Yesterday, when Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 9, it proudly mentioned that the handset was a “YouTube Signature Device”. The new program from YouTube was silently launched around the same time as the Note 9’s unveiling and recommends the best smartphones for watching YouTube videos.
On the program page, YouTube highlights that the recommended smartphones can “deliver the best-in-class YouTube experience by combining next-generation technologies.” A Signature Device, like the Galaxy Note 9, is capable of playing back HDR videos, immersive 360-degree videos all the while offering quick video loading times.
So, how can a smartphone be certified as a Signature Device? YouTube says that the smartphone must support HDR, high frame rate playback, reliable DRM performance, 4K decoding, and support next-generation video codecs. YouTube right now recommends 19 Signature devices including the Galaxy Note 9, HTC U12+, Pixel 2 XL/Pixel 2, Galaxy S9, and more. The list lacks the iPhone 8 or even the iPhone X, the latter of which features one of the best performing smartphone displays.
Even apart from the display, the iPhone X meets all other requirements of being a YouTube signature device as it has support for 4K decoding, HDR, high frame rate, and more. In fact, unlike many of the other devices recommended by YouTube, the iPhone X also features a stereo speaker setup. The possible explanation here is that iPhones lack support for VP9 codec due to which they are incapable of playing back 4K videos in Safari. However, given that YouTube has a mobile app for iOS and most users watch YouTube videos using the app itself, this restriction is not really a big deal.
Nonetheless, even if you are someone who watches a lot of YouTube videos, it is unlikely that whether your next device is a YouTube Signature Device or not is something that you are going to factor in while purchasing your next smartphone.