Just because your phone has a high definition screen does not mean that it will play videos at its highest resolution. Most streaming services, including Netflix, use a DRM system called Widevine for media in their Android apps. But even if your phone has Widevine support, the content will be limited to non-HD if your specific model has not been whitelisted by Netflix.
But that’s not all, even if everything is true, Netflix will sometimes not stream the content in the phone’s highest resolution. For example, the content is limited to 1080p on the Sony Xperia 1 despite its 4K screen, but it is difficult to confirm by just watching the video. HDR playback is also missing on some phones despite support. So what do you do? While the official Netflix site does a great job of covering the more popular devices, with the actual Netflix app, you can control yourself.
Step 1: Update Netflix to the latest version
To ensure that the Netflix app running on your device has this feature, make it the latest version. To do this, visit the Netflix app’s Play Store page, and if you see the “Refresh” button, tap it. If you only see “Open” you are already updated!
Step 2: Check video quality and HDR support
Open the Netflix app and select More at the bottom of the page. Select “App settings” and then select “Playback specification” in Diagnostics group.
Here you will find all relevant information regarding playback quality. Digital Rights Management lets you know which version and level of Widevine you are running (L1 is the highest). If this screen shows L3, the resolution is limited Below 720p. Whether it’s L1 or L2, Netflix allows HD playback.
Directly below it, Playback This section shows the maximum playback resolution that Netflix allows on your phone. Remember that HD is 720p, Full HD (FHD) is 1080p and 4K is self-explanatory.
This also shows Supported hardware codecs and HDR features. The latter will tell you if your phone supports HDR in Netflix, which version of HDR (either HDR 10 or Dolby Vision), and which codec is used.
If Playback specificationn indicates that your devices support HD playback and HDR, you should see the “HD” mark next to content that is HD (not HDR) and the “HDR” mark next to content that is in both HD and HDR.
If you still feel your video quality is low, download a speed test like Ooklas Speedtest and Netflix fast speed tests and make sure you get at least 5 Mbps for HD and 25 Mbps for HDR. Also, make sure you have a Netflix Premium plan, which is the only plan that supports HDR.
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