YouTube rolls out 4K video playback for low-end displays – Digitalmunition

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Published on February 20th, 2021 📆 | 7603 Views ⚑


YouTube rolls out 4K video playback for low-end displays

YouTube in the browser can play the video in maximum uploaded resolution without any trouble. The only thing that limits the playback is obviously the bandwidth and metered internet connection. While you may not be make out the actual color and contrast on your PC monitor or laptop, especially if you have a monitor with 720 pixels or 1080 pixel resolution. The crispness is surely different from what you see in a 1080 pixels video. The support was always there for the browser version but now YouTube has rolled out the same functionality to smartphones, specifically the Android smartphones.


I tried the feature on a low-end 1080 pixel device, the Redmi 9 Prime, and my One Plus Nord for testing the feature. To my surprise, both the phones displayed the option of the maximum supported resolution, as intended from the uploader side. The chances of finding a 2160 pixels video with HDR are very slim but are certainly playable on both devices. There was no visible stuttering in frame rendering or any unusual video tearing, at least not visible to my eyes. Videos in 1080 pixels looked okay, but now with a 1440 and 2160 resolution, you can easily consume high-fidelity videos.

Reddit went berserk over these changes with many users attributing it to be an unintentional bug that will soon be fixed. The video quality has improved a lot as you get a downscaled video that looks good on a tiny 6-inch display. The key factor to note here is that the display resolution and the size both are necessary to point out the difference in resolutions. Meaning even if your phone has 1440 pixels or even a 4K display like the Xperia 1 II, the actual use of that is pointless. With that being said, the 4K content will surely look good on Sony Xperia smartphones, which were designed to support the resolution.

This levels the playing field in a way, as users with both high-end or low-end resolution displays can get a taste of what it is like to view 2K or 4K content. As of now, the option is available for seemingly all versions of existing Android phones, though it cannot be verified at this point. It is strange that YouTube, amid the pandemic breakout, restricted the phone application’s maximum resolution at 480 pixels to avoid server overloading and subsequent crashes. The strategy worked at that time but now they seem to have gone entirely opposite of what they did last summer.


The update log of the newest version of the YouTube application on the Play Store mentions nothing related to this change. Maybe it’s an intentional one to gain an idea of how many users will actually want to enjoy content in 4K HDR which will help them craft a subscription plan or so for the future. The videos in both 1440 pixels and 2160 pixels do take a toll on bandwidth, so you might want to use the feature on an institutional WiFi, rather than a personal one. One more thing, the change is display resolution hasn’t made it yet, to the iOS devices. If you own an Apple iPhone X or above, hop into the YouTube application and check out if you can go over 1080 pixels.


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