Apple TV 4K (2022) review: A small but significant upgrade

Apple TV 4K (2022) review: A small but significant upgrade

Just over a year after Apple last updated its Apple TV streaming device, we’re already receiving an update that brings a new processor, new price point, and additional smart home features to the Apple TV 4K lineup.

Apple’s revamped Apple TV series officially launches on Friday, April 4. November, but Apple is currently accepting pre-orders for the set-top box. There’s a Wi-Fi model that’s priced at $129 — a new low for Apple’s streaming box — or a Wi-Fi and Ethernet model that’s $149, the old starting price.

I’ve been testing the $149 Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet) for a little under a week now, replacing my personal 2021 Apple TV 4K while running it in a house that almost constantly streams some sort of show or video. Does the new Apple TV provide a better streaming experience? It does, but it’s more than that.

The best high-end streamer keeps getting better

Apple’s latest Apple TV 4K is an impressive upgrade for those who have an older Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD thanks to increased performance and a new, lower price tag. It’s the new high-end streamer to beat, but owners of last year’s Apple TV 4K model can skip it for now.

Apple TV 4K 2022 review ports CNNU

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Inside the new Apple TV 4K is Apple’s A15 Bionic processor. It’s the same processor found in the iPhone 13 series and the sixth-generation iPad Mini, and one that we’ve found to deliver super-fast performance on devices that arguably demand more than an Apple TV box was primarily designed for to stream video.

Apple claims that the new Apple TV delivers up to 50% faster processing performance, and graphics performance should be up to 30% faster thanks to the processor upgrade. For those keeping track at home, the Apple TV 4K released in 2021 used Apple’s A12 Bionic processor, so these performance claims aren’t all that surprising.

I’ve been using the 2021 version of the Apple TV 4K as my primary streaming device since it was released, and after going through the initial setup process on the new Apple TV 4K, I immediately noticed a difference in how quickly apps load and even navigation felt. Across the board, there was a noticeable difference.

One area where the speed increase was evident was when I used Siri to ask for information, search the App Store, or start a binge-watching session. Not only did Siri load faster, but responses were almost instantaneous. Granted, part of the reason Siri loads faster is because of the new Siri interface that looks more like Siri on the iPad, taking up just a corner of the screen instead of taking over the entire TV.

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Another where performance just felt faster was how quickly the Apple TV app opened and filled with suggestions for what to watch next.

Apple TV 4K 2022 review CNNU 2

Jason Cipriani/CNN

I spent quite a few hours over the weekend playing video games on my Apple TV, something I haven’t done in probably 5 years as my youngest son and I played Beach Buggy on a daily basis.

However, Apple has done a lot to improve the gaming experience on all its devices in recent years, including compatibility with Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch controllers. So I paired an Xbox controller to my Apple TV 4K, launched Apple Arcade, and searched for a game that comes with my monthly Apple One Premier subscription. I love Lego games and I have a small but growing appreciation for Star Wars, so I ended up downloading Lego Star Wars: Castaways.

The overall experience was fun and at times it felt like I was using a games console and not a set-top box. Other times, mainly when navigating menus and settings, it was clear that I was playing a mobile game on a TV with a controller designed for a game console. That said, I found myself reaching for the Xbox controller instead of the Siri remote whenever I sat down on the couch to waste a few hours of time.

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The Siri Remote, which received a much-needed update in 2021, was not left out of receiving an update of its own this year. The remote has the same design, buttons and general functionality, but instead of using a Lightning port on the bottom of the remote to charge it up, you’ll now find a USB-C port for charging.

It’s the same type of port that Apple now uses on all of its current iPad models—including the just-released tenth-generation iPad. And with Apple admitting it has to comply with a recent EU ruling, forcing the iPhone maker to switch from a Lightning port to USB-C, the change to the Siri Remote just means we’re one step closer to ditching Lightning altogether. .

What this actually means in your daily experience is very little. I think I’ve had to charge the Siri Remote once every three or four months. But with the move to USB-C happening for all Apple devices, it means I won’t have to dig out a Lightning cable every few months just to charge the remote.

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The switch to USB-C on the Siri Remote is a welcome move, but there’s one feature I think all Apple TV users would like to see Apple implement – a Find My remote control solution. But it’s nowhere to be found in the new Siri Remote.

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I don’t even want or need a speaker in the remote that you can trigger to help you find it when it inevitably gets lost (although that would be a nice touch). What I’d like to see is Apple adding the Apple U1 ultra-broadband chip to the remote that lets you use the Find My app to pinpoint – I’m talking within inches – an object.

In the last week or so, I haven’t lost this Siri remote, but it’s a regular occurrence in my home, and I’d assume it’s something everyone else deals with on a regular basis.

There are some new solutions for adding an AirTag to the Siri Remote, such as this $40 Nomad Goods Leather Cover that includes a compartment for an AirTag. But a built-in Find My solution would do anything but make Siri Remote perfect.

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This year’s Apple TV 4K series consists of two models. There are Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi) and Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet). As the names indicate, the Wi-Fi model can only connect to the internet via a Wi-Fi 6 connection. The Wi-Fi + Ethernet model has a gigabit Ethernet port on the back, which makes it possible to connect Apple TV to your home network or connect to Wi-Fi.

The differences do not stop at connectivity options between the two models. The Wi-Fi + Ethernet model also includes 128GB of storage, double the 64GB included in the Wi-Fi only model. An Apple TV’s storage is used to store apps and games, and unless you plan to download a lot of games, I find it hard to see a 128GB Apple TV’s storage filling up.

If you’re a smart home lover, there’s another difference you need to know about. Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet) also includes a Thread radio that acts as a Thread border router to help you manage and control all your Matter and Thread-equipped smart home devices.

If you already have a HomePod Mini, you don’t necessarily need an additional Wired router in your home, but if you’re just starting to upgrade your smart home devices to support Thread, going with the more expensive Apple TV 4K option this year makes sense.

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The Apple TV series has often been criticized for its high price tag. This year, Apple dropped the starting price from $149 to $129 for the Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi), and that’s a great start, but if you look at the overall streaming landscape, it’s still one of the most expensive offerings.

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Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks start at $40 for HD or $50 for a 4K model. Roku’s streaming devices start at $30 for the Roku Express with HD streaming, or $40 for the Roku Express 4K+. Then there’s Google’s Chromecast for $30 or $50 with HD or 4K streaming respectively.

Granted, comparing a streaming stick to a set-top box is designed to be more powerful and provide a better experience overall, but still, Apple TV and users would benefit from an even more affordable option than a set-top box .

A $70 or even $80 Apple TV Stick that delivers 4K streaming would be an instant hit.

Apple TV 4K 2022 product card
Storage

64 GB

128 GB

4 GB

16 GB

Dimensions

3.66 x 3.66 x 1.2 inches

3.66 x 3.66 x 1.2 inches

4.9 x 5.0 x 1 inches

3.38 x 3.38 x 2.99 inches

Gates

HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.1, Gigabit Ethernet

USB 3.0, HDMI 2.0b, Ethernet 10/100

HDMI 2.1 input, HDMI 2.1 output, IR extender, Ethernet 10/100, USB 2.0

Video formats

4K, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, High Frame Rate HDR

4K, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, High Frame Rate HDR

4K, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

4K, Dolby Vision, HDR

Audio formats

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos

Smart assistant / smart home

Siri

Siri, Wired

HomeKit, Google Home, Alexa

Alexa

Price

$129

$149

$70

$140

This year’s crop of Apple TV 4K boxes brings an impressive speed boost to our favorite high-end streaming device that translates into faster load times, with a lower starting price and a small update to the Siri Remote. You can’t go wrong with either model, but you should take a few seconds to consider which model you should buy.

There’s no need to upgrade from last year’s Apple TV 4K just for a faster experience. But if you’re using the original 2017 Apple TV 4K — or are ready to jump from HD streaming to 4K — then the $129 Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi) is more than enough for most users. If you’re looking to up your Apple TV streaming game while improving your smart home network, Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet) is an easy choice.

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