4K video being incorrectly listed as HD in Netflix, HBO Max and other Apple TV streaming apps

Several streaming apps on the Apple TV are labeling 4K movies and television shows as “HD,” but it’s unclear whether those videos indeed stream in the four times lower 1080p resolution.


  • Some of the new Apple TV 4K owners are seeing an “HD” label on 4K shows.
  • The issue affects content from streaming apps like Netflix and HBO Max.
  • It’s unclear what percentage of customers are seeing the problem.

New Apple TV 4K owners reporting incorrect streaming resolution

An extensive thread on Reddit says that some of the owners of Apple’s refreshed Apple TV 4K streaming box are experiencing this issue. Instead of seeing a regular “4K” label on TV shows and movies that are available in 4K resolution, people are getting an incorrect “HD” label.

A thread on the Apple Support forums has also documented this unusual issue.

This affects content from various streaming apps, including Netflix and HBO Max, according to user reports. Apple’s own iTunes Movies and TV Shows apps exhibit this problem, but not the company’s TV app. Not all apps are affected. For example, apps like Infuse and Plex that let you stream your own videos stored on network-attached storage don’t exhibit this weird error.

It’s difficult to tell if those videos indeed stream in the four times lower 1080p resolution because the Apple TV 4K upscales all content before it’s output as a 4K signal.

Apple is aware of the problem

AppleInsider says that Apple seems to be taking returns for folks reporting the issue.

Although it’s unclear what percentage of customers are seeing the problem, the reports claim that the original Apple TV 4K units aren’t affected. The tvOS 14.7 beta has the same problem as the public tvOS 14.6 release, meaning this could be a software bug.

It doesn’t appear to be an HDMI cable issue either, according to the people who swapped out their new Apple TV 4K with the previous model using the same cables, to no avail. Apple is supposedly aware of the issue, claim users on Reddit.

How can I fix this issue?

If you’re having this problem, there doesn’t seem there’s anything you can currently do to fix it.

It almost certainly isn’t related to the new Apple TV 4K hardware. That being said, however, it’s possible that the device’s refreshed chips could be causing streaming apps to incorrectly label 4K content as HD. The most likely explanation is that this is related to the Apple cloud and only affects owners of the updated Apple TV 4K box and not those with the previous model.

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If that is indeed the case, then Apple should be able to resolve this problem on its servers without requiring an Apple TV software update.

As we mentioned earlier, this could also be an annoying bug in the tvOS software.

Just yesterday, Apple dropped the new tvOS 14.6 software for the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD models and now we’re seeing this issue being reported. Is this purely coincidental or what?