How to Keep Netflix from Using All Your Phone’s Data

Netflix recently updated its mobile app with a long-awaited feature: now, you can specify how much data (approximately) it uses, so you don’t go over your cellular data cap.

Netflix uses a lot of data, about 1 GB per hour while watching standard definition content. If you’re on a mobile connection with a data cap, which most people usually are, then that’s way too much.

In order to rein in how much data your phone or tablet is using on your mobile connection, you first should make sure that you have the very latest Netflix update. You can find it in the App Store updates if you’re on iPhone or iPad, and in your Play Store updates if you’re using an Android device.

First, tap the three lines in upper-left corner to access the slide-out panel.

Now, tap on “App Settings”.

The Cellular Data Usage is set to “Set Automatically” by default. If you turn this off, you can choose from one of five data control tiers:
  1. Off (Wi-Fi only): You will only be able to watch content over Wi-Fi. If you are connected to a mobile data connection, you won’t be able to view content.
  2. Low: On the low quality setting, data usage will average about 1 GB every 4 hours.
  3. Medium: When set to the medium quality settings, your data footprint will be about 1 GB every 2 hours.
  4. High: The highest setting is what you can expect when connected via Wi-Fi. This will average about 1 GB every hour.
  5. Unlimited: If you have an unlimited data plan, then you can turn this option on. Content will be best quality and include 4K movies if your Netflix plan has that option. Do not check this option unless you have an unlimited data plan.
Keep in mind, the lower the setting, the lower quality your video will be. But that’s a small price to pay for staying under your data cap.

No matter what setting you use, though, it’s no replacement for keeping an eye on your data cap and how much you’ve already used–whether you’re on iPhone or Android.
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