Up until today one of the major apps not available on Android has been Netflix, but that is no longer the case as it is now available for select phones. The Android phones that can run the Netflix app are the HTC Incredible with Android 2.2, HTC Nexus One with Android 2.2 and 2.3, HTC EVO 4G with Android 2.2, HTC G2 with Android 2.2, and Samsung Nexus S with Android 2.3.
In a blog post Netflix stated that they are working with other handset providers to get the app on more phones, once they confirm that the handsets can support playback. The company cites the difficulty of having to work with so many devices as being an issue, and that they hope to resolve the issue in the coming months.
Fortunately for me, my Nexus S is one of the supported phones. I first went to the Android Market and did a search on Netflix, but was not able to find the app. It wasn’t until I went back to Netflix’s web site that I found a direct link to install the app on my phone. As you can tell from the screenshot, the app looks pretty much like you would expect, with a list of new arrivals displaying on the home screen. You can browse the movie catalog by genre as well as browse the movies you have added to your Netflix Instant Queue.
Movie playback is in landscape and takes over the entire screen. My first test of playing a movie was on T-Mobile’s 3G network, and while it initially looked very clear, it started to get pixelated fairly quickly. Playback on WiFi, however, is very clear and I was able to watch a movie with fast action sequences. Unfortunately the Nexus S does not have a kickstand like the HD7, and it is difficult to hold the phone to watch an entire movie.
Clearly, the small screens on smartphones are not optimal for watching movies, but you can still be entertained by it when other options are not available. I wouldn’t subscribe to Netflix just to watch movies on my smartphone, but because you can watch movies on multiple devices that include smartphones, tablets, and personal computers, not to mention media devices like the Roku, I think a Netflix account is very worthwhile.