Opinion | Apparently, 720p isn't HD anymore according to YouTube: sorry iPhone 11 and iPhone SE 2 users, but it's time to move on
YouTube recently decided to redefine what it considers HD. As of now, users on the YouTube desktop site and mobile apps will no longer see the HD badge next to the 720p resolution option. 1080p is now the minimum resolution YouTube considers "HD."
This is a minor semantic change and, as far as we're aware, it does not have an impact on bitrate or image quality. However, YouTube's decision certainly feels like the final nail in the coffin for 720p.
YouTube's 720p decision is really just a reflection on ground realities: in an era where 4K game consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are the norm, 720p simply isn't a "high" definition. YouTube bitrates and compression are such that some 720p videos actually look worse than their DVD-quality SD counterparts.
And because of how widespread 1080p panels and fast internet have become (hundreds of millions of users have 1080p smartphones and access to broadband/4G), 1080p is the go-to resolution for high quality, with 1440p and 4K offering a premium experience beyond that.
What constitutes a "high resolution" panel changes over time. Gamers in 1996 might remember when 640x480 was high resolution and 1024x768 was some kind of unattainable gold standard. The world's moved on and 720p as a high res standard needs to, also.
But what does this mean for people using sub-1080p displays? Well, it doesn't fundamentally change anything. However, it underscores what people have been saying about Apple's "Retina" resolution choices for years now. The iPhone 11 no longer qualifies as an HD device, and neither does the iPhone SE 2.
And yes, there is a noticeable bump in clarity between the iPhone 11's 326 ppi panel and the 458 ppi panel on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Perhaps this will nudge Apple towards delivering "HD" displays across the board next year?
And while YouTube's busy redefining what constitutes HD, perhaps they could get around to removing the 480p in-cap resolution cap on Indian YouTube users? Because from today onwards, Indian YouTube users not using a VPN are dealing with, well, sub-sub HD.