It’s long been a pet peeve of mine that YouTube videos on mobile devices are limited to roughly the resolution of the screen itself. That appears to be changing now.
As reported by XDA, Reddit users recently began to notice YouTube’s Android app is now allowing users to play resolutions as high as 4K (2160p60) even on some phones with 720p displays.
Indeed, in my measly FHD+ Pixel 5, I am now able to play videos in complete 4K resolution with HDR. Formerly, I had been confined to 1080p. For those people that watch a good deal of videos on our mobiles, it is a welcome switch.
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Nevertheless, the change does not seem to be worldwide, because some users reported not seeing the shift, therefore it is possible Google is running a limited rollout — we have reached out for additional info.
A number of you might be wondering why you would like to play video in a higher resolution than your display is capable of. The solution is straightforward: video compression ensures very seldom are you getting the promised resolution in clinic.
Even though a pixel-perfect 1080p movie can seem really sharp, more frequently than not flowing compression means you are becoming nothing near that successful resolution. YouTube’s 1080p compression is famously underwhelming; compare a 1080p YouTube video into some 1080p Blu-ray (as well as a few high-end streaming solutions ) and the difference is day and night.
The issue is further exacerbated if the movie does not fit your display’s aspect ratio and also you pinch-to-zoom to fill the whole screen. And that is without even getting into how much the cameras movies have been filmed often do not actually output the asserted settlement either.
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All this is to state that if your screen is way from 4K, and even when you’re seeing on a very small screen, you will often find playing with a YouTube video in a resolution a couple of tiers over your display’s native resolution will offer a distinctly sharper picture.
You will of course have to be wary of your data usage — it’s best left for people watching on Wi-Fi or with unlimited data — but for us pixel peepers, it’s a welcome change.
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