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.