Apple TV 4K gets a long-overdue hardware boost. Here’s every upgrade coming

A lot of changes are coming to the Apple TV 4K streaming box.

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2021. All the latest coverage from Apple’s annual developers conference.

It may have taken nearly three years, but Apple is finally giving the Apple TV 4K an upgrade, announced at Apple’s Spring Loaded event. The new streaming box costs $179 (£169, AU$249) with 32GB or $199 (£189, AU$279) for 64GB and boasts the company’s A12 Bionic processor. It’s better suited for modern home theaters and handling Apple’s latest services, particularly its Apple TV Plus streaming video platform and Apple Arcade video game offering. 

High frame rates are now supported, with AirPlay able to support high-frame-rate HDR. A color balance feature will pair the new Apple TV with your iPhone to use the sensors in your phone to fine-tune the picture on your TV.  


The new Apple TV 4K remote. 

Apple/Screenshot by Eli Blumenthal/CNET

While the box keeps a similar design, a new remote was also introduced, featuring a directional pad at the top (with gesture support), Siri toggle on the side as well as a power button for controlling your TV. Preorders start on April 30 and the device will ship in the “second half of May.” 

Those who have an original Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD will be able to buy the new remote as a separate add-on for $59, though it similarly won’t be available to preorder until April 30 and will not ship until May. 

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The old Apple TV 4K was introduced in September 2017, but has remained the company’s go-to streaming device in recent years despite running a much older A10X processor. Like that model, the new Apple TV 4K is able to use higher-end technologies like Dolby Vision for picture and Dolby Atmos for sound, when streaming the proper content and connected to a compatible TV, speaker or home theater setup. 

Apple’s latest TVOS software, which was announced at WWDC in June 2020, runs the show. It features support for 4K AirPlay streaming, picture-in-picture for video apps and camera integration from HomeKit-supported smart video cameras and doorbells. Apple Arcade, the company’s video game subscription service, can also now support multiple profiles on Apple TV and can be paired with the Xbox Elite Series 2 and Xbox Adaptive controllers, as well as the latest remotes for the Xbox Series X and the DualSense controller for the PlayStation 5.

Read more: Apple TV Plus’ free-trial extensions set to end before Ted Lasso’s return

The new box comes amid increased competition among media streamers and smart TVs, with Roku and Amazon making up a lion’s share of the market with their respective platforms, Roku and Fire TV

Google, which has its own rival smart TV software known as Android TV and Google TV, sells its own $50 dongle known as the Chromecast with Google TV.

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