To reduce the stress on Internet bandwidth during the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the new corona virus, Google decided to set YouTube's default video quality to 480p. That said, even when you could stream with HD quality without adjusting anything, you still couldn't change the standard to what you liked. We have some methods to help you change that.
Because Google's official YouTube app does not allow you to adjust your standard video quality to the same every time you upload a video, you must look outside the ecosystem to select 720p, 1080p, 1440p or 2160p. We tell you right away that it's easier on Android than on iOS, but check out the methods below to see for yourself.
If you are on Android, there is no better alternative to join than YouTube Vanced. The free YouTube client lets you change the default video resolution to whatever you want, so you can bypass Google's restrictive philosophy. You can do it for both Wi-Fi and mobile, so you can jump to HD wherever you are. Vanced doesn't require you to root your phone, which means anyone can give it a go.
2nd Cercube 5 (Jailbreak Only)
If you jailbreak your iPhone, Cercube 5 is the YouTube client for you. Many excellent, customizable features include the ability to set the standard video resolution to whatever you want. Just like YouTube Vanced, you can set default streaming settings for both Wi-Fi and mobile.
Cercube 5 is a jailbreak tweak, so if you run an official iOS build, you won't be able to use it. If you want to try, you must first jailbreak your iPhone, which we can help you through. Just remember to avoid updating to iOS 13.4 if you are thinking of jailbreak, at least until someone figures out how to Jailbreak that version as well.
If you cannot access the first two solutions, there is something you can do in the official YouTube app. You cannot set a default resolution, but changing the resolution of a video will have a ripple effect for all other videos you watch during the rest of your session. You will have to repeat it anytime the YouTube app is updated, but it sure is better than managing a 480p standard.
To change the video resolution of a video you are watching, press the video player and then press the vertical ellipse in the upper right. Then click on "Quality" and then press the desired resolution from the list.
Bonus: Double check your HD Wi-Fi settings
If you have trouble streaming in HD with your mobile connection, your app could be set to stream in HD only when connected to Wi-Fi. While it saves mobile data, it doesn't help if you want to watch high-quality YouTube content on the go.
To check, tap your profile icon in the upper right corner of the main view and press "Settings" from the menu. From here, things are a little different depending on your operating system. For Android, click "General" and then check that "Restrict mobile data usage" is disabled. On iOS, just make sure "Play HD on Wi-Fi only" is turned off.
You should now be able to stream in HD, whether you are connected to Wi-Fi or not.