Back in 2013, when 4K displays were relatively uncommon, YouTube quietly rolled out the "2160p 4K” option for some videos, allowing users to view select content in higher resolution. Now, with most high end displays and devices such as the newly-released Xbox One X touting 4K video playback, this configuration has become more important than ever if you want to view your content in greater detail.
However, it appears that YouTube has disabled 4K content playback via its app for some devices, for unknown reasons.
As noted by PiunikaWeb, several people have complained that they can't view videos at 4K on supported devices such as the Xbox One X using the YouTube app. In fact, even mobile users have cited the issue, saying that the maximum display resolution seems to have been capped at 1080p. It is important to note that only a few handsets sport displays with a resolution greater than 1080p, it appears that the configuration has been disabled for all such smartphones utilizing the YouTube app.
While Google hasn't detailed the reason for this change, a community manager has officially acknowledged the issue, saying that:
We're not displaying 4k content right now, 1080p is the max. We are working on this, though no exact date to share just yet!
It is currently unknown what the problem is, but it likely has to do with relatively lower-powered devices struggling to display 4K content. However, it is rather strange that Google has disabled the configuration for all devices, rather than those affected by the issue.
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