Play 4K videos on iPhone and iPad

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Many of us are often drawn to crisp, high quality videos. And when it comes to resolution, 4K is the current standard. For a lot of people, smartphones are the primary devices they use on a daily basis. And they wouldn’t quite mind keeping a few of these 4K content stored on their mobile devices.

Transfer and Play 4K Videos on iPhone and iPad

Unfortunately though, there is no official way of transferring 4K content to iOS devices. Using iTunes sync, you may only transfer videos up to HD (1080p or 720p) resolution. Any video of higher resolution would automatically be downscaled while transferring them to the device.

Which begs the question – Does the iPhone really support 4K video playback?

Apple features 4K video recording on all iOS devices since the iPhone 6S. As these devices support 4K recording, obviously, they are well capable of 4K playback as well. Even some of the previous generation of iOS devices may be secretly capable of 4K playback!

Why doesn’t Apple officially support 4K playback?

There might be two possible reasons behind this. First, none of the iOS devices released till date have full 4K (3840 × 2160) resolution displays. And viewing a 4K video on a smaller resolution screen, although possible, just does not provide the optimal experience. Second, 4K videos are usually huge in size and hence not optimal for storage on mobile devices, since they have limited space.

So how do you transfer and play them on these devices? We’ll explore the various available options in the below sections.

Transfer and play 4K videos on iPhone and iPad

There are a number of third party apps available on the App Store, like PlayerXtreme Media Player or VLC, which are capable of 4K video playback. If you have a 4K video saved on your computer that you want to play on your iOS device, just transfer it to the app’s local storage and then play the video using the app.

  1. Download and install PlayerXtreme Media Player or VLC Media Player from the App Store.
  2. Connect your iOS device to your computer via USB and copy the 4K video file to the app’s shared storage using iTunes. You may also use other suitable means, such as WiFi sharing, if such a feature is available.

Once the file has been transferred to the device, open the app and select the file for playback. PlayerXtreme or VLC Media Player should be able to play the 4K video without any lags or glitches.

Play 4K videos in iOS native Videos app

Using a third party app for 4K video playback is a possible workaround, but often not recommended. A third party app might not provide the optimal performance and experience, and may be less battery-friendly compared to the native iOS apps. Hence, it’s always better to utilize the native apps, wherever possible.

But the only official way to put videos in the native Videos app is via iTunes sync, which allows you to transfer videos only up to HD (1080p) resolution. But a desktop app known as WALTR makes it possible to transfer full quality 4K videos, directly into the native iOS Videos app. The app is available for both Windows and Mac platforms. The below steps demonstrate how to transfer 4K videos to your iOS device and play them using the native app.

  1. Download and install WALTR on your Mac or Windows.
  2. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer and launch WALTR. The original WALTR app only supports USB connection. WALTR 2 supports WiFi connection as well.
  3. Drag the desired 4K video file on to the application window. The video will automatically be transferred in a playable format, into the native Videos app, without any loss in quality.

You can now open the Videos app on your iOS device and play the 4K video just like any other video transferred to the app using iTunes.

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