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Tip: enable 1080p option on YouTube with a simple build.prop edit

If you’re a video purist rocking a large Full HD device, 1080p streaming could be a desirable feature. If that’s the case, a relatively straightforward editing of your device’s build.prop file could help trigger the availability of the feature.
By
August 18, 2014
youtube settings

A relatively easy trick seems to be forcing the YouTube app to enable the 1080p viewing option.

Back in June, version 5.7 of YouTube introduced the ability to select the video streaming quality, from a data-saving 144p, up to 720p. However, since then some users have reported they have two other options, 480p and 1080p. It seems that Google is enabling the availability of 1080p on a per user basis, regardless of their device configuration.

If you’re a video purist rocking a large Full HD device, 1080p streaming could be a desirable feature. If that’s the case, a relatively straightforward editing of your device’s build.prop file could help trigger the availability of the feature.

As discovered by redditor twizzlebizzle21, the trick is to change the Android version (ro.build.version.releasein the build.prop file to “Android 4.4.2”. Of course, you will need root access and it’s highly recommended that you create a backup of the file before you edit it. Also, when updating your device in the future, you’ll want to revert to the original configuration. There’s a tutorial for editing the build.prop file here, or you can use a special app.

To check if the edit worked, click on the three-dot menu while playing a video and click on the gear icon.

I tried it on my Nexus 5 and it worked like a charm, and many commenters in the original thread reported the same. It’s not clear to me why the modification works; if you don’t need 1080p (you might not even see a difference) or if you’re not comfortable rooting your phone, I suggest you simply wait for Google to flip the switch for your device. It looks like it’s just a matter of time until a wider rollout.