YouTube Premium just got a big upgrade — and it's not just for iPhones anymore

The YouTube logo appears on a phone on top of a keyboard
(Image credit: SOPA Images / Getty Images)

YouTube Premium, which strips the ads out of YouTube, is always getting new perks to make its monthly price sting less. YouTube needs to deliver those treats more than ever now, following its recently announced price hike to $13.99 per month (which even hits those who were grandfathered into better deals).

A new and improved “enhanced bitrate” version of the 1080p video quality feed, which first hit iPhones in April, is finally available to all Premium subscribers — at least on the web, Chromecast and video game consoles (sorry Android folks, they can't have forgotten about you). This news broke from The Verge, which cited YouTube spokesperson Paul Pennington. 

Why would you want enhanced bitrate videos? YouTube's official blog post for the initial announcement declared it will make video "look extra crisp and clear, especially for videos with lots of detail and motion." 

So, prime examples would be those who are watching Baldur's Gate 3 videos, or replays from the Women's World Cup live streams. Footage where things are moving very fast, and often cause a loss of visual fidelity. 

To activate YouTube's enhanced bitrate quality, hover over the video, click the Settings gear icon, select Quality and then select "1080p Premium." This video setting isn't available for all video though, as I noticed it wasn't there for an old interview with the cast of Greta Gerwig's Little Women film.

Analysis: What else does YouTube Premium offer?

While I primarily pay for YouTube Premium for its ad-free experience (I watch enough YouTube that it makes sense), that's far from the only premium feature. The most notable perk is a full YouTube Music subscription — giving you the Spotify competitor that's normally $10.99 per month. 

My favorite feature that isn't related to ads is offline downloads, which are crucial for trips and those who rely on underground public transit where connections flicker in and out. YouTube Premium also offers smart downloads to automatically load your phone up with videos you didn't even think to save, in case you're not the type to prep.

I've recently noticed that the YouTube apps do a better job of surfacing recently-watched videos I haven't finished when I switch devices, and this is also a YouTube Premium feature.

Oh, and remember how, you had to pay for Premium in order to have YouTube videos play in the background on the iPhone? Now, YouTube supports picture-in-picture for all on iOS.

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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.

  • FunnyZa
    I've been seeing this for some time probably 2 months or so on my Mac and Android phone to be honest, probably a regional implementation.
  • balsfire
    FunnyZa said:
    I've been seeing this for some time probably 2 months or so on my Mac and Android phone to be honest, probably a regional implementation.
    Exactly. I've noticed this on my android phone for quite sometime now.