How much data Netflix uses on your smartphone

Netflix recently announced it had optimised its Android and iOS apps for mobile viewing.

The streaming service dynamically alters its content’s bit rate, depending on the motion in each segment of a video – saving a lot of data when users are watching shows on their mobile device.

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

Today, users get up to 26 hours of video for the same amount of data.

To see how well Netflix’s optimisations work, MyBroadband tested its data-saving methods when watching Netflix on a smartphone using mobile data.

The test

We conducted the test using a Nokia 5, which supports LTE and has a screen resolution of 720 x 1,280.

We inserted an MTN prepaid SIM into the device and loaded it with 1GB of data, before firing up Netflix and watching shows.

Data usage was monitored using the MyDataManager app for Android, which delivers data consumption readouts for individual applications.

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

The MyBroadband Speed Test App was used for the speed measurments.

At the time the Netflix test was started, the Nokia 5 on MTN scored:

  • Download speed – 31.72Mbps
  • Upload speed – 35.78Mbps

We then played two episodes of The Expanse on Netflix, measuring data usage after each episode.

Results

The 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.

There was no buffering or skipping for the duration of the test.

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) – 148MB
  • Episode 2 (43m) – 153MB

This adds up to a total of 301MB used for just under a one and a half-hours of Netflix viewing using a mobile connection.

Using data collected from the results, streaming Netflix video on a good LTE connection will use 3.42MB per minute.

This equals around 5.3GB for 26 hours of video – slightly above Netflix’s estimation of 4GB.

Now read: Music industry makes more money, thanks to streaming

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How much data Netflix uses on your smartphone