If you have been following the launch of Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy Note 9, you might have noticed that it’s touted to be ‘YouTube Signature Device’. The Note 9 is available for pre-orders and is priced at ₹ 67,900 for the 128GB variant and ₹ 84,900 for the 512GB version. Interestingly, this achievement falls on the Galaxy Note 9’s lap even before it goes on sale. So how was the Note 9 termed as a YouTube Signature Device?
More hooks than looks
According to the YouTube Device Report, smartphones that “deliver the best-in-class YouTube experience by combining next generation technologies, video performance, and reliability" get the title of a ‘YouTube Signature Device’. This means that with a ‘Signature Device’, you can enjoy vivid HDR videos, immersive 360° video, and fast video load times - all while using less bandwidth.
To qualify as a Signature Device, a phone must support high dynamic range, high frame rate, reliable DRM performance, 4K decoding, and use next generation video codecs.
The newly formed list of includes nearly 18 Android smartphones, almost all of which are flagships. The list features the Note 9 on top, along with Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, HTC U12+, OnePlus 6, LG G7 ThinQ, Xiaomi Mi 8, Nokia 8 Sirocco, Google Pixel 2 XL, Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and LG V30. Keep in mind that the order of these phones doesn’t represent their ranks, as YouTube hasn’t mentioned anything about that.
But...what about the iPhone X?
The common factor among all the devices aforementioned is one – Google. You see, Google, Android and YouTube are all the part of the same company. Another important factor to consider is that Google is the company that developed the VP9 codec, which allows streaming in 4K. Apple doesn’t support the codec, that’s precisely why Apple users can’t watch ultra high quality content on any of their iPhone devices while using YouTube.
Because of this (and more), iPhone X has not been mentioned as a ‘YouTube Signature Device’
The obvious flaw in determining a Signature Device
All the phones featured in the list have another thing in common – letterboxing. This means it messes with the ‘YouTube experience’ that YouTube is trying to provide simply because of letterboxing, or the black bars that appear on the sides of a video that is not of the same aspect ratio as the phone.
Many might call this nitpicking, but a letterbox does come off as a massive turn-off for a lot of users. The adaptation of aspect ratios like 18:9, 18.5:9 and 19:9 is becoming widespread for making larger smartphones more convenient and providing a more enhanced experience for anything that is not related to videos. More video makers are also producing their videos in the same aspect ratio (called the ‘Univisium’ format) which fits perfectly on an 18:9 display without any letter boxing. But the majority of the stuff out there is still in 16:9.