The first Apple TV launched in 2007 so it’s been around for over 15 years, gradually improving over the years. The company introduced 4K in 2017, with a second generation model following four years later in 2021.
We’re now in the third generation of the 4K Apple TV – with a much narrower update window than previous years this time around. There are features including support for HDR10+ in this model and an upgraded processor, though the design remains largely unchanged from the original model.
With plenty of other 4K streaming boxes and sticks available from the likes of Amazon, Google and Roku – most of which are significantly cheaper – is the new Apple TV 4K worth buying and what does it offer over its competition? Here’s our review.
Familiar, but lighter design
- Dimensions: 31 x 93 x 93mm
- Weight: 208g (Wi-Fi), 214g (Wi-Fi & Ethernet)
- 64 or 128GB storage options
- HDMI 2.1, Built-in power supply
The Apple TV 4K (2022) features a largely familiar look to its predecessor in that it retains its square, puck-like box design. It doesn’t move to a stick – competing with the likes of the Amazon Fire Stick 4K for example – but the 2022 model is significantly lighter than the 2021 offering thanks to the 20 per cent reduction in volume.
Apple moved to a fully passive thermal design for the 2022 model, removing the need for a fan, hence the smaller body. Of course while this is welcomed, it doesn’t really matter too much as you still need to find a shelf or wall-mount for your Apple TV given you can’t just stick it in a spare HDMI port in the back of your TV.
There are two variants available this time around though – Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi & Ethernet. The Wi-Fi only model is slightly cheaper and doesn’t have an Ethernet port at the back, while the Wi-Fi & Ethernet model does – as the name suggests.
Otherwise the two models are identical with both featuring a power port and HDMI 2.1 input. They also both come in 64GB and 128GB storage options, which doubles that of the 2021 model – which came in 32GB and 64GB options – making it great for those with a large iTunes movie library or those planning to download lots of games to play.
The edges of the Apple TV 4K’s plastic box are glossy black, and there’s a glossy black Apple logo on the top too, but aside from this, it’s a very subtle design with no buttons on the device itself for control. Instead, everything is controlled via the lovely Siri Remote – more on that below – on your iPhone or iPad, or Siri voice control.
Siri Remote and Siri
- Dimensions: 136 x 35 x 9.25mm
- Weight: 66g
- USB-C for charging
The Siri Remote was redesigned with the 2021 Apple TV model and it’s identical for the 2022 model. Made from one-piece of aluminium, it has square edges like the latest iPhones and iPads in the company’s line up, and there is USB-C for charging.
It’s great in use – and far more premium looking than the Apple TV box itself. There’s a clickpad at the top with five-way navigation but it is also touch-enabled for swipe gestures. The outer ring of the clickpad also turns into a jog control if you press the play/pause button. Once pressed you can scroll clockwise or counterclockwise to quickly find the scene you’re looking for.
The power button at the top of the Siri Remote will control your Apple TV 4K (2022) model, along with your TV and AV receiver, while the TV button is great for getting back to the home screen or Control Centre if you press and hold it.
You’ll also find volume controls, a mute button, back button and there is a handy Siri button on the right edge for when you want to use Apple’s voice assistant to get something done. You can ask Siri to find you something to watch, play music from a certain artist, get sports updates, find out the weather, control playback and find and launch apps.
We found the “What did she/he say” command particularly useful when watching content through the Apple TV 4K. Press the Siri button and ask what was said if you didn’t hear and Siri will rewind the frame and add a subtitle for only the part you didn’t hear.
Later this year, Siri will also be able to recognise individual users’ voices so you will be able to ask for personalised suggestions like what you should watch or switch to your profile so you can see your content. This feature wasn’t available at the time of review, though we can see how it will be useful, especially when it comes to TV recommendations.
The Siri Remote still doesn’t have Find My support though, despite Apple introducing it to the AirPods Pro 2 case this year. There’s also no way to make it omit a sound so if you lose it, it’s gone until you find it. With Apple offering Precision Finding with AirTags, you’d think adding it to the Siri Remote would make sense, but alas, you’re out of luck this time.
- A15 Bionic chip
- HDR10+ support added
- 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, High Frame Rate HDR
- Quick Media Switching (QMS_VRR) coming
The Apple TV 4K runs on the A15 Bionic chip – which is the same chip as you’ll find in the Apple iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models so there’s a decent boost in power here compared to the 2021 model that runs on the A12 Bionic. It’s said to be up to 50 per cent faster in performance and 30 per cent faster in graphics, whilst also consuming 30 per cent less power.
The chip upgrade is certainly noticeable when it comes to playing games – whether through Apple Arcade or the App Store – as well as in the general fluidity of moving around the Apple TV menus. Everything is smooth and responsive, with games like Asphalt being enjoyable to play with no stuttering or lag. We played it with the Siri Remote, though you can connect a PlayStation or Xbox controller, or MFi-compatible one via Bluetooth – and some games require this.
Setup for the Apple TV 4K (2022) is super simple too. Once plugged in and connected to your TV, we were up and running in a matter of minutes. Bring your iPhone in close proximity to the Apple TV 4K and it will automatically transfer preferences and credentials, including your Wi-Fi network, Apple ID, and device settings. Your iPhone will then also become a remote, allowing you to navigate and control the Apple TV, and this comes in super handy for things like inputting text in search, for example, as you’re able to use a keyboard rather than navigate through individual letters on your TV with the Siri Remote.
You can also use your iPhone to adjust the colour balance on your TV. By using the light sensor in your iPhone, Apple will compare your TV’s colour balance to industry-standard specification and automatically tailor video output to compensate for any inaccuracies in your TV’s picture settings. The 2021 model did this too so it isn’t new, but it’s a handy feature to have.
Elsewhere, the Apple TV 4K (2022) supports the same standards as the 2021 model, including 4K, Dolby Vision, High Frame Rate HDR (60fps) and Dolby Atmos, all of which are great if you have the TV and AV systems to support them. Apple has also added HDR10+ support for 2022 though. This is brilliant news for Samsung TV owners as Samsung doesn’t offer Dolby Vision like LG and Sony TVs so Apple is essentially covering all bases with this model in terms of delivering the best possible picture for the majority of people.
You will need to turn HDR10+ on in settings on the Apple TV 4K though so keep that in mind as it’s not on by default (head to Settings > Video and Audio > Format > Select HDR option). You’ll also need a TV that supports HDR10+ and 4K, as well as compatible content. Amazon Prime Video is a good service to look at for HDR10+ content though, with shows like Jack Ryan offered in this format.
Along with HDR10+, Apple will also add Quick Media Switching (QMS_VRR) later this year to the Apple TV 4K (2022) model. This is designed to deliver a more seamless viewing experience by enabling instantaneous changes between content of different frame rates by eliminating any black or blank screen when switching. This wasn’t available during our review period however.
Features and tvOS
- tvOS 16
- Third-party app support
- Fitness+, Apple Music, Apple Arcade
- SharePlay, Shared with You, AirPods
Apple TV offers a number of features – more so than competing set-top boxes – and it’s a very easy to use interface thanks to tvOS 16. For most of those features though, you really need to be baked into the Apple ecosystem to get the most out of them, while for others, you’ll have to pay for the privilege of using them.
Where Apple TV differs though, is some of those services are properly integrated into the experience, appearing in handy features like the Up Next row that shows content you’ve already started or plan to watch in one place. It’s great for keeping track if you are in the middle of different series or shows, though it’s a shame that Netflix isn’t one of the apps supported for this. The streaming service has never got fully on board, which is a real shame and, considering the popularity of Netflix shows, is one that would make this feature even more brilliant.
Other features include Shared with You that shows you films and shows contacts have shared with you through Messages on iPhone for example, while SharePlay lets you watch movies or shows with family and friends by starting a FaceTime call and watching in sync, and both are great. There’s also the ability to connect up to two pairs of AirPods with Personalised Spatial Audio supported, while the Control Centre on Apple TV (press and hold the TV button the Siri Remote to access) allows you to access different profiles in your family, or smart home devices compatible with the Home app.
Elsewhere, Photos allows you see your photos on your TV, including Shared Photo Library, but again, you need another Apple product in order to take full advantage of this really.
Then you have other experiences like Fitness+ for example. Load this up on your Apple TV 4K (2022) and you can smash out your morning workout in your living room in front of a lovely big screen. It’s a great experience overall, especially if you have an Apple Watch so you can see more detailed metrics too, but to use this, you have to have a Fitness+ subscription.
There’s also Apple Arcade, where you’ll find some great games, as well as the App Store for other games. However, as fun as they are to play, you have to pay for Arcade as a subscription, or pay individually for decent apps from the App Store. Some are free, but most aren’t.
Apple Music is on board too, and lyrics will appear on your TV when you play a track, which is great for singing along karaoke style, but Apple Music is another monthly subscription. Apple TV+ isn’t free either and while it has some great shows, like Ted Lasso, it’s another monthly cost so all of these need to be factored in for delivering Apple TV’s full potential.