Improve Netflix's cellular data video quality

Martin Brinkmann
May 9, 2016
Music and Video

If you are using Netflix occasionally when connected to cellular networks, you may have noticed a change of quality recently that may impact your viewing experience.

Netflix announced last week that it has enabled a new default streaming setting for mobile devices connected to cellular networks.

According to the announcement, cellular data is limited to 600 Kilobits per second by default which is good for about 3 hours of watching TV shows and movies per Gigabyte of data.

The setting balances video quality and data usage which is important for Netflix customers who are on capped mobile data plans.

While the transfer rate may be throttled to a trickle for the remainder of the month on some plans, overage fees may be charged on others when the data cap is exceeded.

The default setting will enable you to stream about 3 hours of TV shows and movies per gigabyte of data. In terms of bitrates, that currently amounts to about 600 Kilobits per second. Our testing found that, on cellular networks, this setting balances good video quality with lower data usage to help avoid exceeding data caps and incurring overage fees

The change does not impact the quality when the mobile device is connected to a wireless network though.

Change Netflix's quality on cellular connections

netflix improve video quality

Changing the quality of videos on Netflix when a mobile device is used makes sense if you are on an unlimited plan and are connected to a network that is fast enough to deliver content in the desired quality.

To modify the Netflix cellular data quality do the following (please note that the Android version of Netflix is used to describe how you change the quality but the iOS version should be similar to it).

  1. Open the Netflix application on the device.
  2. Tap on the menu icon in the upper left corner and select App Settings from the menu that opens (you need to scroll down).
  3. Select Cellular Data Usage on the next screen that opens.
  4. The default setting is set to automatic which means 3 hours of video content per Gigabyte of data.
  5. Change the setting to one of the other available presets and hit ok afterwards.

You can set the quality to low to get even more out of Netflix per Gigabyte, or use medium, high or unlimited instead which improves the quality of the video but requires a faster connection and burns through the Gigabyte faster.

Gigabyte Hours of playback
Automatic 1 3
Low 1 4
Medium 1 2
High 1 1
Unlimited 1 less than 1

Unless you are on an unlimited plan or a plan that gives you 10 or more Gigabyte of data per month, it may not be feasible at all to use Netflix on a mobile device as you will burn through your monthly data cap quickly even on the low quality setting.

You may turn of cellular streaming completely as well to block Netflix from streaming data to the device while connected to a cellular network.

Now You: do you stream videos on your mobile device?

Improve Netflix's quality on cellular connections
Article Name
Improve Netflix's quality on cellular connections
Find out how to improve the quality of the Netflix video stream when a mobile device connected to a cellular network is being used to stream the content.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Anonymous said on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Why not make use of the mplayer.conf?

  2. Mike J said on August 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Huh, I have never even seen this “font cache” pane; videos play at once for me, using VLC & XP SP3.

    1. Martin said on August 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      Mike, in theory this should have only been displayed once to you, at the very first video that you played with VLC. The time this window is displayed depends largely on the number of fonts in your font directory.

      1. Mike J said on August 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm

        huh, I lucked out for a change?? Amazing!!
        Apparently VLC keeps this info through version updates, but I didn’t see this message after a fresh OS install about 8 weeks ago, & a new VLC.

  3. myo said on August 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    yes, yes, i have the same problem. sometimes, VLC crashes when it is playing .mov file.

  4. Kishore said on August 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Buidling font Cache pop-up


    Open VLC player.

    On Menu Bar:


    (at bottom – left side)
    Show settings — ALL

    Open: Video
    Click: Subtitles/OSD (This is now highlited, not opened)
    Text rendering module – change this to “Dummy font renderer function”


    Re-open – done.
    Progam will no longer look outside self for fonts

    Source –

    1. Martin said on August 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Great tip, thanks a lot Kishore.

  5. javier said on August 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    @Kishore, I’ll try your tips, but does this mean it will no longer show subtitles either?
    I do use subtitles, but the fontcache dialog box pops up (almost) everytime I play a file.

    Could this be related to the fonts I have installed? Or if I add/remove fonts to my system?

    I’ll try to do a fresh install also, if your tips does no work. I’ll post back here later…


  6. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,

  7. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,Dont worry, VLC is currently sorting out this issue and the next version will be out soon.

    No probs @ Martin !! Its my pleasure

  8. Ted said on October 22, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Try running LC with administrator privileges. That seemed to fix it for me

  9. Evan said on December 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I am using SMplayer 0.8.6 (64-bit) (Portable Edition) on Windows 7 x64. Even with the -nofontconfig parameter in place SMplayer still scans the fonts. Also, I have enabled normal subtitles and it is still scanning fonts before playing a video. Also, it does this every time the player opens a video after a system restart (only the fist video played).

  10. Mike Williams said on September 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Does that mean that only instrumental versions of songs will be available for non-paying users?

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.