Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

Widevine DRM: What it is and what version does your phone support?

Here's all you need to know about Widevine DRM certifications and how to identify the Widevine security level of your phone.

netflix, Widevine DRM,Here's what those Widevine certification numbers mean. (Express Photo)

If you’ve been using streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime and shuffling through advertisements and reviews looking for a new phone to buy, chances are you have heard of Widevine certifications and the mysterious abbreviation ‘DRM’. Today, we’ll look at what DRM is, What Widevine certifications stand for what how to check which Widevine number your phone supports.

What is DRM?

DRM or Digital Rights Management are services that streaming services like Disney+ and Netflix use to protect their content from being copied and distributed without a license. Popular DRM services include Widevine, which is used on the web and Android, and Fairplay, which is used on Apple devices and Safari. Today, we will be looking at Widevine DRM certifications. There is also PlayReady, which is used by many set-top boxes and Windows.

Widevine DRM

Widevine DRM is used by many popular streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO, Disney+, Prime Video, DirectTV, Hulu, and Sling, among others. Widevine DRM has three security levels, Widevine L1, Widevine L2 and Widevine L3.

Widevine L3: This is the most basic certification supported, consisting entirely of software-based DRM. If you have a Widevine L3 device, the content will often play only at 480p. L3 also means no Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) for DRM encryption.

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Widevine L2: The second level is Widevine L2 and it includes either software-based video processing or separate video hardware. If you have a Widevine L2 device you will often see a better resolution output than Widevine L3 at up to 540p, but still not the best quality possible.

Widevine L1: Widevine L1 is the topmost level of DRM protection and in devices supporting L1, video decryption and processing happens completely in the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE). Widevine L1 devices are able to play video at the highest possible resolution.

What Widevine version does your phone support?

Knowing what version of Widevine DRM your phone supports lets you know if you are streaming at the best possible quality or not. More importantly, instances like poor software updates or a third-party custom ROM can sometimes drop your Widevine certification lower than L1. In these cases, it is useful to know how to figure out your phone’s certification.

Widevine, Widevine DRM, Widevine L1 is the highest security level of the certification. (Express Photo)

The certification of an Android device can be checked with a number of apps that let you have a peek into your device hardware.

One such tool is the app DevCheck, which is a free download on the Google Play Store. Once installed, users can simply open the app, give it the required permissions, and go to the ‘System’ section in the app. Under the ‘Widevine’ subsection, users should find their security level, like shown in the image above.

First published on: 17-09-2021 at 15:52 IST
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