Mobile technology has transformed hugely over the past decade or so. Although modern-day phones still serve as a key tool for everyday communication between family, friends and colleagues, you can do so much more with them. They act as cameras, entertainment hubs and personal planners. And without them, life would probably feel pretty strange.
The iPhone has acted as a catalyst in the evolution of mobile phones, transforming the way we look at phones. The first-generation iPhone was pretty much the first mainstream smartphone, and Apple has honed it every year since.
If there's one thing the iPhone is good at, it's entertainment. The App Store is full of amazing games and apps, and you can download thousands of films, TV shows and songs from iTunes. But in particular, its ability to act as a portable TV stands out. With a bright, decently sized display, you can easily use your iPhone - or your iPad, which adds the advantages of a larger screen - to watch your favourite movies and shows while on the go.
Here are the best apps, services and accessories to make that possible.
- Buy from Netflix
Online streaming has had a disruptive effect on the entertainment industry in recent years. It gives you the ability to watch your favourite titles whenever and wherever you want. Netflix is one of the most popular services out there, and it's a must-have on your iPhone.
Millions of people use the service right around the world, and you can choose from a wide selection of dramas, documentaries and movies. The company also makes its own original series, with The Crown an outstanding example.
The app puts the best movies and shows right at your fingertips. Netflix constantly updates its extensive library with new shows and movies, and the more you use the app, the better you'll find the experience. It'll begin to learn more about you and make suggestions based on your tastes. Plans start at £5.99.
- Buy from Amazon
Netflix isn't the only company making big waves in the online streaming industry. Amazon's Prime Video is another popular option, and you can get the service on your iPhone. Just like Netflix, you can stream and download popular movies and TV shows.
Amazon has its own exclusives, too; The Grand Tour and The Man in the High Castle have become big favourites. You can access titles over Wi-Fi and cellular networks at any time and from any location.
The app is integrated with IMDb as well, which means you can get details on acts, songs and trivia during playback. There are hundreds of thousands of shows and films available in Prime's library, and you have the option to add videos to your watchlist. Prices also start at £7.99 a month, or £79 per year, and you can sign up for a 30-day free trial.
- Buy from TV Player
If you love live television, then you'll want to check out TVPlayer. It does exactly what it says on the tin. The app provides you access to 65 TV channels on your iPhone, iPad and Apple TV for free. And you have the option to upgrade to a premium package and get an additional 30 channels.
The TV channels are pretty varied, which is always a good thing. As well as traditional channels such as BBC One, BBC Two, iTV 1, Channel 4 and Dave, you can also watch shows on more niche offerings like National Geographic, History, Comedy Central and Good Food.
You shouldn't have any problems with the app, either. The user interface is easy to get around, and benefit from adaptive streaming and the ability to flick through channels while a show is playing. A potential drawback is the fact that not every channel supports mobile connectivity. Premium plans start at £5.99.
BBC iPlayer for iOS
- Buy from BBC iPlayer
Many of the biggest broadcasting companies in the UK also offer their own on-demand apps and services for iOS. BBC iPlayer (free) is probably the best and most popular. If you've got a TV licence, you'll be able to catch up on shows from channels such as BBC One, Two, Three and Four.
The app lets you download TV shows on the move, and it works over both Wi-Fi and mobile networks. It lists TV shows and movies from the past 30 days, and you can browse through different genres and categories. Another cool thing about the app is that there's AirPlay integration, so you can stream programmes on your TV.
Broadcasters such as Channel 4 (free) and ITV (free) also have their own streaming apps. The main difference between them is the fact that they're commercial, so you don't need a TV licence and there are adverts. With them all, you have to create a special account and log in to access shows.
- Buy from Now TV
Sky also has a collection of popular entertainment apps that you can download onto your iOS device. Founded in 2012, Now TV is the company's flagship internet television service. With the app, you can watch the latest TV shows and movies from a variety of different genres.
In terms of movies, there are more than 1000 titles to go for, and you can get a premier movie a day through Sky Cinema Pass. You're also given access to over 250 boxsets, as well as 11 premium channels that you can't access on Freeview. The app also offers sports and children's TV. As is the case with the majority of streaming apps on the market, it works over Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity.
Sky Plus is also worth downloading if you have a Sky box and account at home. Using it, you can manage all your TV shows and movies. Within the app, you can view all Sky's content, set reminders and downloads, and organise your planner. That way, you won't miss out on any of your favourite shows.
YouTube for iOS
- Buy from YouTube
While it's likely that you already use video sharing network YouTube on a daily basis, it's still one worth mentioning. Launched in 2015 as a website to share your own videos, it's evolved into one of the most popular entertainment apps.
With the iOS app, you can keep in touch with everything that's happening in the world through the medium of video. YouTube channels and video creators cover a plethora of areas, including music, gaming, comedy, entertainment and news.
The app has some handy features, too. You're able to browse personal recommendations in the home hub, see the latest content from your favourite creators in the subscriptions hub, discover new and popular videos in the trending hub, and find videos you've watched before in the library hub. It works over Wi-Fi and mobile data.
- Buy from NordVPN
Virtual proxy networks (VPNs) are also popular tools in the world of technology, especially when it comes to accessing online streaming and entertainment services. As well as protecting your identity and data, they can also let you access products and services only available in certain countries.
NordVPN is a good choice if you'd like to try out VPN technology for yourself. There's an iOS app available, and it works pretty much straight out of the box. The app lets you protect your online privacy and access online services without regional restrictions.
There's strong encryption available, and it offers access to more than 700 servers in over 50 countries. The app is not only simple to use, but it's also fast. The server change process takes around ten seconds, while other software can take more than 20 seconds.
Read more: Best VPN for Mac 2017
Olixar Micro-Suction Smartphone Desk Stand
In order to turn your iPhone into the perfect portable entertainment system, you not only need the right software but the hardware too. With a good stand, you can comfortably watch your favourite films and TV shows while on the train or in a coffee shop.
Olixar's micro-suction stand is a good choice to go for, and it should work fine with most iPhones. Minimal in design, the stand sports a special suction grip so your handset doesn't fall out of it. The company has designed it specifically for hands-free phone calls, viewing videos or acting as a simple docking station. And at about a tenner, it won't break the bank.
Philips BT50 Portable Wireless Speaker
Sound quality is another important thing when it comes to creating the best possible mobile entertainment system. While the latest iPhones aren't too bad in the sound department, it's always worth investing a few quid into a portable Bluetooth speaker.
You don't have to spend loads of money, though. The Phillips BT50 is an example of an uber-affordable speaker that does the job. Compact and colourful in design, it supports Bluetooth connectivity so you can connect it up to your iPhone easily and quickly.
That's great if you don't want any wires, but there's still auxiliary input for connecting other audio devices. In terms of other features, you'll find a built-in microphone for hands-free conferencing, along with a rechargeable battery that sports a battery life of 8 hours.