WALTR for Mac (screenshot 001)

While some photography apps in the App Store — such as the $49.99 Vizzywig 8xHD — make shooting film-like 4K footage on an iPhone a reality by taking a series of individual eight-megapixel images in rapid succession, the general public and techies alike are totally unaware that the latest iPhones are actually capable of rendering 4K 3,840-by-2,160 pixel video.

And who could blame them? After all, Apple’s been conspicuously mum about it. But as it turns out, the A8 chip ticking inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus provides enough oomph to seamlessly handle 4K content playback.

The surprising discovery was made public last week by Softorino (via TUAW), the developers of WALTR, a new Mac app which makes it easy to upload and convert any video or audio file to an iOS-friendly format for native playback on iPhones, iPads, iPods and Apple TVs.

While it makes little sense to render massive 4K videos on the 1,334-by-750 and 1,920-by-1,080 pixel resolution screens of the respective iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones due to inevitable downsampling, the very fact that the A8 processor can handle 4K content is important on many levels.

First things first.

Here’s Softorino’s video evidence that the Apple-designed A8 chip ticking inside the iPhone 6 can indeed playback 3,840-by-2,160 pixel 4K video packed in H.264 at 50Mbps and 100Mbps streams.

Again, the finding tells us that the new iPhones are powerful enough to decode native 4K video and downscale it to device resolution. It’s a pretty big deal and here’s why.

1. Apple television with Retina display

The release of the Retina iMac proves Apple now knows how to build 27-inch screens with higher-than-4K resolution on a mass scale. Should the company decide to refresh the Apple TV set-top box hardware or release a long-rumored standalone television set, the A8 and A8X processor of today are already well-equipped to handle 4K content.

iTV under Christmas tree

2. iPad Pro

The rumor-mill and big media are in agreement that Apple is working on a high-end iPad sporting a screen measuring either 12.9 or 12.2 inches diagonally. Taiwanese media is convinced that device will sport an ultra high-resolution screen. If the new iPhones’ resolution jump is anything to go by, the iPad Pro could very much come outfitted with a 4K (or even higher) resolution screen, in turn making a rumored split-screen multitasking a joy to use.

iPad pro concept (Ramotion, Top view)

3. Lightning to 4K HDMI adapter

Even though it doesn’t make much sense to render 4K video on the 2K “Retina HD” display of the iPhone 6 Plus, a variant of Apple’s $49 Lightning Digital AV adapter with support for 4K resolutions via HDMI 1.4 would see to that. Indeed, why not output 4K video to a big screen TV using A8 or A8X devices like the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2?

Lightning-Digital-AV-Adapter-02.JPG

4. Future-proofing for 4K

Apple being Apple, we wouldn’t be surprised at all if the firm did exactly nothing in the 4K playback department in terms of the current-generation iOS devices. However, now that we’ve established that the A8 and A8X chips handle 4K content, it’s a given that future iOS devices will be just as equipped to decode 4K video as the latest iPhones, and then some more (how about 4K video capture?). Once  Apple officially enables full 4K video support on iOS, all that remains is some actual 4K content.

OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 (Display preferences, 4K)

5. iTunes movies in 4K

Which brings me to my last point: iTunes. For those that didn’t receive the memo, Apple’s beenrolling out hardware-assisted 4K decoding across its product families with the new Mac Pro. It’s been also upgrading Macs to 2K Retina screens with the MacBook Pros and 5K ones with the latest 27-inch iMac with Retina display. Once the transition has been completed, iTunes will be for sure hosting movies in 4K.

iTunes 11 (HD Movies 001)

I know, storing 4K videos on an iPhone or iPad quickly eats up storage.

That’s why it’s important to remember that the International telecommunications Union in January 2013 certified the H.265 video standard, a successor to the H.264 codec that Apple uses across its products and on iTunes.

By delivering high-resolution 4K video with half the bit rate of H.264, it effectively addresses the file size problem while being future-proofed to support the next decade of video.

What’s more, Apple’s iPhone tech specs webpage makes it clear that the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus tap the highly efficient H.265 coded for encoding and decoding FaceTime video calls over cellular, meaning the A8 chips probably includes a specialized encoder/decoder module for hardware-assisted decoding of H.265-encoded 4K video.

Those with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus who are willing to try out 4K playback on their device are wholeheartedly recommended to check out WALTR for Mac over at the Softorino website. Due to Apple’s ruled for sandboxed apps, WALTR is not available through the Mac App Store.

WALTR (not on Mac App Store teaser 002)

Note that Taiwanese suppliers now have 1440p displays measuring 5.5 inches. This isn’t saying an ‘iPhone 6s’ — or whatever the next iPhone is called — will upgrade to a 4K-capable Retina resolution. That being said, I do tend to believe that it’s highly likely that the iPhone’s next major Retina upgrade will in fact deliver a native 4K screen.

The aforementioned WALTR app lets you quickly convert and transfer unsupported audio and video file types such as FLAC and MKV to your iPhone or iPad, have a look at the video walkthrough below.

When originally setting out to do this write-up, I wanted to contribute to clearing up any confusion stemming from support for 4K video on the new iPhones and give you an idea or two where things might be headed in the future.

Your guess is as good as mine so chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you care about 4K and are you excited about this finding?

  • Captain Canada

    I just bought a 1080p tv, I don’t give a damn about 4K and I won’t be pressured into thinking 4K is amazing. Progress is inevitable and progress for the sake of progress is a weird discussion to have but telling me my 1080p screens and content are old school is just not true.

    • Merman123

      4K is definitely amazing. I just bought a 4K TV and coming from a 1080p, I could definitely see this being the future. I wouldn’t say 1080p is old school, but if you’re in the market for something new, future proofing may the smartest option. Especially with TVs. They can get very expensive fast.

      • The price will just go down, what would be the purpose of buying it when its not as necessary?

      • Captain Canada

        You’re right but just how much more amazing it is than 4K is definitely open to debate. I bought a 1080p tv while having acknowledged your future proofing argument, we all know that a lot of tv and modern consoles only output 720p even now so I made the tradeoff I guess you could say. I still think I’ve future proofed with my tv’s 3 hdmi ports and usb port for at least the next 10 years (maybe less) but I understand your position.

      • yungcinnabun

        do tv stations look better or is it just blu-rays ? cause i thought no cable providers as well as next gen consoles put out more than 720-1080p and 60hz currently so wouldn’t a 4k tv be pretty pointless if all you do is watch TV and or play video games

      • singhay559

        You just need to buy 4k tvs that supports uhd upscaling. From what I’ve read samsung is the the best 4k tv as of now

      • Anton Zuykov

        blue ray also has a higher bitrate, which results in a much cleaner image with a lot more details in the frame

    • Acolz

      Don’t be pressured into it, but really, it is amazing, gotta see it on your own to understand

    • Anton Zuykov

      it is not for people like you. Instead, those who need a quality video shooting (with higher bitrate then just shitty 40-50 Mbps).

  • Dan

    So when people were complaining about the iPhone not having 4K support, supporters said it it was no big deal. Now that it’s been confirmed that it may indeed support it, it’s a big deal?

    ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • Merman123

      To be fair, the discussion was about native 4K camera-recording support. This article is centered around the ability to playback 4K content, which was actually “discovered” long ago. I remember reading about it shortly after the iPhone’s were released.

      • Dan

        True, but it’s either relevant or it’s not. If you’re saying that 4K is relevant, it also applies to the video recording imo. Just found it funny, not trying to start any crap though.

      • CollegiateLad

        Oh hush… Maybe it’s a big deal to some and not such a big deal to others. And why is it funny? Like are you seriously laughing cause some internet personality declared it irrelevant and Christian thinks it’s awesome?

        Get a life.

      • Dan

        Did I insult you in some way? I simply said that I find it funny (or interesting if that suits you better) that features don’t seem to be important when the competition has them, but then they are ‘a big deal’ once they are available. Maybe you should follow your own advice.

      • CollegiateLad

        Your adolescent attitude is insulting, yes. And yes, features aren’t a big deal unless they’re on my phone. For example, I(and apparently the whole retail business) viewed NFC as irrelevant. Now that the iPhone has NCF, it’s relevant. Retailers are gearing up and banks are even making their own commercials for it. It’s a big deal (now).

        I’ll take my own advice and get a life now.

      • s0me

        Retailers know about the herd mentality. They know sheeps will run and buy the Iphone because “everyone” has it. Sheeps need to pay for the brand just to be cool aswell.
        You design a t-shirt with 2 lines across the center and of course you put your brand on it. Nike designs the same t-shirt with the same materials as you. Then you put them in side to side stores in a mall, with different price tags, wich of the t-shirts do you think will sell more?

      • CollegiateLad

        I stopped reading at ‘sheeps’.

        Did you know sheep Is plural? Lol

      • s0me

        What foreign language do you speak? English is not even my second language.

      • CollegiateLad

        Lol… Have a nice day.

      • @dongiuj

        You either don’t get the point/are too ignorant to see the point/are playing real stupid/all three.
        Lol… Have a nice day.

      • wackyrrific

        @dongiuj You don’t deserve even a response LOLOLOLOL

      • @dongiuj

        I wasn’t looking for one but you just did…well done genius.

      • wackyrrific

        get a life apple hater

    • Cody

      It’s the same with the 1GB of RAM the iPhone has man, they say it’s not a big deal, that 2GB isn’t needed. But whenever the next iPhone gets released with more RAM everybody will start saying that it was super necessary and that it is a big deal.

      • CollegiateLad

        Of course they will. The iPhone still mops the floor with the competition despite only have 1 gb of ram.

      • I can assure you that unless Apple does something with that extra gig of RAM it is not a big deal. My iPad Air 2 has an extra gig of RAM and from what I can see the major advantages are that I can run more apps at once and have more tabs open in Safari…

      • s0me

        The Air2 is a new device, of course it is running smooth with whatever ram it has but after the next OS update it will run slower and your browser of choise will start reloading tabs. I wonder if the slow loading of the Appstore is because of ram or serverside. Anyway more RAM is better than enough in any possible scenario, stop being butthurt son!

      • More RAM is only “better” if the device needs more RAM. If memory is managed properly 1gb of RAM should be fine assuming not much multitasking is performed. Heck the awesomeness of Metal and the games using it is proof you don’t need lots of RAM. You only need more RAM for tasks that demand more RAM and for inefficient code that could run just as well on less RAM as long as it was optimised to do so…

      • Mr X

        I think a major feature or something big is about to be shown in coming iPad release and the 2GB of RAM is just a way of making sure current users get a taste of it. iPad mini air should also have a boost in the coming release.
        What feature that might be remains to be seen.

      • Anton Zuykov

        “More RAM is only “better” if the device needs more RAM. ”

        only if your memory management algorithm sucks

      • Anton Zuykov

        “next OS update it will run slower and your browser of choice will start reloading tabs.”

        My HTC Inspire stopped getting updates from Android in the first year of me buying it. Yet, iphone4 that was released the same year, still gets updates from Apple….4 years from that moment.. 1 year vs 4 years…

        talking about user support…

      • Anton Zuykov

        “everybody will start saying ”

        They usually don’t know shit…
        it is just a natural reaction to ask for more, whether you needed that or not, hence Samsung, in the attempt to please its fans – puts more and more memory, that doesn’t help to increase anything. Launch tests for iPhone6 and Note4 demonstrated that Note4 Snapdrgaon 805 was faster 3%….while having, ACCORDING TO SPECS, 3 times more RAM, 3.5 times faster CPU.

        Reality was different though…

    • iHypocrites at their finest…

      • wackyrrific

        get a life, mr confused

      • Learn to think for yourself you mindless zombie.

      • wackyrrific

        get a life

      • Anton Zuykov

        “Learn to think for yourself you mindless zombie.”

        Are you suggesting that people, who buy devices not based on their performance, but based on pure specs (that proved to be ineffective in bringing in performance), somehow are thinking for themselves?

      • Welcome to last year dude.

        “Are you suggesting that people, who buy devices not based on their performance, but based on pure specs (that proved to be ineffective in bringing in performance), somehow are thinking for themselves?”

        No, those are no better than the mindless zombies that just think everything Apple does is right…

      • Anton Zuykov

        the irony…

      • Don’t think you even know what “Irony” means…

      • Anton Zuykov

        The irony is that you blame others for hypocrisy while being hypocritical yourself. That is ironic. Look up the definition.

        And also – every time you have nothing to respond with, saying that a person doesn’t know a particular word meaning is a very good strategy. Well done..

      • “The irony is that you blame others for hypocrisy while being hypocritical yourself.”

        How so? Where do you see me claiming something to be right/wrong/important/gimmicky and then contradictinging myself later on?

        You’re not making any point by just name calling you idiot. So, there’s nothing to argue about, besides your baseless name calling. You just keep looking like an asinine numbskull using fancy words you haven’t got a clue of what they mean…

    • wackyrrific

      your face O.o

      • @dongiuj

        Says the guy with what looks like a knob on his face o.O

      • Dan

        In a supreme act of maturity he has taken my picture (avatar) and drawn a p3nis on it. The ultimate retort to any debate. I’ve reported him to disqus but I don’t expect anything done.

      • wackyrrific

        look its me again, talking to myself

      • wackyrrific

        hi Dan, im YOU

    • Anton Zuykov

      the bitrate is a big deal…
      Because if you look 100% crop of Note4 4k – it is as crappy as hell. The same thing can be said about 1080 in iP6 at the standard bitrate.

  • maverickmax

    can a 5s do any of the above?

    • No, you need an A8 processor so only iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 or higher

    • Buzz { Light:Year; }

      I’ve seen 4k video on my 5 s

      • Dani Hayes

        4k or 2k?? The iPhone 5s can record 2k with certain apps like how this one works with the A8 devices.

  • bd

    Anybody have the wallpaper in point 4) That looks awesome

  • Tony Trenkle Jr.

    Pro Cam 2 does 4K in its latest update. Not sure what the price was, but it was between free and 4.99. So basically the best deal there is on a 4K app in the app store! Unlike that 999.999 bullshit app.

    • Joseph Farrugia

      Pleaaaaassse….there is no $999 app any more, it’s now 49.99 or thereabouts, and it’s old news. Still expensive, but nowhere near 999.
      The best seems MoviePro app which seems to have the highest bitrate, producing 3K+ videos with way better (way better, it’s not “small”) detail & texture rendering than 4K Android phones for eg: the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

  • Alex Rodriguez

    Of course I am exited about this finding. I have the Iphone 6+, I will explore more into this. I am considering buying the Vizzywig app, ouch! 50 Dollars? But I guess what you pay is what you get, and WALTR. Thank you for sharing.

    • Tony Trenkle Jr.

      Buy Pro Cam 2 instead! Its WAYYYY cheaper!

      • Alex Rodriguez

        Thank you for suggesting Pro Cam 2, just got it!

      • Tony Trenkle Jr.

        No problem!

  • Tony Trenkle Jr.

    Although why would that VizzyWig app run better on the 5S than on the iphone 6’s? That doesnt make any sense…

  • ins0mniac1

    It’s worth noting that the ProCam 2 app from App Store has an option to shoot in 4K on the iPhone 6/6 Plus. However there’s a bit of upscaling going on as a 4×3 8mp sensor isn’t quite capable of the full 3840 pixels wide of 4K. Still a big jump from 1080p though (3264 pixels vs 1920) and it upscales the final result to reach 3840×2160.

    The only real downside is maximum framerate halves from 60 to 30fps, so it depends what means the most to you – a highly detailed picture when the camera is relativity still (best at 4K) or a smoother and more detailed picture when camera is doing a lot of fast moving (best set at 60p).

  • s0me

    You cant natively film in 4k because they want to add it to the next Iphone. It will be the next big “feature”.

    • CarolMLeaks1

      They can get very expensive.

  • Matt Taylor

    Very nice article, thanks.

  • @dongiuj

    Wait a minute, I thought people were always banging on about how apple is becoming late to upgrades compared to other phones due to how mainstream the tech is. Non needed gimmick.

    • wackyrrific

      you dont hate apple, you just hate yourself

      • @dongiuj

        You don’t know me, you just think you do

  • Little off topic – iPhone 5s supports 4K playback too. I will try later on iPhone 5, but I believe it will work on it as well.
    On topic – even if there is a possibility for Apple to move to 4K in future (not a near one) there is one of the things that is not possible – HDMI 2.0 (which support 4K) over current Lightning cable (USB 2.0), they will need USB 3.0 based lightning cable standard for that. Also in order for apple to adopt 4K first it must be set as content standard, but we still wait for 4K bluray.

  • Kostas

    Since there’s no way to view the 4k videos you capture with your iphone on a UHD TV,,,,4k on iphone is a big rip off!
    The only way is to upload it on YOUTUBE….who was the mastermind behind this idea?
    Till Apple can support it with a cable/adapter whatever…there’s no reason to buy an iphone for the 4k video!
    Another way to show how Apple things of its customers…cow to milk!