Poco F1 to get Widevine L1 support via OTA update to enable HD streaming, but is it really possible?

By Digit NewsDesk | Updated 24 Oct 2018
Poco F1 to get Widevine L1 support via OTA update to enable HD streaming, but is it really possible?
  • Xiaomi promised in a forum post that the Poco F1 will receive support for Widevine L1 through a software update that will be pushed out in Q4.

The Poco F1 with its flagship grade hardware took everyone by surprise when it launched for just Rs 20,999. However, reports soon started surfacing about the drawbacks of the smartphone. One of them was the lack of Widevine L1 certification that is required to stream HD videos on OTT services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and the likes. It turned out the phone only had Widevine L3 certification causing a major backlash from Xiaomi community and the media. It seems like Poco took the feedback seriously and in a post on Mi forum by a forum admin, Poco is working to update the phone with Widevine L1 support via  software update.

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The post on Mi Forum is tagged as official and it states that the company is “still developing with Google and Qualcomm, and will try to release the Beta within Q4”. The update will come as part of a beta update for MIUI 10.

Widevine L1 is Google’s digital rights management system that is required if you are streaming from platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or any other OTT services. The Poco F1 has a Widevine L3 that can only stream in standard quality despite have a full HD+ display. It’s a major drawback for users who bought the phone and Xiaomi is attempting to fix it. However, the company’s promise of certifying the phone with Widevine L1 via a OTA update is questionable.

For L1 certification, the content processing needs to happen within a trusted zone in the smartphone’s processor. It’s to prevent illegally pirating the content. Essentially, all Cortex-A ARM processors have the option to implement the technology and there’s no such licensing fee to implement it. The Poco F1 was developed in China where the certification is not required as such since Netflix and other global streaming services are banned by the Great Firewall. Perhaps it could be an oversight from the company that’s primarily based out of China. It could also be a result of cost cutting as the implementation requires additional time to test it.

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To enable the feature after the phone has been shipped to users, the OEM needs to make a hardware-level change that can only be done physically and not via a software update. The OnePlus 5T also skipped on the certification and when it was called out for it, the Chinese upstart issued a callback of the devices to implement it physically. We have reached out to Poco to understand how the company plans to implement it via a software update. We will update the article if and when the company responds.

However, a forum post on XDA Developers states that the Sony Xperia XZ2 did receive the certification via a OTA update for its Android P Developer Preview 3. However, the XZ2 did have the certification in its stable ROM and was only broken when it updated to the Developer Preview. In case of the Poco F1, it’s not there in the stable build itself, and it will be interesting to see how Poco implements it.

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