After years of paltry data inclusions in our phone plans, we’ve all been conditioned to be weary of watching video on our phones. We turn off auto-play videos in Facebook and Instagram, and if we watching TV on our phones, we make sure we download it over WiFi before we leave the house.
The stupid thing about this is that for many of us, our smartphone screen is one of the best screens we own. With high pixel density and some of the world’s best screen tech, often our 5-inchers are better than our 50-inchers.
So what if you didn’t have to worry about how much data streaming video used on your phone? Well, so far only Optus is addressing this, with plans now including data-free streaming for Netflix, Stan, ABC iView and a few other niche services. But if it proves popular it might be something we see more of from other suppliers.
As it stands, you can currently get free TV streaming on phone contract plans and 12-month BYO plans.
There are a few caveats that go with the Netflix offer. Streams are up to 1.5Mbps in SD quality, which most will find looks great on their phone screens, but pixel-peepers may take objection. Apparently, even if you force Netflix to stream in the highest quality through the app settings, the network with speed limit the stream to 1.5Mbps, unless you turn off the data-free option in account management.
You’ll also need to pay for your own subscriptions to Netflix and Stan – the deal covers the cost of the data, not your access fees.
And of course, once you get into the habit of watching video on your phone, you have to keep in mind that streaming isn’t free for all video services. You’ll still burn through your data watching YouTube and PornHub.
Optus offer data-free music streaming too, but it isn’t alone in doing this. Virgin Mobile has the same plan inclusion, with access to Spotify, Google Play Music, I Heart Radio, and more.
For those in the Apple ecosystem, several Telstra and Boost Mobile plans include data-free Apple Music streams, and six-months free access to service in some cases.
Or alternatively, you could just get a plan with heaps of data and do whatever you like with it. There are plenty of options around with 20GB of more to use each month. The Netflix auto data setting on its phone app is extremely data friendly, using only about 250MB per hour, so a plan like those below would be enough to feed your square eyes.
Joe Hanlon is Publisher at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. He’s been writing about phones and plans for far too long.