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What is Mobile HDR and which phones support HDR?

HDR has arrived on mobile and it’s set to transform your viewing experience.

In fact, a huge number of phones now have HDR, and it’s a major but still little-publicised feature that can massively improve your movie watching experience. But not all HDR is made equal, and the terms used can be confusing.

That’s why this article will tell you exactly which phones have HDR, so you know which phone to buy if you want a mobile movie marathon with added pop.

But as well as that we’ll also cover what HDR is, what different versions of it there are, what services support it, and what else you should look out for to get the best viewing experience.

So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about mobile HDR and how to get it.

What is HDR?

HDR stands for high dynamic range, which, in everyday English, simply means a high contrast between the lightest and darkest parts of an image.

On smartphone screens that means pumping up the brightness on the parts of an image that are meant to be bright, while keeping dark colours dim.

The effect of this is to better emphasise different colours and allow images to stand out in a striking way. And although HDR is used in photography, we’re not just talking static images. When it comes to an HDR-capable screen we’re talking about the ability to do this in videos and games.

HDR10 and Dolby Vision are the two main forms of mobile HDR. They have some subtle differences, with Dolby Vision arguably the best of them, thanks to its support for a higher peak brightness (10,000 nits rather than 4,000) and greater colour depth (12-bit rather than 10-bit).

Dolby Vision also uses frame-by-frame metadata to ensure the screen you’re watching HDR on is providing the best possible results at all times, whereas HDR10 uses metadata less frequently.

However, we’re now also starting to see HDR10+ on a number of phones, and this is more like Dolby Vision in that it uses dynamic metadata, meaning that it’s frame-by-frame.

That said, you should pay more attention to the overall screen specs and quality of a handset than which form of HDR they support.

On that note, you might also see the term Mobile HDR Premium thrown around. This isn’t a type of HDR but rather a standard for mobile devices, so if a phone offers this it has been certified as offering a good HDR experience.

Which phones support HDR?

A significant number of phones now support HDR and we've listed them in the table below to make things easier. Note that we’ve limited the table to handsets launched in roughly the last two years, as the number of HDR-compatible phones is now becoming enormous.

Note also that while all of these phones support mobile HDR in some form, they don’t all work with all HDR sources. Further confusing matters, video platforms don’t all keep up to date lists of which handsets do and don’t work with them.

As a general rule though, big name handsets like the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 are likely to be more widely supported by these services than lesser known phones.

PhoneDisplay size and typeDisplay Resolution
Galaxy S21 Ultra6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X1440 x 3200
Galaxy S21 Plus6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X1080 x 2400
Galaxy S216.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X1080 x 2400
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X1440 x 3088
Galaxy Note 206.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus1080 x 2400
Galaxy Z Fold 27.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X1768 x 2208
Galaxy S20 Ultra6.9 inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X1440 x 3200
Galaxy S20 Plus6.7 inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X1440 x 3200
Galaxy S206.2 inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X1440 x 3200
Galaxy Z Flip6.7 inch Dynamic AMOLED1080 x 2636
Galaxy Fold7.3 inch Dynamic AMOLED1536 x 2152
Galaxy Note 10 Lite6.7 inch Super AMOLED1080 x 2400
Galaxy Note 106.3 inch Dynamic AMOLED1080 x 2280
Galaxy Note 10 Plus6.8 inch Dynamic AMOLED1440 x 3040
OnePlus 96.55-inch Fluid AMOLED1080 x 2400
OnePlus 9 Pro6.7-inch LTPO Fluid2 AMOLED1440 x 3216
OnePlus 8T6.55-inch Fluid AMOLED1080 x 2400
OnePlus 8 Pro6.78-inch Fluid AMOLED1440 x 3168
OnePlus 86.55-inch Fluid AMOLED1080 x 2400
OnePlus Nord6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED1080 x 2400
OnePlus 7T6.55 inch Fluid AMOLED1080 x 2400
OnePlus 7T Pro6.67 inch Fluid AMOLED1440 x 3120
iPhone 126.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED1170 x 2532
iPhone 12 Mini5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED1080 x 2340
iPhone 12 Pro6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED1170 x 2532
iPhone 12 Pro Max6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED1284 x 2778
iPhone 116.1 inch IPS LCD828 x 1792
iPhone 11 Pro5.8 inch OLED1125 x 2436
iPhone 11 Pro Max6.5 inch OLED1242 x 2688
Huawei P40 Pro6.58-inch OLED1200 x 2640
Huawei P40 Pro Plus6.58-inch OLED1200 x 2640
Huawei Mate 40 Pro6.76-inch OLED1344 x 2772
Huawei P30 Pro6.47 inch OLED1080 x 2340
Huawei P306.1 inch OLED1080 x 2340
Huawei Mate 306.62 inch OLED1080 x 2340
Huawei Mate 30 Pro6.53 inch OLED1176 x 2400
Google Pixel 56.0-inch OLED1080 x 2340
Google Pixel 4a5.81-inch OLED1080 x 2340
Google Pixel 4a 5G6.2-inch OLED1080 x 2340
Google Pixel 45.7 inch P-OLED1080 x 2280
Google Pixel 4 XL6.3 inch P-OLED1440 x 3040
LG G8X ThinQ6.4 inch OLED1080 x 2340
Motorola Edge6.7-inch OLED1080 x 2340
Motorola Edge Plus6.7-inch OLED1080 x 2340
Moto G 5G Plus6.7-inch IPS LCD1080 x 2520
Xperia 5 II6.1-inch OLED1080 x 2520
Xperia 1 II6.5-inch OLED1644 x 3840
Nokia 7.26.3 inch IPS LCD1080 x 2280
Nokia 6.26.3 inch IPS LCD1080 x 2280
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra6.81-inch AMOLED1440 x 3200
Xiaomi Mi 116.81-inch AMOLED1440 x 3200
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite6.55-inch AMOLED1080 x 2400
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro6.67-inch AMOLED1080 x 2400
Xiaomi Mi 106.67-inch Super AMOLED1080 x 2340
Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite6.67-inch IPS LCD1080 x 2400
Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC6.67-inch IPS LCD1080 x 2400
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S6.67-inch IPS LCD1080 x 2400
Xiaomi Mi Note 106.47-inch AMOLED1080 x 2340
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro6.39-inch Super AMOLED1080 x 2340
Asus ROG Phone 56.78-inch AMOLED1080 x 2448
Asus ROG Phone 36.59-inch AMOLED1080 x 2340
Asus ROG Phone 26.59-inch AMOLED1080 x 2340
Realme X2 Pro6.5-inch Super AMOLED1080 x 2400
Oppo Find X3 Pro6.7-inch LTPO AMOLED1440 x 3216
Oppo Find X3 Neo6.55-inch AMOLED1080 x 2400
Oppo Find X26.7-inch AMOLED1440 x 3168
Oppo Find X2 Pro6.7-inch AMOLED1440 x 3168
Oppo Reno Z6.4 inch AMOLED1080 x 2340
Lenovo Legion Duel 26.92-inch AMOLED1080 x 2460
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel6.65-inch AMOLED1080 x 2340
TCL 10L6.53-inch IPS LCD1080 x 2340
HDR Smartphones

Frequently asked questions

What should you look for when choosing an HDR phone?

If you’re after an HDR phone then you probably want the best viewing experience possible, and there are other things to consider for that than just whether or not a phone supports HDR.

For one thing, you probably want a big screen, as no one likes watching films on a tiny rectangle. From that perspective, the likes of the Google Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, and iPhone 12 Mini lose out.

For maximum size, go for something like the Oppo Find X3 Pro, the Xiaomi Mi 11, Huawei Mate 40 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, OnePlus 9 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, or Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

You also want high resolution. For that, the Sony Xperia 1 and Sony Xperia 1 II come out on top with a 1644 x 3840 resolution. That means you can watch content in 4K on them. Many of the other handsets have around a QHD or QHD+ resolution, which is still very high, but anything that’s around 1080 x 2340 or below won’t shine quite as much.

Plus, you want to consider the display technology. Generally, OLED offers better contrast and more vivid colours than LCD, so this can be a good choice. But not all OLED is made equal – based on reviews the Samsung Galaxy S21 range, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 range, OnePlus 9 Pro, and iPhone 12 range are probably among the best in quality, but any premium phone should have a good screen.

Finally, you may want to pay some consideration to the refresh rate. While most phones are 60Hz, a number are now 90Hz, 120Hz or even 144Hz. The Samsung Galaxy S21 range, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro are prime examples.

Taking all that into account we’d say the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or OnePlus 9 Pro would be the best handset overall for mobile viewing, followed by the likes of the Sony Xperia 1 II, iPhone 12 Pro Max, Oppo Find X3 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

What services support mobile HDR?

Currently, HDR content for mobile is primarily available on Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes, Apple TV Plus, and YouTube – so it’s a good thing those are five of the biggest and best video services around. Disney Plus also has a growing library of HDR content.

Far from all content on any of those platforms is in HDR though. In general, on Netflix and Amazon it will be titles produced by those companies, and not even all of those, but the selection of content is growing and should continue to, given that it’s not just phones but also TVs which can take advantage of HDR.

On Netflix, you’ll find big-name content like The Witcher, 13 Reasons Why, Bloodline, Daredevil, and Netflix’s other Marvel content supports HDR. Just look out for the words HDR next to the description of a show to be sure. Also, be aware that you need to be on a 4 screen Netflix plan to access HDR content.

On Amazon, you can also look out for an HDR logo, and content includes shows like Carnival Row, Good Omens, Jack Ryan, The Grand Tour, Transparent, and Man in the High Castle.

On YouTube, you’ll see HDR listed under the ‘Quality’ tab and in many cases such videos will also highlight HDR in the title or description. For Apple TV Plus, an HDR icon will appear on a video’s product page.

Note that HDR tags may not be visible on some services if you’re using a device that doesn’t support its HDR content.

Which networks are best for HDR?

As well as picking a phone you should also consider which network to choose. For the most part, there’s little to choose here – though if you plan to stream HDR content when out and about you’ll want great coverage and lots of data.

For the former, EE is currently the 4G coverage frontrunner, closely followed by Three, based on the most recent available figures, but all the UK networks are at close to 100% population coverage.

For 5G, the situation is regularly changing, but coverage is limited on every network. That said, all of the UK’s 5G networks have it in upwards of 100 towns and cities at the time of writing, and some are close to 200.

When it comes to data, Three, Vodafone, EE, O2, iD Mobile, VOXI, Smarty, Tesco Mobile, Lycamobile, Giffgaff, Lebara, BT Mobile, Asda Mobile and Virgin Mobile all offer tariffs with unlimited data with no speed restrictions. However, some of these networks have other limitations, such as no access to 5G.

For 5G and no significant restrictions, EE, Three, Vodafone, O2, Tesco Mobile, VOXI, Virgin Mobile, Asda Mobile and Giffgaff are all good options at the time of writing.


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