[Updated] Xiaomi may be working on Poco F1 Widevine L1 support, but don't get your hopes too high

NOTICE: We’ve created an archive of all major developments related to the Pocophone F1 smartphone. We are continuously updating that page with latest Poco F1 news so that you don’t need to search for information related to the device on daily basis. Head here to access that page.

There are new updates that have been added to the bottom of this story….

Xiaomi’s sub brand Poco is doing an excellent work when it comes to keeping Poco F1 (or Pocophone F1) users updated about the progress on bug fixes and new features. For example, just recently, the company confirmed features like 960FPS slo-mo, Night mode, and 4K 60 FPS recording are coming soon.

As you can see, the tweet from C Manmohan, who is Poco India General Manager, also included a heads up about the Widevine L1 support. The executive said they are working with partners to get this feature implemented.

As we said in the headline, the company may be trying its level best to roll out Widevine L1 support, but users shouldn’t get their hopes too high. We’ll discuss the reason, but to begin with, let’s quickly discuss what Widevine L1 support is.

Widevine L1

Widevine is basically a digital rights management solution used in browsers like Google Chrome and Chromium browser, as well as on Android. Many popular services – including Amazon Video, BBC, Hulu, Netflix and Spotify – use Widevine to secure premium content as it’s transferred over the Internet and played back on devices.

Widevine basically offers three levels of protection, L1, L2, and L3. The L1 protection enables streaming of HD quality content from services like Netflix, so your device needs to be Widevine L1 certified for you to enjoy HD quality content.

Poco F1 Widevine L1 support

Back in August last year, it came to light that Poco F1 doesn’t support Widevine L1. The device only supports Widevine L3, meaning you can only enjoy videos at a maximum quality of 540p.

Of course, users expect more from a Snapdragon 845-powered smartphone, as – for example – Netflix supports several high quality playback options like 720p, 1080p, and even 4K.

So what has been Xiaomi’s official take on this missing functionality? Well, several of the company’s top executives have been offering updates on the matter. Take a look:

https://twitter.com/atytse/status/1058308180986548224
https://twitter.com/cmanmohan/status/1080763635016830976
https://twitter.com/cmanmohan/status/1082235629876977664
https://twitter.com/atytse/status/1082195272363663360

So you can see, while they have been using positive words like ‘investigating’ and ‘working’, the support is yet to arrive. The latest tweet from C Manmohan (also highlighted in the beginning of this story) again says they are working on it.

As you can see in the following tweet from Jai Mani (head of product at Pocophone Global), the company was initially investigating whether or not it’s even possible to have an OTA update introduce this feature in Poco F1 phones.

For those who aren’t aware, even OnePlus 5 and 5T lacked Widevine L1 support. Although OnePlus came up with a fix for the issue, the catch was that users had to send their devices to the company to get the fix installed.

So there was always a possibility that Poco F1 users would also have to do the same effort. But subsequent tweets from Xiaomi executives (highlighted in the previous section) indicated the company is confident they’ll be able to add the feature through an OTA update.

In fact, team Poco was even aiming Q4 2018 as the time frame to roll out Widevine L1 support, but it got delayed for reasons unknown.

Why Poco F1 users shouldn’t get their hopes too high

Apart from the fact that this matter has dragged on for so long, we now have another reason to believe it’s difficult for Xiaomi to include Widevine L1 support in Poco F1 devices.

Pocophone Global head Alvin Tse recently took to Twitter to respond to a Widevine L1-related query wherein someone asked if it’s really possible to roll out Widevine L1 support to F1 via an OTA update. In the response, the executive shared companies like Netflix also have a major part to play in this matter.

Here’s what exactly they said:

Technically possible but it also depends on 3rd party content provider qualifying the device. Sometimes they won’t qualify it if the device has already launched due to their internal policy so we’re still talking to them.

As Alvin’s response indicates, there are chances that Netflix plays spoilsport in this case. And if that happens, Xiaomi will be helpless. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. As you wait for the update, let us know in the comments section below, your thoughts on the matter.

Update (January 18)

New update for Poco F1 has been announced. Does it bring Widevine L1? Check out the story here.

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Himanshu Arora

My interest in technology and writing started back in 2010. Since then, I have written for many leading publications, including Computerworld, GSMArena, TechSpot, HowtoForge, LinuxJournal, and MakeTechEasier to name a few. Here at PiunikaWeb, my work involves covering on daily basis the biggest tech stories as well as scoops that you won't find anywhere else.