Apple might be Samsung TVs' savior in the battle against Dolby Vision HDR

TV remote control is seen with Apple TV+ logo displayed on a screen
(Image credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The high dynamic range format wars look to have taken a new turn, after a new update to the Apple TV app for Samsung TVs added fresh support for HDR10+.

The weekend saw multiple postings on social media and online forums from Samsung TV owners that a new software revision had brought support for the HDR format.

According to FlatpanelsHD, scores of users posted how a large chunk of Apple TV’s library movie rentals like Top Gun: Maverick and popular Apple TV+ shows such as Ted Lasso had newly become available to watch in HDR10+ within the app, while noting a big improvement in picture quality.

The development comes after Apple last week unveiled an updated and cheaper, third-generation Apple TV 4K streaming box, which includes support for HDR10+ as one of its key new features. 

Co-developed by Samsung alongside 20th Century Fox and Panasonic and first announced in 2017, the HDR10+ format is a direct competitor to Dolby Vision

Like Dolby’s rival, HDR10+ aims to offer a broader color gamut over Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content, while also allowing higher levels of contrast and significant brightness.

Crucially, unlike Dolby’s proprietary standard, HDR10+ is royalty-free, meaning TV and set top box manufacturers do not have to pay a license fee to include the feature on their products.

Up until now, the only the main player in terms of streaming services to give meaningful backing to HDR10+ has been Amazon Prime Video, with the likes of Disney Plus and Netflix notable hold-outs on the format… except even Amazon has started including Dolby Vision content recently.

Analysis: Expect more streamers to follow in Apple’s wake

While the debate rages on about the pros and cons of both HDR formats – for me, Dolby Vision currently has the edge over HDR10+ thanks to better tone mapping – the truth is that there isn’t a huge amount separating DV and HDR10+ when it comes to picture quality.

What can’t be argued is that Samsung’s stance of continuing to back their own HDR format while stubbornly refusing to adopt the much better-supported Dolby Vision has up to this point left Sammy owners struggling to show off their TV at its best, thanks to the lack of content available in HDR10+.

Apple throwing further support behind the format will be a huge boon for Samsung. It provides the double whammy of giving HDR10+ the kudos of a major third-party backer, while also at last giving its TV users vast swathes of content in higher quality HDR via arguably the best online movie store for 4K HDR content.

It’s not difficult to see Apple’s motivations for getting onboard the HDR10+ bus as well. Samsung remains the biggest TV maker in the world, and with the large majority of the South Korean manufacturers 4K TVs made since 2016 compatible with HDR10+, it allows Apple to tap into an HDR-starved user base as it looks to build a firmer foot holding for its growing streaming service.

The competition between streaming services to retain and add customers has never been greater. With Apple and Amazon Prime Video both on board with HDR10+, the pressure now grows on the likes of Disney Plus and Netflix to follow suit, or find themselves out of favor with Samsung TV owners.

Perhaps this change in support will make a difference if you're looking to buy a top Black Friday TV deal this year…

Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch is a London-born, Dublin-based writer and journalist. The author of Steve Jobs: A Biographic Portrait, Kevin is a regular feature writer for a number of tech sites and the former Technology Editor for the Daily Mirror. He has also served as editor of and has been a member of the judging panel for the BAFTA British Academy Video Game Awards. Alongside reviewing the latest AV gear, smartphones and computers, Kevin also specialises in music tech and can often be found putting the latest DAWs, MIDI controllers and guitar modellers through their paces. Born within the sound of Bow Bells, Kevin is also a lifelong West Ham fan for his troubles.