Who regularly bing TV here? I know I do that. Never before have we had so many options to watch our favorite shows, especially considering how easy it is to stream anywhere from a mobile device. But sometimes all that choice becomes a bit overwhelming. Which services are really worth the money? Where should you invest your Friday night binges?
We've done the work and put together what we think are the five best apps for streaming TV to your phone, so one of these apps gives you hours of entertainment at home or on the go. Among other things, we looked at prices, the number of shows available to stream in the US and whether advertisements were a factor or not. All information in the following table relates to smartphones instead of tablets, so review the list and we will review the details below.
Table of Contents
As it's about choosing a streaming service for the purpose of watching TV shows at a decent price, there are quite a few important factors that need to be taken into account.
- Prices: We mention the different price levels (if more than one) that each service offers. No service on this list goes beyond three levels – Base, Midrange or Premium. Depending on the level you choose, you may receive various functions and benefits. They are described below.
- Student plan: Some services offer student plans, which reduce costs for students who are currently enrolled.
- Free trial period: All apps on this list offer a temporary free trial period for new users. Some tests last as long as 30 days, or as short as a week. It just depends on the service you choose. These lengths change over time, so that a free 30-day trial period could change to a seven-day period.
- Advertisements: There are different types of advertisements. First, there are the commercials that are played in a video. Secondly, there are pre-roll commercials that you can skip for the service you are currently streaming on, such as at Amazon. Third, there are pre-roll ads that you cannot skip. These usually contain the production company or channel where the series comes from and on which day and time that series is usually broadcast. These pre-roll ads can be found throughout Hulu & # 39; s layers, even if you are subscribed to ad-free.
- Number of titles: The majority of this part must be taken with a grain of salt. Apple TV + and Disney + have enough small libraries, so we counted them manually. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have too many series to count by hand. JustWatch is a great source for keeping track of series counts, especially since Netflix and Hulu don't release songs at all, and their libraries are massive .
- Max streaming quality: This varies from device to device, but these are the maximum streaming qualities for each service, provided you have a compatible phone.
- Original TV series : All five apps on our list produce their own original TV series, but some have much more content than others. This is an important feature because these TV series are unlikely to disappear from every service because they are homegrown. Everything else can come and go based on distribution agreements.
- Original Series to Total Library : a simple percentage of the number of original series compared to the total number of series that offer a service.
- Same or Next Day Airing: A few services on this list offer TV shows on the same day they are broadcast or the next day. The highlight here is Hulu, because the service offers broadcasts of current TV programs & # 39; s on networks such as ABC, NBC and Comedy Central the next day.
- Possibility to download: If you are traveling or on a daily commute without WiFi and mobile service is irregular (or you do not have an unlimited data plan), this is an important feature. In these situations it is great to be able to watch a series from the storage of your phone. In the past this feature was coveted among a few apps, but now all five apps on our list support it.
- Adjusting streaming quality: This is an important function for streaming apps that you can use to improve the quality of your video, to store data or to improve the quality manually. With most apps you have no control over the quality, while with some you can control the stream from the settings. One in particular wins by letting you arrange the quality from within the stream, but more about that later.
- HDR support: HDR – High Dynamic Range – provides a better contrast ratio and colors with your TV programs. However, services that support HDR do not necessarily have to display their content in HDR – your phone must also be compatible (see below for details).
- Chromecast / AirPlay support: Provides support for Chromecast and AirPlay. AirPlay is exclusive to Apple, so only iPhones can take advantage of the feature.
- Availability: Does the app support Android, iOS or both?
Is there a more recognizable name in binge watching? Netflix has been holding that record for a while now, thanks to the large library with popular TV series, as well as its own original content. Although the streaming wars have certainly taken over titles from Netflix, the service is still going well.
There is no way to really know for sure how many series Netflix is currently offering, but from the last count it was 1,498. That's a lot of series to watch.
But many series are really on Netflix, no fewer than 492 of them are originals according to our measurements, 33% of all content. That bewildering number is a combination of Netflix series that were produced on their own, as well as series that were acquired by Netflix after that moment. Anyway, there is no dispute about Netflix as a champion of original online content.
What makes this even better is Netflix has zero ads. Every title that you select is streamed immediately. That is an advantage that not many other streaming services can boast about.
Netflix offers 4K HDR video streaming, but you need a compatible device to access it. If you are an iOS user, your iPhone may be able to stream in Dolby Vision. Compatible devices are the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X and newer. If you use Android, only the LG G6 can play Dolby Vision, because most Android devices use the open, unprotected HDR10 standard instead. For Netflix, HDR10 devices include many modern Androids, such as OnePlus 7T and Google Pixel 3. View the Netflix site for the most up-to-date list.
You can still enjoy 1080p streams on almost any mobile device. Although you cannot adjust the video quality while watching a program, Netflix lets users choose the quality in which they want to stream from the settings.
Downloading titles that can be played offline is incorrectly a great feature. Whether you want to put pressure on your data plan or mix your series without an internet connection, downloading your titles gives you a lot of freedom. However, it should be noted that not every series can be downloaded. If a series is download compatible, you will see a download icon while browsing.
Another great aspect is that TV series on Netflix are dumped on the service in one day, so you can watch an entire series in one go or two days if you want. The disadvantage here is that you have to wait until after a season is broadcast before you can watch new shows.
Netflix plans start as low as $ 8.99 / month, but if you have to watch on more than one device at the same time, or if you want to watch in HD, consider the higher levels. The mid-tier plan costs $ 12.99 / month, lets two devices stream at the same time, and upgrades customers' streams to HD. The premium layer costs $ 15.99 / month, offers four simultaneous streams simultaneously and adds 4K for compatible devices.
New users can get a free 30-day trial, which is enough time to view all the series that you can and see if Netflix is worth the cost. You also get more than 4,000 movies to stream in the process, in case you ever have to take a break from binge watching.
Chromecast and AirPlay are both supported here, and the service is of course available on Android and iOS. wireless networks. No other service can match Hulu in this space. Hulu updates its current catalog catalog the day after new shows, which means you don't have to subscribe to the cable to keep up with all the hottest series.
Hulu really deserves this second space, even if our graph does not reflect that. Unfortunately, it is misleading because it is difficult to represent Hulu's greatest power (a huge library of "current" shows and next-day streaming) compared to other services that do not even offer this. But since Hulu is the only service on this list that allows you to stay almost as current as you can with a traditional cable subscription, we believe Hulu is the second best.
According to JustWatch, Hulu has 1,361 series available for streaming, so they definitely have a healthy selection that you can consume. There should be something for everyone here and something.
Although the number is not as large as that of Netflix, Hulu has 62 original series, 5% of all content, currently available for streaming. The Handmaid & # 39; s Tale is the most recent popular entry, and although the buzz surrounding it has diminished a bit, it is certainly just as much fun to bend today.
Hulu is one of the only apps here that give you manual video quality control while streaming. Most other apps force you to go to the settings to change the video quality, and some give you no option at all. These problems are not a problem with Hulu. Do you want to save your data? Switch your stream to low quality, all without stopping the program you're watching. Do you want Hulu to play at full quality, no matter how much he has to buffer? You can do that too.
Although 4K is finally supported again, the list of compatible devices is quite short, giving you up to 1080p on mobile, so you can fight your slow connection to view your series in the highest possible resolution on supported devices.
In terms of price, Hulu is getting a bit muddy. For $ 5.99 / month you get access to the entire library of series from Hulu, but you will be subject to an abundance of advertisements. These ads are shown before and during your TV series, so it can get pretty annoying. And you can't skip them.
To prevent this, switch to the $ 11.99 / month plan. You lose all advertisements, so you can chime without a break. Keep in mind, no matter which plan you choose, Hulu plays a pre-roll for each show, showing the channel the series belongs to and the day and time the series is broadcast on TV.
Hulu has a student price plan, which is actually one of the best deals on this list – for $ 5 a month you get not only Hulu, but also Spotify and Showtime. Whoa.
Although the Hulu plan contains advertisements, Spotify Premium will not. It is a trade off, I think, that many people would consider making.
Hulu also allows users to add premium subscriptions to their Hulu accounts. These include Showtime ($ 10.99 / month), Cinemax ($ 9.99 / month), HBO Now ($ 14.99 / month), STARZ ($ 8.99 / month), Unlimited screens ($ 9.99 / month), Entertainment ($ 7.99 / month), Español ($ 4.99 / month) month) and / or Enhanced Cloud DVR ($ 9.99 / month).
If you want to continue to watch an episode on the big screen, you can use Chromecast with Hulu or your AirPlay content to an Apple TV. Both platforms currently support 4K streaming, but only for compatible Hulu titles. Hulu is available on both Android and iOS.
App 3: Amazon Prime Video
Talk about an original programming power plant. Amazon has stepped up its game in recent years and made some of the most talked-about series that are not Game of Thrones . Transparent and The Man in the High Castle are just a few examples of what Amazon can do well.
Amazon is also unique in that it crowd-sources its TV pilots. Subscribers can view all the pilot episodes that Amazon has produced, and vote which ones they would like to see are converted into full seasons. It's a great idea, and one that makes subscribing to Amazon feel like more of a community than any other service on this list.
As mentioned above, it is difficult to place Amazon when it comes to hard numbers. Their claim to have 5,710 series is said to have blown up by considering each episode as his own series. Third-party counts point to 1,960 as a more realistic representation of the number of series that Amazon actually delivers. However, we know that Amazon has 136 original series available for viewing in the United States. That is 7% of the entire library. Not too poor.
And just like Netflix, new TV series and seasons are dumped on Amazon Prime Video in one day for ultimate enjoyment for binge watching, so there's no need to wait for new episodes every week. Moreover, you can download almost any series that you want to watch during the flight without using any data. However, if you are a member of Amazon Household and not the paying member of Amazon Prime, you can only download selected pilots for viewing in the Prime Video app.
Only Amazon Prime Video costs $ 8.99 per month. But for 12.99 a month or $ 119 a year for a small saving, you get all the benefits of Amazon Prime that are included with your streaming service. Free two-day shipping, anyone?
It is difficult to find a compatible device list for HDR Prime Video these days, but we know it with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium or Xperia XZ1, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or 9 or Galaxy S8, S8 +, S9 or S9 +, you can stream Amazon content in HDR if available.
Talking about the Android app, that is something completely different – at least in the past. Until the end of August 2017, Amazon forced Android users to download the Amazon Prime Video app via another app, Amazon Underground.
Times have changed. You can now download Amazon Prime Video directly from the Google Play Store. To read how Android users have used to download Amazon Prime Video, view the link below.
An Amazon Prime membership with all the trimmings comes with a 30-day free trial. You can see what it feels like to have all the shows you want binged around while you swim in free shipping. If you are a student, this trial version will jump to six months and then your costs will be reduced by 50 percent. Everyone knows how to present a student?
Although the streaming service contains advertisements, they are from the Amazon brand. This means that they are not completely irrelevant and at the same time they can easily be skipped. You can play AirPlay with Prime Video and the service is finally compatible with Chromecast after years of arguing with Google.
- Installing Amazon Prime Video: Android (free) | iOS (free)
App 4: Apple TV +
Apple TV + is probably the strangest addition to this list. Apple's trip to streaming is basically brand new and will be launched on November 1 this year. Their approach is, as you will see, completely unconventional, but with great features and unbeatable prices it might be worth your time.
Apple knew that launching a new platform at the end of 2019 would become competitive. That is probably why they have their service so competitively priced at $ 4.99 a month. That is ridiculously low, especially for a non-student plan. Speaking of which, Apple TV + has a student plan. Well, technically, it's the Apple Music student plan, which now comes with Apple TV +, all for the same $ 4.99 a month. Hard to beat, especially with a free seven-day trial period.
Apple TV + contains no ads that the advertisers reading here will certainly appreciate. However, the reality only begins when you realize that there are currently only 11 shows available to watch. Those are 11 original titles, certainly, but still 11. Apple has a series of shows planned and in production, but do not think you get endless entertainment for that low price.
What you get for shows that stream in 4K. Apple TV + does not offer live TV deals, so no next-day broadcast. However, you can download all titles directly to your device. However, there are limited quality controls, because Apple only lets you choose from "Best Available" or "Good" in the TV app settings. What does that mean, Apple? We love specificity here.
Apple TV + offers HDR support (remember, compatible with iPhone 8 and newer), and of course AirPlay, but not an option for Chromecast. Speaking of Google, here's a painful topic – there's no Android support either. How many of you have alienated that? If you have a compatible smart TV or Roku device, you can still watch Apple TV +, but you cannot stream quickly on your phone.
Would Apple TV + inspire your Android fans to change devices? Probably not. That said, Apple is offering Apple TV + for free for a year when purchasing a new iOS device. That may not be a reason to switch phones, but if you're looking for a new one, it's definitely something to
Disney + is the newest streaming service on this list , just behind Apple TV +. As such, it is still an emerging platform compared to some other streaming giants out there. So why does it beat other services to be on our list? Because, apart from its rocky first day launch, it does many things well, even if the overall library (especially in the originals department) is a bit small at the moment.
First of all, when we consider prices, Disney + seems fairly fair. You currently pay $ 6.99 per month, with a two-month discount if you opt for an annual subscription ($ 69.99 per year). You can also jump for a subscription of $ 12.99 per month that comes with Hulu (advertising plan) and ESPN +. Not a bad deal. There may not be a student plan, but you can test the service for seven days for free.
No advertisements with Disney + entertainment functions, so you can watch continuously. As for the amount of entertainment you'll find, it's pale compared to names like Netflix and Hulu. We currently have 160 TV series that are currently available for streaming on Disney +, of which 12 (7.5%) are original. Disney + promises a lot of content on the horizon, but the early titles, such as The Mandalorian, may be tempting enough, especially when streaming in crisp 4K.
The deal is better there for your Disney fans. The extra 148 titles are Disney classics, Disney Channel Originals and other Disney properties, including unexpected things like The Simpsons. If you want to relive your childhood, or just have a handy place to view all your Disney favorites, Disney + is not that hard a sale.
Disney + is not a Hulu-like service, so you won't see it airing from cable programs the next day. However, you can download your content, which is great to watch on the go. Disney + offers some user control when it comes to video quality, but it is very limited. You can essentially choose whether to choose "Save data" or "Automatic" streaming, neither of which clarifies any type of resolution. However, if you stream in high quality, there is HDR support and you can stream with both Chromecast and AirPlay (iOS only).
Naturally, based on the order in this article and the graph, Netflix is the ultimate winner when it comes to TV series about streaming services for your smartphone. They have many titles, great resolution, no ads, the most original series, and you can download most episodes.
Hulu earned his second place comfortably, mainly due to the huge library and the constantly updated catalog of new shows on a weekly basis. The rest are all great offers, it all depends on which series you want to watch the most and who has them.
Apple TV + and Disney + are both super new. Although they deserve places on our list due to their merits, you have to decide for yourself whether their first offer is worth the subscription. If you are interested in Apple's original content, then that's no problem. If you are interested in the original content of Disney + or its backlog, then go ahead with it
Frankly, the best service for you is the one that arouses your interest most. Of course, functions are important, but if you're a big Star Wars fan and you don't enjoy the shows that Netflix or Hulu have to offer, you might be better off with Disney +. Take a look at our chart and take a look at the library of each service. That is how you know what to choose.
This article was first produced during Gadget Hacks special special films and TV films. Read all movies and TV on mobile coverage.
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