YouTube Premium users are getting better video quality on iPhone than Android

YouTube logo on an iPhone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Looks like iPhone owners with YouTube Premium will have something to lord over their Android counterparts. 

As a subscriber since 2018, I often think about Premium as the non-traditional subscription service I'd never give up. But not everyone wants to pay to get rid of ads. YouTube's about to discover, though, if more will pay for higher-quality video.

For those who don't know: YouTube Premium (which is $11.99 per month for new members) offers three big features. You get an ad-free video experience, the option to download videos for offline viewing and YouTube Music Premium. You can also have videos keep playing while you use other apps.

Yesterday (April 10), YouTube announced a new set features that help you take more control of what you're watching, share video streams with others remotely and even better video quality. Here's what you need to know:

1. YouTube videos will look even better ... on iOS

While YouTube offers 4K feeds are possible, YouTube is going to offer a way to make 1080p videos (which there are much more of) look even better. But not on Android.

YouTube's announcement states that "To provide an even higher video quality experience for our Premium members, in the coming weeks we’ll be launching an enhanced bitrate version of 1080p HD video quality starting on iOS."

This will also arrive as an experimental feature on the web, and YouTube says that it should make videos "with lots of detail and motion," look better. The announcement highlighted gamers and sports fans as those who will potentially benefit, as the content on those categories can get a little too pixelated when things are going fast.

No mention of Android was provided.

2. YouTube adds video queues on mobile

This is the feature I am the most excited for, because it lets you control what plays next. Today (Monday, April 10th), YouTube Premium members will gain queueing on phones and tablets. 

Because I don't generally like the automatic recommendations, which often give you the next or prior video in the channel you're watching, I always have this turned off. But, now, YouTube on mobile will be a little more like Spotify and my favorite podcasts app Overcast (which, is, yes, one of the best podcast apps).

You've always had the queue option on desktop, but now it's coming to mobile, where it's far more valuable. With the limited screen space on your device, it's not exactly easy to set up a playlist on the fly. 

To use this feature, scroll while you're watching a video on mobile or swipe the video you're watching down to minimize it. Then, once you've found a video you want to queue up, tap the three dots button. Select Play Next in Queue to add the video to your queue.

3. YouTube is finally joining the FaceTime SharePlay conversation

Currently, the ability to synchronously watch videos with others remotely is limited to Live Meet Sharing on Android. This is a neat way for people (with YouTube Premium) to enjoy videos remotely with fellow Android users, even if they don't subscribe to YouTube Premium.

Fortunately, YouTube Premium is about to fill in a big blind spot for shared video: iOS devices. Out in one way or another since iOS 15 in 2021, SharePlay lets Apple device owners watch video remotely together. 

In today's announcement, alongside mention of Meet Live Sharing, it was noted that a similar experience will be rolled out in "the coming weeks ... for FaceTime users on iOS via SharePlay." It's unclear if there are any plans to let Android and iPhone users to watch remotely together, and we've reached out to YouTube to confirm.

Analysis: YouTube Premium is fighting churn too

It seems like we hear about people who want to cancel Netflix and cancel HBO Max all the time — just to come back latter, in a pattern called 'churning' — so it makes sense that YouTube would give more reasons to keep paying the toll for YouTube Premium. 

Oh, and YouTube's announcement post actually focuses on five features, but two of them don't exactly feel new to us: Smart Downloads and being able to jump between devices and resume the video you haven't finished. You may not have known about those, so we get that they're eager to promote them.

Still, YouTube Premium is a service I don't consider canceling, just because of how much I use it and how many ads it skips. Anyone who goes offline a lot, hates ads or multitasks should definitely check it out too.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.