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The Apple TV may not be the most obvious Apple device to consider upgrading – but with a series of minor upgrades in recent years, when should you consider buying a new one?

Apple-TV-2022-Feature-Blue.jpg

In terms of its set-top box offerings, Apple now only sells the Apple TV 4K (third-generation). The company launched its first modern Apple TV that runs tvOS, the Apple TV HD, in 2015. Since then, it has launched three new versions, each adding several new features and improvements over its predecessor, with some models offering more significant upgrades than others.

With a lower, $129 starting price and only one model year to choose from, new Apple TV buyers no longer face the same conundrum as in recent years when Apple offered multiple Apple TVs from different generations. Even so, first-time Apple TV customers may be able to obtain an older model second-hand or from a third-party retailer, so it will be important to weigh up exactly what was added with each new model.

See the detailed breakdown below for each new feature, change, and improvement that was added with each Apple TV model compared to its direct predecessor:

Apple TV HD (2015)

  • Apple A8 chip (1.5 GHz, 2-core)
  • 2GB memory
  • "tv" logo
  • Height of 1.4 inches
  • Weight of 425 grams
  • Support for up to 1080p resolution
  • Support for SDR
  • Support for audio output with 7.1 surround sound channels
  • HDMI 1.4 port
  • 10/100 Ethernet port
  • Wi-Fi 5
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 32GB or 64GB of storage
  • First-generation Siri Remote included
Apple TV 4K (First-Generation, 2017)

  • A10X Fusion chip (2.38 GHz, 6-core)
  • 3GB memory, 50 percent more
  • Active cooling with internal fan
  • Support for up to 2160p (4K) resolution
  • Support for SDR, HDR10, and Dolby Vision
  • Support for audio output with 7.1.4 surround sound channels with Dolby Atmos
  • HDMI 2.0a port
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • First-generation Siri Remote (white ring around Menu button) included
Apple TV 4K (Second-Generation, 2021)

  • A12 Bionic chip (2.49 GHz, 6-core)
  • Support for high-framerate HDR content up to 60 fps
  • ARC and eARC support
  • HDMI 2.1 port
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Thread support
  • Second-generation Siri Remote (Lightning charging port) included, featuring complete redesign with circular clickpad
Apple TV 4K (Third-Generation, 2022)

  • A15 Bionic chip (3.23 GHz, 6-core), 50 percent faster CPU performance and 30 percent faster GPU performance
  • 4GB memory, 33 percent more
  • Passive cooling with fanless design
  • "" logo replaces "tv" logo
  • Height of 1.2 inches
  • Weight of 208/214 grams, 50 percent reduction
  • Support for HDR10+
  • Gigabit Ethernet port available with 128GB model only
  • Thread support available with 128GB model only
  • 64GB or 128GB storage
  • Second-generation Siri Remote (USB-C charging port) included

Unlike many other Apple devices, the Apple TV offers a lot of specific technical features that not all users can take advantage of due to reliance on the specifications of other connected hardware like TVs and speakers. As such, this should be the main criteria you use to determine if you need to upgrade to a new Apple TV.

In other words, if you do not see features like high-framerate content, improved HDMI port specifications, more advanced HDR formats, and Thread support as worthwhile upgrades, it is unlikely that it will be worth buying a new model. Keen home cinema enthusiasts, audiophiles, and gamers that can use features like Dolby Atmos support, Gigabit Ethernet, and ARC and eARC support stand to benefit more from upgrading.

If you do not have a 4K HDR TV, it is probably that not much will be gained by upgrading to the latest model, but it may still be worth it if you can take advantage of better performance and more storage. If you have the first-generation Apple TV 4K, it will only be worth upgrading if you want features like high framerate HDR, Thread support, and more power for gaming.

Unless you specifically want HDR10+ support or 128GB of storage, there is little reason to upgrade from the second-generation Apple TV 4K to the third-generation Apple TV 4K.

It is important to note that the latest version of the Siri Remote, the second-generation model with a USB-C charging port, is available from Apple separately for $59. It works with all of the above Apple TV models, so the Siri Remote should not be a major factor in deciding to upgrade.

Article Link: Apple TV 4K 2022: A Buyer's Guide for Upgraders
 
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Mitthrawnuruodo

Moderator emeritus
Mar 10, 2004
14,217
739
Bergen, Norway
Upgraded from an old ATV HD to the 4K (2021) after getting an LG 65" CX OLED last year.

Had to wait for a couple of weeks where I tried out the old ATV (the TV was actually upscaling 1080 very well), and also tried using the built in apps from the "smart" TV, but when the new 4K was released I ordered it immediately.

Not gonna upgrade it this year though (unless it - touch wood - breaks down).
 

Orange Bat

macrumors 6502a
Mar 21, 2021
535
1,276
I ordered a 128GB to replace a buggy Roku Ultra. I had a 2015 Apple TV that now lives in a bedroom, moved to a Fire TV Cube, then to the Roku. The Fire TV Cube was BY FAR the worst experience, The buggy Roku won’t activate Dolby Vision and the audio gets out of sync every couple of days requiring a reboot. Can’t wait to finally get back to Apple TV, a platform with which I never had an issue.
 

c84216

macrumors regular
Jul 15, 2006
125
366
Any reason that anyone can think of for someone with an LG C1 (state of the art OLED television) to go from the A12 to A15 Apple TV? LG makes it impossible to suss out the fine specs on these things and to know what does and doesn't bring out the best on it.

I'm gathering no but figure someone is more TV expert than I. I don't think the C1 supports HDR10+ and that is what I could see being the reason to upgrade if it did. That and the C1 and Apple TV seems to play perfectly well on Dolby Vision.
 

Mrjoedot

macrumors 6502
Dec 29, 2012
343
167
Asean market
I ordered a 128GB to replace a buggy Roku Ultra. I had a 2015 Apple TV that now lives in a bedroom, moved to a Fire TV Cube, then to the Roku. The Fire TV Cube was BY FAR the worst experience, The buggy Roku won’t activate Dolby Vision and the audio gets out of sync every couple of days requiring a reboot. Can’t wait to finally get back to Apple TV, a platform with which I never had an issue.
same here. once into Apple, I never wanna go backward
 

Mrjoedot

macrumors 6502
Dec 29, 2012
343
167
Asean market
Any reason that anyone can think of for someone with an LG C1 (state of the art OLED television) to go from the A12 to A15 Apple TV? LG makes it impossible to suss out the fine specs on these things and to know what does and doesn't bring out the best on it.

I'm gathering no but figure someone is more TV expert than I. I don't think the C1 supports HDR10+ and that is what I could see being the reason to upgrade if it did. That and the C1 and Apple TV seems to play perfectly well on Dolby Vision.
I suggest you to buy 2023 models or later instead
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
6,861
7,997
The Veteran Apple Store has the 64GB ATV4K3 for $116 and the 128GB ATV4K3 for $134.

I purchased the 128GB.

See the detailed breakdown below for each new feature, change, and improvement that was added with each Apple TV model compared to its direct predecessor:
Second-generation Siri Remote
MR rarely (if ever) mentions the downsides of the second-generation Siri Remote, that due to it missing sensors that were in the first-generation Siri Remote, there are a lot of apps that cannot be used with the 2nd-gen Siri Remote, and must use the first-generation Siri Remote to use those apps.

Also, listing it as an "improvement" is subjective, compared to the other, more objective items in the list. While I think there are improvements, there are other things about the new Siri Remote that I personally do not like. I don't like the location of the Siri button. I also tend to mis-click and mis-swipe a lot with the new remote.

There were definitely things about the original Siri Remote that I did not like, just look up my old posts on the forum, but I don't think the new Siri Remote is the great successor that a lot of MR articles make it out to be.
 

Kulfon

macrumors 6502a
Nov 4, 2013
818
1,189
This is one product where I do not get the need to upgrade. If you have apple tv 4K, then what each new version will add?
 
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jaster2

macrumors member
Jun 21, 2010
78
71
My Samsung tv struggles to sync with my ATV 4K gen2. If this gen 3 model fixed that I would upgrade. But I seriously doubt it would solve that.
 
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Any reason that anyone can think of for someone with an LG C1 (state of the art OLED television) to go from the A12 to A15 Apple TV? LG makes it impossible to suss out the fine specs on these things and to know what does and doesn't bring out the best on it.

I'm gathering no but figure someone is more TV expert than I. I don't think the C1 supports HDR10+ and that is what I could see being the reason to upgrade if it did. That and the C1 and Apple TV seems to play perfectly well on Dolby Vision.

No. What the latest one would deliver for your situation is a slightly faster/fluid UI. If you ever see stutters in any content, a little more horsepower may reduce some of those stutters. After that, benefits get pretty thin. If you play games on AppleTV, the added horsepower will likely deliver some benefit to more intensive game play.

I have ZERO belief that this AppleTV is meant to drive upgrades from the last one. I think it is aimed at trying to move people without an AppleTV to buy one and/or those with AppleTV HD or older to upgrade to "latest & greatest" from old and deprecated.
 
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HVDynamo

macrumors 6502
Feb 21, 2011
492
540
Minnesota
This is one product where I do not get the need to upgrade. If you have apple tv 4K, then what each new version will add?

I have the first gen 4K model. I'm only upgrading it because I kind of want one in the bedroom too now. So the new one will go in the Theater room and my first gen 4K model will move to the bedroom. If it wasn't for that I would not see any reason to upgrade either.
 

sziehr

macrumors 6502a
Jun 11, 2009
679
529
The upgrade from 4k HDR v1 to V3 the latest has some off benefits and they are around HDMI2.1, which fixes some dolby vission low level flickering in certain scenes, and beyond that some stuttering on the older units that is not seen in the newer units. These are all things you can fix with software on the driver side but apple has refused to step up and fix and thus you just end up replacing them sadly
 
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Tyler O'Bannon

macrumors 6502
Nov 23, 2019
366
491
The only error in the article: the Apple TV HD does not have a fan/active cooling. That came with A10X on 1st Gen 4K
 

Tyler O'Bannon

macrumors 6502
Nov 23, 2019
366
491
They do until the app owner says "We're not upgrading xxx anymore on 2018 or older TVs. Buy a newer TV if you want to keep using it!"
The apple TV’s compatibility is significantly better. The Apple TV HD still has full up to date compatibility with everything. Smart tvs that are years newer have already dropped support because their processors and capabilities are far far worse than Apple Silicon.
 
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mashdots

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Dec 10, 2015
276
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seattle-ish
This year we replaced our old 43” 4k Samsung LED with a new 55” 4k Sony OLED. The difference was stark, even with the Apple TV HD. Just placed the order for the newest 4k and I’m excited to see how much better it looks, not to mention the performance improvements from going from an iPhone 6 CPU to the chip in the 13.
 
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Really wanted Apple to release an AppleTV soundbar/HomePod solution that would work with all my devices.
Not sure I’ll upgrade as it still doesn’t solve my issues.
If you don't need to upgrade, stick with your existing AppleTV.

Focus what you would have spent on that combined product to buy the best quality soundbar (or even better- a dedicated center channel speaker with an eye towards building out a true 5.1 or better surround sound setup). That will allow you to get ANY size/quality of soundbar/center best suited for your size of room and quality desire vs. one where a corporation would be making all such decisions for you.

Speakers tend to last for about 2-3 or more times the length of time AppleTV technology is updated. If you keep those components separate and invest in a fantastic quality speaker, your ears will be enjoying it through the next 2 or 3 AppleTV generations instead of potentially having to throw it out when an embedded AppleTV is obsoleted by Apple and there may be no way to keep using the speaker thereafter.

Nothing particularly against HomePods but they are really not meant to be Home Theater speakers. Enjoy them for what they are (great mono or stereo speakers for music) and develop a dedicated home theater setup to maximize the audio experience for things you watch on your TV. If you like Apple-like quality, take a look at Sonos or similar. For Apple-type pricing, you get Apple Music access, airplay, etc and an OPEN platform that works with all kinds of other sources outside of the walled garden.

Else, there are terrific 5.1 or greater speakers for considerably less than a hypothetical HomePod 5.1 setup (that may never actually show up) and others that cost considerably more on a promise of even better quality of sound. Let your ears and wallet be the judge of what is best for you and your theater space... and remember that products like speakers are usually good for 10+ years vs. other stuff that is retired/obsolete every couple of years.
 
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Tyler O'Bannon

macrumors 6502
Nov 23, 2019
366
491
The apple TV’s compatibility is significantly better. The Apple TV HD still has full up to date compatibility with everything. Smart tvs that are years newer have already dropped support because their processors and capabilities are far far worse than Apple Silicon.
 

anshuvorty

macrumors 68030
Sep 1, 2010
2,820
3,678
California, USA
My problem with the Apple TV hardware is that there is no audio output jacks. Like how the F are you supposed to connect it to some external speakers?

Seriously don't understand why Apple continues to disregard those users who just want to use this with a TV and set external speakers...

Insane...
 

Realityck

macrumors 603
Nov 9, 2015
5,633
8,045
Silicon Valley, CA
See the detailed breakdown below for each new feature, change, and improvement that was added with each Apple TV model compared to its direct predecessor:
This article will fail to disclose features enabled related to what can be enabled by tvOS and what kind of hardware decoding is present.

Example 1st gen can only play YouTube in 4K SDR, 2nd gen supports playback of YouTube 4K HDR content.


Notice a A15 is listed as Apple 8 GPU family along with M2.

tvOS is not listed as Metal 3 like iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS. But the Apple TV 3rd gen certainly could be for playing games that require Metal 3. The A12 that the 2nd gen uses is not capable of doing this per chart.
 
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