Spotify free vs Spotify premium: What's the difference?

Spotify has made some big changes to its platform in recent years, revamping the way its desktop and mobile applications work in order to attract more users.

There have long been three tiers of Spotify listening: Free, Unlimited (£4.99 per month), and Premium (£9.99 per month). And they each offer different capabilities and limits, depending upon which device you are using to access Spotify.

That said, although the Unlimited tier is still available for purchase, Spotify began transitioning to a new setup last year. It includes the following plans: Mobile Free, Desktop & Tablet Free, and Premium (£9.99 per month). The new plans do not change what the old tiers still offer. Just think of the new plans as a rebranding and a simplification of things, really.

You're therefore probably wondering which tier or plan features what and whether you should even pay up. Well, Pocket-lint has made the decision-making process a little easier for you by providing a breakdown with everything you need to know.

Comparison chart

Spotify has provided the chart above, in an attempt to explain the difference between free Spotify (Mobile Free and Desktop & Tablet Free) and paid Spotify (Spotify Premium). Here's our nutshell version:

Mobile phone Free

Mobile phone users can't listen to songs on demand, HD music, and offline playlists. They're also only allowed to skip five tracks per hour and must hear adverts in between songs. But beneficial features for them include the ability to find and hear playlists, discover new music, share music and playlists, listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature, and play any playlist, album, or artist (but only while in Shuffle Play mode).

Desktop & Tablet Free

Desktop and tablet users can do everything mobile phone users can do, only they're also allowed to play any song they want (on demand). As for what they can't do... desktop and tablet users are limited to standard sound quality and five track skips per hours. They must also hear adverts in between tracks and can't listen to offline playlists.

Premium

Spotify's Premium tier gives access to everything there is to offer without any adverts - whether you're listening on desktop, mobile, or tablet. Premium users can play any song they want (on demand), as well as find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, share music and playlists, and listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature. They can also skip any track, listen offline, and hear HD music.

What about Unlimited?

For those of you who are wondering about the still-available Unlimited tier, Pocket-lint has defined all the differences between the Free, Unlimited, and Premium tiers. Check it out below. Keep in mind Spotify's new plans do not change in any way what the old tiers still offer.

Devices

Mobile phones

Free: You can use Spotify to find and hear playlists, discover new music, share music and playlists, listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature, and play any playlist, album, or artist (but only while in Shuffle Play mode). You can't just play any song you want.

Unlimited: You can use Spotify to find and hear playlists, discover new music, share music and playlists, listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature, and play any playlist, album, or artist (but only while in Shuffle Play mode). You can't just play any song you want.

Premium: You can use Spotify to play any song you want (on demand). You can also find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, share music and playlists, and listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature.

Tablets

Free: You can use Spotify to play any song you want (on demand). You can also find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, share music and playlists, and listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature.

Unlimited: You can use Spotify to play any song you want (on demand). You can also find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, share music and playlists, and listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature.

Premium: You can use Spotify to play any song you want (on demand). You can also find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, share music and playlists, and listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature.

Desktop

Free: You can use Spotify to play any song you want (on demand). You can also find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, share music and playlists, and listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature.

Unlimited: You can use Spotify to play any song you want (on demand). You can also find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, share music and playlists, and listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature.

Premium: You can use Spotify to play any song you want (on demand). You can also find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, share music and playlists, and listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature.

Adverts

Free: You will hear adverts between tracks no matter which device you use.

Unlimited: You will hear adverts between tracks on mobile phones and tablets. You will not hear adverts on the computer.

Premium: You will never hear adverts.

Features

Spotify Radio

Any user - Free, Unlimited, and Premium - can use Spotify's Radio feature to listen to personalised stations that match their music tastes.

Spotify Connect

Free: You don’t have access to Spotify Connect.

Unlimited: You don't have access to Spotify connect.

Premium: You can use Spotify Connect. It lets you control music between your devices. While playing a song, for instance, you can switch playback from your phone to tablet or even to a connect-enabled speaker, as long as they are on the same Wi-Fi network.

Skipping tracks

Free: You are limited to five skips per hour.

Unlimited: You are limited to five skips per hour.

Premium: You are allowed to skip as many tracks as desired.

Offline playback

Free: You don't have access to offline playback.

Unlimited: You don't have access to offline playback.

Premium: You can use Spotify's Offline playback feature to save and hear playlists from your tablet when not connected to Wi-Fi or 3G.

Listen to local files

Any user - Free, Unlimited, and Premium - can import and listen to their local music files through Spotify.

Sound quality

Free: You have access to standard sound quality.

Unlimited: You have access to standard sound quality.

Premium: You can listen to music in high definition (320kbps).