According to the share of user Ihatesmokealarms on the social networking site Reddit, when watching videos with the YouTube application on smartphones, if he wants to switch to 2160p resolution (4K standard), he receives a notification that this resolution standard is only for users. YouTube Premium is a paid user and requires an account upgrade to use.
The article by Ihatesmokealarms created a lot of controversy on Reddit. Some users say they can still watch 4K standard videos on YouTube’s app or on a web browser without any restrictions. However, some other users say that they also face the same situation when they are required to register for a Premium account to watch 4K standard videos on YouTube. This shows that YouTube is more likely to be testing this restriction in some countries and regions instead of applying it widely.
In fact, restricting free accounts to watch videos in 4K resolution will not affect the experience too much when most users today only watch videos on YouTube in HD or 2K. However, some are concerned that, in the future, YouTube will limit high-definition video standards and only allow users to watch videos for free at up to 480p or even lower.
Previously, Netflix also launched a free movie package for Android users but limited the quality to only 480p. It is not excluded that YouTube will apply a similar policy to force users to upgrade to a Premium paid account.
Currently, YouTube has not commented on user feedback on Reddit.