What just happened? Many may find it surprising that for nearly two years, the Disney+ app for the PlayStation 5 was limited to streaming in 1080p. The issue was due to a unique quirk in how the Sony console handles backward compatibility for streaming apps carried over from the PlayStation 4.
This week, Disney released an update bringing 4K HDR compatibility to the PlayStation 5 version of the Disney+ app. The PS5 was one of the last devices to lack that capability for the service, and Disney+ is one of the final services to receive 4K HDR on the console.
Disney+ on PS5 won't auto-update to add 4K HDR because the company launched an entirely new app called "Disney+ (PS5)." Users can install it by selecting the Media tab on the home screen and then choosing All Apps.
If users have the old app, the new version should appear with a download marker on the icon. Installing it transfers all login information from the previous Disney+ automatically.
Subscribers to Disney+ with the proper hardware and display can start streaming in 4K HDR at no extra cost, whereas Netflix charges extra for those features. YouTube allows all users to watch videos in 4K, but the service has started testing the idea of locking UHD behind its premium subscription.
Disney+ previously limited PS5 users to 1080p because the old app was a PlayStation 4 app running in backward compatibility mode (the only place confirming this is the PS5 menu's "Downloads/Uploads" section). Other services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video already have PS5-native apps that support 4K HDR, while Hulu still lags.
Oddly, Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube already supported 4K HDR on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Meanwhile, since the Xbox One S (which can only play games in 1080p), every Xbox console has enabled 4K HDR streaming. Other set-top boxes like the Roku or the Apple TV may still provide better HDR and Dolby Vision functionality than game consoles while also using fewer watts.
On Windows PCs, only YouTube and Netflix allow 4K HDR streaming. Netflix supports the functionality in its Windows Store app and the Microsoft Edge browser after purchasing HEVC video extensions in the Windows Store for $1. Unfortunately, none of the other services have indicated plans to support 4K streaming on PC.
Disney also brought 4K HDR streaming to its Star+ PS5 app for users in Latin America. For those unfamiliar, Star+ delivers content from Disney, FX, National Geographic, ESPN, and other networks to Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela.