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The ad-supported version of HBO Max doesn't include streaming in 4K

HBO Max movie in 4K
(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

The $9.99-a-month version of HBO Max is here, with advertising in tow. But as we've also found out, that less-expensive option also comes with a few major caveats.

The biggest discrepancy between the $9.99 and $14.99 version of HBO Max arguably is this: You won't get any content in 4K resolution unless you're paying for the ad-free version. That means no ultra-high definition movies — everything tops out a mere HD.

That said HBO Max currently has a scant number of films available in 4K. Three, to be precise. Wonder Woman 1984 was the first when it premiered over Christmas 2020 as part of the same-day release scheme. Zack Snyder's Justice League — the extended directors cut that didn't do much to fix a not-great film — was the second. And the new Angelina Jolie film Those Who Wish Me Dead makes up the third film streamed in 4K.

That's it. Not even the much-heralded Tenet — another visually stunning Christopher Nolan film that set off a bit of a skirmish between the director and the studios — is only available in HD resolution.

Other differences between the ad-supported version of HBO Max and the full version are the inability to download movies and shows for offline viewing, and the loss of being able to watch same-day releases of 2021 Warner Bros. movies.

Upcoming same-day releases include:

  • The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (June 4)
  • In the Heights (June 10
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy (July 16)
  • The Suicide Squad (Aug. 6)
  • Reminiscence (Aug. 20
  • Malignant (Sept. 10)
  • The Many Saints of Newark (Sept. 24)
  • Dune (Oct. 1
  • Cry Macho (Oct. 22)
  • King Richard (Nov. 19)
  • The Matrix 4 (Dec. 22)