It was lunch break at the office when Helen, my colleague, walked up to me, wondering what was so interesting that I was engrossed with on my smartphone instead of munching away at my lunch. I was buried neck deep in a movie on my phone, but took a break to say hello and chit-chat with her. I was surprised when Helen asked me how I am able to enjoy the movie on the small screen of a smartphone. It was such a normal thing for me that I was taken aback that anyone had an objection to it.
As a matter of fact, I was surprised that anyone did not watch movies on phones. Helen was anyone. I knew Helen to be someone who loves movies; her objections were about what she presumed would be a limiting experience on a phone screen. Her concerns were valid, but she was missing the big picture.
She wouldn’t be the first person to object to the idea of watching movies on phones. Years ago, legendary producer, David Lynch, spoke out against the practice, and was quoted as saying, “You’ll think you have experienced it, but you’ll be cheated. It’s such a sadness that you think you’ve seen a film on your fucking telephone. Get real.” 
A film critic, Anne Billson, has also been caught saying that “people who watch movies on phones should be shot”. 
Perhaps the harsh words of these individuals were appropriate in 2016 and 2017 when they uttered them. But time has justified the practice of watching movies on phones. As a matter of fact, the trend is that watching a movie on a smartphone is on the upward swing.
New movie-streaming apps and services are launching every year to take advantage of this upsurge in the practice. Plus, over a year of lock downs and restricted movements since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world means that a lot of people have had to fall back on their smartphones for lots of entertainment content.
Helen was not one of those. She responded that she preferred to do her movie watching on a much larger TV screen. She was convinced that there was no way she could enjoy the smartphone experience.
In return, I shared my experience with her. If there was one advantage that stands out above all others, I told her that being able to catch up with my favourite live shows, real time, regardless of time and location was something a TV could not make happen for me.
I told Helen to give it a try and to expect to be pleasantly surprised at the experience. The market is awash with smartphones with large screens, sharper resolutions, better aspect ratios, and even HDR support. Throw in stereo speakers on some phones, or a pair of high definition earbuds, and watching movies on phones has become truly enjoyable and fun.
We chatted a bit more, before I excused myself to finish the movie I was watching before she showed up and then dashed back into the office to earn my pay.
Perhaps I have some witchcraft buried deep in my core, generally inactive, and a part of it was unlocked during my speech with Helen, but something interesting happened later that day, as Helen would share with me the following day.
She got home and found, to her consternation, that a power surge that happened at home in the afternoon had taken out her TV. It would not power on any more and clearly needed to pay a visit to a technician.
For a brief moment, she said, she just sat on her favourite sofa and stared into space, wondering how she was going to survive her present predicament. She was single and lived alone. Movies were her number one distraction and indulgence. Her favourite Netflix titles were waiting to be attended to. But the TV was out.
Eventually, she remembered her discussion with me and decided to give the idea of watching movies on phones a try. She had nothing to lose now and something to gain, if it worked out. She’d watch one movie on her smartphone and see.
After a shower, she settled down to download her movie streaming app, and proceeded into the new experience. I won’t bore you with the details; the summary is that we have a new convert. Helen no longer thinks that watching movies on phones is unthinkable.
One thing is clear: watching movies on phones has turned out not to be a short-lived craze. It has gone on for years and new sections of industries are now dedicated to servicing this practice. You should get with the programme, literally.
- David Lynch (source)
- Anne Billson (source)