iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6 secretly support 4K video

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Apple's still leading, but the market for tablets is declining. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Apple snuck 4K video support onto the iPad Air 2. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple packed the biggest display it’s ever made onto the iPhone 6 Plus, and while its 1920×1080 resolution is great for streaming 1080p videos, it turns out that Apple also secretly added 4K video support without telling anyone.

The iPad Air 2, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus all support 4K video playback out of the box, thanks to the new A8 processor added this year. Apple doesn’t list 4K video playback as one of the A8 chips features, but the discovery was made by the developers behind WALTR, who posted proof of 4K video playback on the iPhone 6 this weekend.

4k-video-iPhone
Yes, it’s possible to sync 4K video to the iPhone. Photo: Buster Hein

Cult of Mac discovered that 4K video playback is also supported on the iPad Air 2, which sports a special A8X processor. We’ve tested 4K video on both the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and iPad Air 2 and found that it works on all Apple devices with an A8 processor. Playback is buttery smooth for videos as long as they’re using the H.264 codec, but .MOV and .AVI 4K video files will also play with some slight glitching.

Getting 4K video on to your iPhone and iPad can be a challenge as iTunes doesn’t support 4K video syncing, but apps like iMazing and WALTR make it possible to circumvent those restrictions.

Support for 4K video isn’t very useful on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus natively as the devices’ 1334 x 750 and 1920 x 1080 resolutions can’t depict the ultra-fine details of 4K video files. However, Apple may have added it in anticipation of 4K video coming to an updated Apple TV and iTunes the near future. The addition would allow iPhone 6 users to AirPlay video to their Apple TV-connected 4K TV, as long as they can find enough storage space for the huge 4K video files.

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  • Robert Stukenbroeker

    Isn’t the Apple TV only 1080p anyways?

    • CelestialTerrestrial

      Currently. Apple is getting ready to release a new version next year is what I’m hearing.

      Oh, 4K is kind of screwed up today. Here’s an article about how Sony and Samsung are kind being stupid about 4K. This is what’s going on with regards to watching 4K on TV screens (vs smartphones) and it’s really silly what they are doing, but in reality 4K video really isn’t necessary or affordable or enough available content and watching on a small screen is just not worthwhile the added expense of the cost of rental or purchase of 4K, plus you better have a good WIFi connection because the files are HUGE

      http://www.cnet.com/news/why-are-sony-and-samsung-keeping-4k-content-to-themselves/

    • Barrett Jasper

      yep, the newest one. older gens gen 720P

  • James

    Apple also has support for HEVC (H.265) built in as well. So a better test would be to see if HEVC encoded video at 3840×2160 resolution, main10, 25mbit avg/60 peak is recognized.

    • Nick_Germ

      I wish i had an iPhone 6 to test that, Has anybody here tested any h.265 videos?

  • Martin

    I thought the ‘biggest display Apple ever made’ was the Retina iMac, but what do I know…

    • Flytrap21

      The Retina iMac is a 5K resolution and was designed to support editing 4K video with room for controls and more to spare. The resolution of the iPad Air 2 is basically 2K, the iPhone 6+ is 1080p, the iPhone 6 even less. So the fact that they can rescale, and render 4K video in real time is a spectacular display of the processing power of the A8 chip – I have an Intel i5 powered HP notebook from a year ago that cannot do that without frame dropping fits and starts!

  • Andrew

    I’ve been playing back RAW 4K video from GoPro Hero4 Black on an iPad Mini 2 for about a month now, A7 processor not A8…