[Update 2: ROG Phone 3 Fix Rolling Out] Some ROG Phone 3 and ZenFone 7 owners are having issues with HD playback in Netflix

[Update 2: ROG Phone 3 Fix Rolling Out] Some ROG Phone 3 and ZenFone 7 owners are having issues with HD playback in Netflix

Update 2 (01/26/2021 @ 1:40 PM ET): The ROG Phone 3 is now also receiving a software update to restore HD playback in Netflix. Click here for more information.

Update 1 (01/22/2021 @ 04:00 PM ET): ASUS is rolling out an update to the ZenFone 7 series that allegedly addresses the Widevine downgrade issue. Click here for more information. The article as published on December 30, 2020, is preserved below.

Some owners of the ASUS ROG Phone 3 and ZenFone 7/7 Pro have discovered that their devices have lost Widevine L1 status. As a result, they’re unable to play Netflix content in HD.

Users have taken to ASUS’ forums to voice their complaints. Seems the issue has persisted over several weeks now with no signs of going away.

Widevine is a DRM technology used by many streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to ensure that these services are being used by devices with unmodified and secure firmware. Without Widevine L1 status, users are unable to stream videos from Netflix above 540p quality. Unfortunately, due to a bug in the SoC firmware of the ROG Phone 3 and ZenFone 7 (both are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865), the Widevine DRM level is being downgraded from L1 to L3 for a handful of users. The only way to fix this, according to ASUS, is for the affected users to ship their devices to ASUS so they can re-provision them.

ASUS released a statement regarding the issue: “Asus is aware of this issue which affect a small number of users and is caused by a bug from our SOC vendor Qualcomm,” ASUS said. “If this has happened we urge you to contact Asus customer service in your region.”

Some users in the forums have stated that after getting their phone fixed, the issue has reared its head again. “I have this issue happened to me after that service center resolved my issue but the issue happened to me AGAIN today,” user yashpandya295 said in the ASUS forums. “So I have to visit service center again.”

For what it’s worth, we checked our ROG Phone 3 and ZenFone 7 review units and our Widevine level hasn’t been downgraded. To check your own Widevine DRM level, download the DRM Info app.

ROG Phone 3 Forums ||| ASUS ZenFone 7 Forums

DRM Info
DRM Info
Developer: Android Fung
Price: Free

Update 1: Potential Fix for ASUS ZenFone 7

After informing us that the only way to resolve the Widevine downgrade issue was to ship your device to a service center, ASUS is now rolling out an update to the ZenFone 7 series that allegedly fixes the issue. Software version 29.14.53.23 is rolling out globally with the following release notes:

  1. Updated Android security patch to 2021-01-05
  2. Improved touch stability
  3. Enabled Volte on Telia (LT)
  4. Fixed Widevine downgrade to L3 issue

Since we aren’t facing the issue on our own units, we can’t confirm if the update resolves the problem for the affected units. However, since the issue was allegedly caused by a bug in Qualcomm’s firmware, it’s not unreasonable to think that it can be fixed by a software update. We haven’t spotted a similar update roll out for the ROG Phone 3 just yet, but once it does, we’ll let you know. If your ZenFone 7 had its Widevine level downgrade to L3 and this update bumped it back up to L1 for you, let us know in the comments below!


Update 2: Fix for ROG Phone 3

ASUS has announced software update version 17.0823.2012.131 for the ROG Phone 3. The update is rolling out globally with the following release notes:

  1. Improved issue where no sound is heard during a phone call in headset mode
  2. Fixed an issue where Netflix HD movies cannot be played

It seems that ASUS managed to restore the Widevine keybox, which is normally encrypted with a device-unique secret key that is provisioned at the factory. This is great news since it means Netflix HD playback can be restored without physically sending the device back to ASUS. Let us know if the update fixed the issue for you!

About author

Brandon Russell
Brandon Russell

Brandon's love of technology can be traced back to his childhood, when he would obsessively watch Back to the Future. Since then he's followed the industry and its many innovations, from handheld consoles to powerful smartphones. He's still waiting on a hoverboard.