Would you mail in your phone to get a new feature?

By | 26th February 2018
OnePlus 5T

Before the end of 2017, it was revealed that the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T were both suffering from one big missing feature: Neither phone could stream HD content from providers like Netflix and YouTube. So, despite having displays that can support 1080p HD content, the handsets can only stream in standard definition, or 480p.

For some customers that might not be an issue. After all, the OnePlus 5 has been available for quite some time. Or it could simply be a situation where it wasn't public knowledge, so customers might not have known they weren't getting the full experience. Whatever the situation, the public outcry following last year's report made OnePlus reconsider, and announce that they'd be fixing the mishap "soon".

Well, the fix is here, but it's not easy in the slightest.

The issue here is that the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T do not support Widevine Level 1 DRM, which they do need to support if they want to stream HD content from providers like Amazon and others. OnePlus says a fix is available, but that the only way it can be implemented is if the new DRM software can be installed on handsets from a "trusted computer" at a factory.

So if you have either one of these handsets and you want to stream HD content on them, you actually need to mail your smartphone back to OnePlus (don't worry, they'll cover shipping) and then wait for them to update the device directly and mail the handset back to you. Which means you'll need a backup phone to use while your daily driver is being serviced.

DRM is a frustrating tool in general, but this takes it to a whole new level. It's great that OnePlus has a solution for a problem they created themselves by not supporting Widevine Level 1 DRM right out of the box, but it's not easy. It should not be on the customer to mail in their phone to get a feature it should have had to start with.

But here we are. The start of 2018 and some smartphone customers have to mail in their handset to the manufacturer to get a software update. Is this something that should catch on? I certainly hope not.

The bigger question I have is obviously for OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T owners: Are you going to send in your device to get it updated to support HD streaming? If you own a OnePlus 5 and you've gone this long without it, is it worth sending in your phone to get it now?

Let me know what you think of OnePlus's latest decision.