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 Good Gear Guide 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

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

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.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?