With iOS 14, the YouTube app enabled 4K video playback on iPhones. Yes, no iPhone launched so far comes equipped with a display with a pixel density high enough to match the 4K resolution, but the capability was there. Now, Google has turned its attention to its own mobile operating system and has enabled 4K video playback on the YouTube app for Android.
As spotted by AndroidPolice – and subsequently confirmed by me on multiple devices – the latest version of the YouTube app on Android now shows the option to play videos in glorious 4K resolution. In the YouTube app though, the option to bump video resolution to 4K quality is listed as 2160p, sitting just below 1440p. So far, the YouTube app had limited videos to a peak playback resolution of 1440p, even if they were originally uploaded in 4K quality.
To change the video resolution to 4K, tap on the three-dot menu icon in the top-right corner and click on the Quality option in the window that pops up from the bottom. And oh, if the 4K video you’re watching has been shot in HDR mode, you can of course watch it in 2160p HDR quality as well. Just to make things clear, even if your phone has an HD or FHD display, you can still set the playback quality to 4K in the YouTube app.
Why would you do that? Well, if you got a fast enough Wi-Fi connection and want to test its limits, go ahead and set the video quality to 4K. Is the new capability in the YouTube app for Android useful? That depends on whether your phone has a 4K display. Chances are low that your daily driver phone has a 4K display though.
Right now, the only phone with modern specs and a 4K display that I know is the Xperia 1 II that was launched in February last year. The other one happens to be the Xperia PRO, which went on sale last month with an eye-popping price tag of $2500. Both the Sony phones come equipped with a 4K HDR OLED display with a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio.