You can stream or download 4K HDR movies and TV shows onto your mobile device soon, via video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Here's all you need to know about enjoying 4K HDR content from Netflix on compatible smartphones with Ultra HD screens, thanks to the latest 2017 Netflix update.
At the massive MWC 2017 mobile convention we saw a couple of smartphones launched with seriously high-tech displays. Sony's Xperia XZ Premium offers full 4K HDR visuals, for instance, while the LG G6 gives you Dolby Vision support for gorgeous high-contrast image reproduction. All we need now is the content to support it.
Good news, then. Movie and TV streaming service Netflix has just announced its shiny new super-smart algorithm which allows for higher quality video streaming, without chewing up all your data.
The plan is for Netflix to roll out the new encodes imminently, which will allow you to stream even more video per gig of data. This is in part to help users enjoy the service while on a data connection that isn't unlimited. But the new Netflix algorithm is also part of its push to deliver 4K and HDR visuals on mobile devices, like your humble smartphone. Just in time for the Xperia XZ Premium and LG G6 to hit UK stores.
So how does this Netflix update actually work and when will we be able to stream 4K HDR video to our Android mobiles and iPhones?
Read next: Best phones launched at MWC 2017
Netflix will offer more video for less data
Netflix's new encodes have been created primarily to cut down on overall data costs when using the video streaming service. As a result, the company says users will be able to stream video for a solid 30 hours while using just 2GB of data.
Don’t expect that to be top quality video of course, but using the lowest resolution settings available. But since even low-res movies and shows look decent enough on a dinky smartphone screen, that shouldn't be an issue.
Netflix will offer a choice of quality levels
Thanks to Netflix offering a data saving or quality enhancing option, you’ll be able to pick what quality of content you receive. As a result you could choose to switch to data saving mode when out and about on your network connection, but then turn on higher quality video streaming when you get to a Wi-Fi connection.
You will still require a full Netflix subscription to enjoy the highest quality 4K and HDR movies and shows, of course. But you'll still have the option to knock down the resolution when needed.
Netflix will offer 4K HDR movie and TV streaming on smartphones, to compete with Amazon Prime Video
The next major Netflix app update also promises to bring that 4K and HDR quality stream to smartphones. The LG G6 is the only phone that will get it at launch, but other mobiles should join the G6 once that exclusivity launch runs out.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium offers a proper 4K screen and also supports HDR, in the form of HDR-10. At launch, the XZ Premium will offer 4K HDR content streaming via the Amazon Prime Video service - and you can expect Netflix support to arrive soon after.
Technically lots of screens already out there could be tuned to offer HDR, so there is a chance older phones will also be updated to support the app. Of course, the lack of 4K screen on most phones will limit that resolution level - although on smaller screens it shouldn’t really make much of a difference.
Dolby Vision Netflix saves your mobile battery life too
Dolby announced that the way its Dolby Vision HDR content works actually helps your phone save battery - well, on the LG G6 anyway. Since the video content is tailored and tuned to that screen specifically, the display is able to increase and decrease brightness depending on the scene playing. As a result, the G6 can cut the display brightness when in darker scenes, for example.
This Dolby Vision encoding also helps the phone save battery by cutting down on the intensive processing required for video playback.
Dolby reckons its Dolby Vision HDR offering will save 15 percent battery life on the LG G6 when viewing video non-stop. Here’s hoping that applies when it rolls out to other phones too.
All that said Netflix doesn’t have a massive amount of Dolby Vision content, favouring more HDR10 encoded video. But there are some great offerings so it’s something that will let LG G6 owners take advantage of that HDR display and, hopefully, grow interest for more content in the future.
When will Netflix offer 4K HDR movie and TV streaming on my mobile phone?
Expect Netflix's update to allow 4K HDR streaming on a smartphone and other mobile devices soon. The LG G6 should be hitting stores in April 2017, so we're hoping Netflix isn't far behind.