Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Some Apple TV 4K users may be getting shortchanged on resolution from streaming apps

Apple TV 4K with new Siri Remote

Last updated

Some owners of the new Apple TV 4K are being told by third-party streaming apps that they are going to get HD video instead of 4K, and it isn't clear why.

Growing threads on Reddit and on the Apple Support forums are demonstrating that users are seeing A HD label, versus a 4K one, on content streamed from the Netflix app, and some others. However, that same content when available in Apple's TV app from the same service is being properly labeled as 4K content.

Specifically, Netflix is demonstrating the behavior for some, and so is HBO Max. Disney+ isn't transparent about content resolution as the other services are, so it isn't clear if this is happening there as well. Local streaming services like Plex and Infuse don't appear to be manifesting the problem either.

Further complicating the troubleshooting and identification of the problem, the Apple TV will upscale content to suit the output device's resolution. So, even if the television says that it is getting 4K, that doesn't mean that what's being streamed to the set-top box by the streaming service to the app is actually 4K video.

AppleInsider was not able to reproduce the bug locally, but we have spoken to a colleague that has. Even using the same examples as shown on an Apple support thread and in the extensive Reddit thread documenting the issue, content was shown as streaming to our Apple TV units purchased at retail in 4K. So, it isn't clear what percentage of users are seeing the problem.

The original Apple TV 4K isn't manifesting this issue at all, and the behavior reportedly persists in the tvOS 14.7 beta. In theory, this issue is some kind of bug in tvOS impacting some users but not all, a small batch of defective devices, or in some cases the Apple TV 4K isn't identifying itself properly to the streaming software applications.

At present, there no official response from Apple regarding the matter. Apple's online Customer service is having users swap out HDMI cables and perform a software reset, but neither seems to be fixing the problem. Apple also appears to be taking returns for users reporting the issue.

Follow all the details of WWDC 2021 with the comprehensive AppleInsider coverage of the whole week-long event from June 7 through June 11, including details of all the new launches and updates.

Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.