Your Fire TV Stick 4K Max might be switching down to 1080p without you realizing it

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a great new device, but if you picked one up during the ongoing $34.99 sale and think the picture looks a bit soft, then you might be facing a bug that some people are experiencing. If you have a Fire TV Stick 4K Max connected to a 4K TV, take a second to check that it is actually outputting in 2160p resolution because some devices, including mine, seem to be switching down to 1080p even though they’ve been set to use the best resolution.

It isn’t clear what specific circumstances cause this bug to occur, but I’ve found my Fire TV Stick 4K Max outputting in 1080p on at least 2 different occasions, even though its resolution setting was set to “Auto” and it was connected to a 4K TV. Others are reporting that even when they manually change the resolution setting from Auto to 2160p, the setting sometimes reverts itself and switches to 1080p. The bug and unwanted resolution switch seem to only occur when the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is power cycled, but I can’t be certain.

Since this is a bug with the display settings, you can’t fully trust that the Fire TV is outputting the resolution it says it is set to, so you should use some other means to verify the actual output resolution. If your TV doesn’t have an easy way to tell what resolution the Fire TV is currently outputting, you can open the Developer Tools Menu, enable System X-Ray, and look in the upper left corner. I’ve found this reading to always be accurate, despite what the settings panel says. If it reads “2160p,” then you know you are set to the maximum resolution.

Switching the resolution setting, found under Settings > Display & Sounds > Display >Video Resolution, from Auto to 2160p seems to fix the issue, at least temporarily. One issue with doing that is the Fire TV Stick can no longer automatically match the content’s frame rate, since that requires the resolution setting set to Auto. A solution is to switch to the 2160p setting, then power cycle the device (selecting restart from the menu isn’t enough), then switch it back to Auto when it powers back on. This should keep the resolution at 2160p while it is set to Auto.

14 comments
  1. ralphiwggum1 says:

    My Fire TV Stick 4K has been doing this with my Vizio 2020 P series TV for months (at least when I noticed it first). I thought the Max wouldn’t do it, but does the same thing. It won’t stay on Auto and is almost always set to 1080p60.

    • ralphwiggum1 says:

      Adding on, I’ve assumed it was my TV, which is known to have buggy firmware, but sounds like it’s the Fire TV Stick 4K and Max. The fact that Auto should decide 4K or 1080p, based on display capabilities, automatically, and is instead setting and staying at 1080p 60 Hz is an annoying problem to go back and switch each time.. I have a parental control PIN I have to enter making it more cumbersome.

  2. BigBlue says:

    For me, the regular 4k stick suffers the same fate, unfortunately. I’ve only seen it switch to 4k in Prime Video when set to Auto. All other apps it stays at 1080p even playing 4k content. You must force 4k if you want to watch 4k content.

    I don’t know if it’s only my TV, or all 4k TV’s

    I guess the 4k Max stick suffers the same fate.

    • din says:

      i returned mine…vudu app.did not play any 4k movies i had at that resolutiin..only had hdx

    • Rico says:

      All Fire TVs use an ancient Android version (Fire OS is Android based) with known bugs; Amazon does little to improve the bugs, they update the UI and not a lot more;

      I bought a standard 4K for a second bedroom/ living room and the amount of issues for an already known hardware is to get afraid of:
      – they don’t update it to Fire OS 7 (corrects Bluetooth volume, Ethernet adaptor, etc) even the hardware completely supports it;
      – this 4K video issue
      – you can’t turn it completely off (just sleep/restart)
      – you can’t search after non Amazon content; you can’t use OTG; you can’t choose or change or content/ sources are displayed
      – you can’t easily force an app to stop or switch between apps

      These are just a couple of items. My main device is an “old” Nvidia Shield TV and it still gets the latest updates, it’s much more powerful and I have zero bugs. It’s more expensive but it’s worth every “penny”. Fire TVs’ hardware is fully ok but the software leaves much to be desired, sadly. Amazon is a so big company, yet does so little…

  3. Gank says:

    I’m seeing the same thing and spent too long testing ways to fix it. An additional problem seems to be that when forcing to 2160p60 mode, the stick will not output Dolby Vision, only HDR10. It will only output DV in Auto mode, which means it is stuck in 1080p.

    This has been an ongoing issue for me across multiple TVs and receivers on the Fire TV 4K and now the Max as well.

  4. MichaelMc says:

    Another problem with the 4K Max is that it does not like to play with Harmony remote controllers. Once the 4K Max goes to sleep, it can only be awakened by the 4K Max remote. The Harmony remote will not wake it up like it will with all other Fire TV streaming devices. People have reported it to Logitech and Amazon and it does not look like there is much progress toward a fix. I will either return mine or move it to a TV that does not use a Harmony remote. https://www.amazonforum.com/s/question/0D56Q000086VBWLSA4/cannot-get-harmony-hub-to-wake-fire-tv-4k-max-from-sleep

  5. Phil Merrin says:

    Different issue but same 4K Max firestick. I play some music either from usb OTG or stream internet radio, the device goes to sleep after awhile 15-30 mins and the audio is cut. I’ve set sleep to never, same story.
    When the audio cuts, it’s not just the sound isn’t audible, the app has paused Playing altogether.

    I also have a cube, a lite and the old 4K sticks and they don’t do it. The screen sleeps but the audio continues.

  6. Jeremiah Slattendale says:

    I haven’t tested mine out yet to see if my 4K Max has the same issue but I will definitely look into this. Does anyone know if Amazon is aware of this issue? If so, let’s hope it’s get corrected sooner than later. What’s the point with having upgraded to the their latest device if it is all for nothing so to speak.

    • Rico says:

      If you read some websites/forums, most present bugs (stand Dezember 2021) are known since years ago (since at least the first 4K) and Amazon still doesn’t do anything. As most buy them on sale for $25-$35, I think Amazon sees it as not important, as people don’t expect much; on the other side, Google TV / Android TV based devices have very few bugs and Google doesn’t make money directly (most use Netflix, Disney and Amazon on them).

      I wouldn’t buy a Fire TV device as a main device; I have an Nvidia Shield TV (or even the newest Google TV) and that is a main device as it should.

  7. progz says:

    I have the same issue…

    Not sure what is going on here. I do not have this issue with my samsung 4k tv but I just bought this Sony TV and for whatever reason when I turned off the TV and firestick 4k and turn it on after a couple hour break, the resolution is set to something else. For example, I set the resolution on the firestick 4k to “4k” but after being off for several hours and turned back on, it seems to change to “1080p” for whatever reason.

    I’m assuming it is a Sony TV issue, and not firestick issue because my samsung tv works fine with resolution with the Firestick 4k.

    Does anyone else have this issue?

    • Carolyn says:

      Well I have 2 4k fire sticks n the jus started this glitching thing first it would shut off , then I had to unplug it from the wall n finally it jus started to kick itself offline it shows my internet was connected but I couldn’t get it to fire in or reboot any more now my remote won’t work so I jus gave up n bought me a Roku tv n got netflixks n Hulu n Pluto tv

  8. DickHertz says:

    If you want real garbage, try Roku.

  9. Mark L says:

    Every time I check, it’s at 1080P. No matter what manner of settings, always. POS. I think Amazon may let it or make it happen to save a butt ton of bandwidth across America. Very disappointing as I am pretty committed to the Alexa way. At some point I may just throw it all on the trash as Amazon doesn’t innovate or care.

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