Netflix optimises its Android and iOS apps for mobile viewing in an effort to save mobile data consumption.
It accomplishes this by dynamically altering its content’s bit rate, depending on the motion in each segment of a video.
In previous tests, we found that Netflix consumes around 5.3GB of data over 26 hours of mobile streaming, or around 3.42MB per minute.
This test was conducted using a mobile data connection on a prepaid SIM – but only a single mobile operator was tested.
To determine whether there is a difference in Netflix data consumption when using different mobile networks, we tested Netflix’s mobile data usage on Vodacom and MTN SIMs.
Mobile data test
For the test, a Vodacom and MTN SIM were each placed in two Nokia 5 smartphones and all background applications were disabled.
Both devices were set up in the same configuration, with a screen resolution of 1,280 x 720 and an LTE connection.
We then started Netflix on the smartphones and monitored the data usage between episodes to see if there was a notable difference between the two networks.
Data usage was monitored using the MyDataManager app for Android, which delivers data consumption readouts for applications.
The Netflix account used for the test was set to automatically adjust streaming quality, and a speed test was conducted before streaming content to determine the devices’ connection quality.
The MyBroadband Speed Test app was used for the speed measurements.
At the time the Netflix test started, the devices scored the following speed test results:
- Download – 16.27Mbps
- Upload – 8.05Mbps
- Download – 24.43Mbps
- Upload – 20.99Mbps
After running the speed tests, we played the first two episodes of The Expanse on Netflix, measuring the data usage for each episode.
The streaming quality on both Nokia 5 smartphones during the test was clear and there was no buffering or skipping.
Two episodes of The Expanse were played during the test, each with a runtime of over 40 minutes.
A comparison of the data usage on the MTN and Vodacom SIMs for the two Netflix episodes is detailed in the table below.
|Data usage||Episode 1 (45m)||Episode 2 (43m)|
While Netflix’s mobile app uses less data on mobile connections than when on Wi-Fi, it still consumes anything between and 2.62MB and 3.77MB per minute – according to the data from our tests.
From the results, we can also conclude there is no significant difference in the data usage for Netflix across Vodacom and MTN.
Video quality was the same across both devices, with no stuttering and a clear stream being displayed at all times.