Netflix on a flagship smartphone – High-res screen means more data usage

To see how much data Netflix uses, we recently tested the mobile data consumption of the Netflix Android app.

For the test, we used a Nokia 5 smartphone, which features an LTE connection along with Android 8.0.

According to Netflix, 10 hours of Netflix video consumed around 4GB of mobile data a few years ago.

It said users get up to 26 hours of video for the same amount of data today.

Our test results showed that we used a total of 301MB for just under a one-and-a-half hours of Netflix viewing using a mobile connection.

According to this data, streaming Netflix for 26 hours on a good LTE connection will use 5.3GB – slightly above Netflix’s estimation of 4GB.

However, the amount of data consumed may vary depending on the type of smartphone used to stream the video.

The Expanse

Flagship test

While the Nokia 5 is a great mid-range Android smartphone, it is not a flagship device.

Modern flagships feature bezel-less displays, powerful chipsets, and high-resolution screens.

To see if a high-end phone will use more mobile data when watching Netflix, due to its higher-resolution screen and other improved display features, we tested the service on a new Android flagship smartphone.

The device packed a 5.8-inch display, with great contrast and colours.

Its screen resolution was 2,240 x 1,080 – compared to the Nokia 5’s 1,280 x 720 – which could make a difference in the quality of the Netflix stream.

We inserted an MTN prepaid SIM into the device (the same SIM used in the Nokia 5 test) and loaded it with 1GB of data. Netflix was then opened.

The Netflix account used for the test was set to automatically adjust streaming quality, and a speed test was conducted before streaming started to determine the device’s connection quality.

The MyBroadband Speed Test app was used for the speed measurements.

At the time the Netflix test was started, the Android flagship on MTN scored:

  • Download speed – 39.12Mbps
  • Upload speed – 30.82Mbps

Results

Like the previous test, streaming quality on the smartphone was clear and smooth using mobile data, and did not look different to the quality experienced when streaming over Wi-Fi after the test.

The picture on the flagship’s IPS display was far more impressive than the Nokia 5, however, thanks to its higher resolution.

Two episodes of The Expanse were played during the test, each with a runtime of over 40 minutes.

The mobile data usage measured for each episode was:

  • Episode 1 (45m) – 173MB
  • Episode 2 (43m) – 178MB

This resulted in a total of 351MB of data used by Netflix.

The Nokia 5 test used the same MTN mobile Internet connection and consumed a total of 301MB for the same episodes of The Expanse.

For comparison purposes, the totals were:

  • Nokia 5 – 301MB
  • Android flagship – 351MB

The results show that streaming on the flagship device used 3.98MB per minute, while the Nokia 5 used 3.42MB per minute.

This is likely due to higher-resolution versions of the Netflix episodes being automatically streamed on the flagship’s superior display.

Higher-resolution video requires more bandwidth to download, and users who make the most of their high-resolution displays will naturally consume more data.

Now read: Netflix launches public bug bounty

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Netflix on a flagship smartphone – High-res screen means more data usage