Back in March, YouTube capped the video quality to SD (480p) on phones in an effort to reduce server load during the initial stages of the lockdown. At the time of the announcement, the company said the restrictions will be in place for 30 days. However, YouTube didn’t quite take steps to reverse the change. Well, that’s finally changing today.
YouTube users in India have noticed the ability to play HD videos. There’s a catch, though. HD streaming is available only on WiFi and has not been restored for users browsing the app with mobile data.
I checked YouTube playback this morning on my phone and it works just as I mentioned above. In my testing, I was able to play 1080p videos when connected to Wi-Fi, while the video was still capped to 480p on cellular data, as you can see in the image below.
I reached out to a friend for some clarity in the situation and noticed that certain videos are still on 480p despite being connected to Wi-Fi. The same videos were limited to 480p on my device as well, which hints the company has not completely lifted the restrictions.
It is worth noting that YouTube is not lifting video quality restrictions based on YouTube Premium subscription. I’m not subscribed to YouTube Premium and was able to play HD videos.
Either way, this would come as a relief to anyone who was disappointed with video quality on YouTube. After being spoilt by crispy 1080p videos, I couldn’t stand grainy 480p videos on YouTube. In fact, I had to settle for workarounds to get the same experience.
It is good to see that YouTube is finally restoring HD video streaming on its platform. Presumably, the company should be reinstating HD video playback to mobile users as well in the coming weeks.