Don’t get Netflix in 4K? Here’s how to fix it

Netflix logo

Yes, Netflix is ​​available in 4K. However, whether you can stream it depends on the speed of your internet connection, how much you pay, what you watch, and even the hardware you’re streaming it on. Here’s how to get Netflix in 4K and troubleshoot if not.

Check your plan

If you’re not paying for the Netflix plan that supports 4K content, you don’t have it. Netflix currently has the following three tiers:

  • Basic ($ 8.99 per month): Standard definition (480p) content on one screen at a time.
  • Standard ($ 12.99 per month): High definition content (up to 1080p) on two screens at the same time.
  • Premium ($ 15.99 per month): Ultra HD content (up to 4K) on four displays at the same time.

The "Plan details" section in the "Bill" menu on Netflix.

If you don’t pay a lot of money for the Premium plan, your content maxes out at 1080p. You can follow the instructions below to update your Netflix plan in the app on most devices or on the web:

  1. Go to netflix.com, log in and choose a profile.
  2. Click on the profile picture in the upper right corner and then select “Account”.
  3. Under “Plan details”, click “Change plan”.
  4. Select “Premium” and then click “Continue” to confirm.

The 4K plan offers the highest quality playback, but it may not be worth the added expense if you normally watch on a screen or device that can’t handle Ultra HD.

Enable high-quality playback for your account

In your Netflix account settings, you can restrict the amount of bandwidth Netflix consumes. These are divided into the following levels: Automatic (the default), Low, Medium, and High.

Follow these steps to change the bandwidth settings:

  1. Go to netflix.com, sign in, and then choose a profile.
  2. Click on the profile picture in the upper right corner and then select “Account”.
  3. Under “My Profile” select “Playback Settings”.
  4. Select “High” if you want to guarantee the highest quality.

The "Data usage per screen" settings on Netflix.

Netflix offers the following rough guideline for the amount of data consumed at each level during a one-hour stream:

  • Under: Up to 0.3 GB per hour.
  • Means, medium: Up to 0.7GB per hour.
  • High: Up to 3GB per hour for HD content or 7GB per hour for 4K content.

If you have a tight data limit, you may want to impose a “Low” or “Medium” limit. For 4K content, “Auto” should work if your Internet connection is fast enough, but try “High” if the results are not satisfactory. Just make sure it’s not “Medium” or “Low” if you want 4K.

These settings are profile specific, rather than account specific. You must change it for each profile on your account if you want to force high-quality streaming. You can also create a low or medium quality streaming account to use on mobile devices if you want to save bandwidth.

Make sure your internet connection is fast enough

Netflix state that a “constant internet connection speed of 25 megabits per second or more” is required to stream 4K content. You can see how your own internet connection is maintained using the company’s own speed test, Fast.com (but any internet speed test service will do.)

At night, during peak transmission hours, your connection will be slower due to increased network tension. You should run a test at peak times to make sure you meet the 25 Mb requirement even during periods of high usage.

Netflix internet connection speed test.

If you pay less than 25 Mb, you can contact your ISP and increase the speed of your plan. This is something your ISP can usually do remotely, so you won’t have to upgrade any equipment or schedule a technician visit.

Note that 25 Mb is the bare minimum requirement. If other people in your household use the Internet to watch videos, play games, or download files, it could affect your ability to stream at the highest quality. You should update your Internet plan to accommodate your family or household usage patterns.

Also, keep in mind that your local network could be the culprit too, especially if you’re using Wi-Fi. Try moving closer to the router and see if this solves your problem. For best results, you can use a wired Ethernet connection.

Make sure your browser supports 4K

If you want to stream Netflix in 4K in a browser, you can only do so in Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. You also need a 7th Gen Intel Core processor or higher, or a Supported NVIDIA GPU.

If you want to watch on an external monitor, it must be HDCP 2.2 compliant. You can also use the Netflix app from the Windows 10 Store.

The Microsoft Edge logo.

If you’re on a Mac, you’re limited to 1080p through Safari on macOS 10.10.3. If you Really even if you want to, you can run Windows in a virtual machine.

If you use Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, you are stuck with 720p right now. This is all due to Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Netflix trying to prevent 4K streams from being copied or shared online.

In the past, there were browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome that promised to enable higher quality streams on those browsers. However, these extensions were removed from their respective stores. You should always be careful with these extensions (especially those that come from untrusted sources).

Make sure your streaming box can handle 4K

If you use a streaming box, like Apple TV, to watch Netflix, you can make sure it supports 4K. You need an Apple TV 4K to handle the demands of a 4K broadcast and to stream Ultra HD to your TV.

A Chromecast Ultra can handle 4K streaming, but a normal old Chromecast can’t.

An Apple TV 4K and remote control.
Apple

Compatible Roku streaming boxes include Roku Premium and Streaming Stick +, but not the cheapest Express. Remember, if you want to connect one of these to your TV, your TV must be HDMI 2.0 compliant and HDCP 2.2 compliant.

If you have a relatively modern 4K TV, chances are good that you have a decent built-in Netflix app that you can use instead. Unfortunately, many older 4K TVs may not be compatible with Netflix content in Ultra HD, particularly those manufactured before 2014.

To stream Netflix in 4K through a smart TV, your TV must have the Netflix app and an HEVC decoder to handle streaming.

Many cheaper 4K TVs have hit the market, so it’s not certain that yours can access Netflix in 4K.

Some HEVC decoder is missing required to show streaming, which means you’ll need to opt for a streaming box, like the Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku models we listed above.

Are you watching 4K content?

Not everything on Netflix is ​​available in 4K. Your TV can do a good job of enhancing the content to look better than the old 1080p. However, if you watch non-4K content on a 4K TV, it will always look a bit smooth.

Netflix doesn’t tell you about the quality of the show or movie you’re about to watch in the description. You just have to cross your fingers and start playing it. However, as long as you pay for the Premium tier and meet the hardware requirements, Netflix offers 4K content whenever possible.

If you specifically want to watch 4K content, access Netflix from your 4K TV, through Microsoft Edge or on a 4K compatible streaming box, and then select the “4K” category.

You can also type “4K” or “UHD” in the search box. You can also follow blogs like HD report, or use a library service, such as What’s on Netflix? to keep up with new additions.

Make sure your ISP isn’t throttling Netflix

Video transmission requires a large amount of data, so it can affect the infrastructure of a network. To combat this, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use throttling, also known as traffic shaping.

Think of the Internet as a series of channels through which your data flows. Now, consider what would happen if the channel reserved for Netflix was narrower than the channel reserved for Facebook.

This is because limiting the channel size restricts the amount of data that can be sent. Less data means less strain on the network, a trick ISPs use as an inexpensive way to increase speed.

In 2019, A study about this was conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Northeastern University. It found that while most ISPs don’t reduce traffic, Accelerate video streaming traffic all over the world. This is particularly common in cellular networks.

There are a few ways to tell if your ISP is speeding up your connection. The easiest thing to do is watch out for the obvious red flags. You can test your speed, surf the web on a few different websites, or try some large file downloads.

If there are no issues with your connection other than Netflix performance, it is very possible that it is speeding up.

You may want to contact your ISP directly and try to fix the situation. You can also use a VPN to hide your traffic from your ISP and avoid throttling effectively.

If that doesn’t work, you can switch to a different ISP. If you are looking for one that works well with Netflix, check out the Netflix ISP Speed ​​Index.

Sometimes you just have to be patient

When you first start streaming something, it may take a while for the stream to reach its optimal quality setting. To reduce load time, a higher quality stream will begin to buffer in the background, while a lower quality stream will play immediately.

Sometimes you just have to wait for Netflix to catch up. You can always try to pause your content and wait a few seconds. Even if you have the quality set to “High” in your profile preferences, Netflix has a lower quality at the beginning of a stream or during periods of poor connectivity.

Lastly, since you’re obviously a Netflix subscriber, don’t fall for the Netflix “smishing” scam that’s out there!

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