UNDERSTANDING MOBILE HDR
More dynamic images are coming to your smartphone. Here’s Mobile HDR in a nutshell.
HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a buzzword that’s been circulating in televisions for the past couple of years now. If a TV is HDR compatible, it generally means it’s able to produce a brighter, wider range of colors and contrast, so a scene can display bright highlights, while still maintaining 3delity in the darker areas of the screen.
Mobile HDR is a new technology that aims to bring a similar experience from your 55-inch TV to your smartphone or tablet. Samsung kickstarted Mobile HDR with the short-lived Galaxy Note7, but it’s now available in many agship smartphones including the LG G6, Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ and Sony XZ Premium.
Mobile HDR 10 versus Dolby Vision
Just like HDR on TV, there are two main competing standards for Mobile HDR: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is an open source format that is currently more
prevalent. Generally speaking, if your TV or mobile device is HDR compatible, it can play any HDR10 content.
Dolby Vision is another standard that isn’t as prevalent, but offers arguably better image quality. To compare specs, HDR10 currently supports up to 4,000 nits peak brightness, with 10-bit color depth, while Dolby Vision, supports up to 10,000 nits peak brightness, with 12-bit color depth. Dolby Vision also uses frame-by-frame metadata to ensure that the display you’re watching is showing you the best results. While Dolby Vision isn’t as widespread as HDR10, both Amazon and Netflix, the two biggest companies pushing Mobile HDR, support it.
Right now, the only smartphone with Dolby Vision support is the LG G6. However, it’s worth noting that Dolby Vision on mobile devices is actually a software solution, rather than hardware-based. This means that technically, any HDR mobile device could run Dolby Vision if a software compatibility update is released for it.
Mobile HDR Premium
To make matters more confusing, in February 2017, the Ultra HD Alliance also announced a new standard for mobile devices, called Mobile HDR Premium. This isn’t a competing format to HDR10 or Dolby Vision, instead it’s a certification for mobile devices that ensures you’re getting a great HDR experience.
These standards apply to all smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, meaning that you could see the Mobile HDR Premium certification on all those devices which offer HDR content. Right now, the only smartphones with Mobile HDR Premium certifications are the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+.
What Mobile HDR content is available?
Unfortunately, right now there’s not a lot of Mobile HDR content out there, although that looks to change by the end of the year. Both Netflix and Amazon have said they will be rolling out HDR10 and Dolby Vision support for mobile streaming in 2017. YouTube also offers great HDR content, but it’s currently not available on the YouTube app. However, we expect an update from Google soon.
Right now, your best bet is to download HDR videos from your smartphone manufacturer. For example, the Samsung Video Library app available on the app store has a few high quality Mobile HDR videos on it.