YouTube started supporting HDR content on November 2016 but hasn't rolled it out to HDR-capable smartphones since. Until now. Several Redditors have now discovered that YouTube is slowly rolling out support for HDR video via its mobile app.
Some reports say YouTube extended HDR support to smartphones Friday, Sept. 8. For users of Xperia XZ Premium, Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel, or LG V30, try updating the YouTube app to see the new options. Pick any HDR-enabled video then tap the playback settings. The HDR feature supports 1440p videos.
YouTube HDR Option Has Major Performance Issues
It's not working flawlessly for some, however. Some Reddit users have reported lagging and stuttering when playing videos at a higher resolution. In one Reddit thread, one user reported that playback with HDR-enabled video stuttered at 1080p. Another user said they saw no such hiccups, and that the 1440p video played smoothly.
One user even reported not being able to play videos in fullscreen with HDR enabled.
Even some who claim to have high-speed internet connections reported stuttering, implying that this is more of a playback and performance issue than anything network-related. Perhaps YouTube is still in the process of ironing out some kinks.
For its part, YouTube says it's working on fixes.
"We'll continue working with partners in [the] mobile industry to bring HDR playback to more devices," YouTube told Digital Trends.
What Is HDR?
For now, HDR playback is limited on the devices listed above, but it stands to reason YouTube will roll it out to other devices in the future. That is if it can fix the issues first. HDR, for the uninitiated, is a display specification that delivers higher contrast between light and dark images. The result? A brighter, punchier, more vibrant image quality overall.
Even with the feature enabled for some phone, the dearth of HDR-compliant content remains an issue. Netflix-enabled HDR streaming for some smartphones recently, but the streaming service itself only has a few titles in that format. Once more people adapt to HDR to the point where it becomes a mainstream standard, the number of content stands to increase. Then again, content is what will push people to adapt HDR in the first place, so it's tricky.
Amazon Prime Video, on the other hand, has yet to support HDR streaming on mobile devices. Same goes for Vudu and other video streaming services. That might change soon, though, since a number of smartphone manufacturers have already pledged to implement HDR in their future smartphones. There's also this so-called Mobile HDR Premium, a new baseline spec for HDR-compliant mobile devices that can standardize HDR implementation.