Buffering is the scourge of the internet. It breaks up the experience of what you’re watching and can result in you missing some content or being behind where the stream or video is.
In this rather short guide we help you understand why Twitch sometimes buffers on your phone and what you can do about it.
What IS buffering on Twitch?
Buffering has been put in video streaming to improve your experience despite looking like it ruins it. When you watch a stream or a VOD on Twitch, your device whether it’s an Android or iPhone will preload the video data to give you a smooth experience and reduce the number of times it needs to stop to keep downloading it.
Buffering may load up to 100% of the video, but in most cases it is around 15% of it. For VODs this is pretty simple as the entire video file is available so the device can readily download into the buffer. For live streams this is much harder because the video file is live and the buffer can only be a few seconds long.
There is a small delay between the broadcast and the time the viewer sees the content. This can be demonstrated by the time delay between you interacting in chat and the moment it appears in stream.
This time delay is the maximum Twitch can buffer.
If your download rate is faster than the size of the file you are streaming then the buffering can happen in the background.
Why does Twitch keep buffering on my phone?
The two most common reason why Twitch buffers on Androids and iPhones is because of the download speed of your device and the streamer’s file size which is determined via a bitrate.
Your download speed might be too slow or it might fluctuate up and under it occasionally for long enough to run out buffer data.
The amount of data the Twitch streamer is pushing out is based on the quality of the picture (resolution) and the number of frames per second (fps).
Below is a guide on how fast your mobile device’s internet connection needs to be to avoid slow buffering, these are approximates
- To keep up with the streamer and ensure you have steady buffer data on a 720p 40 fps stream you will need 2.5Mbps connection
- For 720p and 60 fps you will need a 3.5Mbps to keep up the buffering data
- For a 1080p 30 fps stream you’ll need a 5Mbps connection to keep up the buffering data
- For a 1080p 60 fps stream you’ll need a 7Mbps connection to keep up the buffering data
- For a 4K 30 fps stream you’ll need a 20Mbps connection to keep up the buffering data
- For a 4K 60 fps stream you’ll need a 40Mbps connection to keep up the buffering data
How to stop Twitch buffering on your phone
So, step 1 is to check your internet speed against the quality of the stream you are trying to watch. If your speed isn’t up to it or hovering right on it then you can reduce buffering by making some simple checks and changes.
To check your internet speed you can use Fast.com.
Here was my result as I was writing this.
Next, look at your speed and then change the video quality to match. On mobile you can do this by clicking on the cog at the top right of the video:
When you click on that it will bring up a few choices,
Selecting auto should try and match your connection speed with the output, but it’s not perfect. (source) means the output the streamer is actually sending out. Manually selecting the best match will improve performance and stop your mobile Twitch experience from buffering.
By checking your speed and reducing the quality as needed you should avoid Twitch buffering on phone.
Secondly, your actual connection may be the problem. Perhaps your WiFi router is under strain and there’s not enough bandwidth to maintain a steady download rate.
If you are not on WiFi and instead using 3G/4G/5G then your signal strength may be poor and the download rate is going up and down. 4G and 5G are very fast connections and should not struggle even with a 1080p stream but a 3G makes streaming on Twitch tricky.
Changing the stream quality, check your internet speed and try to find a faster more stable one is the only thing you can do to make Twitch on your mobile phone buffer less.
We hope this helps!