Netflix loosens up streaming video, letting users choose their cellular speed limit

Smartphone users can now watch around four hours per gigabyte by dialing down video quality.

Netflix users can now decide how quickly to blow through their data caps with video quality controls on iOS and Android.

To access Netflix’s new data controls, hit the menu icon in the upper-left corner (or upper-right corner on some devices). Select App Settings, then select Cellular Data Usage. By default, Netflix automatically chooses a balance of video quality and data use, allowing around three hours of video per gigabyte of data. You can also choose from five manual settings:

  • Off: Only stream on Wi-Fi.
  • Low: Stream about four hours per gigabyte. (About 0.55 megabits per second)
  • Medium: Stream about two hours per gigabyte. (About 1.1 megabits per second)
  • High: Stream about an hour per gigabyte. (About 2.2 megabits per second)
  • Unlimited: Stream the highest quality possible.

Netflix doesn’t correlate specific video resolutions to these data limits, but for comparison, Netflix recommends 5 megabits per second to stream HD video at home.

Keep in mind that Netflix doesn’t limit video quality on Wi-Fi networks. And for T-Mobile Simple Choice customers, data caps are a non-issue with Binge On, which allows unlimited Netflix streaming at 480p resolution.

The story behind the story: Netflix’s data controls come shortly after the company admitted that it had been throttling video quality on AT&T and Verizon networks for more than five years. Although the move may have saved some customers from overage fees, customers with generous data plans or grandfathered unlimited plans will likely appreciate the option to crank up the video quality.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags netflix

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?