4K offers superior video quality and sharper details. If you have fast unlimited internet, you may naturally want to stream YouTube videos in the absolute best 4K resolution (2160p). With iOS/iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, Apple has added support for YouTube 4K. Here’s how you can play YouTube videos in 4k on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.
Note: I have done a quick test with my iPhone 6s, 7 Plus, 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone 11, and 11 Pro Max, all running iOS 14 and the latest version of the YouTube app. I played the same YouTube video on all devices. Only iPhone 11 and 11 Pro Max and even iPhone 12 series had the option for 2160p. Rest all iPhones had an upper limit of 1080p. After researching the internet, I can further add that the iPhone XS series can also play YouTube 4K.
How to Watch 4K YouTube Videos on iPhone and iPad
Launch the YouTube app and play a video.
Play a video that uploaded up to 4K, and tap on three-dot menu from the top right.
Next, tap on Quality and choose 2160p.
Not all YouTube channels create or upload video in 4K. But iGeeksBlog does! See this video if you want to check if 4K is supported on your iPhone or not.
Since iPhone and iPad screens are not 4K, it’s also a great idea to watch in 1440p. Most likely, you won’t notice any difference.
4K is only available in the YouTube app and not in the Safari browser.
How to Watch 4K YouTube Videos on Apple TV 4K
Launch the YouTube app on your Apple TV and play a video.
Use the touchpad on the Apple TV remote to select the three vertical dots icon.
Choose Quality and then 2160p.
Tip: You can also AirPlay 4K YouTube Videos from your iPhone or iPad to Apple TV.
Why Can’t You Play YouTube in 4K on Some iPhones?
Even after you update your iPhone or iPad to the latest OS and the YouTube app to its latest version, you may not see the option for 4K playback. This is because all models do not support this (yet).
Note: On one of the App Store page, Apple says ‘The iPhone 8 and later models, as well as any iPad Pro, can all play 4K HDR content.‘ Thus we have the liberty to assume that YouTube 4K may come to more models soon!
Background: YouTube uses the H.264 codec for lower video resolutions like 720p, 1080p, etc. This codec is supported on Apple devices. But for 4K, YouTube uses the Google-developed VP9 codec. Until iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, Apple did not support this, and thus you could not play 4K YouTube videos. Thankfully, now you can!
This is how you can play super-crisp, ultra HD 4K YouTube videos on your iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS devices. Next, I should let you know that if you have iPhone 11 or 12 series, you can even play 4K HDR videos! To check, visit this YouTube channel and play one of their videos. You will see the option for 2160p HDR.
I have been an Apple user for over seven years now. At iGeeksBlog, I love creating how-tos and troubleshooting guides that help people do more with their iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and Apple Watch. In my free time, I like to watch stand up comedy videos, tech documentaries, news debates, and political speeches.