Why Does My 4K TV Say 1080p? (Well Explained)

Won’t you find it a total waste of money if you pay money for a service or product and happen to get a downgraded version of what you paid for?

In the same way, you might find it money-wasting and frustrating when your 4K TV tends not to be displayed in 4K, but rather in 1080p.

In this article, we will get to know if it’s normal for a 4K TV to always be displaying in 1080p. And how to resolve that if it isn’t normal.

There are quite a number of factors that will make your 4K TV still be displayed in 1080p.

For some of the reasons, you can work around and get them fixed, but for others, you will just have to overlook and manage your 1080p display.

4K TV and 1080p display television might have the same size and functions, but they aren’t the same.

What makes the difference is the quality of their pictures, that’s their resolution.4K TVs produce much clearer pictures than TVs with 1080p resolution.

That’s the reason 4K TVs are also referred to as Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, whiles TVs with 1080p resolutions are High Definition (HD) TV. 4K TVs have resolutions four times more than that TVs with 1080p resolution.

Why is my 4K TV Not Showing 4K, But Rather 1080p?

4K TV is supposed to always display in the 4K resolution. But for some reason, this can be downgraded to a lesser resolution like 1080p.

And one thing is, there’s no way the display will upgrade itself to display a resolution that the TV isn’t up to. For instance, 4k TV displaying in 8k resolution, or a 1080p TV displaying in 4K.

So generally, what causes a 4K TV not to display in the 4K resolution, but rather display in the 1080p is when the input itself isn’t 4k, or the HDMI cable used isn’t supporting 4K.

If it’s streaming content, the internet speed and subscribed plan in streaming the content can also be a cause.

Watching Over-the-air without the necessary devices can also result in that.

Why is my 4K TV Not Showing 4K, But Rather 1080p
Why is my 4K TV Not Showing 4K, But Rather 1080p

When the input isn’t 4K

What happens most usually is that the input isn’t 4K. And with that, though your 4K TV will upscale your image or video to fit your screen, the signal can’t be converted to 4K, hence the 4K TV will display received signals per your input resolution.

Not all videos have 4K resolution, hence such videos are not expected to display in 4K, even on a 4K TV.

With that, the reason why your 4K TV says 1080p or displays 1080p could be that the picture or video input is 1080p.

And it’s because of up-scaling that’s why you don’t find black borders around the video.

4K TV doesn’t convert all input resolutions to 4K, so you will always get a display of your input resolution.

YouTube is known to be good at displaying the resolution of the video being watched.

There are videos you wouldn’t find in the 4K option, though the video is being watched on a 4K TV.

Watching over-the-air

Or is it that you’re trying to watch Over-the-Air (OTA) in 4K? In the United States, it’s impossible to watch 4K resolution with just a 4K TV.

To be able to watch OTA in 4K in the US, you need an ATSC 3.0 tuner, an OTA antenna which is an upgraded version of ATSC 1.0 with better reception.

Internet speed

Streaming platforms like YouTube degrade the set resolution when the internet speed is not fast enough to stream the said video.

So you could be using a 4K TV for your YouTube videos, but the speed of your internet can deprive you of watching your videos in 4K.

Your settings can even be downgraded below 1080p if your internet speed isn’t that fast.

Netflix is also known for downgrading the video quality or resolution if the internet speed isn’t up to the required speed for the set resolution.

Streaming plans

Other popular streaming platforms like Netflix makes the streaming of 4K resolution an option you can choose from, irrespective of your TV type, whether 4K or not.

Netflix premium plan is in 3 folds, that’s Basic, Standard, and Premium. And it’s only the Premium plan that allows users to stream videos in 4K.

The Basic plan allows users to stream in Standard Definition (SD), whiles the Standard plan allows users to stream videos in High Definition (HD).

So irrespective of your TV type, if you don’t subscribe to the Premium plan, your 4K TV won’t display in the 4K resolution.

HDMI cable used

Aside from the factors mentioned above, the HDMI cable used to send input to the TV can also affect its display.

HDMI 1. x is known to be unable to handle 4K, hence downgrading the video quality when used for 4K resolution videos.

Is 1080p Video on 4K TV Bad?

How a 1080p video will look on a 4K TV will depend on quite several factors. But generally, 1080p videos look as good as 4K videos.

It will only take someone who pays much attention to quality details in the video to notice the slight differences in their display.

And when you happen to watch it from a distance, it will be very difficult to tell the difference.

Watching a 1080p video on a 4K TV looks good and isn’t bad as many perceive it to be.

It will only take an expert to tell if the video being watched is in 1080p or 4K resolution.

And even the experts, can easily notice the difference when it’s being watched on a larger screen and at a closer range.

With all being said, some 1080p video will look bad on 4K. So as said earlier on, it all depends on a number of factors.

In this article, we will only be looking at three of those factors and see how they affect the view of 1080p videos on 4K TVs.

These are the quality of the 1080p video, the quality of the upscaling algorithm used by the 4K TV, and lastly, the user experience with both 1080p videos and 4K videos.

Is 1080p Video on 4K TV Bad
Is 1080p Video on 4K TV Bad

Quality of video

Garbage in, garbage out is the simplest explanation you can get with the quality of the video.

No TV improves the quality of videos. The TV only functions by displaying what it’s fed with.

So once you input a quality video, you’ll probably get a quality video display.

Same way if you input a bad video, you should expect nothing other than a bad video.

Some videos get to be bad for their bad quality. Videos, when compressed, for instance, tend to reduce their quality.

The camera used in recording the video also affects the quality of the video.

Quality of upscaling algorithm

4K TVs have over eight million pixels, whiles TV with 1080p resolutions have about two million resolutions.

Upscaling is an algorithm used by TVs to make fewer resolutions fit into higher resolutions.

Other than that, when a less-resolution video is played on a higher-resolution TV, there will be dark borders.

So since the 4K resolution is four-time more than 108o resolution, 1080p pictures will be increased four times to fit into 4K TVs.

And the process is what we term upscaling. Hence, how best the TV upscale videos also affect the quality of the video.

User experience

It will be hard for someone who is not a TV expert or used to both 1080p resolution TVs and 4K TVs to be able to tell the differences between them.

But someone with much experience with 4K TVs will be able to tell the quality has diminished if he or she is to watch a 1080p video.


If the source of the video is 4K, the HDMI cable used also supports 4K, the internet speed is fast, the subscribed streaming platform supports a 4K view, and if ATSC 3.0 tuner is been used for your over-the-air, then you are to expect a 4K display.

But when either of them is missed in any situation, you’re likely not going to have a 4K display.

And if the view is still 1080p on a 4K TV, the display shouldn’t be bad if the video is of good quality, with quality upscaling.

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