Netflix Low Quality Resolution Issues & How to Fix Them

Netflix has grown and grown over the last few years to the point where it’s miles ahead of the competition. And, with there being around 200 million different Netflix users worldwide, it’s only expected that sometimes you’re going to come across some problems.

The most common issue people tend to have with Netflix is problems with their streaming quality, and the resolution that it’s showing in. So, what causes these issues and more importantly, what can be done to resolve them? Here’s a few tips and tricks that you can use.

Netflix Low Quality Resolution Issues & How to Fix Them

Initially, Netflix may start your show or film in standard definition. This is pretty standard for streaming, as it allows the content to load instead of focussing on the resolution.

But before the opening credits are finished, it should be loaded in the maximum resolution for your device and your Netflix plan. If you’re having issues with the quality of your Netflix stream, then you’re going to want to go ahead and look at these following areas;

  1. Checking your Netflix settings
  2. Think about your internet connection
  3. Look at what cables or casting method you’re using
  4. Restart and Reset
  5. Switch browsers
  6. Think about whether it might be temporary
  7. Ensure you’re upgraded to the best package
  8. Let it run

These are the main reasons why there might be a problem with your Netflix resolution. Let’s check out these potential causes in a little closer detail.

Check your Settings

Before anything else, you’re going to want to go ahead and check your settings within your Netflix account itself. You’ll just need to look at your Playback Settings to see what your current settings are within your Netflix account. This is the same whether you’re using your laptop or whether you’re watching Netflix on your TV.

Now, when you go into your Playback Settings, you’ll have the ability to check whether it’s on one of four different options; low, medium, high and auto. If you want your account to use the highest possible settings, then of course you’re going to want to select high.

If you’re not dealing with awful quality but just a bit lower than you expect, this might be the simple solution you need. Switching up into high quality is the first thing that you should do.

Consider your connection

Often, the problem with our streaming quality might actually not be down to the device or the software that you’re using. This is the same whether you’re watching Netflix on your TV or short videos on YouTube on your phone. Many times, the culprit might actually be your internet connection.

This is especially true if you seem to have problems at the same time every day, as your ISP can be inundated with usage in the evenings. But that isn’t really your problem (or something you can solve yourself anyway), and if you can pin it down to your internet not being up to scratch, then you’ll need to contact them to fix this.

But how can you tell whether your internet is causing the issue? Well, the main thing that you’re going to want to do is check your internet speed. Many people aren’t aware that if you want to stream in 4k or ultra HD, then Netflix actually recommend that you have a download speed of more than 25mbps.

If your speed is worse than this, then this could be the issue. Or, if you have a 50mbps connection but you’re sharing it with a Playstation, Xbox and other devices, this could also stop you from streaming at a high quality. If not, you’ll need to keep searching for the resolution.

Casting and cable troubles

When you’re streaming Netflix directly in your browser and watching it on the same device, you shouldn’t have any troubles getting the resolution you need. Though, certain browsers may have a maximum resolution, which is why you should look at getting the app (I’ll speak more about this in a sec).

But if you’re connecting your device to a monitor or TV to watch Netflix, then you may want check that it supports it. For example, not all HDMI cables are even capable of transmitting 4K resolution data, so you may need to get a better one if you want Ultra HD quality.

And if you’re casting, check the HDMI ports on your TV too. If it’s old, it may not be able to cast a high 4K resolution and faster refresh rate too.

Change Browsers & download the app

As someone who tries to avoid downloading apps whenever possible, one that you will definitely need to use on your laptop, tablet or phone is the Netflix app. Why? Well, this is the only way that you’re going to be able to get the best quality.

When you’re using Netflix within a browser, then the likelihood is that you’re limiting the video quality of what you’re watching. This is the same with all major browsers. For example, Google Chrome only supports 720p with Netflix, and Safari will only support up to 1080p.

So you might not actually be able to get the resolution that you’re paying for if you’re watching Netflix within browser. Downloading the Netflix app is the best way to resolve this problem.

Restarting your device

It doesn’t matter whether you’re streaming Netflix via your phone, tablet, laptop or your TV. The reality is that restarting your device can fix the issue in a reasonable amount of cases, and it’s so easy and quick to do, that it’s always worth restarting your device.

The main reason it helps in the majority of cases is that it completely clears your memory. So if your computer is encountered problems because there’s an issue with its RAM, then restarting the device is a very simple fix.

First Episode Syndrome

There’s often something else at play when you’re watching a full series on Netflix, and I tend to call it first episode syndrome. Essentially, this is the fact that the first episodes that you watch in a series are actually of a lower quality, and the further you get into the series, the better the quality actually gets.

And although this might sound a little farfetched, there’s actually data behind it that shows this is the case. Why? This is just the way that the Netflix algorithm works for streaming. When you just start your series, you have no buffer occupancy. This means that there’s no buffer, which is an amount of memory that’s stored specifically for streaming.

But when you get a few episodes into the series, then your buffer increases and the Netflix algorithm knows how much data it can use. This means that it can increase the bitrate of your streaming quality, and therefore the picture you’re getting too. So, this is a pretty common cause of why a new TV series might be bad quality when you first start watching it.

Does Netflix use 4k?

The short answer is that yes, you can definitely watch Netflix in 4k resolution. But, this doesn’t really give us the full answer. Why? Well, you can only watch Netflix in 4k if you opt for a certain pricing plan, which is the most expensive one that they offer. If you don’t have this plan, then you won’t be watching your films and TV shows in 4k resolution.

You’ve also got to remember that not all Netflix content is going to be available to watch in 4k anyway, although much of it nowadays is. An example of this is with the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. Although it’s fantastic that it is even on Netflix, it’s pretty bad quality and unfortunately, there’s not much Netflix can do here.

As well as this, the device you’re using will also make an impact as well. But, Netflix does offer a 4k package if you want them.

Let it run

Sometimes it can take Netflix a little while to warm up and actually deliver your Ultra HD or higher than standard resolution. The picture quality for the first few minutes may be poor, but it many cases it should actually improve soon after that.

When you put a movie or TV series on, you’ll want to at least give it a few minutes before judging its overall quality. If it still isn’t good after this time, then you can be a little concerned.


In conclusion, there could be a few different reasons why your Netflix streaming quality isn’t as good as it should be. Whilst in the majority of scenarios there’s something that you can do to fix this quickly, sometimes you might need to reach out to Netflix themselves to fix the problem.

But before you do, make sure you run through this list first. Often your wi-fi may be the source of the issue, or a high data usage may have left you with little left to use.

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About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

2 thoughts on “Netflix Low Quality Resolution Issues & How to Fix Them”

  1. After spending lots of time to try and fix this it turns out that Netflix now uses more compression and picture quality has declined noticably.

    If you have a big TV you’ll have noticed over the past months. This is the new status quo for all of their content that is not HDR.

    • Interesting, I haven’t heard about this yet. What did you do to definitively come to this conclusion? In any case, thanks for the insight, Derrick!


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