Best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad: Netflix, Amazon Instant, Plex, and more!

The best U.S. video streaming apps for iPhone and iPad, from the movies you grew up with to the shows you want to catch up on!

Looking for the best iPhone apps or best iPad apps for streaming video right to your phone or tablet? Whether you want to watch — or re-watch — thousands of old movies and TV shows, keep up with current network programming, or simply stream the videos already on your computer, the App Store has several apps for that. Sadly, what's available depends entirely on where you live (regional licenses, ugh.) So what are the best streaming video apps in the U.S.?

Note: iPhones and iPads come with iTunes built in, however the Video app doesn't really stream. It downloads while it plays, and the file is left on your device even after you finish watching. You can thank Hollywood for that. So, while it works great, we're not including it here.


You can always trust iMore. Our team of Apple experts have years of experience testing all kinds of tech and gadgets, so you can be sure our recommendations and criticisms are accurate and helpful. Find out more about how we test.

Best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad (U.S.): Netflix

Netflix plays host to thousands of shows and movies that you can access with an all-you-can-eat subscription that costs less than $10 a month. Netflix supports pretty much any platform you can think of and even comes pre-installed on many gaming systems and Smart TVs. Netflix has also started offering original programming like Arrested Development, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and more. While Netflix may not have the latest blockbuster movies or hit shows, the sheer size of their collection - especially their kids collection - makes them a must have.

Netflix is a great deal for everyone, especially if you have small children. Get it, you won't regret it.

Amazon Instant Video

Best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad (U.S.): Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant is Amazon's own streaming service, offered at no additional cost to its Amazon Prime subscribers. If you don't have Amazon Prime, you can still use Amazon Instant Video, you will just be shown the price to rent or buy content instead. You will also see lots of new movies on Amazon Instant long before they pop up on services like Netflix, which makes it an awesome perk for Prime members.

If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, there's absolutely no reason not to have Amazon Instant Video. Stop what you're doing and download it now.

Hulu Plus

Best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad (U.S.): Hulu Plus

Hulu's main focus is tv shows and features many popular series on demand such as Glee, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and many more. While the Hulu Plus app for iPhone and iPad is free, you'll need a monthly subscription in order to use it. Just like Netflix, it'll cost you less than $10 a month. That gets you access to the most recent seasons of your favorite shows and unlimited streaming from any Hulu Plus enabled device including Apple TV. Hulu is also home to many of its own original series.

If you never have time to catch your favorite tv shows right when they air, you want Hulu Plus.


Best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad (U.S.): Plex

Plex isn't a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu but instead acts as a central hub that lets you stream all the content you already own. Link up your computers, cloud storage services, and more. You can then stream anything you own right to your iPhone or iPad without eating up precious storage space. Plex also offers some built-in streaming channels for free such as TED, Revision3, and TWiT.

If you're looking for a way to stream videos you already own to your iPhone or iPad, look no further than Plex.


Best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad (U.S.): YouTube

YouTube isn't a traditional streaming video service - at least not yet! - but it's got an unbelievable amount of content. You can still find original series or short films, and with a little power searching, you can find a ton of rare stuff as well. It's the number one video database on the planet for a reason. If you need to kill massive amounts of time, there's no better way to do it than YouTube.

YouTube is free and it's awesome. Just get it.

Your picks for best streaming video apps for iPhone and iPad?

If you live in the United States, how do you access video content on your iPhone or iPad? Do you use a streaming service or an app like Plex to stream content you already own? Let us know in the comments!

Note: Updated May, 2014.

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • Plex is easily becoming my replacement for streaming media. The Plex Media Server has the ability to scrape databases to auto-fill the information for you, so you get episode/movie information/images/titles, and with Plex Connect, works with the Apple TV. The app price for Plex too makes it comparable to Air Video, as both are client dependent. If you're a fan of home media servers, Plex plays well with all my Apple products and still amazes me at all the information it can gather in a moment's notice. The additional channels that Plex provides also makes it more valuable than just a standard media streaming application.
  • Beamer is the easiest thing I have use on a Mac. Drag and drop. Even lets you add subtitles with ease. Translates all files on the fly as well. Great software.
  • Amazon
  • I too vote for Plex. Always enjoyed Air Video, but it uses Java on the installed server- and I completely removed Java from my Windows box.
  • Hi! We just released Air Video HD. It has no Java dependency.
  • Plex Plex Plex! All day Plex! Works phenomenally! Executed phenomenally!
  • +1 Sent from the iMore App
  • Soooo about that wallpaper. Sent from the iMore App
  • Plex is my media hub. So easy to share and access remotely Sent from the iMore App
  • Plex is my media hub. So easy to share and access remotely Sent from the iMore App
  • Like usually 3 out of 5 not available in canada ! Sent from the iMore App
  • Don't forget Crunchyroll :3
  • I don't watch shows, just have a lot of movies on my Network Attached Storage at home, so I am using ArkMC (it's some kind of media center) to stream what I want on my Sony Bravia.
  • What about crackle?i know some of the shows and movies are not that good but but there's a lot of them that are.and it's 100% free.i think it's worth mentioning. Sent from the iMore App
  • I use Netflix the most but also Amazon. I'd like to note that not all the listings on Amazon Instant video are available with Prime, and the selections change often. This article made it sound like all videos shown are free with Prime, but this isn't the case. Just wanted to clarify. Sent from the iMore App
  • Netflix app is great on iPhone. If live outside USA, you can use tools like UnoTelly to get Netflix on your iPhone.
  • Thanks for the article Allyson. Netflix app (or Hulu, or BBC, etc) is great on iPad. If live outside USA, you can use tools like UnoTelly to get Netflix (or Hulu, or BBC, etc) on your iPhone.