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.