Apple in April unveiled a new version of the 4K Apple TV, but on the surface, it’s hard to tell it apart from its predecessor because it looks the same as the 2017 model. There are, however, a few internal changes, but are those changes worth upgrading for? That’s what we’re aiming to find out in our Apple TV 4K hands-on video.
Compared to the original Apple TV 4K, there are no design changes to the second-generation Apple TV 4K with one peripheral exception — the Siri Remote. The Siri Remote has been overhauled with a new clickpad and updated buttons that make it more intuitive to use.
There’s a dedicated power button for the first time, along with a mute button, and the Siri button has been moved to the side. There’s no touchpad anymore, and the clickpad that replaces it is easier to use, making it simple to scrub through content with a swipe around the wheel. It’s also much thicker and heftier, and Apple believes this will make it harder to lose.
Without a doubt, the Siri Remote is a major upgrade that’s worth it, but you don’t need a whole new Apple TV just for the remote — Apple is selling it on a standalone basis for $60. That’s pricey, but if you’re fed up with the current remote and want something better, it’s worth considering.
As for the rest of the Apple TV, upgrades include support for high frame rate 4K HDR and Dolby Vision content, which is useful for sports and other fast-paced action. There’s not a lot of support right now, but you can check it out on YouTube or on videos recorded with the iPhone.
The Apple TV does have HDMI 2.1, but it doesn’t have 120Hz frame rate support, so it’s not a reason to upgrade. What is new, however, is eARC support, a feature that lets all TV audio be routed through HomePods. With eARC, audio from game consoles, cable boxes, and other peripherals can be routed through the HomePod when you have a compatible TV.
There’s an upgraded A12 Bionic chip in the second-generation Apple TV 4K, which is a good deal faster than the A10X Fusion chip that was in the prior model, but unless you’re playing a system-intensive game on the Apple TV, you’re probably not really going to notice the upgrade.
If you have a 2017 Apple TV 4K, there’s generally no reason to upgrade at this time unless one of the included features is particularly appealing to you. If you have an Apple TV HD or are considering an Apple TV purchase for the first time, the new 2021 model makes much more sense and is worth the $179 purchase price.