How to get the best video quality

Make sure that you’re watching Netflix in the highest quality possible, whether it's HD, 4K Ultra HD, or with HDR.

You should get the best quality automatically, but if things don’t look as good as you expect, this article may help. 

First off, every Netflix TV show and movie has a details page with the title's description, maturity rating, and more. The page also has video quality labels showing the quality a title will play at on the device you're using.

Resolution (detail):

4K: The highest resolution available on Netflix currently. Also called Ultra HD or 4K Ultra HD.

HD: Can be either full high definition (1080p) or high definition (720p).

Dynamic range (contrast & colorfulness):

Dolby Vision: A high dynamic range (HDR) system developed by Dolby Laboratories.

HDR: Another system for high dynamic range, also known as HDR10.

On most TVs, Netflix will always show a resolution label, and if high definition is an option, it'll also show a label for the high-definition system the title will use to play on the TV.

On some TVs and other devices, you'll see only one video quality label even if more than one applies, and if high dynamic range is supported by the title and device it will show that one. For example, if a title plays in 4K and also supports Dolby Vision on a device, only the Dolby Vision label will show.

So look for 4K and HD labels to check resolution, and Dolby Vision and HDR labels to check high dynamic range. In step 4 below are titles to use to check each.

Some mobile devices may not always stream in HDR even if an HDR label appears, like if the device is in low power mode or using a cellular connection.

Set up your system for the best video quality

Follow each of the steps below. If you make any changes, stop and check to see if it made a difference before moving on.

1. Check your plan

Check which plan you have and make sure it supports the quality you'd like.

If you’re watching on a device that can play at a better quality than your plan allows, we may invite you to upgrade your plan to take full advantage of your equipment.

2. Check your network

Netflix adapts to the speed of your internet connection to make sure you can keep watching. It may stream at a lower quality on slow or unstable internet connections.

  • On a phone, computer, or tablet check your internet speed at

    1. Make sure the device you're checking with is using the same network as the device you want to watch on.

    2. For the most accurate results, run the test close to the device you’re trying to watch on. If you’re watching Netflix on a TV with a WiFi connection, put your phone or computer close to where the TV is before running the test.

  • If your internet connection is slower than needed for a given resolution, your video will be at a lower quality.

    • 4K: 15 Mbps miniumum

    • 1080p HD: 5 Mbps

    • 720p HD: 3 Mbps

    • 480p SD: 1 Mbps

    Sometimes a title may start off on a lower resolution and then switch to a higher resolution after a short time.

3. Check your devices

To get the best quality available for your plan, all the devices you're using have to support it. If you’re on the Premium plan and trying to watch on a TV with a streaming stick and an audio receiver, then all three devices have to support 4K to watch in 4K.

  • You should also check that all devices are running the latest software or firmware, and that their video resolution settings are equal to or greater than the quality you're aiming for.

  • Your video cables and the ports they're plugged into must also support your plan's quality. For the Premium plan, you need to use Premium High Speed HDMI or Ultra High Speed HDMI cables. (Not sure what type of cable you have? It's often printed on the cable or the cable ends.)

  • For 4K or HDR, make sure that devices and cables are plugged into an HDMI port that supports HDCP 2.2 or later (usually the HDMI 1 port).

  • If a device or cable in your setup doesn't meet all requirements for a particular quality, Netflix will play at the highest quality available for that device, port, or cable.

4. Check with the right titles

Most (but not all) Netflix titles are available in HD or 4K. Search for “HD” or “4K” to see lists of titles.

  • Reminder: The details page of a title shows the video and audio quality of the title as it’ll play on your device. A movie may be available in 4K, but if your device is only 1080p the details will show HD rather than 4K and the title will play at 1080p.  

  • Titles to test with:

5. Check your account settings

The default settings should be fine but you can double-check them to make sure they haven't been set to a lower quality. Go to Playback Settings for the profile you want to watch with and make sure Data usage per screen is set for the target quality:

  • 4K: High or Auto

  • 1080P HD: High or Auto

  • 720p HD: Medium, High, or Auto

For networks with varying streaming speeds, using a setting other than Auto may force a particular speed – which may help with video quality. If that causes buffering or freezing, change the setting back to Auto.
Streaming in a higher video quality uses more data. See How to control how much data Netflix uses.

Watching on a computer or mobile device? You may need to check a few more things. See the article for your device for more information: Windows, Mac, Android phone/tablet, iPhone/iPad

If you've followed all of the steps and still aren't getting the video quality you think you should, contact your device manufacturer.

Related Articles