Xiaomi Poco F1 doesn’t support Widevine L1, meaning no Netflix HD
The Xiaomi Pocophone F1 launched globally just a couple of days ago after launching in India as the Poco F1. At its price, it has some impressive specifications like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip, 6GB or 8GB RAM, 64GB/128GB/256GB internal storage, and a 4,000 mAh battery. It even has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot, making it a great choice for those interested in using the smartphone as a media consumption device. However, there is one flaw. As reported by AndroidPure, the Xiaomi Pocophone F1/Poco F1 lacks Widevine L1, meaning you can’t watch videos from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video in high-definition.
Widevine has three certification levels: L1, L2, and L3. Applications such as Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, BBC and more require the device to be Widevine L1 certified to be able to stream HD videos. Since the Xiaomi Poco F1 has Widevine L3, you can watch videos from Netflix at a maximum quality of 540p and not 720p, 1080p, or even the 4K options that Netflix offers.
Now, the Xiaomi Poco F1 is certainly not the only device that lacks Widevine L1 certification. The ZTE Axon M, OnePlus 5, OnePlus 5T, and many other smartphones ship with Widevine L3. In the case of the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T, the smartphones did not ship with the required secret key in the TrustZone interface so users had to physically send their devices to OnePlus to get the required key to meet Widevine L1 standards and watch Netflix in proper HD quality. (The OnePlus 6 ships with Widevine L1 certification out of the box, so this is no longer required on newer OnePlus devices.)
Fixing this problem via an OTA update won’t be possible, most likely. There have been some devices that received updates that bring Widevine L1 certification, but those devices already had the required device-unique secret key in the TrustZone. It’s unclear if this is the case on the Pocophone F1. If Xiaomi chooses to address this issue, they’ll either have to offer a service like OnePlus did or roll out an update that enables L1 support on the software side. Keep in mind that Google does not require any licensing fees for Widevine L1 certification, so it’s not as if money is the limiting factor here. (Although, the various steps needed to acquire certification do cost companies their time and resources.)
If you want to check whether your device supports Widevine L1, or any other level of the certification, you can download the free DRM Info application from the Google Play Store. Look for the Security Level under the Widevine CDM section.