The A8 SoC processing chip in the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is supposedly capable of 4K video output

by on November 21, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – November 21, 2014

According to a report released on Friday November 21st from software developer Softorino, Apple’s A8 processor is capable of playing back 4K ultra HD videos on both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The discovery was made by the people at Softorino during unrelated testing of their media file conversion app WALTR on the Apple mobile phone system but the capability, which is hidden deep inside the new iPhones can be considered more of a highly innovative technical feature that the phones have instead of a feature that would be useful to any normal users.

Since the nee iPhones don’t even have 4K screen resolution to begin with, their processor being able to play back 4K video is a bit academic for the moment. The maximum resolution of the nee iPhones is “Retina HD” quality and this means that it only fits about 1,334 x 750 pixels for the 4.7 inch model and 1920 x 1080 for the larger 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus version. Neither of these comes anywhere close to the 3840 x 2160 pixels of 4K ultra HD display.

However, in terms of what it indicates about the potential 4K future of Apple products, the new-found ability of the A8 processor is interesting indeed.

For starters, it means that the A8 should have no problem at all dealing with any normal HD content that users want to play on their existing latest iPhones and secondly, since the A8 is here to stay for now, new upgrades to the product line that feature even higher levels of “Retina” resolution, possibly up to 2K or even 4K itself won’t be a problem in terms of processing and smooth display.

However, most interesting of all is the possibility that the new chip is a small advance part of Apples rumored plans for Apple TV in 4K resolution.


Apple has shown that it's interested in moving forward with Ultra HD with its new iMac with 5K Retina display

Apple has shown that it’s interested in moving forward with Ultra HD with its new iMac with 5K Retina display

Currently, the Apple TV platform pushes out Full HD content through the use of older generation A5 processors. Now that we’re seeing an A8 brain which is clearly designed to handle 4K, the significance of the find is that it could indicate Apple’s upcoming plans for using the next generation of Apple TV as a ultra HD content server in addition to its existing HD offerings.

Given that Apple already operates its own content delivery network and that broadband connections are often capable of handling 4K video delivery even to mobile devices, the entire idea of a 4K video selection being unveiled by Apple isn’t far-fetched at all.

However, so far we’re still seeing just a single processing chip that just happens to be capable of managing 4K. This does not mean anything concrete considering Apple’s penchant for adding technology which is capable of way more than it’s actually used for in its mobile devices.

Furthermore, there is the question of content delivery. Theoretically, Apple could use its iTunes platform and Apple TV to push out UHD movies and shows but it will still take some time for the entire ecosystem to develop. However, if the company did decide to do this, its broad popularity among consumers would virtually guarantee even wider adoption of 4K resolution, assuming prices were kept reasonable.

Seeing as how the recently released iMac by Apple came out with a truly astounding 5K Retina display, it is at least clear that Apple is developing a future line of products that operate at ultra HD resolutions.

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