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Zim & Sub-Saharan Africa now have a mobile Netflix plan, here is what you get

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Those who know me know that I am a fan of Netflix, they are the pioneers of the streaming model and have done pretty well for themselves. For a fixed fee, you get to watch what you want instead of having to troll around torrent sites. Netflix and other similar platforms like Showmax put an end to my prolific pirating days. This is why I was excited to learn that while I was distracted, Netflix launched a mobile-only plan in Sub-saharan Africa to follow into the steps of Showmax that already has two mobile plans.

The mobile-only plan went live on 29 June and if you are in the region you now get the following options when signing up for Netflix:

Actually, the above information given by Netflix is not accurate. You get 520p and not 480p as Netflix claims, so that’s a bit of a boost but not much. You should be fine with this resolution if you are watching on a phone but on some tablets, you will definitely feel the poorer picture quality I am talking about gadgets like the iPad Pro here. Your average Chinese tablet should be fine. In any case, most mobile devices don’t support Google’s Widevine Level 1 DRM which means even if you sign up for the other packages you will still get SD quality anyway.

NB. In Zimbabwe, the mobile plan will probably cost you US$4.56 or thereabouts including VAT.

Does the mobile package make sense?

Here is the thing, Africa especially sub-Saharan Africa is the land of mobile phones. People do everything on their phones and this is true in Zimbabwe too. You can contrast this with the dearth of smart TVs that go for hundreds of dollars beyond the reach of your average citizen. An Itel Pro which is more than capable of handling Netflix goes for just over US$100.

Data is also a cost that people like to keep an eye on. An SD plan takes care of this concern. You get just the right picture quality on your device without data being wasted by giving you an HD picture you will not appreciate on your tiny screen. A mobile plan is therefore perfect for those who consume their content mostly using a phone.

We showed you how much data you would use when Spotify came to Zimbabwe so I feel like it’s only fair that we do the same with Netflix. This is not as easy though because, unlike Spotify, Netflix doesn’t use one codec. Depending on your device you either get x264, x265 or VP9. The latter two much more efficient and is to be preferred.

On average:

  • If you get x264 on SD (480p or 520p) you use 1GB per hour
  • If you get x265 or VP9 at SD you use about 500MB per hour

This means:

Data PackageHours of video with x264Hours of video with x265 or VP9
One-Fi 10GB10 hours20 hours
One-Fi Plus 25GB25 hours50 hours
One-Fi Ultra50 hours100 hours
One-Fi Extreme80 hours160 hours
Private Wifi 8GB8 hours16 hours
Private Wifi 15GB15 hours30 hours
Private Wifi 25GB25 hours50 hours
Private Wifi50 hours100 hours

If you are into the occasional movie this makes sense. You just get an appropriate bundle and get going. If you are into big screens a mobile plan is definitely not for you. You are also better off using an unlimited package like ZOL Wibroniks/Fibre or TelOne ASDL.

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