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Can you stream Netflix in 4K with 5G?

Now that 5G network coverage is spreading across the U.S. at a rapid rate, it’s time to start talking about potential 5G use cases that will make it worthwhile for the average consumer. So we’re digging into 5G technology and asking one of the most important questions: Can you stream Netflix in 4K with 5G?

In theory, the answer to that question is yes. In practice, we probably aren’t quite there yet. 5G is faster than 4G in some areas of the U.S., offering higher download speeds and a more consistent connection. However, it’s unlikely that you’d be able to stream Netflix in 4K with 5G right now. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be possible in the future.

 Limits on streaming quality

The fact that 5G isn’t powerful enough to handle 4K streaming just yet isn’t the only hurdle here. Some major 5G carriers compress and limit streaming video quality on some plans, making it currently impossible to get anything beyond 1080p on your mobile device. So if 4K streaming is something you really want, just make sure you understand the limits of your phone plan before you hop on the 5G bandwagon.

Another factor you have to take into consideration here is whether or not Netflix is even serving up 4K content to your devices.

How to tell if you’re getting Netflix in 4K

Did you know that not all Netflix plans offer the same streaming quality? If you think you are not getting Netflix in 4K, the first thing you need to do is go to the source and check your plan. If you’re on the most basic plan, you’ll be stuck in an HD-less void. The standard plan, which most folks probably have, supports HD streaming at 1080p, but not 4K

So if you want 4K Ultra HD from Netflix, the first thing you need to do is get yourself on the Premium plan — which is the only option that offers that level of quality.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Check your settings

If you have the premium plan and still aren’t getting Netflix in 4K, the next thing you can do is head to your playback settings and check what your data usages are set to. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each one means:

  • Low: Streaming at this level will use up about 0.3GB per hour. Streaming in low quality will force the content to play at standard definition. This is the best option for those with poor connections, or those who are streaming with data limits.
  • Medium: Medium-quality streaming will tick your data use up to around 0.7GB per hour. At this limit, you’ll still be locked into standard definition.
  • High: Depending on your network, you could be using 3GB per hour for basic 720p streaming or up to 7GB per hour for 4K Ultra HD streaming.
  • Auto: As the name implies, this will let your streaming quality fluctuate with your current internet speeds and network connection to provide the most stable streaming experience.

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Jacob Kienlen
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jacob Kienlen is a culture writer for The Manual and Amusement Muse and an SEO Strategist for Digital Trends. Born and raised…
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