Apple has just announced its next-generation Apple TV 4K – the most powerful yet, according to the company. And with a starting price of $129 / £149 / AU$205, it’s also notably cheaper than its predecessor. Apple TV 4K released in 2021.
The biggest change from previous versions of the Apple TV 4K is the company’s use of the A15 Bionic chip, the same one used in recent iPhone models and the iPad Mini (6th generation). Another major upgrade is HDR10+, which now supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range formats.
Apple’s new streaming box will be sold in two configurations. One is Wi-Fi only with 64GB of storage. An advanced model includes 128GB of storage and also features Gigabit Ethernet with threaded mesh networking for enhanced support for smart home devices.
The company’s press release touted the speed benefits brought by the A15 Bionic chip, which will boost the CPU performance of the already fast Apple TV 4K by 50%. Notably, GPU performance gets up to 30% speed boost over previous version, which will improve responsiveness and graphics performance when gaming.
Apple’s 4K streamer will also feature a new Siri remote with USB-C charging – a big change from previous generations, which used a Lightning connection. According to the company, new features coming to tvOS this fall will improve Siri’s voice search and control functions, with the ability to recognize and respond to different users’ voices so they can easily pick up where they left off.
The new Wi-Fi-only Apple TV 4K can be pre-ordered today for $129 / £149 / AU$205, and the Wi-Fi plus Gigabit Ethernet version for $149 / £169.00 / AU$240. Both models will be available from Friday, November 4th.
Review: One more small step for Apple TV 4K
Apple’s reveal of a next-gen 4K Apple TV amidst the upcoming iPad and iPad Pro announcements took me by surprise. A new version of the company’s streaming box was expected by the end of the year, but not so much before the Black Friday sales season.
Going through the list of specs and features of the new Apple TV 4K, I’m not feeling any urgent need to upgrade from the latest version the company released in 2021.
Support for HDR10+ is a benefit, although 4K movies and TV shows with this HDR format are considerably more limited than those with Dolby Vision and normal HDR10. And the new Siri remote with a USB-C port is another advancement, though not entirely unexpected given international pressure on Apple to switch to USB-C from its proprietary Lightning port for charging. (USB-C ports can also be found on the new iPad models that Apple has just released.)
And that’s where my list of welcome Apple TV 4K updates ends. The speed boosts that the A15 Bionic chip brings almost seem like overkill on a device that was already fast and responsive enough – more so than other streamers.
We’ll also discuss what’s missing from the next generation Apple TV 4K. 8K video output is not supported. And while it could be argued that the availability of 8K content is extremely limited, this kind of feature is something you’d expect from a premium product like Apple’s streamer. Also, while the included Siri remote now has the most universal USB-C port for charging, there’s no MagSafe or Qi wireless charging option.
Remote controls also regularly get lost between sofa cushions, right? That’s why it was surprising to learn that Apple TV’s new 4K Siri remote doesn’t have the company’s proprietary U1 ultra-wideband chip. The U1 is the same chip used in AirTags and to use your iPhone to locate AirPods Pro 2‘s case – another small object that can get lost easily.
The Apple TV 4K’s best new feature might be its lower price point compared to previous models, although it’s still high enough that most will opt for a cheaper one. Roku Ultra or Fire TV Stick 4K Max for streaming, or simply rely on apps on your smart TV interface.
Apple’s new streaming device is certainly an upgrade — but not enough to get anyone motivated to run out and buy it.