YouTube’s updated app brings HDR to select Samsung, LG, and Sony smartphones

youtube
Looking to test-drive your Galaxy S8 or Pixel’s screen with some ultra-vibrant high dynamic range (HDR) clips? You’re in luck. On Friday, YouTube extended HDR support to select Samsung, HTC, and LG devices.

YouTube’s expanded mobile HDR comes in the form of an updated app. Try it by downloading or upgrading YouTube from the Google Play Store on the Google Pixel, Xperia XZ Premium, Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, Galaxy Note 8, or LG V30, and then playing an HDR-enabled video. Tap the playback settings menu and you will see new HDR options in resolutions up to 1,440p (2,560 × 1,440 pixels).

It’s not quite ready for prime time, though. Reddit users are reporting stuttering videos and battery-draining brightness levels, and some Galaxy S8 owners claim the update does away with the option to stretch videos to full screen. It also appears to be a one-way street: Once you upgrade to the HDR-enabled version of YouTube, there is no easy way to switch back.

YouTube says it is working on fixes. “We’ll continue working with partners in [the] mobile industry to bring HDR playback to more devices,” a YouTube spokesperson told Digital Trends in an email.

HDR, or high-dynamic range, is a display specification that produces higher-than-average contrast between light and dark frames. The result is a brighter, punchier, and truer-to-life image than you are likely to get on a phone that does not support HDR.

But it’s not that cut and dried. The two dominant HDR video formats, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, are not interoperable, which has already led manufacturers like Samsung to ditch one format in favor of the other. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus comply with HDR10, but not Dolby Vision.

Content has not been easy to come by, either. Netflix recently rolled out HDR to the LG V30, Galaxy Note 8, Xperia ZX Premium, and Xperia XZ1, but only a sliver of its library is HDR-compliant (mostly Netflix-produced series like Chef’s Table), and accessing it requires a subscription to Netflix’s top-tier, $12-a-month 4K streaming plan.

Amazon Prime Video and Vudu, meanwhile, both boast a growing number of HDR movies and TV shows but have yet to support mobile devices.

That seems poised to change, though, as an increasing number of smartphone makers pledge to implement HDR. In February, the Ultra HD Alliance — a group of technology companies and movie studios — announced Mobile HDR Premium, a new baseline spec for HDR-enable smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It is unlikely to be a silver bullet, but it could be just the target manufacturers need to work toward full HDR compliance.

Deals

Apple iPad and iPad Pros get big discounts for Memorial Day weekend

Apple iPads have been getting a lot of great discounts so far this year, and Memorial Day 2019 proves to be no exception. With prices as low as $249 for newer models, Memorial Day weekend is a great time to pick one up.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Mobile

Cardinal red Galaxy S10 doesn't appear destined for the U.S.

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Mobile

The best bezel-less phones cut all the right corners without losing space

As the smartphone industry marches toward a bezel-less future, we compare the shrinking bezels on the latest and greatest devices. Find out which manufacturers have the smallest bezels on their smartphone as we compare them side by side.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2019, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR and much more.
Mobile

Lyft’s wallet-friendly Shared Saver option arrives in six more U.S. cities

Lyft is expanding its wallet-friendly Shared Saver option to Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle after launching it earlier this year in Denver, New York City, and San Jose.
Mobile

Huawei's situation in the U.S. may improve when trade war is resolved

The U.S. Commerce Department has added Huawei to its "Entity List." Google, Intel, and ARM are all confirmed or rumored to be ceasing business with the company, which may have disastrous effects on Huawei.
Mobile

You can't fool us -- this is definitely the Moschino Honor 20 Pro phone

Honor has launched the Honor 20 Pro and the Honor 20 at an event that took place in London. The new smartphone is surprisingly compact, with an impressive four-lens camera for taking stunning shots, day or night.
Deals

Amazon Memorial Day sale: Apple Watch, Surface Pro, and 4K TV Deals

Amazon is discounting a number of different items. Smartwatches, tablets, 4K TVs, smart home devices, and laptops are all getting discounts to stay competitive with prices from Walmart and Best Buy.
Deals

Best Memorial Day sales 2019: Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart drop discounts

If you're looking to save big on some shiny new stuff for Memorial Day 2019, we've gathered everything you need to know into one place. Find out where to save the most money before the summer hits its stride.
Mobile

The 20 best iPhone SE cases to keep your phone looking like new

Protect your iPhone properly with one of the best iPhone SE cases or covers. That metal-and-glass body is prone to scuffs and scratches, so it pays to buy a decent case. We've got protective and stylish options for you here.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Product Review

Garmin’s Forerunner 245 Music is all a runner needs to measure performance

Garmin's new Forerunner 245 fitness watch offers advanced metrics, onboard color maps and music. Is this trio a winning combination? We put the watch through its paces to find out.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for May 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals for…