In-flight entertainment: the best downloadable shows on Netflix and Amazon

Keep your holiday diverting with these offline viewing recommendations

With two of the biggest streaming services now offering downloads, there’s never been a better time for offline viewing on your phone or tablet.

The days when a long-haul flight would scupper plans to binge-watch your way through three seasons of Archer are long gone, and with monsoon holidays in full swing, it’s the perfect time for downloading newbies to break their duck and enter the mobile data-friendly world of offline viewing. About to go on a trip abroad, where roaming charges and patchy Wi-Fi access will limit your ability to stream? No problem: just download a bunch of films, documentaries and box-sets to your mobile device using the Netflix India and Amazon Prime Video.

Below you’ll find details on what to expect from each, along with a selection of recommended offline viewing to get you underway.

And one quick tip before you start: remember to download everything over Wi-Fi the day before you travel. Like the scouts say, be prepared – otherwise you’ll likely find yourself caning your mobile data en route to the airport…

Who offers what?

Netflix

Bad luck, Mac users – Netflix won’t let you download stuff yet. But those with Windows 10, iOS 9.0 (and above) or Android 4.4.2 (and above) devices are in luck: a wide selection of Netflix’s streaming catalogue is available for offline viewing.

To browse the available selection, open up your app, tap the menu icon in the top-left, then hit “Available for Download”. In its usual style, Netflix will recommend content based on what you’ve watched before.

Alternatively, when browsing the library normally, any downloadable show will have a standard download icon (a down-pointing arrow atop a horizontal line). Just tap that to save the programme or film in whatever quality you’ve set as your default in the app’s settings menu – “Standard” or “Higher” (which is HD but obviously uses up more storage and takes longer to download).

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime members can download select titles (and the selection is impressively vast) to mobile devices running Android or iOS, as well as Amazon’s own Fire tablets and phones. There are three streaming qualities to choose from (“Good” uses about 0.3GB of data and storage per hour; “Better” uses 0.6GB; and “Best” uses 0.9GB).

NB: Amazon’s downloads are available only to paying Prime members, not Prime household members receiving shared benefits – they’ll be able to stream only.

What to download: Netflix

Ozark

Netflix’s latest original series features some of the tensest scenes since Breaking Bad, as Jason Bateman and Laura Linney’s dysfunctional couple launder money for a ruthless drug cartel.

Archer

This raucous animated spy series delivers a winning mix of quickfire self-referential gags, brilliantly awful personalities and hilarious scrapes and japes. The short and sweet episodes make for great mobile viewing.

Okja

Netflix’s best original movie yet – the tale of a giant pig, big business and animal rights – is a constant delight, benefitting from a fine cast, brisk narrative pace and the fantastic visual effects that bring Okja herself convincingly to life.

Master of None

Aziz Ansari writes and stars as jobbing actor Dev in this whimsical series about life, love and tacos, which works its way deftly and inventively through subjects like dating, religion, kids, work and racial stereotypes.

Black Mirror

A series of (mostly) short one-off cautionary tales about our problematic relationship with technology, social media and the internet, Black Mirror makes for ideal mobile viewing. Even if watching it on a phone seems somehow ironic, given its subject matter.

What to download: Amazon Prime

Preacher

Exclusive to Amazon Prime Video, Preacher is a stylish, violent and hilarious adaptation of the beloved comics series that’s not afraid to forge its own path.

American Gods

Based on the beloved Neil Gaiman novel, American Gods weaves together strands of ancient mythology, modern mythology, Americana and pop culture to create a modern fantasy tale – a tale about immigration, above other things. Possibly the most stylishly shot show on TV.

Inside Edge

Apart from being one of the most watched shows on Amazon Prime Video, it's also the first Indian Amazon original. The plot spins around a T20 team and the characters that pull the strings from behind the scenes. Sex, drugs and power are the underlying truth inside the world of cricket and entertainment. 

Zakir Khan: Haq Se Single

Zakir Khan's stand up special on Amazon Prime is so good that you'll find yourself clapping at the screen laughing hysterically throughout the show. The content is immersive and perfectly paced. Which also goes to say that he will not alienate you from his content. It's truly one of those specials that'll stick with you right till the end. Simply because it's well written and perfectly delivered.​

Sneaky Pete

With a charming rogue’s gallery of a cast and a story that keeps you gripped and guessing until the end, this story of a conman on his toughest grift yet is one of the few Amazon Originals that can go toe-to-toe with Netflix’s best series.