iPhones, iPads can now stream 4K YouTube videos in iOS 14

in iPhone edited June 2020
Apple's iOS 14 update introduces support for Google's VP9 codec, allowing users to watch YouTube videos at 4K resolution on newer models of the iPhone and iPad.

Apple TV 4K and YouTube
The Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad can play YouTube in 4K after the tvOS 14 update is applied

The lack of VP9 support has kept iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs stuck on 1080p when viewing YouTube videos. In the latest tvOS beta, Apple added support for the Google codec -- simply stating that users can watch YouTube clips "in their full 4K glory."

It appears that the first beta versions of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 have finally started supporting Google's Ultra HD codec for some users. Video with 4K resolutions are reflected in the latest version of the YouTube app on those updates. At present, it isn't clear what combination of device, region, or both, are required for the 4K video playback.

Users on Apple's mobile devices still won't be able to directly take advantage of the full 4K resolution. Video at 4K clocks in at a 3840 x 2160 resolution, while Apple's largest iPhone 11 Pro smartphone has a 2436 x 1125 resolution and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a 2732 x 2048 resolution.

In our own testing, users can pass a 4K signal from their iPads and iPhone to a smart TV or another device via AirPlay.

The lack of VP9 support on Apple hardware has been a sticking point for users for a few years now, particularly since Google has, thus far, refused to encode videos in H.264 or other Apple-friendly codecs. Because of that, even Apple users watching YouTube videos in Safari on a Mac have been stuck on 1080p.

It isn't clear if the 4K support will be retained for the full release of iOS 14 or iPadOS 14.


  • Reply 1 of 4
    doozydozendoozydozen Posts: 539member
    But is this a moot point if my carrier, T-Mobile, caps streaming to 480? 
  • Reply 2 of 4
    baka-dubbsbaka-dubbs Posts: 178member
    But is this a moot point if my carrier, T-Mobile, caps streaming to 480? 
    You have no access to wifi/home internet?  4k isn't that beneficial on smaller devices(over 1080), but on a 65 inch TV its a noticeable upgrade.  This fixes one of my two major beefs with the Apple TV.  If Siri's voice recognition improves so that I don't have to use the remote or my phone to type in searches(its been better recently anyways), then I will be very happy.  I had been looking at the Nvidia Shield because I was curious about their AI up-scaling, but i won't be surprised to see Apple provide this through a software update or in the next version of Apple tv.
  • Reply 3 of 4
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,899administrator
    But is this a moot point if my carrier, T-Mobile, caps streaming to 480? 
    That is correct.
  • Reply 4 of 4
    So no 4K Youtube in Safari on the Mac?
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