I liked the second-generation Apple TV 4K, but I rarely recommended it to anyone except Apple die-hards. Sure, it has a good remote, but it was expensive compared to streaming devices from its peers, like Google, Amazon, and Roku. It didn’t perform significantly better either.
With the 2022 revision, there are finally enough reasons to pick the Apple TV 4K over the pack, even if it’s still pricier than the competition. Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, a USB-C port on the remote, and decent gaming performance make this a worthy addition to any living room, and one that will likely outlast the clunky OS inside your smart TV.
Visually, not much has changed between generations of Apple TV 4K, though when you hold them together, you’ll notice the predecessor is both slightly larger and heavier than the newer model. This change in weight is so dramatic it makes you wonder whether the next iteration could just be a dongle or streaming stick instead of a little black box.
This box is compact enough to place anywhere you have a tiny bit of room, and a rubbery bottom means it won’t slip on otherwise slippery surfaces. The back has an HDMI 2.1 port, a place for the power cable, and an Ethernet port—that’s if you pay the extra $20 Apple upcharges for extra internal storage and the Ethernet connector. The Wi-Fi-only model comes with half the storage (64 GB) for $129.
The included remote is how you’ll interface with the Apple TV 4K, and it’s one of the most well built in the business. It feels like the iPod Nano of old, milled out of a piece of aluminum with soft touch buttons and a sleek drag-and-move pad in the middle that lets you glide around menus like the trackpad on a laptop. It looks the same as the older version, except this time it comes with a more universal USB-C port for recharging instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable. Call it a victory for anyone that hates clutter and using different cables to recharge devices.
Inside the new Apple TV 4K is where you’ll find the biggest change: A huge upgrade in chip technology with the A15 Bionic—the same that powers the iPhone 13—making the streaming box capable of supporting HDR10+ (its predecessor maxed out at HDR10). That means better colors from supported content, and more future-proofing as media gets better and brighter down the line. This is also a big differentiator over cheaper streaming sticks as you’ll hardly ever experience any stutters or lag moving through the menus.
I also like that you get 128 GB of internal storage. Who knows how big mobile games will become down the line, but it’s nice to know I have plenty of room to install time-wasters from Apple Arcade (Apple provides three months for free when you buy the Apple TV 4K). It’s far more than what you’ll find on the likes of the Chromecast with Google TV.
Picture quality is better than ever thanks to the new A15 chip, but otherwise, you’ll get the same user experience everyone has been enjoying on Apple’s streaming device for years. That includes every app under the sun, easy menu navigation, and the ability to use stored passwords from your Apple keychain to log in to all your streaming apps.