Netflix not streaming 1080p on your Android phone? Here’s why: Widevine DRM

Streaming services such as Netflix utilize Digital Rights Management (DRM) which serves as a primary layer of protection against piracy, or unauthorized redistribution of their protected content.

Widevine DRM

One type of DRM is the Google’s ‘Widevine’ that is often found on Android apps and the web. It comes with three different levels, and this will explain why your device may only stream in lower resolutions or so.

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Widevine L3

  • The most basic level of DRM protection
  • Software-based DRM
  • No Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) in chipset
  • Supports playback up to 480p resolution

Widevine L2

  • Has TEE but video processing happens in software or different video hardware
  • Supports playback up to 540p resolution
  • Not usually found in market-sold devices

Widevine L1

  • Highest level of DRM protection
  • Hardware-dedicated DRM
  • Video processing happens entirely on the TEE
  • Supports playback at the highest resolution possible (minimum at 720p)

The Widevine DRM specification is seldom mentioned on specsheets, but flagship tier phones usually come with Widevine L1 already.

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Mid-range or entry-level devices usually has Widevine L3 certification, and that may be the reason why your Android phone’s Netflix app only streams at lower resolutions.

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21 days ago

[…] Before you scroll down, you may have to read this first: What is Widevine DRM? […]

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