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Home / Tips and Tricks / Best TV Streaming App: Netflix Vs. Hulu Vs. Amazon Prime vs. HBO Now vs. Showtime «Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks

Best TV Streaming App: Netflix Vs. Hulu Vs. Amazon Prime vs. HBO Now vs. Showtime «Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks



Who regularly plays TV? I know I do. Never before have we had so many opportunities to watch our favorite shows, especially considering how easy streaming is from anywhere on a mobile device. But sometimes this selection becomes overwhelming. Which services are really worth the money? Where should you invest your Friday night bingo?

We've done the work and put together the top five apps that we believe are streaming TV directly to your phone. Each of these apps will give you hours of entertainment at home or on the go. Among other things, we looked at the prices, the number of shows available for streaming in the US, and whether ads were a factor or not. All the information in the following table is for smartphones, not tablets. Take a look at the list and we'll cover the following details:

Table of Contents

Comparison Chart

Image of Jake Peterson / Gadget Hacks

Important Comparison Points

When it comes to choosing a streaming service that aims to watch TV shows that see gangs at a decent price some important factors that need to be considered.

  • Pricing: We list the different price levels (if more than one) each service offers. No service on this list goes through three levels – Base, Midrange or Premium. Depending on which level you choose, you may receive various features and benefits. These are described below.
  • Student Plan: Some services provide student plans that reduce the cost of enrolled students. HBO used to have a student plan, but now students also have to pay the full price to use the service.
  • Free Trial: All apps on this list temporarily offer new users a free trial. Some studies take 30 days or a week. It just depends on which service you choose. These lengths change over time – Showtime was used for a 30-day trial, but only offers one week.
  • Ads: There are several types of ads. First, there are the commercials that are played in a video. Second, there are pre-roll commercials that you can skip for the service you're streaming to, such as HBO Now and Amazon. Third, there are pre-roll ads that you can not skip. These usually include the production company or the channel from which the series originates, and the day and time that this series is normally broadcast. These pre-roll ads can be found in all levels of Hulu, even if you have subscribed to the ad-free advertising.
  • Lot of Titles: Most of these sections must be treated with a grain of salt. HBO and Showtime have enough small libraries, so we counted them manually. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have too many series to be counted by hand. Amazon claims to have 5,710 series available to subscribers, but many sources point out that Amazon counts each episode as a series. The figure seems to be closer to 1.441, taking this disclosure into account. Netflix and Hulu publish no numbers at all and their libraries are massive . We need to rely on third-party research to estimate how many series each service offers.
  • Max Streaming Quality: This varies from device to device, but these are the maximum stream qualities for each service, assuming you have a compatible phone.
  • Original Series : All five apps on our list produce their own original series, but some have much more content than others. This is an important feature as these TV series are unlikely to disappear from any service as they are developed by themselves. Everything else can and must be done on the basis of distribution agreements. However, some older series from HBO and Showtime are not available for streaming, so nothing is certain.
  • Original Series to Total Library : A simple percentage of the number of original series to the total number of series a service offers.
  • Broadcasting the same or next day: Some services on this list will broadcast TV the same day they are broadcast or the next day. The highlight here is Hulu, as the next day's service shows current TV shows found on networks like ABC, NBC and Comedy Central. HBO Now and Showtime offer both same and next day broadcasts, but only with their original content.
  • Download Ability: Traveling or traveling on a daily journey where there are no Wi-Fi and cellular services is spotty (or you do not have an unlimited data plan), this is a key feature. Being able to watch a series from your phone's memory is great in these situations, but unfortunately only a few services can be downloaded.
  • Adjust streaming quality: This is an important feature for streaming apps to have You can control the quality of your video to either get data or manually increase the quality. For most apps, you have no control over the quality, while others can control the stream through the settings. In particular, if you can control the quality from the stream yourself, you will gain more, but more on that later.
  • HDR support: HDR – High Dynamic Range – provides better contrast and better color for your TV shows. However, services that support HDR do not necessarily display their content in HDR – your phone must also be compatible (see below for more information).
  • Chromecast Support / AirPlay Support: Provides support for Chromecast and AirPlay. AirPlay is exclusive to Apple, so only iPhones can use this feature.
  • Picture in Picture: With Android 8.1, users can now use the Picture in Picture mode to view content during multitasking.

App 1: Netflix

Is there a better known name for binge-watching? Netflix has kept this record for some time thanks to its large library of popular television series and its own original content. Reports show that Netflix's catalogs are shrinking, but it's still the best place for the TV seasons of the past year.

There's no way to really know how many series Netflix currently offers, but after the last count it was 1,273. That's a lot of series that you have to look at.

As many series as there are on Netflix, 335 of them are originals by our standards, 26% of the total content. This stunning number is a combination of specially produced Netflix series and series that Netflix has subsequently acquired. No matter, there is no doubt that Netflix is ​​the winner of the original online content.

What makes it even better is that Netflix has no ads. Each title you select will be streamed immediately. This is an advantage that not many other streaming services can offer.

Netflix offers 4K HDR video streaming, but you need a compatible device to access it. If you're an iOS user, your iPhone may be able to stream in Dolby Vision. Compatible devices include the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X and later, and the iPad Pro 2. If you're using Android, only the LG G6 can play Dolby Vision, as most Android devices use the open, non-proprietary HDR10 instead , For Netflix, the HDR10 devices include the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, the Huawei P20, the LG G7, the LG G7 One, the LG V30, the LG V35, the LG V40, the Razer Phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, the Sony Xperia XZ1, the Sony Xperia XZ2, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium and the Sony Xperia XZ3.

You can still enjoy 1080p streams on almost any mobile device. While you can not adjust video quality during a show, Netflix lets you choose the quality you want from the settings.

In Wi-Fi mode, HD streaming is almost instantaneous. Streaming over a cellular connection takes some time to reach HD, but nothing unbearable. You may have to wait 15 to 30 seconds for your show to look the way you want, but usually that will not be too distracting.

I think Netflix's best feature is downloading songs that you want to play offline. Whether you want to relieve your data plan or binge your series without an internet connection, downloading your titles gives you a lot of freedom. It should be noted, however, that not every series can be downloaded. Series such as Shameless and Gilmore Girls are just a few of those that are not available for offline viewing.

Another great aspect is that TV series on Netflix are thrown into service on a day, so you can watch a whole series in a day or two if you want. The downside here is that you have to wait until a broadcast season is up before you can watch new shows.

Netflix plans start at $ 7.99 / month, but need to be viewed on multiple devices at the same time, or you want to look in HD, look at the higher levels. The mid-tier plan costs $ 10.99 / month, allows simultaneous streaming of two devices, and updates the customer's streams to HD. The premium pet costs $ 13.99 / month, offers four simultaneous streams at once, and adds compatible 4K devices.

New users get a 30-day free trial that gives them plenty of time to test all sorts of shows See if Netflix is ​​worth the cost. For the stream, you get over 4,000 movies in case you need to take a break from the binge watchings.

Chromecast and AirPlay are both supported here, and Android users running version 8.1 or higher can use Picture in Picture mode. In fact, Netflix is ​​the only service on this list that uses this feature.

App 2: Hulu

Hulu is the location for current television series on both cable and cable-to-air networks. No other service can compete with Hulu in this area. Hulu updates its current series catalog the day after the new broadcast. This means you do not have to subscribe to a cable to keep up with the hottest series.

Hulu really deserves this second field, even though our chart does not reflect that. Unfortunately, it's misleading to see Hulu's biggest asset (a huge library of "current" shows and streaming the next day) compared to other services that do not even offer it. However, since Hulu is the only service on this list that allows you to stay up-to-date with TV almost as with a traditional cable subscription, we believe that Hulu comes second.

According to JustWatch, Hulu has 1.308 series. For streaming, they definitely have a healthy selection that you can consume. Here should be something for everyone, and then something more.

While not as high as Netflix's, Hulu has 40 original series, 3% of all content currently available for streaming. The Handmaid & # 39; s Tale is the most recent popular entry, and although the buzz around it has diminished, today it's just as much fun to binge today.

Hulu is one of the few apps that gives you a manual video quality controls while streaming. For most other apps, you'll need to switch to the settings to change the video quality. For some applications, you will not get an option at all. These problems are no problem for Hulu. Do you need to protect your data? Switch your stream to low quality without stopping the displayed show. Would you like Hulu to play in full quality no matter how much buffer he needs? You can do that too. Hulu offers you up to 1080p on the phone, so you can block your slow connections to see your series in the highest resolution on supported devices.

Hulu is pretty quick at bringing your videos to HD. Mobile calls take a little longer than Wi-Fi, but both bring your video to HD in 10 to 15 seconds.

Hulu is a bit muddy when it comes to prices. For $ 7.99 / month, you can access the entire Hulu Series Library, but you'll be exposed to a variety of ads. These ads will run before and during your TV show, making it pretty annoying. And you can not skip it.

To avoid this, switch to the $ 11.99 / month plan. You lose all ads, so you binge without a break. No matter which plan you choose, Hulu plays a pre-roll before each show that shows the channel the show belongs to, and what day and time the show airs on television.

Hulu has a student price plan, which is actually one of the best deals on this list – for $ 5 a month you will not only get Hulu, but also Spotify and Showtime. Whoa.

The Hulu plan contains ads, but Spotify Premium does not. I think it's a compromise that many people would consider.

With Hulu, users can also add premium subscriptions to their Hulu accounts. These include Showtime ($ 10.99 / month), Cinemax ($ 9.99 / month) and / or HBO Now ($ 14.99).

If you still want to watch an episode on the big screen, you can use Chromecast with Hulu to AirPlay your content on an Apple TV. Unfortunately, the picture-in-picture mode of Android is not yet compatible.

App 3: Amazon Prime Video

Talk about an original programming package. Amazon has stepped up its game in recent years and created 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 properly.

Amazon is also unique in that it uses its TV pilots as crowd sources. Subscribers can track all Amazon-produced pilot episodes and vote on which episodes they want to see transformed into full seasons. It's a great idea and one that makes subscribing to Amazon feel more like a community than any other service on this list.

As mentioned earlier, it's difficult to place Amazon on hard numbers. Her claim to have 5,710 series is allegedly inflated by considering each episode as her own series. Third-party counts point to 1,441 as the number of series actually offered by Amazon is presented more realistically. However, we know that Amazon has 105 original series available in the US. That's 7% of the entire library. Not too shabby.

And just like Netflix, new TV series and seasons are being put on Amazon Prime Video in one day to provide ultimate binge-watching excitement so you do not have to wait for new episodes every week. In addition, you can download just about any series that you want to download directly without data. However, if you are a member of Amazon Household and you are not a paying member of Amazon Prime, you can only download selected pilots that you can view in the Prime Video app.

Amazon Prime Video costs $ 8.99 a month alone. For $ 12.99 / month or $ 119 / year for small savings, you get all the benefits of Amazon Prime in your streaming service. Free shipping within two days for everyone?

If you have a Sony Xperia XZ Premium or Xperia XZ1, a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or 9, or a Galaxy S8, S8 +, S9, or S9 +, you can stream content from Amazon to 4K and HDR. when available. Hopefully, Amazon will soon be offering HDR support to other mobile devices as well, but it's good to see that they are slowly entering the market.

One flaw that I encountered with the iOS app is the slow quality ramping. For some Wi-Fi connections I've tested, the video will start out in poor quality and slowly increase that quality for one to two minutes until it reaches HD (if available). With a mobile connection, this quality starts even worse. This is frustrating, especially since other apps – including the Android app – can reach an HD stream in seconds.

Speaking of Android app, that's a very different thing – at least that was it before. By the end of August 2017, Amazon forced Android users to download the Amazon Prime Video app through another app, Amazon Underground.

Times have changed. You can now download Amazon Prime Video directly from the Google Play Store. If you want to know how Android users used to download Amazon Prime Video, read the link below.

An Amazon Prime membership with everything that goes with it will be provided for free for 30 days. You can see what it feels like to enjoy all the shows you want while swimming in free shipping. If you are a student, this study will jump to six months. After that, your costs will be reduced by 50 percent. Who knows how to imitate a student?

Although the streaming service offers ads, they are branded by Amazon. This means that they are not completely irrelevant and can easily be skipped at the same time. You can run AirPlay with Prime Video just because Chromecast does not work because of Amazon's ongoing hostility with Google. Likewise, Picture in Picture is not supported on Android.

Amazon Prime Video is by no means perfect. The problems on both platforms can be quite frustrating, but it has the largest video library on the list, and the added benefits of having Prime membership are enough to secure the service third here.

  • Install Amazon Prime Video: Android (Free) | iOS (free)

App 4: Showtime

Showtime's streaming service is a fantastic way to learn all about Showtime. Like other premium cable channels, Showtime also offers a wealth of great content. Series such as Dexter Homeland and Weeds are known for their outstanding quality. So you know what you're about to see. I think we have our own taste.

The Showtime library is the smallest on this list and comes with only 57 series. But it makes sense to consider that all series on this list are either Showtime-produced or purchased by Showtime. This is very similar to HBO Now, which is not surprising since both were established as premium networks only for paid cable subscriptions.

The app is quite easy to use. It's well organized, so you can easily search and search for the series you want. Showtime, bless her, includes the ability to download all her content. That means no matter where you are, as long as you have space on your device, you can continue Showtime to your heart's content.

There is no way to manually control the quality of your video, but streams are run at 1080p. Your content will look good as long as you have a good connection.

Showtime costs $ 10.99 / month (unless you're subscribed to a Student Spotify account), but comes with a one-week free trial. So there is no excuse not to try it. There is support for Chromecast and AirPlay, but unfortunately no picture in the picture.

App 5: HBO Now

HBO's entire library is not the largest on this list, but all of its 148 series are original content. Given that much of this content was recognized as part of the "golden age" of television, I would say that you get a pretty good package. Here you will find current series such as Game of Thrones Veep and Silicon Valley as well as classics such as The Wire or The Sopranos .

HBO occasionally plays ads over content, but the ads are always used for HBO-related material. While there are no "skip" buttons for these pre-rolls, you can just fast forward to get to the show.

During my tests, the TV series was immediately charged via Wi-Fi in HD. The opening of the HBO title page would be a little blurry, but as it comes to an end, my videos were crystal clear. Cellular loading would take a little longer, but only about 10 seconds.

One thing HBO is missing and badly needed is downloadable videos. So much content from HBO deserves to be watched regardless of your location. It's part of the app that's pretty much missing.

At $ 15 / month, HBO Now is a little expensive compared to some of the services on this list. The students were usually given a $ 5 discount per month, but unfortunately there is no more program. All new users will receive a free 7-day trial. The price may be a bit steep, but I think everything that's considered worth the price, as many of these series are high quality.

You can use Chromecast and AirPlay to watch your content, not Picture in Picture. Hopefully, this feature will soon hit Android devices.

The Verdict

Due to the order in this article and the table, Netflix is ​​obviously the best winner when it comes to TV series for streaming services for your smartphone. They have many titles, excellent resolution, no ads, the most original series, and you can download most episodes.

Hulu has conveniently won second place, mainly because of the huge library and the ever-updated catalog of weekly new shows. The rest is also a great deal, it all depends on which series you want to see the most and who has them.

While Showtime is ticking more fields on this list than HBO HBO Now we still feel that HBO in the end. If you can only select one service, HBO will only have more titles that require your attention. Game of Thrones, Sharp Objects, Last Week Tonight and many more are the shows you need to see to keep up with the office chatter.

This item was produced during Gadget Hacks Annual Movies & TV on Mobile special coverage. Read all movies and TV shows on mobile.

Do not miss: The 5 Best Apps for Streaming Movies on Your Phone

Cover Picture by Justin Meyers / Gadget Hacks, screenshots by Jake Peterson / Gadget Hacks

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