Earlier this year, many Google Pixel devices saw their Widevine, the tool that plays DRM-protected content, drop to L3 level. Smartphones are therefore no longer able to play HD content on Netflix.
More than 8 months ago, we reported that a Google Pixel bug prevented HD content from playing on Netflix. Indeed, Google Pixel 3 smartphones and newer models had seen their Widevine drop to L3 after the April 2021 update. This means that DRM protected content, like Netflix, cannot be played in HD, with Netflix capping playback at 540p.
The bug is probably still not corrected, although Google had yet promised in April 2021 to quickly find a solution. Worse yet, users continue to report the issue regularly on social media, and the Google Pixel 3 only has one end-of-life update. Indeed, we learned last month that Google was going to deploy only one update on its Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL before smartphones were permanently abandoned. If the update does not fix the problem, then Pixel 3 owners will have no choice but to settle for a 540p definition on Netflix.
Not all users are affected by this issue
Based on user feedback on social media, not all Google smartphones are affected by the bug. Indeed, some report that their Google Pixel 5 and Google Pixel 6 are well certified Widevine L1 by Google, which means that they can enjoy Netflix in Full HD and HDR.
For now, we do not know exactly whether or not Google plans to correct the situation, since the company has been promising to find a solution for almost 8 months now. Netflix is not the only platform concerned, since the vast majority of streaming services require Google Widevine L1 security level to be able to access and watch content in HD and Ultra HD.