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The big differences between R99 vs. R199 Netflix

South Africans can stream movies and TV shows on Netflix, the world’s most popular streaming service, for between R49 and R199 per month.

The streaming giant offers four plans nationwide — Mobile, Basic, Standard, and Premium — each letting you stream from the same catalog of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows.

With the exception of the recently introduced mobile plan, the other three options have been available in the country since 2016 and allow subscribers to watch on a TV, computer, smartphone, tablet and media boxes or streaming sticks.

For five years after Netflix was officially available in South Africa, the price difference between the top-end Basic and Premium options was around R60 to R70.

At launch, a Netflix Basic plan cost $7.99 (R126 then), $9.99 Standard (R158 then), and $11.99 Premium (about R190 then).

Netflix started displaying its South African prices in rands in August 2018, charging R99 for Basic, R139 for Standard and R169 for Premium.

In October 2021, Netflix announced its first price increase for South Africa. It raised Netflix Standard to R159 and Premium to R199 per month.

That makes Premium more than twice as expensive as Basic, begging the question – what are you getting for the extra money?

Streaming quality and other improvements

The first and most obvious difference is the maximum streaming resolution – which directly affects the overall visual quality of the content.

Mobile and Basic cap streaming resolutions to the standard 480p, roughly the resolution of old analog TV shows.

While it’s more than adequate for viewing on a small mobile device’s screen, the picture does get a little soft when streaming at this resolution on a 32-inch TV and larger.

With Standard, you get up to 1080p Full High Definition (FHD), which dramatically increases picture clarity, which is great for viewing on larger TVs.

Most new TVs in the South African market, even entry-level, can support at least 720p High Definition, a standard often referred to as HD Ready.

With Netflix Premium, you can enjoy content in a resolution that’s fast becoming the industry standard – 2160p or 4K Ultra-High Definition.

This quality offers four times as many pixels as Full HD, resulting in a crisp and more lifelike image.

But apart from a sharper picture, Premium also supports visual and sound enhancing technologies like HDR10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos in supported titles.

HDR10 and Dolby Vision are standards that certain high-end televisions support, showing that they are capable of excellent dynamic range and color reproduction with super bright highlights and deep blacks.

Dolby Atmos is a virtual surround sound technology that mimics a surround sound system on supported TVs and soundbars.

Recommended speeds and data usage

Keep in mind that the quality you stream at will significantly affect your data usage, and Netflix recommends having a specific download speed to support different resolutions.

The table below shows recommended speeds for typical resolutions and estimated data usage per hour when streaming at this quality.

Netflix recommended speeds and data usage
streaming resolution Recommended download speed Data usage per hour at maximum quality
480p (SD) 1Mbps 0.3GB
720p (HD) 3Mbps 1GB
1080p (Full HD) 5Mbps 3GB
4K (Ultra HD) 15Mbps 7GB

If you don’t have an FHD or 4K TV, Standard or Premium might still be your preferred option if you have a household with several people who want to watch different shows at the same time.

That’s because Standard and Premium offer up to two and four simultaneous streams, respectively, while Basic only allows streaming on one device at a time.

Fortunately, while some video streaming services limit the number of devices you can sign up with, Netflix doesn’t.

The only limit the devices have is how many you can use to download movies or TV shows to watch offline when you’re not connected.

Mobile and Basic allow downloads from one device at a time, while Standard increases this to two, and Premium allows downloads on up to four devices.

When to go mobile

While Basic might not be a great option for many TV owners, it certainly represents good value for those who aren’t too concerned about quality.

If you don’t have a TV or computer but do have a smartphone or tablet, Netflix Mobile is ideal at just R49 a month.

Its features are almost identical to Basic, but it can only be used on a mobile device.

The table below compares the features and prices of the four Netflix plans available in South Africa.

Netflix South Africa plans compared
mobile phone, mobile phone basic default bonus
Supported Devices cellphone, tablet Mobile phone, tablet, computer, television, streaming box Mobile phone, tablet, computer, television, streaming box Mobile phone, tablet, computer, television, streaming box
Device Login Limit none none none none
Device download limit 1 1 2 4
Number of personalized profiles 5 5 5 5
Simultaneous streams 1 1 2 4
Maximum streaming quality 480p (SD) 480p (SD) 1080p (Full HD) 2160p (4K Ultra HD)
Dolby Vision or HDR10 no no no Yes
Dolby Atmos no no no Yes
Dolby 5.1 Surround no Yes Yes Yes
Price R49 R99 R159 R199

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