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The most annoying part of watching HDR content on Android might be getting a fix

This is what happens when the movie is HDR and everything else isn’t

Watching HDR content on your phone can be a great time. It’s not so fun, however, when a toast notification pops up or even when the playback UI fades out. All those brilliant graphics seem to hit your eyes like they have nothing to do. Which give? Well, that depends on how your Android device handles mixing standard dynamic range or SDR content with HDR content. And yes, there is a fix for that in the works.

Take a look at a spec sheet for a properly equipped device and you’ll find that the screen can have two specific maximum brightnesses: typical brightness and peak brightness. You’ll max out typical brightness in most situations where you’d expect even brightness across the screen, but when it comes to viewing HDR content, having access to an extended brightness range is key to bringing out the highlights. important parts of the scenes. .

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When the operating system detects HDR content, it defaults to setting the screen brightness to the maximum it can provide so that it can produce the best image possible. However, the rest of the UI is not coded for HDR and what usually ends up happening is that those SDR elements will also appear at that maximum brightness level. This applies to notifications, status bar, captions, and most other overlays. Any disruption that relies on these UI elements will be unwelcome.

There’s hope on the horizon, though: In his Android Dessert Bites newsletter, Esper’s Mishaal Rahman picked up on an ongoing feature called SDR dimming that would reduce the brightness level of those SDR elements onscreen while the device is set to output HDR content. It’s been running since the Android 12 development cycle and it looks like it’ll need several dependencies to start working before it can actually work (Rahman tried to switch to see if he could brute force the feature) and it’s unclear if it will be available by the time Android 13 is stable. That said, it’s one of those quality-of-life things that people can appreciate when they’re, say, stuck in a cramped night bus with no chance of sleeping. The sooner it can be released, the better.


We highly recommend viewing the full article for an explanation of how dimming works and where these lines of code should connect.

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