it.


Ergonomically, it’s painful enough to provoke anger. On a bus or a plane, watching a blockbuster will make your fellow passengers envious. And it’s an act of gluttony to watch a movie at home when you could be out there filming one yourself.

All of these reasons are why you should not watch movies on your smartphone.

Watching Movies on Your Smartphone Is Rude

Some smartphone-movie-watching evangelists may tell you that being able to watch a movie on your smartphone means that you can take your movies anywhere. That’s true, and that’s a problem.

Unlike the quiet, nonintrusive activity of reading a book, watching a movie is, sometimes unintentionally, a communal experience. Have you ever tried to get some sleep on a flight but instead got sucked into whatever movie the person sitting across from you was watching, even though you couldn’t hear the sound?

The same principle is true anywhere else you would think to watch a movie on your phone in public: the subway, the train, the bus, or the doctor’s waiting room. The people around you will be drawn into your sub-par movie-watching experience, probably not by choice


If you think you can limit the awkwardness by choosing only G or PG-rated movies, then you have already compromised your own watch-movies-anywhere edict, and, to be frank, your boorish behavior is still pretty annoying.

Watching Movies on Your Smartphone Is Bad for Your Health

Ergonomically, there is no comfortable way to watch a movie on your phone. Even if you are sitting in a chair custom-built to accommodate you, you’ll strain your neck trying to look at your phone. And if you hold it up to your eyes, you’ll tire out your arms.

The only possible way to watch a movie comfortably on your phone is to purchase an adjustable neck stand like the Tekie Cell Phone Holder, but just one look at yourself in the mirror wearing one will prove that it is a crime against nature.

Tekie Cell Phone Holder Tekie Cell Phone Holder Buy Now On Amazon


Additionally, we all know that screen fatigue is real. Squinting exacerbates the effects of eye strain. This is inevitable when trying to watch a big budget films on your phone.

Watching Movies on Your Smartphone Lessens the Experience

Well, wait a second, you might be thinking, why can’t I just hold the phone screen all the way up to my eyes, like one of those cheap VR headset experiences? Voila! Instant movie screen.

It’s certainly possibly, but try holding your phone there for a 90-minute runtime. Additionally, you yourself have to hold perfectly still as well, so you can’t laugh or react in any way.

Even if you invest in the best smartphone screen Is the iPhone X Screen Really the Best of All Smartphone Screens? Is the iPhone X's screen the best you can get? Or is there another phone that outshines it? Read More , they can only get so big. A smartphone screen simply isn’t good enough for you to appreciate the visuals of a big budget blockbuster.


Watching Movies on Your Smartphone Devalues the Art

Call us Luddites, but just because you can do something in the digital age doesn’t mean you should. Streaming movies can be bad for you Why Streaming Movies Is Bad for You However much we love streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, they're not always a force for good. Here are three reasons why streaming movies can be bad for you. Read More . The ability to watch almost any movie, anytime, anywhere means that movies have become the white noise of our lives, always present in the background but increasingly less appreciated.

This is bad for the film industry, as average-but-accessible movies can do just as well as the big-budget blockbusters. But it’s also bad for us, the consumers of this artform, who will start to notice a decline in quality as budgets are squeezed. Classic films were made for cinema 12 Classic Films on Disney+ Worth Watching There are a host of classic films on Disney+. But which movies from the Disney archive are worth watching? Read More , not smartphones.

Watching Movies on Your Smartphone Upsets Filmmakers

No filmmaker gets into the business with a lifelong dream of making movies for tiny screens. No matter what distributors like Netflix and Amazon Prime may let you do, the people you should be listening to are the ones who actually make the content you’re watching.

David Lynch makes his thoughts on watching movies on phones explicitly clear in this YouTube video:


These Days, Smartphones Are for Making Movies

The worst sin that you commit when you watch movies on your phone is the sin of sloth.

Your phone is a poor movie-watching device. When it comes to movie-making, however, it’s downright revolutionary. Using it for nothing more than watching movies is like using a Ferrari for grocery runs.

High Flying Bird, a film by Steven Soderbergh on Netflix, should be your call to action. Just like he did with his 2018 movie, Unsane, Soderbergh shot it almost entirely on iPhones. It’s almost impossible to tell, if you don’t know what to look for.

The movie utilizes all the strengths of the iPhone’s camera. The character close-ups look great. The camera is small, and goes anywhere easily. Complicated shots that would normally take hours to set up can be done with minimal equipment.

Smartphone cameras obviously have their drawbacks. Some of the indoor shots are way too dark, and the wide shots are a little curvy. These are nit-picky details, however, since the device that you currently have in your pocket has clearly demonstrated that it can create a polished feature film.

It simply doesn’t matter that High Flying Bird was shot on a phone, and that is remarkable. The characters are interesting, the dialogue is snappy, and the cinematography is beautiful. With a good idea and good actors, you too have ability to walk outside and make a masterpiece.

Support Your Local Movie Theater

We’ve spent a lot of time in this article telling you what you can’t do, but there is one proactive step you can take. The next time you feel the urge to watch a movie on your phone, take a walk to your local theater instead.

If you do, you’ll be supporting the local economy, and the arts as a whole. But don’t think of it as act of charity. Take a look at how movie theaters can ensure their survival Cinema Is Dying: How Movie Theaters Can Ensure Their Survival Movie theaters need to offer more than just a way of watching the latest films. They need to stop competing on "convenience" and start focusing on "experience." Here's how. Read More  by providing you with a unique experience; something your smartphone simply cannot provide.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Nunya
    March 29, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    I don't even own a smartphone, never have, yet for every reason cited in your article, I think you, *and* David Lynch, have a few screws loose. I also think you're technophobes. I'm horrified that anyone could actually conceive such an article, let alone write it. JMO.

  2. Sam C
    July 2, 2019 at 10:51 am

    I hope this is the last article from this guy. Oh crap, I am gonna miss my deadline. Let me write a moronic list of why you shouldn't watch a movie on a phone. Hard hitting journalism. Next up, 5 reasons not to wash your hair.

  3. Mark
    June 26, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    I have a better idea: I'll do what I want.

    What in the hell is the point of this stupid article?

  4. Guy
    June 25, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    What are we makinguseof as a result of this opinion article?
    Asking for a friend.....

  5. robert
    June 25, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Generally your articles are very informative and I consider them invaluable. This one shares NONE of those attributes. Even Einstein got it wrong once......

  6. Timmy
    June 25, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    It's crap like this that make me want to unsubscribe and you know what. F**k movie theaters

  7. Corby
    June 25, 2019 at 3:43 am

    This is not an article, this is an editorial. This crap does not belong on this site, it belongs on the Onion.

  8. B
    June 24, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    This is totally an opinion article. Why is it even on this site?

    The convenience that mobile-available media gives users on the go or users that are otherwise in environments that do not allow them to watch movies on a larger screen is fantastic. Some people may not even own a TV of their own, and might not be able to afford to go to the movies. Are you to say that these people should not watch movies at all?

  9. Dick Strohm
    June 24, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    First of all, who cares what "film makers' care! Hollywood consists of a lot of overpaid jerks. I will not pay my hard earned dollars to support those obscene people!

  10. Stuart
    April 14, 2019 at 9:43 am

    This article is more of an opinion than anything else.
    If people want to watch movies on their phone then thats entirely up to them. If you, Tim Chawaga, would rather go sit at home or in a movie theatre to watch a movie, then that is entirely up to you also, but you do not need to write an article about it telling people that your opinion is correct and people shouldn't do so just because you say.

  11. Pat
    April 12, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Hollywood has lost their "art" long ago to CGI, SFX, bad story lines, and horrible writing. Most everything coming out of Tinseltown anymore is pure garbage.

  12. Mark Tristan R. Ocampo
    April 10, 2019 at 11:20 am

    How about Netflix on an iPad?