For many, mobile phones are beginning to replace televisions as the primary device for watching videos. Its portability and easy-to-use apps make it easier to see Netflix, Hulu, YouTube or Prime Instant Video on the smaller screen. But not every phone is suitable for this need, so we did the testing to find the best of the best in streaming video.
This list is for people without a budget. If you want to spend less, we've run a separate comparison to find the best streaming experience on phones under $ 400, which you can access at the link below.
For this list we have reviewed all the phones and their rated specifications and the features that make for a fun viewing experience. We focused on the screen, the audio, and all the little details that come from streaming a video, and we've limited the field to the top five phones to accomplish this task. Let me emphasize that there may be better phones, but for those who love to watch their favorite shows on their mobile, these are your best options.
Table of Contents
- Starting Price: The current price of the base model of this phone.
- Modem: The modem used by the SoC was found on the phone. This hardware component is directly responsible for managing your LTE wireless data connection. Modems are measured in categories, with higher numbers indicating faster theoretical maximum speeds. With today's higher resolution video and HDRs, a consistently high data rate is required to prevent buffering, or worse, a downgraded resolution.
- Screen Size: The size of the screen. One of the most important criteria on our list, a larger display offers the best video experience. Each phone on our list is at least 5.5 ".
- Display Notch: The controversial notch in some phones help reduce the size of the bezels, however, the notch offends the symmetry of the screen, forcing videos to either Pause just before the shutter or slide the video around and remove a screen area.
- Screen resolution: The resolution of the display: Each phone on our list has at least 1080p.
- Pixel Density: The best measure for Sharpness of a Display When you multiply the resolution numbers (see above), you will find the total number of pixels on a screen, if you divide that number by the total area of the screen, you will see how many pixels are in one square inch of the display higher the PPI number (pixels per inch), the sharper the screen
- Aspect Ratio: The ratio of the width of a display compared to this Number comes into play when watching movies because the aspect ratio of movies is displayed depending on the aspect ratio of your screen. Compared to 16: 9 screens, 18: 9 screens (or higher screens) do not display horizontal black bars for 1.85: 1 videos (typical of older films like The Godfather), and black bars are smaller at 2.39 : 1 videos (found in recent movies like Netflix The Cloverfield Paradox)
- Panel Type: The type of display panel used by the device. There are currently two options for smartphones: LCD and AMOLED. Although there are variations of these two, the underlying technology is always the same. AMOLED is Samsung's marketing term for OLED and offers the best contrast ratios with its ability to display black without bleeding.
- Battery size: The capacity of the battery included in the smartphone. While it does not paint the whole picture (especially with Apple's iPhone X), a higher capacity contributes significantly to a better battery life.
- Internal Memory: The size of the internal memory, measured in gigabytes. Since most streaming services offer the ability to download movies and TV shows to the device for offline viewing, it is helpful to use a phone with more space. Typically, you can use streaming services to adjust the quality of the downloaded video, with higher-resolution video requiring more space.
- Expandable Memory: Whether the smartphone supports memory expansion via microSD cards. Since the internal memory stores more than just movies, it can be easily filled with other media files besides movies. With expandable storage, you can add additional storage (currently the largest 512 GB) to ensure you have enough space for your apps and images, as well as the offline Netflix series you'd like to see on a plane trip. Only the iPhone X does not support it.
- Headphone Jack: Indicates whether the phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack or not. The portability element of the smartphone may require headphones to enjoy in a noisier environment. And while there is always the option of Bluetooth, wired headphones offer better clarity, sound and much more options.
- Stereo Stereo Speakers: Whether the phone is pointing stereo speakers at you. A handful of phones on our list use a speaker in combination with the earphone, which is effective, but no better than two speakers aimed at your ears.
- Netflix Picture-in-Picture: The ability to display Netflix content in a small floating window. This allows you to perform another task in full screen while still enjoying Netflix movies. This feature requires Android 8.1 Oreo or higher.
- Netflix HDR: The phone supports displaying Netflix content in HDR. Even though the phone's display supports HDR, Netflix needs to add support at the end. As a result, only 14 smartphones support HDR (via HDR10 or Dolby Vision).
- Netflix 5.1 Surround Sound: The phone supports 5.1 surround sound audio. Thanks to Razer Phone's Dolby Atmos dual amplifiers, it is the only phone on our list that supports this feature. Since there are only two speakers, the two speakers artificially create 5.1 surround sound.
- Netflix Zoom to Fill: The ability to zoom Netflix videos to remove horizontal and vertical black bars. While this can crop the video, it allows you to use more of the screen for an immersive experience. The zoom-to-fill function depends on the operating system and the aspect ratio of the display.
- Hulu Zoom to Fill: The ability to zoom Hulu videos and remove horizontal and vertical black bars.
- Prime Video HDR: [
- The phone supports Amazon Prime Video in HDR. According to Amazon, only five phones are supported.
- YouTube HDR: The phone supports HDR content on YouTube.
- YouTube Signature Device: The phone is certified as the best by Google – Possibility to View YouTube Videos
- Battery Life: Using GSMArena data, we have the battery life of each phone during the Playback of a video captured from 100% to 10%. The brightness was kept at 50% and the video was a standard definition video that looped when airplane mode was on.
- Maximum Brightness: The highest brightness level that the screen can reach, measured in Nits. In direct sunlight, a higher brightness is required to view the screen. Data was obtained from PhoneArena.
- Minimum Brightness: The lowest brightness level that the screen can reach, measured in Nits. A lower minimum brightness makes it easier to see at night, as brighter screens affect our sleep patterns. In addition, the lower brightness reduces the battery less. Data was obtained from PhoneArena.
- Color Temperature: The "warmth" or "coolness" of the color calibration of a screen. A perfect representation of white is 6,500K, so the closer to that number, the better. A higher number indicates that white is "cooler" or blue, while a number below 6500K indicates that white appears "warm" or slightly orange. Data obtained from PhoneArena
How We Picked These Phones
We focused exclusively on phones released on or after January 1, 2017. While there were some strong offers that were released earlier, we found most people reading this article are trying to update their phone to one with newer hardware. Older phones also mean older SoCs with older modems, which directly affects the video performance of mobile data.
We also looked only at the phones that were officially released in the US by a wireless service provider or a major retailer. Therefore, you will not find Xiaomi, Meizu and many of Huawei's better deals. Again, there are some remarkably good phones overseas, but without an official release, readers who want to upgrade their device will find it difficult to find and pay for the phone or even use it on US mobile networks.
To make this list, all phones must have at least one 5.5 "display, at 5.5" the screen is big enough to enjoy the video remotely and big enough to read subtitles. A smaller screen would have to be kept close, which is not the ideal position to watch a movie. It's true that smaller screens can be useful for many other reasons, but when it comes to watching videos, "bigger" is clearly better.
After all, we eliminated phones from the same company and instead focus on their best offer. For example, while the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 + are big considerations for our list, because the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is even better, we went ahead with it and took the Galaxy S series devices into consideration. The same applies to Apple iPhones.
Despite the fact that Samsung recycled its design from last year, the Galaxy Note 9 is a major upgrade from its predecessor. It's not much to say that in addition to the design, everything from last year's Galaxy Note 8 has been upgraded, which was already a great phone, especially to watch movies. And thanks to its massive battery upgrade and the new larger display, it has topped our list.
With the Galaxy Note 9, everything starts with its display. It has a 6.4 "2960 x 1440 screen that uses Samsung's Super AMOLED technology, and it is well known that Samsung reserves the best displays for its products, and the Note 9 is no exception. DisplayMate gave it a rating of 9 Record "Very High Absolute Color Accuracy", which "is visually indistinguishable from perfect." DisplayMate also notes that Samsung has increased brightness by 27% over last year's Galaxy Note 8 and has improved its contracts by 32% DisplayMate measured Display Performance Records to receive the highest mark on the website.
With such a beautiful and large d isplay, Samsung knew they needed a battery large enough to run for the day (and even longer, depending on your usage) , To achieve this, they have paired it with a massive 4,000 mAh battery. This is the highest battery capacity for the Galaxy Note series and the largest battery on our list. However, battery capacity is not the whole story as other factors play a role in deciding battery life, including how the operating system manages resources. Fortunately for the Galaxy Note 9, the extra-large battery was worth it, which has reached more than 2 hours when viewing a video over 16 hours and 5 hours.
Like its predecessor, the Note 9 HDR on the main video supports streaming services, including Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube. While Netflix and Prime Video are limited to 1080p streaming, YouTube can take full advantage of the Note 9's 1440p resolution, so video at that resolution can play up to 60 fps with HDR. That's one of the reasons why Grade 9 is one of only two phones on our list certified as a YouTube signature device.
With the Galaxy Note 9's 18: 5.9 aspect ratio, most videos use the full screen. On YouTube, you will be working with many black bars on many videos, unless the content creators create them in 2: 1 format. However, you will hardly see black bars for most movies. For some older movies, the Galaxy Note 9 will display the video slightly horizontally and vertically zoomed, with a bit of clipping. However, you can always zoom out to see the movie in its original aspect ratio.
Samsung has also brought the AKG-tuned stereo speakers, which they have introduced with the Galaxy S9. The speakers are clear and loud. Unlike others on our list, however, only the earphone is directed to you, with one speaker being used as the second speaker. But it's one of only three phones on our list that contains the headphone jack.
The new pen of the Galaxy Note 9 can also help with video playback. The new Bluetooth S Pen can pause and play videos so you can control your video remotely. Samsung opens the SDK for third-party developers so that apps like Netflix and Prime Video can create specific features for customers with the stylus in the app.
If you want the best of the best for watching movies, the Galaxy Note 9 is the best choice out there. Somehow, Samsung was able to distinguish itself with the display and create a new standard for smartphones. With a full-time battery life, support for HDR, and the largest display on our list, no phone is better for streaming. With the grade 9 you can sit back, relax and enjoy a mini home cinema in the palm of your hand.
Buy the Galaxy Note 9: Amazon ($ 999) | Walmart ($ 999)
Phone 2: Xperia XZ2 Premium
Sony's premium family is known for always setting new standards. In this lineup, Sony first introduced the world to a 4K display on a smartphone and then added HDR the same resolution a few years later. As with its predecessor, finding apps that use this screen is rare, making the display more fun to talk to than enjoy.
Let's start with the good. The Xperia XZ2 Premium has a 4K HDR screen at 5.8 inches. Yes, the display is "only" LCD, but that more than makes up for it with HDR and its 765 pixels per inch. This display comes with a 3.540 mAh battery, which you can not expect to be enough for such a powerful display. And you would be right and allow yourself to focus on the main flaw of the XZ2 Premium: It hardly uses the 4K resolution.
Sony was able to achieve nearly 12 hours of battery life on such a high-resolution display by using the Display not fully exhausted. Most content, including the boot screen launcher, is displayed at 1080p. Apart from a few streaming services (more on that later), 4K content is limited to videos taken with the rear view camera.
Only YouTube currently supports 4K on mobile devices. YouTube can output up to 4K HDR at 60 fps on the XZ2 Premium. However, there is not much content that uses all of these technologies except a handful of videos, mostly B-roll material that presents the new 4K and HDR details.
According to Sony, Netflix and Prime Video both support 4K HDR, but we were out of luck with it our test unit. Although no streaming service provides us with the same information as YouTube with active streams, there is a way to determine if 4K is being rendered on the screen for each service.
Netflix informs you which series is output in 4K with a small screen "4K" icon, as soon as it detects you, you will see the app from a device that supports 4K output (this also requires that you use Netflix Premium Plan). Unfortunately, we have never seen this symbol on our phone.
Prime Video shows the current resolution of the video. Typically, videos start at 720p and jump to 1080p once it is determined that you have enough bandwidth. Unfortunately, no video we watched has reached a higher resolution than 1080p. But what's strange is that Amazon displays Ultra HD (4K) content in the main menu, something that is only made if it determines that your device can output in 4K. We contacted Sony and will update it as soon as we receive an answer.
During the 16: 9 screen, this usually results in black bars with movies ( either vertically or horizontally), depending on the film, it is one of the easiest to fix with zoom. While Android does not let Hulu zoom, Netflix and Prime Video both zoom in perfectly to eliminate the bars. While Prime Video retains its zoom option in a sub-menu for the media playback controls, Netflix lets you use the pinch-to-zoom gesture to accomplish this.
As for audio, there are some positives and some negative ones. On the positive side, Sony has succeeded in integrating two stereo front-facing speakers (known as S-Force Front Surround) that are loud and punchy. There is also a feature called Dynamic Vibration, which vibrates the phone every time the bass comes in. The negative is the lack of a headphone jack.
When I started sketching this article, I assumed the Xperia XZ2 Premium would definitely win with its 4K display. However, after testing the phone and its limitations, while it's a great phone to enjoy content (and probably the main reason for spending $ 999.99), it's no better than the Galaxy Note 9. If it's in Actually supporting 4K for Netflix and Prime Video, it would fill the gap, but still short. We can only recommend that you go with the Xperia XZ2 Premium if you have personal files in a 4K resolution that you want to watch on your phone. Otherwise the Galaxy Note 9 is better.
Phone 3: Razer Phone
Here's the funny thing about gaming-centric phones: they're also great at other things. Because graphically intensive games drive the CPU and GPU of the phone to their maximum, you need world-class specifications to handle them. And because the best video game experience is that of movies, they'll also have specifications and features that will not only provide the best gaming experience, but also a great cinematic experience. We first saw this with the Galaxy Note 9, and now we're seeing it with the phone that restored the genre, the Razer Phone.
First of all, you will not find better smartphone speakers than the ones included in the Razer Phone. I was able to play music and I clearly hear a staircase up to half its volume. Thanks to the Razer dual amplifier, the Razer Phone can produce a sharp, punchy sound that affects the highs and lows of every audio signal. These speakers support Dolby Atmos and allow them to replicate surround sound from two speakers. As a result, Razer has secured support for Netflix's 5.1 surround sound, the only phone on the market that includes this feature.
Razer has also developed the hardware to handle media consumption Razer also made one page completely flat by using a flat fingerprint scanner and placing the volume rocker on the opposite side, so you can open the phone support its flat side and still control the volume of the video.
Razer Phone has a 5.7-inch display with 1440 pixels, which is large enough to be able to play the video with subtitles. only "LCD is, Razer has it always no managed to support HDR on Prime Video and Netflix. Razer Phone only lacks HDR support on YouTube.
With the same aspect ratio as the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, the default view for content is the same. By default, only YouTube uses the entire screen, with Netflix and Prime Video showing black bars depending on the aspect ratio of the video.
Based on the raw data, battery life, despite the massive 4,000-mAh battery, is the biggest mistake – but that's not the full picture. While GSMArena had a miserable battery life of 7.4 hours (the lowest on our list), my personal experience was very different. As my daily driver, I was able to average six hours on the screen with varying usage patterns, but a significant portion of that was YouTube. If I reduce the brightness and repeat their tests, I would be sure that I have the battery life closer to the Galaxy Note 9 and not last on our list.
I really love the Razer Phone. It's a bit big in the hand because of its thicker design, but if you get beyond that, it's frankly one of the best smartphones in the market for watching videos. Although it lacks the clarity of an AMOLED display with its fantastic sound and low price, we strongly recommend that you pick it up.
Buy the Razer Phone: Amazon ($ 549) | Walmart ($ 599)
Phone 4: iPhone X
When Apple introduced the iPhone X for the first time in 2017, I felt a sense of relief as it hit many others. Finally, the sexy bezeless design of Android phones would find its way to iPhones. While the use of a display score is controversial, it has the second best display on the market.
iOS has always been great at managing battery life, and the iPhone X is no exception. The battery life is second on the list and is outbid only by the Galaxy Note 9. And that with the lowest battery size on our list. Similar to the Galaxy Note 9, this battery life can be extended by the AMOLED panel when watching movies with a predominantly black background. For example, if you watch movies like Interstellar and Gravity, you should do less damage to your battery than Avengers: Infinity War.
Prior to the Galaxy Note 9 DisplayMate declared the screen of the iPhone X "the best smartphone display". Despite using the Samsung panel, it was better than the Galaxy Note 8 and S8 thanks to in-house calibration. The use of an AMOLED display enabled fantastic image quality and HDR support from all major streaming services, including Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube.
iPhone X also has the brightest screen at 640 Nits, making it easy to watch movies to enjoy even in direct sunlight. And even without front speakers, the stereo speakers are loud and clear.
One of Apple's weird decisions is how to cope with the zoom. By default, Netflix displays videos just before the display notch. For videos recorded in the aspect ratio of 2.35: 1, therefore, hang with vertical black bars on the side and a horizontal bar on the top. You can double-tap to zoom. This pushes the video past the notch, but it still does not fill the entire screen, leaving horizontal black bars on the top. Unlike Android, Hulu supports Zoom to fill iOS, so you can remove horizontal bars when viewing older content.
The only big disappointment are the different modems, depending on the model of your iPhone X. For Verizon, Sprint and unlocked users will use their Xc Qualcomm X16 modem, which offers speed category 16, with a theoretical max. from 1 Gbps. However, AT & T and T-Mobile variants use the slower Intel XMM 7480, a Category 12 with a theoretical maximum of 600 Mbps. Lower speed makes playing HD quality videos more difficult as you move to areas with lower signal ranges.
The iPhone X is an excellent all-round phone that is also great for watching videos. While its modems variability and lack of external memory hamper its classification, its fantastic screen, HDR support for large streaming services, and excellent battery life make it a great choice for movie watchers and the only option for Apple ecosystems
Buy The iPhone X (256 GB): Amazon ($ 1,199) | Walmart ($ 1,199)
Phone 5: ZenFone 5Z
Because of this one phone, I had to repeat the outline of this article when I discovered how good it is to watch videos. While it ended up last, thanks to some key features, it's better than phones that are not on this list. On the surface it looks like an iPhone X clone, but dig deeper and you'll see that the ZenFone 5Z is an excellent phone to binge your favorite show and for a slightly affordable price.
The ZenFone 5Z has a 90% screen-to-body ratio , the highest on our list. Asus has built a 6.2-inch display into the 5.5-inch phone case, which makes it easy to keep, but also immersive, with little or no frame on each side.
And then there are the speakers. The dual speakers are designed similar to the iPhone X, with the earphones used in conjunction with a speaker. However, unlike the other phones on our list, the speakers have intelligent amplifiers that improve clarity in loudness.