WhatsApp gets a free video upgrade but it might kill your data

You're going to want to turn this feature off if you're heading off on holiday

(Image credit: Meta)

We've got good news and bad news for WhatsApp users who don't have unlimited mobile data plans: Meta is making it much easier to send HD video, and it looks like HD will soon be the default. That's great in terms of crisp picture quality, but it also means much more data for incoming and outgoing video clips.

According to WaBetaInfo, as reported by MySmartPrice, Meta is simplifying its HD media options. You've been able to send HD since late last year, but the latest beta of the Android app includes a new default setting in the Storage & Data part of the app: Media Upload Quality. Here you have a choice of defaulting to standard quality or to HD, which as WhatsApp says can be up to 6 times larger in terms of its file sizes. 

The new feature should be arriving very soon to existing users as a standard app update.

Why you might not want WhatsApp video in HD

One of the things that bugged me about WhatsApp was how much of my storage it wanted; until I turned the feature off I'd find every image and video sent to me, including from group chats, added automatically to my Photos app. You can turn that off, thankfully: it's the auto-downloading setting in Storage and Data.

It's bad enough with photos but video files are much bigger and HD video is bigger still. And storage isn't the only consideration. A lot of mobile contracts are still sold with fairly low data allowances, and it doesn't take much HD video to burn through those allowances.

And at this time of year there's another issue: roaming. For those of us in the UK travelling to Europe and beyond we can't assume that we can roam without extra charges, and if your plan doesn't cover it and you don't buy a roaming add-on you can be looking at some pretty hefty bills even without HD video. 

The good news is that there's a way to fix that: you can either turn off auto-downloading altogether in the Settings > Storage and Data section of the app, or you can restrict them to Wi-Fi only. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).