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[Update: Persists in May] Some Google Pixel phones stuck with Widevine L3 & SD quality Netflix

Netflix and many other video streaming apps use Google-owned Widevine DRM to ensure content isn’t easily pirated on Android. An issue for the past few months sees some Google Pixel phones unable to stream Netflix in HD quality due to Widevine L3 being detected

Update 5/3: The issue of certain Pixel owners being stuck with Widevine L3 remains following the May security patch. Google did not list any functional updates this month. A thread on Reddit today reiterates that those affected still have this problem after the latest update.

Original 4/6: Widevine L1 is required to watch Netflix in high resolution on Android. If Netflix only sees L3, you can still stream but only in standard definition. To check, visit App Settings > Playback Specification.

A handful of Pixel 5 (and older) users since at least the February security patch have been stuck on Widevine L3. This is even as Netflix lists all Pixel phones as supporting HD content, in addition to HDR10. The end result is blurrier streaming and not being able to take full advantage of subscriptions. 

This problem gained traction following yesterday’s April security patch. There’s a pair of upvoted threads on Reddit and a submission on the Pixel Phone Help Forum. It’s not clear if that update exacerbated the problem, or if those facing the issue only just noticed. That said, the majority of Pixel owners still have Widevine L1. 

Those that contact Google Support are told to file a bug report, with the company seemingly aware of the issue but do not yet have a solution if they’re still seeking examples. Meanwhile, some affected users say they have factory reset and flashed factory images to no avail. Hopefully, an OTA update is able to address this Widevine L3 problem for Pixel devices.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: