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Netflix iOS app brings high-res video to iPhone 6 Plus

The movie and TV-show service is now streaming programs to Apple's iPhone 6 Plus at 1,080 pixels, to take advantage of the gadget's big screen.

Netflix's new iOS app. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Netflix has updated its iOS app to support the larger screen size of the iPhone 6 Plus with 1,080-pixel video resolution.

Updated Tuesday, version 7.0 of Netflix for iOS will stream movies and TV shows at the higher resolution for the iPhone 6 Plus. Streams on the iPhone 6 will still be limited to 720 pixels, though users of that device will be able to see more content on the screen at a single glance.

A spokesman for Netflix said the smaller screen resolution of the iPhone 6 simply won't support 1,080 pixels.

Previously, Netflix streaming was limited to 720 pixels on the iPhone and iPod Touch but did offer 1,080 pixels on the iPad. Now the 5.5-inch screen of the iPhone 6 Plus can handle the higher 1,080p resolution, as long as you have the necessary bandwidth.

Netflix recommends having at least 5 megabits per second of bandwidth, so Wi-Fi is your best option. Viewers can stream the 1,080-pixel content over a fast cellular connection, but they'll quickly surpass their data plan's limits.

The Netflix spokesman told CNET that much of the company's catalog, particularly titles created since the dawn of high-def, will stream in 1,080 pixels.

"We're excited to announce that iPhone 6 Plus users will now see Netflix movies and television shows in 1,080-pixel resolution, including Netflix originals like 'Orange is the New Black' and 'House of Cards,'" Netflix said in a blog post. "All you need is a good WiFi connection."

Yes, 1,080-pixel streams naturally chew up more bandwith than do lower-resolution streams. Netflix uses a process called adaptive streaming, which varies the resolution based on a user's bandwidth. So the actual video quality depends on the user's local Wi-Fi connection as well as their Internet service provider.

Through a feature called Open Connect, Netflix also has streaming deals with certain Internet providers to offer the highest video quality possible. You can see how your ISP fares at streaming Netflix content by checking Netflix' ISP Speed Index page.

In its blog, Netflix also explained how it kicked off its support for the iPhone 6 Plus' larger screen and higher resolution.

"When Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September, we were excited about the opportunity to extend the Netflix application to different screen sizes," the company said. "We immediately began work on optimizing our user interface for the larger and higher resolution screens, and we're happy to announce these changes are included in today's update to our app. You'll see more titles on screen to choose from, bigger imagery and improved performance throughout."