Spotify vs Rdio (Australian Edition) Review.

After several months of trying out both, I have settled on Spotify as my winner of the streaming apps. I have also briefly tried out MOG, which was ok but not to my liking. On the surface the scores make it look like it was a very close battle, and in reality it was… but mainly because Spotify has not been able to replicate their excellent desktop app on the mobile, making the experiance on Spotify feel second rate. This is amplified by the fact that the desktop app is FREE, while the mobile app is $12/month. I think Spotify has their priorities around the wrong way, new features and the best experience should go to those paying. In contrast, the difference between the mobile app and desktop versions on Rdio are minimal, and there are constant updates, 1-2/month meaning that any bugs are normally quickly resolved, and new features constantly added. If Spotify are able to close the gap between the desktop and mobile versions, then they will easily pull away from the competition. But as it stands, there is very little to separate the two mobile apps. It came down to better radio implementation, slightly cheaper price and more logical playlist management, which tipped the scales towards Spotify. But if you only plan on using your mobile and never the desktop, then Rdio could be the better choice.

UPDATE 08/07/13:  Spotify have since removed the limited “whats new” section and replaced it with a discover page. This feels much like 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Ideally the app should have a decent whats new page and also give you recommendations based on your previous history. Not sure why they seem to be struggling with implementing this. Also I have since cancelled my Spotify subscription. I really only used it for about 1hour a day on the train, and thus I have switched to Pandora (Free) for this trip as it works, especially when in poor signal areas. Spotify radio is very slow and buggy and spits the dummy if you don’t have 5 bars !
The desktop version of Spotify is free, so by dropping access on my mobile I’ve saved myself $12/month !


Spotify = 3.5 outta 5 Pros:

  • Easier to use Radio feature, with faster and better liking feature. Stations improve based on your input.
  • better playlist management
  • More like iTunes making transition easier
  • Slightly cheaper for mobile access
  • More playback and sound quality controls


  • Slower, fewer mobile app updates
  • Limited ability to find new music via app
  • To get full power of system you need to use desktop version.
  • Desktop apps are not available on you mobile
  • Has had some battery drain issues in past versions (current one seems ok)
  • Has in past been buggy and slow, especially the radio feature.
  • Mobile app is not as pretty as Rdio’s one.

Rdio = 3.5 outta 5  Pros:

  • Very pretty iPhone app that is simple to use (although lightly confusing at times)
  • Fast and stable app
  • Updated regularly
  • Excellent large catalogue, maybe slightly better than Spotify.
  • Less reliant on desktop app, everything can be done via phone app.
  • Better song/album discovery on mobile app.


  • Radio feature is not clearly obvious or tuneable like Spotify  UPDATE 8/7/13 Rdio had apparently update this feature to make it better to use so this may no longer be an issue.
  • App is take a different approach so if your coming from iTunes things can seem a little confusing.
  • Bit more expensive per month.
  • Only a single quality choice for off-line download of track.

NB: this review was done on iOS 6 and an iPhone 5 using 3G network.

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About Andrew Burgess

Head of the Cell Division Lab and Manager of the Microscope and Flow Facility at the ANZAC Research Institute.

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