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Why Is My 4K TV Only Showing 1080p?

As an owner of a 4K television, I was recently frustrated to find out that my TV was only displaying images in 1080p. After some research and trial-and-error, I was able to find out why my 4K TV was only displaying 1080p and I’m here to share my findings and other solutions I discovered with you. In this blog post, I’ll be exploring the reasons why your 4K TV might only be displaying images in 1080p and how to fix it.

The quick answer is that the video you’re watching is only rendered in 1080p resolution instead of 4K. As such, your TV will adjust to the video’s resolution, hence the lowered quality.

Common Reasons Why Your 4K TV Only Shows 1080p

Below are the common reasons behind the lowered video quality output of your 4K TV.

  1. Slow Internet Connection

Your internet speed can significantly affect the resolution of the video you’re watching. This is because higher-quality videos use more data. 

If your internet can’t provide the data that your video needs, it automatically lowers the video’s resolution.

A 4K or 2160p resolution requires at least 25 Mbps of bandwidth. Compared to an HD or 1080p video that only requires 5 Mbps of bandwidth, 4K videos use up data that’s five times greater.

You’ll notice this when watching videos on streaming platforms such as YouTube. The application automatically lowers the resolution of the video currently playing if your internet is slow.

  1. Watching Over-the-Air Without the Proper Supporting Device

Over-the-Air (OTA) broadcasts in both HDR and 4K resolution. If your TV doesn’t show 4K resolution while watching OTA networks, it’s because you don’t have the supporting device for it.

In order for you to get a 4K video output while watching OTA, you need the ATSC 3.0 antenna. Said antenna is the modernized version of its predecessors. 

It supports newer technologies, as well as the capability of producing a 4K resolution at 120 frames per second output. 

If you don’t have the required antenna, it’s impossible for you to watch OTA in 4K resolution. This is the reason why it only shows 1080p instead of 4K.

  1. Incompatible or Faulty HDMI Cable

Your TV already comes with an HDMI cable upon purchase, but there are instances wherein the provided HDMI cable doesn’t support 4K resolution. That said, it’s important to figure out whether your HDMI cable is compatible with 4K or not.

The HDMI cable that supports 4K resolution is the High-Speed HDMI. Its version should be 1.4b and later. Any cable which version is lower than 1.4 doesn’t support 4K resolution, and it can be the reason why your 4K TV is only showing 1080p.

Moreover, if you’re using the right HDMI but it stopped showing 4K resolution all of a sudden, check whether the cable has signs of wear and tear. A faulty HDMI causes poor video resolution and intermittent pictures. 

Additionally, you should check whether the cable has become loose. If it’s not loose but has signs of wear and tear, it’s time to replace your HDMI cable.

  1. Streaming Platform Subscription Plan

Streaming platforms like Hulu and Netflix offer a variety of subscription plans. Plans differ according to the maximum video resolution output, as well as the number of users watching at the same time.

Even though you have a 4K TV, your subscription plan can hinder your TV’s video resolution. So, the quick solution for this is to change your subscription. 

Otherwise, it’ll be impossible to watch in 4K, and you can’t maximize your TV’s best features.

  1. Media Source Isn’t 4K

Not all videos on the internet are naturally rendered in 4K. Because of that, it’s natural for your TV to adjust to the best possible resolution. 

Furthermore, your TV has the capability to upscale whatever video content you watch. That’s why, when you’re watching any type of media, you can’t see black borders on your TV. It’s inevitable for your TV to upscale any media input because it should always match the screen size. 

However, its downside is that the quality becomes poorer.

To put it simply, a 4K TV won’t display a 4K output if the media source itself isn’t 4K.

  1. Streaming Device Connected to a TV That Doesn’t Support 4K

If you’re using a streaming device such as Apple TV or a Chromecast, make sure that it supports 4K before connecting it to your 4K TV. Older TV streaming devices don’t support 4K, so it’s probably one of the reasons why your TV is only showing 1080p.

Connecting a streaming device that doesn’t support 4K to your 4K TV is counterproductive. Instead, you can opt for the latest streaming device if your 4K TV isn’t a smart TV.

Wrap Up

Now you know the different reasons why your 4K TV is only showing 1080p. 

Actually, there’s little to no difference between watching 1080p and 4K videos on your TV. However, it’s still best to get the most out of what you’ve paid for, so make sure to keep in mind the reasons we’ve shared.

If none of them worked, it’s best to contact the customer service of your TV’s manufacturer. After all, there might be internal issues with your TV that you’re unaware of.

Read more: Why does my TV keep buffering?