A photo of the YouTube resolution selector
YouTube is the world’s most popular video streaming website. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole and watch several videos back-to-back or even for hours at a time. Some content is good enough to watch like a television show. Thus, it’s quite easy to rack up quite the data bill without a bit of caution. There are some correct assumptions you can make immediately. Lower resolution videos obviously don’t use nearly as much data as higher resolution videos. However, do you really know how much data YouTube uses? If not, we plan to tell you.

A photo of Datally showing YouTube's data usage

Our testing method

The testing method is actually pretty simple. Android has a data monitoring tool in the OS already. However, for the sake of verification, we also used Google’s Datally app as well as GlassWire. Both apps also record data usage in nearly real-time. That way we have three total sources so we can compare and average results for better accuracy. Otherwise, it’s just watching a video and seeing what the data apps all say.

We used this 8k, 60FPS, HDR video tour of Peru because Peru is a beautiful place and also this video had every available resolution on YouTube at the fastest possible frame rate with HDR. We viewed the video at a locked resolution for three minutes and measured the data. Unfortunately, not all resolutions are always available on mobile. Thus, for 4k and 8k, we used the Windows data monitor along with, well, GlassWire because it’s available on PC as well. It also helped confirm continuity between platforms.

We also ultimately measured all available resolutions on PC because we could and used Google’s Stats for Nerds option by right-clicking the video for the bitrate numbers. We also sourced YouTube’s bitrate recommendations since they likely encode videos in those birates anyway.

There were some troubles. The computer I used had no problem playing the 8k video. However, my monitor doesn’t support HDR so I don’t believe I saw the maximum possible bitrates for 8k. Until we do further testing, our 8k numbers are estimates.