Netflix is pushing hard when it comes to mobile streaming in 2017. The video-on-demand service has told Pocket-lint at Mobile World Congress 2017 that its mobile app is about to receive a major update which will mean better quality streaming at lower bitrates. Furthermore mobile HDR (high dynamic range) will be supported for the LG G6 at launch.
- What is mobile HDR? Dolby Vision, HDR10 and everything you need to know about future mobile entertainment
How will this be achieved? Netflix will use Google's VP9 codec, which means shows can be compressed more effectively without adversely affecting quality. Smaller file sizes, better quality when your on-the-go signal isn't so hot, plus less data used overall. It's a win-win situation. We've seen the side-by-side before and after comparisons, which clearly show how significant the quality difference is on a lowly connection (at around 156kbps).
For now this update applies for mobile only, with content delivered in up-to-1080p at various bitrates depending on the quality of connection. Netflix, at this time, has no plans to release 4K content for mobile - that's reserved for TVs via smart apps, compatible set-top boxes and consoles.
Just because there's no ultra-high definition for mobile, however, doesn't mean the streaming service isn't seeking out ways to improve quality. Mobile HDR will be available for the LG G6 at launch, with Dolby Vision support, meaning 10-bit colour and enhanced maximum brightness compared to a non-HDR handset. Other devices will follow (some with HDR10 only, not Dolby Vision), but Netflix isn't say exactly what or when.
We got to see a side-by-side SDR (standard dynamic range) and HDR pair of G6 handsets. The difference is subtle - the G6 won't go as bright as some HDR TVs, for example - but the added depth from the colour clearly makes everything look that much richer. Mobile HDR footage will demand around an additional 15 per cent bandwidth to achieve its extra colour and brightness.
With more and more content appearing on Netflix - including exclusive Originals shows and feature-length movies - there will be greater scope than ever before to stream on the go and achieve high quality, even when not in a great signal area. Top banana.
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