The Apple TV 4K has been our favorite, award-winning streamer since its release in 2021, and now there’s a new generation with a more powerful chip and a smaller package.
With plenty of subtle upgrades across the board, from general usability improvements to a new super-fast processor inside, the new Apple TV 4K is already shaping up to be a nice upgrade over the last model. – and did we mention it’s cheaper?
In a surprisingly un-Apple move, the 3rd generation Apple TV 4K is actually cheaper than the previous model. It starts at £149 / $130 / AU$219 for the 32GB model, or £169 / $150 / $250 for the 64GB model, which also adds an Ethernet connection. For reference, the previous-gen model started at £169/$179/$249.
The closest competitor to the Apple TV 4K is the Amazon Fire TV Cube which costs £140 / $130 / AU$219. The price of the Apple TV 4K puts it at the high end of the market, as it is twice the price of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Google Chromecast with Google TV. Is it worth the extra money? Keep reading to find out.
The Apple TV 4K retains the modest, boxy design of its predecessor, with a combined matte and glossy black finish. It’s accented with an Apple logo on the top, and you’ll find an HDMI 2.1 socket and power connection on the back, as well as an Ethernet port if you opt for the more expensive model.
While it may look nearly identical to the previous generation, this Apple TV is actually a bit smaller, and it’s about the size of a trio of stacked CDs. The downsizing is made possible because Apple engineers opted for a fanless design this time around. The unit’s aesthetic is sleek and understated enough to practically disappear into an entertainment setup, and it can be easily hidden behind a TV if needed.
The high-quality aluminum remote control has hardly changed from the previous model. There is a difference, however, and it’s a USB-C port that replaces the Lightning connector. We’re just waiting for the iPhone and AirPods to ditch Lightning now so we can charge all of our Apple gadgets with one cable.
The big new feature of the 3rd generation Apple TV 4K is its significant processor upgrade. It now uses an A15 Bionic processor, the same found in the iPhone 14. It’s joined by 4GB of RAM (up from 3GB last year), and the usability gains are noticeable when the 4K TV hovers over menus. and frankly refuses to stutter or problem. Using such a modern and powerful processor means it’s likely that this latest model will be able to handle significant software upgrades over the years.
Speaking of software, the latest version of tvOS 16 (recently updated to 16.3) is here and brings multiple user profiles, custom spatial audio for compatible AirPod models, support for the Matter smart home standard, Apple Fitness+ compatibility and a redesigned Siri interface. It’s easy to navigate and isn’t crammed with ads unlike Amazon’s Fire OS platform; that being said, it certainly guides you to Apple’s services where possible, such as Apple TV+ and iTunes Movies.
The powerful internal specs and HDMI 2.1 connection enable 4K HDR streaming at up to 60Hz, although there’s no word on 4K/120 yet. Why is it worth noting? Well, the Apple TV 4K can be used to access Apple Arcade and you can even connect a PS5, Xbox Series X or Nintendo Switch controller for a proper gaming experience.
Technical specifications Apple TV 4K (3rd generation)
Resolution Up to 4K HDR, 60 fps
Bluetooth version 5.0
HDR formats Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
Dimensions (hwd) 3.1 x 9.3 x 9.3cm
lester 208g (Wi-Fi), 214g (Wi-Fi + Ethernet)
Apple’s streaming box supports all HDR formats from its predecessor, including HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision, however, Apple added HDR10+ to the list this year. This is of course a victory for Samsung TV owners, as Samsung still refuses to include Dolby Vision on its TVs. The Apple TV also extends Dolby support to the audio department, with Dolby Atmos as well as Apple’s own Spatial Audio platform for movies, TV and music from Apple Music and Tidal.
You can download a host of movie and TV streaming, music streaming, and lifestyle apps through the App Store. You’ll find all the usual suspects here, including Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video to name a few, plus region-specific apps like BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITVX, My 5, and Now. in the UK and HBO Max. , Peacock and Hulu in the United States.
It’s not all about streaming here, as you can access iTunes to buy music, movies, and TV shows to add to your digital library. Apple offers plenty of 4K HDR content when it comes to buying movies and TV shows, and it’s tagged with the relevant tags, making it easy to differentiate when browsing the store.
This new generation of Apple TV makes a very compelling case for how media streaming devices have improved over the years. We hooked it up to a Sony XR65A80K for our tests, and compared it to the previous award-winning model for reference.
Both units are configured using Apple’s color balance process. This involves holding an iPhone in front of the TV screen and using the calibration software to measure the screen’s color output, which then allows the 4K TV to automatically adjust the settings to achieve the desired balance. . While the differences aren’t exactly day or night, we’re definitely noticing some improvements.
start things off with Babylon via iTunes, the new version shines. The film’s rich color palette is at home, with the streamer taking a bold yet balanced approach. The dark red hue of Nellie’s dress and the pink-orange sunrise over 1920s California pop off the screen with impressive liveliness, without looking overdone. Skin tones are also well-balanced, with a warm and lively appearance that doesn’t stray into overly red territory.
Contrast is another strength. The edges of on-screen subjects are a little sharper, which adds a deeper three-dimensional effect to the image. In comparison, the previous generation model looks slightly flatter and less detailed.
Moving on to something a little more action-packed, Thor: Love And Thunder on Disney Plus offers a smooth move through the action-packed battle in New Asgard towards the start of the superhero epic. This scene also highlights the Apple TV’s prowess in dark detail, as there are still subtleties to spot in the shadow-absorbed parts of the scene.
The bold, three-dimensional performance is also present here, with the lush oasis that Gorr falls into with vibrant foliage. We are also able to pick out additional detail in her damaged skin texture, with improved shades and variations, especially in the burnt and parched parts of her face. Ending with Netflix’s Peep Show for something a bit older and in SDR, the Apple TV does an admirable job of brightening up the picture and sharpening detail where possible.
The sound quality of this device is as good as its image. He has a warm, expressive approach that gives the vocals and instrumentation a rich, dynamic feel. Starting with Taylor Swift My tears ricochet on Tidal, his vocals sound natural and convey the emotion of the track well. This capability extends to the instrumental parts of the song, with Apple TV presenting the piano with a rich, textured sound. Dynamics is a strength as the quiet moments are appreciated as much as the loud ones, allowing for a dramatic and impactful performance.
Switch to faster pace Kyoto by Phoebe Bridgers, we see the Apple TV picking up the slack with its excellent timing. He has a great rhythmic drive, hitting the beats at the right time and arranging everything cleanly. Bridgers’ vocals are clear and textured, with a sheen that conveys both the upbeat nature of the instrumental and the dark meaning behind the lyrics. The Apple TV 4K sounds great for a video streamer, but if listening rather than watching is your priority, a dedicated music streamer will always serve you better.
The latest Apple TV 4K doesn’t reinvent the media streaming box, but rather makes minor but significant changes to its predecessor in everything from its design to its performance. The bottom line is that it’s better and cheaper than its award-winning ancestor, which is saying a lot.
- Picture 5
- Her 5
- Features 5
Read our Review of Google Chromecast with Google TV
And see our Amazon Fire TV 4K Max review
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And our selection of best music streamers