New updates are being added at the bottom of this story…….

Original story (published on February 25, 2019) follows:

Xiaomi continues to amaze smartphone enthusiasts by providing excellent hardware configurations under budget. In recent years, the Chinese OEM started to release two distinct flavours of yearly flagships: the regular Mi series and the experimental design oriented Mi MIX series.

Mi MIX 3

Xiaomi has also come up with the sub-brand called Poco (or Pocophone), which is targeted specifically for budget conscious youth gamers as well as modding communities.

At Mobile World Congress 2019, Xiaomi has unveiled Mi 9 as their primary flagship. A 5G refresh of last year’s Mi MIX 3 has also been released. The Chinese OEM considerably fortified their software development team, as the kernel source codes for Mi 9 was released on the launch day.

Amidst these positive vibes, one thing is still missing – it’s nothing but the Widevine L1 certification.

FYI, Widevine is a modular DRM (Digital Rights Management) mechanism. The term became a household name after the rise of streaming services. Services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video get assurance from the client devices about the tamper resistance capabilities using Widevine.

The most desirable status of Widevine is Level 1 AKA L1, which ensures proper hardware backed DRM measures so that high definition (HD/FHD/UHD/4K) streams can be decrypted and viewed on the target device.

Without the existence of appropriate secret keys in the hardware trustzone falls back Widevine to Level 3. L3 mode is only suitable for validating standard definition video streams up to 540p, even if the device comes with a FHD display and rocks a flagship SoC.

PSA: Widevine L3 DRM is no longer secure.

Widevine operates under Google, and the company does not charge any licensing fees for the certification process.

Widevine supports the use of standards-based royalty-free solutions for encryption, adaptive streaming, transport and player software without licensing fees or required participation in the CWIP training program.

It really does not make any sense not to include Widevine L1 certification on Xiaomi phones. For example, Poco F1 users have got numerous deadlines and excuses from the company officials but they are still on L3.

Alvin Tse, head of Pocophone Global, has now claimed that some video providers do not want to certify a device which is already in the market.

Reader may recall that there was a similar incident with OnePlus 5 and 5T. OnePlus asked users to send their phones as “… the security processes involved with updating the devices, we can only deliver the update via a physical connection from an authenticated PC”.

According to Alvin, OnePlus pre-certified their phones, and so the move was possible.

Xiaomi is hopeful that at least one of the (video streaming) partner will certify them in near future.

The “extra cost” is hard to justify. Yes, it does involve man hours to apply for certification but the rest requires no cost!

The excuses sound more and more groundless, as users are now reporting that the recently launched Mi 9 in China comes with Widevine L3.


Xiaomi’s last year flagships: Mi 8 and Mi MIX 3 (LTE) also lack Widevine L1 certification.


Users can install this app and check existing DRM support (including Widevine) on their phones and tablets.

Pixel 2 XL showing Widevine L1 support

Xiaomi has expanded their target market to many European regions. A major entry in USA is a longtime cherished plan, but their current stance with Widevine certification will surely take a toll on it.

Update 1 (26 February, 2019)

According to user reports, Xiaomi delivered Widevine L1 certification via a new beta build for Poco F1, carrying the version number 9.2.25.

C Manmohan, general manager of Poco India, has confirmed the event:

XDA Developers has posted a detailed article, explaining all behind the stage nitty-gritties.

Image source: Twitter

However, Netflix is reportedly falling back to SD mode even after this update, as they have not whitelisted the model yet.

Update 2 (28 February, 2019)

It looks like the European (global) version of Mi 9 does come with Widevine L1 certification, as reported by multiple users (here, here, here).

Image source: FrAndroid

Update 3 (10 June, 2019)

Alvin confirmed that Netflix would not change their policy for Xiaomi. As a result, Poco F1 users can not watch Netflix in HD even after having Widevine L1 certification.


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Kingshuk De
896 Posts

I came from a mixed background of Statistics and Computer Science. My research domains included embedded computer systems, mobile computing and delay tolerant networks in post-disaster scenarios. Apart from tinkering with gadgets or building hackintosh, I like to hop on various subreddits and forums like MyDigitalLife and XDA.

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