Streaming video on the go is one of the most data intensive things you can do with your phone. It can use anywhere between 60MB to 7GB per hour, depending on which service you're using, and what quality you're streaming at.
Netflix’s automatic setting, for example, will burn through 250MB an hour, and that’s one of the less data-intensive streaming services around. Even two hours of Stan could put a decent dent in your allowance if you’re on a smaller plan.
Here's a look at how much data popular streaming services use.
With Disney+ on the way and Apple TV+ just being launched in Australia, the streaming service market is about to get a whole lot more busy. Each service will be fighting to keep your attention and money so we thought we'd take a look at what each offers based on pricing, concurrent user offerings, display quality and content libraries to help you determine the best option available.
- Auto: 250MB per hour
- Data Saver: 170MB per hour
- High: 3GB per hour
- Low: 570MB per hour
- Medium: 1.1GB per hour
- High: 3GB per hour
- Low: 320MB per hour
- High: 920MB per hour
Amazon Prime Video
- Best: 6.84GB per hour
- Better: 1.82GB per hour
- Good: 720MB per hour
- Data Saver: 60MB per hour
Apple TV +
- Good: 750MB per hour
- Best: 2GB per hour
- SD: 700MB per hour
- HD: 2.9GB per hour
We don't have official data usage figures for Disney+ yet, but we’re guessing around 500MB per hour for a standard definition stream. We'll update once the service is live.
So what are the best mobile plans if I want to stream?
Unless you're using the data saving options offered by the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, watching video on the go can add up quickly. With that in mind, we're going to take a look at some of the best phone plan options for streaming whatever you want, whenever you want.
Optus' range of "Epic Data" prepaid plans come with a pretty unique proposition. In addition to your standard data allowance, each recharge comes with 10GB of streaming data. Streaming data is a separate data inclusion that can be used for selected streaming services without eating into your "normal" data.
Right now, you can use your streaming data for Netflix, Stan, ABC iview, ABC Kids, and ABC Me. It is however worth noting that you can't use your streaming data if you've already burnt through your regular data allowances.
Optus' Epic Data prepaid plans also have a couple of other potentially compelling extras. You can bank up to 200GB of data for later use if you recharge before expiry. Any remaining days you've got left on your plan will be added onto your new recharge. You can extend your expiry by up to 84 days. Streaming data doesn't rollover, however.
At present, Optus is offering bonus data on your first three recharges. For example, the $30 recharge typically has a 10GB allowance, but this is bumped to 35GB for your first three recharges, provided you're a new customer. Here are Optus' 28-day Epic Data plans:
Telstra's postpaid plans are all free from excess data charges. If you happen to go over your monthly download allowance, you can keep streaming to your heart's content.
There is however a catch. After you go through your monthly inclusions, you'll be restricted to speeds of 1.5Mbps. That's still fast enough to stream video on pretty much any locally available service, but the quality will be noticeably lower. You may also encounter buffering, but hey, you'll still be able to binge-watch on the go.
Here is Telstra's range of SIM-only postpaid plans. These plans are all contract-free.
Vodafone also has a range of postpaid plans free from excess data charges. Dubbed "Red Plus" plans, these all come with "endless mobile data". Just as with Telstra, your download speeds will be capped to 1.5Mbps after you burn through your standard data allowance. That’s still fast enough to keep streaming, albeit at a lower resolution.
Here is Vodafone's range of SIM-only postpaid plans with "endless data". These plans are sold on a 12-month contract.
Big data SIM-only plans
Another option for stress-free streaming on the go is opting for a plan with a larger allowance. After all, you don't have to worry about running out of data if you have too much data.
Circles.Life, one of the newest telcos to launch in Australia, has two deals worth considering right now. $18 per month will get you a 20GB plan, or $28 per month will get you a 40GB plan. In both cases, this is thanks to a $10 per month discount, which lasts for your first 12 months with Circles. However, the plans are contract-free, so you can leave whenever you want. Both these deals run until the end of November.
These plans also come with an extra 3GB of "bill shock protection" data for if you go over your allowance. And if that's not quite enough, you can add a further 3GB for $6 more. Considering extra data is typically billed at $10 per gigabyte, that's a comparatively generous offer.
Circles is powered by the Optus network.
If that's not quite enough data, you might want to consider Woolworths Mobile. Woolies is slinging a 60GB plan for $50 per month until November 17. This plan also includes data banking, so you can store up to 100GB of unused data for later. In addition, Woolies will throw you an extra 10GB every three months. You’ll need to sign a 12-month contract to get this deal, however.
Woolworths Mobile is powered by the Telstra network.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.
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