Android manufacturers have been using the Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) standard since 2011. While most Android device owners are blissfully unaware that their gadgets can output HDMI (among other things) via a nifty little adapter, power users treasure MHL as an easy way to expand functionality. Today the MHL LLC announced the 3.0 revision of the standard, including a ton of new goodies.

First of all, MHL 3.0 will support video output of up to 4K (or "Ultra HD," usually 3840 × 2160 pixels) resolution. That should be a big plus for those who can afford the early crop of 4K televisions and monitors, even if there's a definite lack of content that actually takes advantage of it. There's also support for multiple simultaneous displays. Audio is getting a boost as well, thanks to support for Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound and DTS. Media companies will be happy to know that MHL 3.0 complies with the latest High Definition Content Protection 2.2 standard.

But MHL isn't just about watching video. The Remote Control Protocol has been updated, which should support both standard mice and keyboards plus remote touchscreens. (So you could plug your phone into a touchscreen monitor via an MHL 3.0 adapter and have a 30" tablet complete with touch. Nice.) Power charging for up to 10 watts has been added, which should be enough even for the most power-hungry tablets, assuming that there's a power adapter connected somewhere. Finally, it's all backwards-compatible with MHL 1.0 and 2.0.

The MHL 3.0 spec will become available to manufacturers in early September, which means it will probably be another four to six months before new phones start taking advantage of the standard.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Aug. 20, 2013MHL, LLC today announced the MHL 3.0 specification to address the latest consumer requirements for connecting a mobile device to displays, marking major advancements in the areas of audio and video transmission over an MHL® link. With double the bandwidth compared to the previous specification, MHL 3.0 delivers 4K (Ultra HD) resolution and a wider color gamut to create a more brilliant visual experience, solidifying MHL’s growing presence in the living room. By using a bi-directional channel that’s significantly faster than MHL 2, the new specification enables concurrent 4K video and high-speed peripheral support of mass storage and input devices such as a touch screen, keyboard and mouse.
“As broadcasters and content service providers strive to innovate and drive revenues, many of the global players including Comcast, NHK, the BBC, Orange and Netflix are trialing and/or  announcing plans to deliver UHDTV content,” said Sarah Carroll, director of global business development, Futuresource Consulting. “As TV everywhere initiatives are also a priority for the world’s broadcasters and online service providers, MHL’s technology solution with HDCP 2.2 will enable the secure delivery of 4K, premium content between different devices staying ahead of the consumer demand curve.”
“The new innovations in MHL 3.0 pave the way for the technology’s expansion into a broader set of home, office, and automotive applications,” said Judy Chen, president, MHL, LLC.  “With an installed base of more than 330 million devices, MHL, as the world’s most widely adopted mobile TV-out standard, will continue to evolve to meet consumer needs.”
The MHL 3.0 specification capabilities include:

  • 4K (Ultra HD): Support of 4K formats up to 2160p30
  • Simultaneous high-speed data channel
  • Improved Remote Control Protocol (RCP) with support for peripherals such as a touch screen, keyboard and mouse
  • Power charging up to 10W
  • Backward compatible with MHL 1 and MHL 2
  • Latest HDCP 2.2 content protection
  • Enhanced 7.1 surround sound with Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD
  • Connector agnostic uses as few as five pins  
  • Support for simultaneous multiple displays

The MHL Experience
Home Theater – 4K Movie-Theater Picture Quality
Watch all of your favorite content in 4K movie-theater picture quality from your smartphone to your TV or home theater system. Stop, rewind, pause and play all of your content using the TV’s remote control.
Mobile Games – Zero Lag
Play all your mobile games on a 4K screen with no lag, all while the TV provides power to your smartphone for extended game play.
Office – Work Anytime, Anywhere
Transform your mobile device into a portable computer by connecting it to a keyboard, mouse, monitor (or multiple monitors), and storage device to work anytime, anywhere.
Automotive – Touch Screen to Access Music and Navigation
Interact with the smartphone through your car infotainment touch-screen display or buttons on your steering wheel to make phone calls, play music, navigate with the phone’s GPS, and more, all while providing charge to your smartphone.
The MHL 3.0 specification will be available for download at http://www.mhltech.org in early September 2013.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Amish Crusader

    With the right infrastructure, a powerful media landscape is within grasp of the common man. Well, as soon as prices of 4k HDTV's drop ;) Great stuff, MHL 3.0!


    What's the framerate supported for 4K? HDMI can only drive a 4K monitor to 30fps. Surely they've gone to 60fps. Then again, for quite a while the only thing we're going to have 4K is movies and right now 24fps is where we're staying it seems.

    • Stacey Liu

      4K @ 60 needs a lot of bandwidth. The only things that can support it right now are Thunderbolt 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, and HDMI 2.0. Of those, only DP 1.2 is available for use today.

      • ERIFNOMI

        I know, which is why I was wondering if they designed MHL 3.0 with new standards in mind. Now when everything else is ready for 4K @ 60, MHL is going to be behind. Probably won't be much of an issue though. Without much 4K content and the fact that MHL is intended for mobile devices which won't be rendering anything in 4K for some time, they're probably safe with just 30fps.

  • smartguy05

    I'm excited because this means it will soon be viable to take your phone plug it into a dock and have mouse, keyboard, multiple monitors, external hard drive and power all there. Desktop on the go, I can't wait.

  • Joey Heck

    Sounds like any MHL 3.0 phone could turn into an Asus Padphone like device!

  • basteagow

    Neat. Unfortunately, seeing how long it's taken for even MHL 2.0 to be adopted—with only one or two devices on the market supporting it so far—I don't expect to see MHL 3.0 in the real world for quite a while.

    • Skander

      Galay S3/Note 2/Galaxy S4 all support MHL 2.0

      In fact, all high end Galaxy phones/tablets do.

      • Thomas’

        Samsung is part of the MHL consortium, so anything else would be strange ;-)

    • niklas_a

      Samsung support MHL but made their own 11-pin configuration on the SGS3 and onwards. Hopefully MHL 3.0 will ensure all OEMs support the same configuration.

      I blogged about it here:

      • Thomas



      More fragmentation, nothing beats Apple's lighting standard.

      • niklas_a

        Well, I do agree Apple has made it easier for consumers. Unfortunately, lightning comes with its own problems. The adapters are expensive and compresses the stream. So if you care about image quality, iOS is a no-go.

      • Matthew Gardner

        "More fragmentation"

        That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Herman

    Am I the only one thinking this is perfectly in time for the Sony Honami to be able to use?

    • basteagow

      I'd say we'll be lucky if the Honami even gets MHL 2.0.

  • http://reddit.com/ yo2boy

    This vs Slimport?

    • niklas_a

      This puts MHL in the lead over Slimport. Cheaper, higher resolution, wider industry support..

      • Drew M

        I think you're still paying royalties either way. For MHL, the royalties are in the device, but for SlimPort, the royalties are in the adapter. For me, MHL was kind of laggy when I had my Sensation. SlimPort has a native framerate and the latency is negligible. I've used Sixaxis with my Nexus 4 and it's just like playing games on a console. I don't know if it's the SlimPort technology, the faster SOC in the N4, or a combination of both, but I've been much more impressed with it over MHL. Unfortunately, neither can provide enough juice over the adapter to charge a device while it's running games, so the battery slowly runs down. MicroHDMI and an OEM plug provides that advantage. These are my personal observations.

  • dimitriszara

    I got disappointed by MHL. I have the htc one and it's nearly unusable because of the low frame rate. Mhl 1 cant support two 1080p screens, so i don't have high hopes for MHL.

    • Krzysztof Jozwik

      MHL1 doesn't support two 1080P screens? That's why were' up to MHL3 now, it's called progress.

      • dimitriszara

        Yeap you right, its just a general disappointment towards Mhl and Htc. Why u bother put MHL 1.0 in a phone that has 1080p screen? Put MHL 2 or nothing.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          Well, mostly HTC for cutting corners. They should implement the latest standards on flagship phones. It's pathetic when companies cut corners, no USB-OTG support on my N4 is quite disappointing, probably the main reason I want to upgrade to the N5.

  • RitishOemraw

    too bad the next nexus won't have this then....will be at least 2,5 years then till I own a nexus device that comes with this.
    Guess I'll be living of Chromecast and Aircast then :D

    • Hideaki

      The Nexus line has started using SlimPort instead of MHL. SlimPort is an open, royalty-free standard, MHL is not.

      • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

        yet you need to buy a special Slimport adapter that can cost a hell of a lot more than a standard plastic MHL adapter.

      • niklas_a

        Only the Nexus devices made by LG. Galaxy Nexus had MHL. LG seems to be abandoning Slimport though, the LG G2 that was recently announced supports MHL.

        • Christoforos Panos

          Most likely slimport was Google's decision, not LG's. The optimus G (sister phone to the nexus 4) does MHL, not slimport. The nexus 7 2013 also does slimport.

          • niklas_a

            Good catch. Thanks.

  • Fatty Bunter

    The only experience I have with MHL was with my Galaxy Nexus and I was sorely dissapointed. It was terribly choppy and low-res (<720p). Also - will this require additional power via USB?

    • niklas_a

      Hmm that sucks. It will require additional power if the display doesn't support MHL.

  • arther.casillas

    My question? When this is supported can I flash the software or is this a hardware implementation only? Sounds good on paper. My nexus has updated Bluetooth stack with 4.3 even though it killed compatibily(4.0.3 the last time I remember my functionality)with Bt/joystick command apk which killed my wiimote functionally and most roubust connectivity apps.

    My goal is I am going for a pocket PC from android with full mirroring via HD chromcast and USB Connectivity for keyboard, mouse and USB otg host.
    I can see using NFC tags attached to a dock enabling setting to iniciate this action.
    Bring on the tech provide open source and the devs will provide integration.

    • basteagow

      It requires hardware support. MHL 1.0—what most devices currently have—is only good for casual/light use, as it's incompatible with high-current ("A/C") charging. If you play a 3D game long enough, your battery will drain faster than it will charge. Samsung's latest devices, which support MHL 2.0, have a proprietary USB port with additional pins that allow MHL and A/C charging to coexist.

  • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

    I wish I had MHL over Slimport :/
    I know Simport is just better, but the accessories are too expensive

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Hmm.... 4k with no lag, yet 1080p on my HTC One makes the device sluggish as fu**

  • didibus

    Does it work with non MHL HDMI inputs?