The iPad is a great device for watching movies and full-length feature films, but what if you don't want to buy digital media, or pay a monthly subscription charge for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or TalkTalk TV? Readers regularly ask us about the best ways to watch films for free on a mobile device.

In this feature we're going to widen your movie-watching horizons. Grab some popcorn and discover the best ways to watch the latest full-length movies for free on your iPad and iPhone.

The best apps for watching free movies

How to watch free movies on iPad & iPhone: Crackle

Lots of streaming services operate legally on the App Store. In general they offer a few older classics, along with a few adverts - you're not going to get the latest blockbusters. We would recommend the following apps for watching free movies on your iPad:

  • Popcornflix: This is a great app to start with, offering lots of free movies. They tend to be the made-for-TV type, but there are some classics such as Austin Powers. It serves up ads between movies.
  • BBC iPlayer: Don't forget to check BBC iPlayer for films. Tap Menu, then select Films from the categories.
  • Crackle: This has a great range of movies - not the latest hits but plenty of big hitters, such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and American Graffiti. Unfortunately the app isn't available on the UK app store, but if you've got an American App Store account, you can use a VPN to get it working in the UK. We recommend NordVPN but read Best VPNs for iPhone and iPad for alternatives.

How to watch free movies on iPad & iPhone: BBC iPlayer

Watch movies for free on your iPad with YouTube

YouTube is a massively underrated service in this regard; many people fail to realise there's a range of feature-length movies on the service. People with registered accounts can upload movies longer than 15 minutes, and YouTube will stream up to 11 hours of video from a single file.

The challenge with watching movies on YouTube is finding decent films among all the noise of short video clips. Also, some people upload videos they don't own the rights to - the latest movies are usually taken down within a couple of days.

If you want to watch a movie, open YouTube and search for it - you'll be surprised how often you find what you're looking for.

For those unsure of what they want to watch, Reddit has a great sub called /r/fullmoviesonyoutube. If you sort it by Top and Past Week you'll find a lot of great options.

How to watch free movies on iPhone & iPad: Reddit

Take out a free trial

Another neat option, at least in the short term, is to take out a free trial. You can get one for most of the main movie streaming services. You have to sign up, but if you cancel (usually within 30 days) you can get away without paying anything. By going from one service to another you can get a couple of months free:

  • Netflix: Probably the biggest name in online streaming. Starting at £5.99 per month for an SD package with a 30-day free trial. If you're not impressed by the UK offering, here's how to get US Netflix in the UK.
  • Amazon Prime Video: £5.99 per month (or £79 per year along with Amazon One-Day delivery). One month free trial.
  • Now TV Sky Cinema Pass: Slightly more expensive at £11.99 per month but the free trial (which only lasts a week - beware!) is worth a go. Sky says it has 16 new premieres every month, and there are some big hitters here.

If you're planning to take out a subscription with the intention of cancelling before you get charged, remember that many offer a 30-day trial rather than (necessarily) a full month. Some cynics might suggest that the companies do this deliberately so that people get their maths wrong and get charged on the 31st day. Set a reminder in your calendar.

Watch movies online for free with Sky and Virgin Media

If you have a Sky TV or Virgin Media service you can watch the movies and television shows from your Sky or Virgin account on the iPad. Both Sky and Virgin have apps available on the App Store:

If you're already a subscriber to these TV services you can watch movies, and TV shows, on your iPad for free.