Philo Streaming Review 2020
Philo is kind of an oddball among live TV streaming services.
But if a bunch of channels and add-ons is what you want, then Philo isn’t for you. It doesn’t try to give you everything cable would—it focuses on “lifestyle” networks to give you just a handful of the channels you’d get with cable, but for a much lower price.
Philo package and pricing
Philo keeps it simple with two package options and the lowest prices we’ve seen.
Philo is dead cheap! It’s the most affordable TV streaming service we’ve seen. Your entire monthly bill will cost about as much as going out to dinner one time.
|Learn more||Get 7-Day Free Trial|
Philo only has the one package—which is crazy because even Sling TV, as the next cheapest option, has Sling Orange or Sling Blue packages to choose from.
While Philo doesn’t have a lot of variety for you (actually, make that any variety for you), at least with this new package, you can stream every channel Philo offers with just one subscription.
And unlike most TV providers, streaming or otherwise, channel numbers don’t vary depending on where you live. Philo doesn’t play coy—if it says you get 58 channels, then you get exactly 58 channels.
No credit card required for free trial
One thing we love about Philo is the sign-up process. It doesn’t ask for a credit card (at least not up front). You just enter your phone number and you can start binge-watching shows and surfing through channel content immediately.
After your full seven day free trial, you’ll get an extra five days of free access after you pony up your card number.
If you’re like us and routinely fall into the free-trial trap of signing up for a service and forgetting to cancel it, then Philo’s softball approach is a good thing. And if you figure out within that first week that Philo’s service isn’t for you, then you can back out without ever giving up your card number.
Even if you decide to keep Philo and pay for it every month, you still use your phone number as your login. Philo texts a code to your phone, which you use as your password, and you’re in.
It’s nice not to have to remember one more username and password, but the phone thing can be a bit annoying. If you have one Philo account for your whole family, it’s still tied to one specific phone number. And it can be a pain to track down the verification code every time you want to stream your favorite content.
Philo’s channel lineup is small, leaving out sports and news to focus on “lifestyle” networks.
Here’s where we get to Philo’s low-price secret: limited channel selection that doesn’t include news and sports networks.
Its “lifestyle” channel lineup does include everything from Animal Planet to Discovery Channel, American Heroes to Travel Channel. But if you’re still holding onto your cable provider because you can’t bear to part with live football and daily CNN, then Philo won’t work for you.
It doesn’t offer any news or sports channels—not even ESPN. If this is a dealbreaker for you, you may want to look at other streaming services.
The good news is that if you’re more into Food Network and HGTV than news and sports, Philo might have everything you want. You can watch Tarek and Christina El Moussa flip or flop a house. Who doesn’t want that?
For local channels, get an HD antenna
Philo doesn’t have any local cable channels. That’s right, not a single one.
You can’t watch ABC, NBC, or FOX with your Philo service. But that’s not a problem if you already have (or are willing to buy) an HD antenna.
An HD antenna gives you access to all your local broadcast networks for free. That means you can still get your fill of Black-ish without relying on Philo. You can also get local news and sports channels, so you won’t totally miss your football fix.
An antenna doesn’t cost that much, and it’s a one-time expense—a real advantage in a world of monthly service fees. We recommend the ClearStream antenna, which you can buy on Amazon.
Another easy one: Philo doesn’t offer premium channels. You can’t add on HBO or CINEMAX, so if you want either of those services, you’ll have to pay for them separately.
In fact, Philo doesn’t offer any add-ons at all, not even for sports. Unlike Sling TV, which gives you endless add-on plans and customization options, Philo limits your live TV streaming choices to its one package and calls it a day.
Philo cloud DVR
Philo’s DVR is easy to use, and it has unlimited storage for 30 days.
|DVR price||Storage hours|
|Included with subscription||Unlimited|
Just press the (+) button on the interface to add a show to your DVR and Philo will start storing episodes for you. You can keep as many as you want, but you do have to watch them within 30 days.
Philo’s DVR isn’t as good as YouTube TV’s, which stores your content for nine months. But we still appreciate that Philo lets you save as many hours of content as you want, especially if multiple people use your account and want to record their own shows.
Plus, Philo has a pretty great selection of on-demand movies and other content. So if the service is missing some of your favorite channels (or maybe you forgot to record the latest episode of Gold Rush on the Discovery Channel), you can always watch on-demand content instead.
Philo user experience
On a web browser, Philo has a smooth interface and detailed channel guide. Its TV and mobile interfaces are a little less helpful.
We tested Philo on a web browser, a TV (using Apple TV), and a smartphone—and surprisingly, the web browser version had the best interface.
Because of its channel guide.
Philo was easy to use and ran pretty smoothly on all three devices (minus a glitch on the mobile version’s app), but we wish Philo had the same channel guide on mobile and TV as it does on web browsers.
Unlike Hulu with Live TV, which has a million different content sections and show categories, Philo has only three:
The Home section gives you a mishmash of popular shows, live TV offerings, and your saved content.
If you want to find a specific show, you can use the search function. Otherwise, you can go straight to the saved shows in your DVR or browse live TV.
This is where the interfaces differ: the browser version has a channel guide, while Philo’s mobile app and TV versions do not.
If you think that’s super weird, so do we. We like channel guides that clearly show us which shows are on now, which are coming on later, what our channel content options are, etc. And Philo’s browser interface does just that.
But on mobile, we have to wonder: What played earlier today? What’s coming up next?
We don’t know because we don’t have Philo’s guide. The mobile and TV interfaces show you only what’s playing right now.
All the Philo content we watched ran smoothly for us. The only issues were a couple of glitches with fast-forwarding.
On the mobile version, Pitbulls and Parolees would only let us skip backward, even when we were behind. We could catch up to the live version or backtrack, but when we tried to go forward, we got a lovely black screen.
The black-hole screen issue happened only one time. But skipping backward and forward was still a bit glitchy overall.
Is Philo compatible with your streaming device?
Philo doesn’t work on as many devices as Sling TV. Unfortunately, it covers only a few popular streaming platforms.
Philo compatible-streaming devices:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV
- Android TV
- Google Chromecast
- iOS and Android
- Web browsers
If you have Amazon Fire TV, a Roku, or an Apple TV, then you’re in luck. You can watch live TV on your Android app or through your Roku. But Philo won’t play on your Xbox One.
Also, while a router isn’t a streaming device, it does impact your internet speed and ability to stream. So make sure you have the best Wi-Fi router for streaming.
Philo TV recap
Philo is cheap and easy to use, but look for news and sports channels elsewhere.
Philo also doesn’t offer local channels, so you’ll need to invest in an HD antenna if you still want to watch shows on your local networks.
But if you’re looking for a cheap streaming service that has all the lifestyle channels and is still fairly flexible in terms of device compatibility and required internet speed, then Philo is definitely the choice for you.
Have you tried Philo TV? Have you had any issues with the mobile or TV app? Let us know in the comments!