Watch Webinar on HEVC Trends
With advanced video codecs, streaming platforms can dramatically improve the viewing experience, increase quality, decrease video payload, and reduce costs. The latest video codec standard H.265, or High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), can deliver these benefits, but mobile devices need to be ready for the computing requirements demanded by the codec. In the 2018 Q2 Mobile Overview Report (MOVR), we analyze the growing support for hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding among mobile devices. 78% of iPhone and 57% of Android smartphone requests come from devices that support hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding. This growing support trend will benefit video streaming companies that architect their networks to leverage HEVC.
78% of iPhone and 57% of Android smartphone requests come from devices that support hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding.
Mobile Overview Report (MOVR) 2018 Q2
The Challenge of Selecting Video Codecs for Mobile Devices
Video streaming is increasingly popular. Cisco estimates that video will grow to 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021; therefore, increased efficiency in video codecs can yield huge savings.
However, it’s complicated to determine the optimal codec to use based on the device requesting the video. iOS and Android devices support different codecs based on a number of factors, including the OS version and chipset of the device.
HEVC and the Evolution of Video Codecs
Video streaming platforms have many options to choose from when it comes to selecting a video codec format. Over the years, video codecs have evolved and significantly improved their efficiency. H.264 provided a 50% improvement in bandwidth consumption vs. H.263 when it was introduced. H.265, also known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), provides another 50% improvement over H264.
Hardware-Based Acceleration on Mobile Devices
HEVC can make use of specialized hardware-based video decoding and encoding chips on SoCs (System on Chip). Without that hardware-based acceleration, the player will use the CPU to decode the video. This heavy use of the CPU quickly consumes battery life. Users will not appreciate this poor user experience. Therefore, it’s best to deliver HEVC only to devices that support HEVC at the hardware level.
Effective Architecture and Deployment of HEVC
ScientiaMobile’s WURFL device detection can quickly identify the hardware-accelerated HEVC decode and encode capabilities of a device and its chipset. Video streaming platforms can dramatically reduce video payload by architecting WURFL’s HEVC video intelligence into their load balancing and video serving logic. To learn more, contact us for our white paper, “How to Optimize HEVC Streaming Video Across Mobile Devices.”
HEVC or H.265 Decode Support on Smartphones by Operating System
One of the most common starting points when deciding whether to use HEVC is to look the operating system of an audience. HEVC supports different standard levels. The tables for HEVC H265 describe what the different levels mean. For example, HEVC level 5 adds support for 4 resolutions and frame rates going up as high as 4,096 × 2,160 at 30.0 frames per second.
Apple started to broadly support hardware-acceleration of HEVC decoding on their devices’ chipsets. 78% of traffic from Apple’s iOS smartphones support hardware-accelerated HEVC decode for streaming videos. Conversely, 22% does not support HEVC. Level 5 is the most common level of support with 56%. Furthermore, 22% of iOS smartphones used support the newer HEVC Level 5.1 decode.
57% of Android traffic comes from smartphones supporting hardware-accelerated HEVC decode. Conversely, 43% of traffic comes from Android smartphones with no hardware-accelerated HEVC. Level 4 and Level 5 are the most commonly supported with 26% for each. Level 6 is starting to have adoption, with 4% of traffic coming from these Android smartphones.
Resolutions of Smartphones Supporting Hardware-Accelerated HEVC Decoding
One of HEVC benefits is its ability to reduce the payload and bandwidth necessary for high-resolution displays. As the level of HEVC evolves, larger screens and higher frame rates are supported. For example, Level 5.1 supports screens as large as 2,160 x 4,096 @ 60.0 fps. The trend shows that resolutions on smartphones are increasing as the level of hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding support progresses.
Level 5 support has its most popular resolution at the 750 x 1334 dimension with 39.5%. The second most popular is 1080 x 1920 with 35.1%. When evolving to level 5.1, the most common resolution increases to dramatically to 1440 x 2560 with 30.3%.
Price of Smartphones Supporting Hardware-Accelerated HEVC Decoding
Performance comes at a price. In general, smartphones supporting HEVC carry a premium price. The median manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for Level 5 smartphones is $849. 68% of Level 5 smartphones are priced at more than $800.
The median MSRP for Level 5.1 smartphones is $899. 72% of Level 5.1 smartphones are priced over $800.
These prices are considerably higher than the median MSRP for all smartphones at $499. As HEVC and chipsets with HEVC decode/encode become more common, it will be interesting to see if lower priced devices adopt this technology.
More HEVC or H.265 Information in Mobile Overview Report (MOVR)
For more information on HEVC decoding trends, download our 2018 Q2 MOVR. In this report, ScientiaMobile provides more information on chipsets, tablets, and RAM trends related to HEVC.