Some folks using the new ASUS ROG Phone 3 are having issues playing back HD content in certain apps like Netflix. The cause, as some of our more savvy readers might expect, is an issue with Android's Widevine DRM system, with some phone owners reporting that their L1 Widevine state has been lost, relegating them to standard definition playback. ASUS has now fixed the problem with a software update after initially asking customers to send in their phones to get back HD playback.

It isn't clear if all devices were affected or if the issue was only affecting a handful of units, but there were enough reports over at ASUS's ZenTalk forums to make it clear it was a trend that affected at least some ASUS ROG Phone 3 and Zenfone 7/7 Pro owners, though there were fewer reports for the latter.

Left: Widevine reporting L3 in DRM Info. Right: L3 reported in the Netflix app.

The issue was clearly tied to a loss of Widevine L1 status, with the phones falling back onto L3 — that's the lowest security level which devices can usually implement purely in software without any hardware-backed elements, and which was alleged to be broken last year. Affected devices indicated L3 Widevine status when checking in apps like DRM Info, and they were unable to play higher-definition content from services like Netflix that require a higher security status.

Some customers claim the fall to Widevine L3 happened following a recent update, while others claim it happened suddenly and all on its own, with reports stretching back to October. Customer support representatives in related forum threads have been reaching out to those affected via DM. Responses indicate they're being instructed to send the phones to service centers to be re-flashed with the correct firmware. However, some claim the issue still persists following this procedure.

Notably, the OnePlus 8 Pro had a similar but short-lived issue earlier this year, fixed via a later update. While the cause may vary, a future update might be able to fix the problem for affected ASUS phones.

ASUS tells us this issue can be fixed for those affected, but it won't be simple. Unfortunately, the problem can't be solved via an update, and although the company tells us the problem has since been fixed (so, presumably, there shouldn't be any new cases), rectifying the issue on phones that have it requires that they be sent to a service center. We encourage affected customers to contact support to make those arrangements.

Software update

ASUS initially asked those affected to send in their phones for repair, but that's apparently not necessary anymore. The company is rolling out firmware updates to the ROG Phone 3 and the ZenFone 7/7 Pro, stating that it "fixed an issue where Netflix HD movies cannot be played" and that it had a solution for the "Widevine downgrade to L3 issue."

Be sure to check your system settings for the update if you're affected and never bothered sending in your unit. You can read the full changelog on the ASUS website (ZenFone 7/7 Pro, ROG Phone 3).