Who is watching TV regularly? I know I do. Never before have we had so many opportunities to watch our favorite shows, especially considering how easy it is to stream from anywhere on a mobile device. But sometimes all this selection is a bit overwhelming. Which services are really worth the money? Where should you invest your Friday night jokes?
We've done the work and put together the five best apps for streaming TV right to your phone, so each of these apps will bring you hours of entertainment at home or on the go. Among other things, we examined the prices, the number of broadcasts available in the US for streaming, and the question of whether ads mattered. All the information in the following table applies to smartphones, not tablets. Take a look at the list and we'll go into the following details.
Table of Contents
When it comes to choosing a streaming service with the aim of tracking TV shows At a reasonable price, some key factors must be considered.
- Pricing: We list the different price levels (if more than one) each service provides. No service in this list exceeds the three levels "Basic", "Midrange" or "Premium". Depending on which level you choose, you may receive different features and perks. These are described below.
- Student Plan: Some services provide student plans that reduce the cost of enrolled students.
- Free Trial: All apps on this list offer a temporary free trial to new users. Some trials take 30 days or just a week. It just depends on the service you choose. These lengths change over time, so a free 30-day trial can become a 7-day trial.
- Display: There are different types of ads. First, there are the commercials that are played during a video. Second, there are pre-roll commercials that you can skip, like Amazon, for the service you're streaming to. Third, there are pre-roll ads that you can not skip. These usually include the production company or the channel from which the series originated and which day and time this series is normally broadcast. These pre-roll ads can be found in all Hulu levels, even if you subscribe to the ad-free ones.
- Number of tracks: Most of this section needs to 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 to track the number of series, especially as Netflix and Hulu do not release any numbers and their libraries are massive .
- Max. Streaming Quality: This will be different from the device However, these are the maximum streaming qualities for each service, assuming you have a compatible phone.
- Original TV Series : All five apps on our list produce their own original TV series, but some offer much more content than others. This is an important feature as these TV series are unlikely to disappear from any service as they come from home. Everything else can come and go on the basis of distribution agreements.
- Original Series to the Complete Library : A simple percentage of the number of original series to the total number of series a service offers.
- Broadcasting the same day or the next day: Some services on this list offer TV broadcasts the same or the following day. The highlight here is Hulu, as the service allows the broadcast of current television programs from networks like ABC, NBC and Comedy Central the next day.
- Possibility to download: If you are traveling on a daily commuter service where there is no WiFi and the mobile service is not always available (or you have no unlimited data plan), then this is an important feature. In such situations, it's great to be able to watch a series from your phone's memory. This feature used to be popular with some apps, but it is now supported by all five apps on our list.
- Adjusting Streaming Quality: This is an important feature for streaming apps that lets you control the quality of your apps video to get data or manually increase the quality. For most apps, you have no control over the quality, for some you can control the stream through the settings. One of them wins by being able to control the quality of the stream itself, but more on that later.
- HDR support: HDR – High Dynamic Range – delivers a better contrast ratio and better color for your TV shows. Services that support HDR, however, do not necessarily display their content in HDR – your phone also needs to be compatible (see details below).
- Chromecast Support / AirPlay Support: Provides support for Chromecast and AirPlay. AirPlay is available exclusively for Apple, so only iPhones can use this feature.
- Availability: Does the app support Android, iOS, or both?
Does this feature exist? A more recognizable name for binge-watching? Netflix has kept this record for some time, thanks to its large library of popular TV series and its own original content. While the Netflix streaming wars have definitely lost title, the service is still strong.
There is no way to really know exactly how many series Netflix currently offers, but after the last count it was 1,498. That's a lot of series to watch.
Even though there are really many series on Netflix, according to our measurements, 492 of them are originals, 33% of the total content. This amazing number is a combination of series produced by Netflix itself and series Netflix has subsequently acquired. Regardless, there is no doubt that Netflix is the champion of the original online content.
What makes it even better is that Netflix does not include ads. Each selected song will be streamed immediately. This is an advantage that many other streaming services can not settle for.
Netflix offers 4K HDR video streaming, but access requires a compatible device. If you're an iOS user, your iPhone may be able to stream Dolby Vision. Compatible devices are the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X and later. If you're using Android, only the LG G6 can play Dolby Vision, as most Android devices use the open, non-proprietary HDR10 standard instead. Netflix HDR10 devices include many modern androids such as OnePlus 7T and Google Pixel 3. For the latest list, visit the Netflix website.
You can still enjoy 1080p streams on almost any mobile device. While you can not adjust video quality while viewing a program, Netflix users can choose the quality to stream to.
Downloading songs to be played offline is without a doubt a great feature. Regardless of whether you want to relieve your data plan or publish 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. If a series is download-compatible, a download icon is displayed while browsing.
Another great thing is that TV shows on Netflix are loaded into the service in one day, so you can watch a whole series on one show or two days if you want. The downside is that you have to wait for a season to air before you can see new shows.
Netflix plans start at $ 8.99 / month, but you need to see more than one device at a time If you want to watch in HD, you should consider the higher levels. The mid-tier plan costs $ 12.99 / month, allows simultaneous streaming of two devices and updates the streams of customers to HD. The premium tier costs $ 15.99 / month, offers four simultaneous streams at once, and adds 4KB for compatible devices.
New users can receive a free 30-day trial with ample time to test and test all available series Check if Netflix is worth the cost. You can also stream over 4,000 movies if you need to take a break from binge-watching.
Both Chromecast and AirPlay are supported here, and of course the service is also available for Android and iOS.
App 2: Hulu
In Hulu current television series from cable and radio networks can be received. No other service can keep up with Hulu in this area. Hulu updates its current series catalog the day after it airs new shows, which means you do not have to subscribe to cables to keep up with the hottest shows.
Hulu really deserves this second place, even if our graphics do not reflect that. Unfortunately, it is misleading, as it is difficult to present Hulus's greatest strength (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 keeps you as up-to-date as possible with a traditional cable subscription, we consider Hulu second best.
According to JustWatch, Hulu has 1,361 available series so you definitely have a healthy choice that you can consume. There should be something for everyone, and then something for everyone.
While the number is not quite as large as Netflix's, Hulu has 62 original series, 5% of the total content, currently available for streaming. The Handmaid & # 39; s Tale is the youngest popular entry, and though the excitement has eased a bit, it's certainly just as much fun swimming today.
Hulu is one of the only apps here that gives you manual control of video quality while streaming. Most other apps force you to go to settings to change the video quality, and some do not give you any option at all. These problems are no problem for Hulu. Do you need to receive your data? Switch your stream to low quality without pausing the program you are watching. Do you want Hulu to play in full quality, no matter how much buffer is needed? You can too.
Although 4K is finally supported again, the list of compatible devices is quite short. On mobile devices, you can enjoy up to 1080p, so you can fight your slow connection to watch your TV shows with the highest possible resolution on supported devices.
Hulu gets a little bit muddy. For $ 5.99 / month, you'll have access to the entire Hulu library, but you'll be exposed to a variety of ads. These ads will run before and during your TV series, 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 can get started without a break. No matter which plan you choose, Hulu pre-rolls a pre-roll to show the channel to which the series belongs, and which day and time the show is broadcast on television is actually one of 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 imagine that this is 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), HBO Now ($ 14.99 / month), STARZ ($ 8.99 / month), Unlimited Screens ($ 9.99) / Month), Entertainment ($ 7.99 / month), Español ($ 4.99 / month) and / or Enhanced Cloud DVR ($ 9.99 / month).
If you still want to watch an episode on the big screen, you can use Chromecast with Hulu or play your content on AirPlay on an Apple TV. Both platforms currently support 4K streaming, but only for compatible Hulu titles. Hulu is available for both Android and iOS.
App 3: Amazon Prime Video
Talk about an original programming powerhouse. Amazon has intensified its game in recent years and released some of the most talked-about series that are not Game of Thrones . and The Man in the High Castle are just a few examples of what Amazon can do properly. Subscribers can view all Amazon-produced pilot episodes and vote on which episodes to turn into full seasons. It's a great idea that subscribing to Amazon feels more like a community than any other service on this list.
As mentioned above, it's hard to place Amazon when it comes to hard numbers. Their claim to have 5,710 series is allegedly inflated by considering each episode as their own series. Third-party numbers total 1,960, which is a more realistic representation of the number of series Amazon actually provides. However, we know that Amazon has over 136 original series that can be seen in the US. That's 7% of the entire library. Not too shabby.
And just like Netflix, new TV series and seasons are released on Amazon Prime Video in one day for the ultimate pleasure of watching new episodes. Plus, you can download just about any series that you want to watch spontaneously without using data. However, if you are a member of Amazon Household and not the paying member of Amazon Prime, you can only download selected pilots to watch in the Prime Video app.
Amazon Prime Video alone costs $ 8.99 / month. However, for $ 12.99 per month, or $ 119 per year, you get all the benefits of Amazon Prime included in your streaming service. Free delivery for two days, right?
It's hard to find a compatible device list for HDR Prime Video today, but we know it with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium or Xperia XZ1, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or 9, or the Galaxy S8. With S8 +, S9, or S9 +, you can stream Amazon content to HDR, if available.
Speaking of Android app, that's a very different thing – at least it was earlier like that. 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 downloaded Amazon Prime Video, read the link below.
An Amazon Prime membership with all ingredients is 30 days free trial. You can see what it feels like to watch all the shows you want while swimming in free shipping. If you are a student, the trial takes six months. After that, your costs will be reduced by 50 percent. Does anyone know how to pretend to be a student?
While the streaming service contains ads, these are from Amazon. This means that they are not completely irrelevant and can easily be skipped at the same time. You can start with Prime Video AirPlay, and the service is finally Chromecast compatible after years of feud with Google .
- Install Amazon Prime Video: Android (Free) | iOS (free)
App 4: Apple TV +
Apple TV + is probably the strangest addition to this list. Apple's push to stream is basically brand new, starting on November 1st of this year. Your approach, as you'll see, is completely unconventional, but with great features and unbeatable prices, it may be worth your time.
Apple knew the launch of a new platform would be competitive by the end of 2019. That's probably why they offer their service so competitively for $ 4.99 a month. That's 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 is now shipping with Apple TV +, all for the same $ 4.99 a month. Difficult to beat, especially with a seven-day free trial.
Apple TV + does not offer advertisements that will surely adore the ad haters here. The reality is, however, as soon as you realize that currently only 11 shows can be seen. This is 11 original titles, but still 11. Apple has a series of shows planned and in production, but do not think that you get endless entertainment for this low price.
What you get are shows that stream in 4K. Apple TV + does not offer live TV offers, so no broadcast the next day. You can, however, download all titles directly to your device. However, there are only limited quality controls, because Apple lets you choose between the settings of the TV app only between "Best Available" and "Good". What does that mean, Apple? We like the peculiarity here.
Apple TV + offers HDR support (remember, compatible with iPhone 8 and later) and of course AirPlay, but not an option for Chromecast. Speaking of Google, here is a sore topic – there is also no Android support. How many of you have alienated this? If you have a compatible Smart TV or Roku device, you will still be able to watch Apple TV +, but will not be able to stream to your phone soon.
Would Apple TV + inspire your Android fans to switch devices? Probably no. However, with the purchase of a new iOS device, Apple is offering Apple TV + for a year for free. That may not be a reason to switch phones, but if you're looking for a new one in the market anyway, consider
Disney + is the newest streaming service on this list , directly behind Apple TV +. As such, it is still an emerging platform compared to some other streaming giants out there. Why does it suggest other services to be on our list? Because apart from its rocky introduction on the first day it does a lot of right, even if the total library (especially in the original department) at this time is a little small.
First of all, if we look at the pricing, Disney + seems pretty fair. At this time you pay $ 6.99 per month and receive a two-month discount if you choose an annual plan ($ 69.99 per year). You can also pay for a monthly plan of $ 12.99 in the spring that comes with Hulu (ad schedule) and ESPN +. Not a bad deal. There may not be a student plan, but you can try the service for seven days for free.
None of your Disney + entertainment features include advertising, so you can watch undisturbed. The amount of entertainment you'll find is pale compared to names like Netflix and Hulu. There are currently 160 TV series for Disney + to stream, of which 12 (7.5%) are original. Disney + promises a lot of content on the horizon, but the early titles like The Mandalorian might be tempting enough, especially when streaming in crispy 4K.
The deal is better for you Disney fans out there. These additional 148 titles include Disney classics, Disney Channel originals, and other Disney features, including unexpected things like The Simpsons. If you want to relive your childhood or just have a comfortable place to see all your Disney favorites, Disney + is not such a heavy sale.
Disney + is not a Hulu-like service, so you will not see it broadcasting cable shows the next day. But you can download your content, which is great for on the go. Although Disney + has some user control over video quality, it is very limited. Basically, you can choose to choose "Save Data" or "Automatic Streaming", neither of which will clarify a resolution type. However, if you're streaming in high quality, there is HDR support and you can stream with both Chromecast and AirPlay (iOS only).
Based on the order in this article and in the graphics, Netflix is the biggest winner when it comes to TV series for streaming services for your smartphone. They have many titles, a great resolution, no ads, the most original series, and you can download most episodes.
Hulu comfortably took second place, mainly due to the large library and the constantly updated catalog of new shows on a weekly basis. The rest are also great deals, it just depends on which series you want to see the most and who has them.
Apple TV + and Disney + are both super new. While their merits rightfully bring them places on our list, you have to decide for yourself if their initial offers are worth the subscription. If you like Apple's original content, it's a breeze. If you are interested in Disney's original content or its backlog, then do that.
Frankly, the service that's best for you, the one that arouses your interest, the most. Sure, features are important, but if you're a big fan of Star Wars and you do not enjoy the shows that Netflix or Hulu have to offer, you may be better off with Disney +. Take a look at our table and then take a look at the library of each service. So you know what to choose.
This article was first published as part of the Gadget Hacks special coverage on Movies & TV on Mobile. Read all movies and TV shows on mobile devices.
Do not miss: The 5 Best Apps for Streaming Movies on Your Phone