Apple has announced an update to the aging Apple TV 4K, which debuted back in 2017. The new Apple TV 4K finally ditches the much-hated touchpad remote for an all-new remote with a traditional circular directional button pad. The Apple TV for 2021 is now powered by Apple’s A12 Bionic process which allows it to support 60 FPS Dolby Vision video playback.
The most significant change for the new Apple TV is the included remote. While its dimensions are very similar to the old remote, it is now half an inch longer, a bit narrower, and slightly thicker. Gone is the touchpad at the top and in its place is a circular directional pad with a select button in the center. Touch controls aren’t gone completely because the new d-pad is touch-sensitive, which allows you to swipe your finger across it if you want to continue using touch gestures. The touch-sensitive d-pad also allows you to rotate your finger around the circle to act as a jog wheel for fast-forwarding and rewinding.
The Siri voice button on the new remote has been moved to the side of the remote. This makes room for the addition of a mute button, which was not present on the old remote. The other new button is a power button for turning your TV on or off. The old remote relied on HDMI-CEC for TV power control. The new remote is backward-compatible with older Apple TV models and costs $59 separately.
The Apple TV box itself doesn’t seem to have changed much at all, but under the hood is now Apple’s A12 Bionic processor. This chip first debuted in the iPhone XS in 2018 and was most recently used to power the base iPad that was released last year. As previously mentioned, the more powerful processor allows the Apple TV to play 60 FPS Dolby Vision video, which now gives iPhone 12 Pro owners a way to playback videos shot on their phone on a larger screen without compromising on playback frame rate. Apple also says they are working with content providers, such as FOX Sports, NBCUniversal, Paramount Plus, Red Bull TV, and Canal Plus, to produce high frame rate HDR content for the new Apple TV.
Apple TV 4K now comes with 802.11ax WiFi 6, making it one of the few streaming devices to support the new standard. It also retains a Gigabit Ethernet port. The only other port, other than power, is HDMI, which has now been bumped up from an HDMI 2.0a port to an HDMI 2.1 port.
Apple has also added a new software trick that allows iPhone owners to use their phones to calibrate the color settings of the Apple TV for the best image quality. The process has you place your iPhone face down on your TV screen while the Apple TV runs through a calibration sequence and detects what your TV is displaying through the iPhone’s front-facing camera.
The new Apple TV 4K comes with 32GB of internal storage for $179 or 64GB for $199. It will be available to order on April 30th and will ship in May. Apple will continue to sell the old 1080p Apple TV, which debuted 2015, with 32GB of storage and bundled with the new remote for $149.