“A big frustration with the Apple TV 4K is about to be history,” my colleague Chris Welch wrote, when we learned that Apple’s premiere set-top box would finally be able play 4K YouTube videos at their native resolution instead of being stuck at 1080p. These days, even a $40 dongle can do better than that.
But though Apple’s latest software updates did bring YouTube 4K to the Apple TV 4K, the frustrations aren’t necessarily over. It turns out you’re limited to watching 4K at 30fps, instead of a smooth 60 frames per second, and without the depth of color and contrast that High Dynamic Range (HDR) provides. That’s what 9to5Mac noticed yesterday, and we’ve confirmed with Google that — for now — Apple TV only supports 4K at 30fps with SDR content.
On the plus side, the latest iPhones and iPads do support 4K 60fps HDR content if you’ve got iOS 14 installed. Just find a supported video (this is one of my go-tos), hit the three-dot settings icon at the upper-right hand corner, and change “Quality” to 2160p.
It’s just a shame that the best-of-the-best still isn’t available on a big 4K TV screen, where you’d more easily notice the difference. On my iPhone 11 Pro, I can’t always tell.
Perhaps Apple is saving that for a future model? It has been over three years since the company last updated the Apple TV, and there’s at least one rumor going around that new models are on the way.
Apple’s upcoming macOS Big Sur operating system introduces HDR video support and allows Netflix users to watch content in 4K HDR for the first time. However, it turns out that only Macs with an Apple T2 Security chip are compatible with Ultra HD streaming.
Apple Terminal spotted a recently updated support document on Netflix’s Help Center that now includes hardware requirements for viewing 4K HDR content in Safari on macOS Big Sur.
According to the web page, viewing Ultra HD content can only be achieved on a “select 2018 or later Mac computer with an Apple T2 Security chip.” In addition to that, every monitor connected to the computer on which Ultra HD is streamed must be a 60Hz 4K capable display with a HDCP 2.2 connection.
It’s not clear why Macs need a T2 security chip to play back 4K HDR content, given that Windows machines obviously don’t, but it could be that this is Netflix’s way of ensuring that viewers aren’t trying to stream the high-definition content on older Macs, which could result in less-than-stellar performance.
The following Macs have the Apple T2 Security Chip, and can therefore stream Netflix in Ultra HD on macOS Big Sur:
macOS Big Sur is now up to its ninth public beta, and is likely to officially debut sometime this month.