Apple has just announced a new Apple TV streaming box, replacing the Apple TV 4K that came out in 2017. The new model retains the name of the prior model but comes with a more powerful A12 Bionic chip that lets it play HDR video at higher frame rates. It’s also powerful enough to support 60fps Dolby Vision playback over AirPlay from a compatible iPhone.
The old Apple TV 4K, which has been Apple’s flagship set-top box for four years, supports 4K streaming as well as HDR, including Dolby Vision. It also supports Dolby Atmos sound codecs. But it doesn’t support 120Hz refresh rates, which might be important should you ever want to play serious games on an Apple TV. It also has the most notoriously bad remote control.
Fortunately, Apple has completely redesigned the remote for the new Apple TV 4K with an improved, more ergonomic design and more capabilities. The new remote is thicker than the prior model, has a new five-way touch controller in place of the maligned swipe pad of the original, and a proper power button to turn off your TV. The Siri search button has been moved to the side of the remote, under your right thumb.
Apple did not redesign the Apple TV box itself; it remains a squircle-shaped puck that you have to put on a shelf or entertainment center, unlike the dongle designs that many of Apple’s competitors use now. A new feature allows the Apple TV to optimize the colors of your TV screen using the light sensor on an iPhone. Apple says it is working with a number of content providers to produce high frame rate HDR content for the new Apple TV, including Fox Sports, NBCUniversal, Paramount Plus, Red Bull TV, and Canal Plus.
The new Apple TV 4K starts at $179 for 32GB of storage and will be available to purchase starting on April 30th. A 64GB model will also be available for $199. Apple is also selling the older Apple TV HD, which is limited to 1080p resolution, with the new remote for $149.
All of those prices are a lot higher than Apple’s competitors, such as Amazon, Google, and Roku. Apple is betting once again that people will pay for performance and ecosystem in a set-top box and is charging a hefty premium for it.