The Apple TV 4K has had an upgrade at Apple's Spring event, offering the same core Apple TV experience with new entertainment-focused features as well as a more powerful chipset ready for the latest titles on Apple Arcade. That's great, but the more welcome change for many fans will be the redesigned Siri remote - arguably the biggest pain point of the Apple TV experience up until now.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new Apple TV, including its release date, pricing, features and spec.
Apple TV 4K (2021) release date
Apple last updated the Apple TV back in 2017, but unlike the iPhone, Apple doesn’t tend to stick to the same release schedule with the Apple TV. That's why the new Apple TV didn't make an appearance for nearly four years, making its debut at Apple's Spring 2021 event.
As revealed by Apple at the event, the upgraded Apple TV 4K is set to go up for pre-order tomorrow, 30 April 2021, shipping weeks later at a yet-unannounced date in mid-May 2021.
Notorious Apple leaker Jon Prosser suggests that the Apple TV 4K could ship alongside the new iPad Pro range on 21 May 2021, but this is yet to be confirmed.
Apple TV 4K (2021) price
You can pick up the current Apple TV 4K in two specifications, 32GB for £179/$179 and 64GB for £199/$199, but despite many hoping Apple would drop the price and increase the storage, that didn't happen. Just like the older model, the new Apple TV 4K is available in two flavours - 32GB and 64GB - and will set consumers back £179/$179 and £199/$199 respectively at launch.
This puts the new Apple TV 4K comfortably at the high-end of the market, with key rivals like the 4K HDR-enabled Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K retailing at £49/$49, and you can pick up a Google Chromecast Ultra for £69/$69. In fact, the only real high-end competitor to the Apple TV is the £149/$149 Nvidia Shield TV.
Don’t expect Apple to drop the current Apple TV 4K price once the new model comes out either - we fully expect Apple to drop the current model from its lineup, keeping the older fourth-gen Apple TV as a cheaper alternative. After all, it’s what Apple did with the Apple Watch range.
Apple TV 4K (2021) features and spec
- A12 Bionic
- Support for high frame rate HDR
- iPhone-powered TV tuning
- Redesigned Siri remote
- 32GB and 64GB storage
Though the Apple TV 4K doesn't look different from the outside, there are key changes on the inside that bring Apple's media streamer kicking and screaming into 2021.
The big addition is the inclusion of Apple's A12 Bionic chipset - the same found in the iPhone Xs - and while that's not exactly the A14 Bionic of recent devices, it'll still offer a significant boost in performance compared to the ageing A10 Bionic currently used in the Apple TV. Considering the current model can barely render most high-end Apple Arcade titles, it's a welcome change for Arcade fans, but it doesn't stop there.
The extra power on offer from Apple's A12 Bionic allows the Apple TV to better process visuals. The new model offers HDR support at a high frame rate for smoother, more lifelike video, with Apple noting that it'll have a particular impact on fast-paced sports.
It'll also support that high frame rate Dolby HDR video content recorded on the iPhone 12 Pro. Apple's wireless AirPlay functionality is also being upgraded to allow for streaming of high-res HDR content from your iPhone to your Apple TV wirelessly.
Being an entertainment device, Apple wants the content you watch to look as good as possible, but that's a challenge given the difference in TV visual performance from model-to-model. Apple's solution is to use your iPhone's camera and other technology to do it for you, allowing the phone to 'see' what colour is displayed on your TV and adjust the output accordingly for more natural colours and better contrast.
It's certainly a smart idea, but whether it works as well as advertised is yet to be seen.
As well as the Apple TV itself, Apple revealed a redesigned Siri remote to go along with it - much to the delight of Apple TV fans that generally dislike the current Siri remote's frustrating reliance on touch. The new remote is certainly not the sleek bit of tech that came with the 2017 model, but with physical buttons in place of touch controls, it'll be easier to use without looking.
The new Siri remote features a circular 5-point click wheel at the heart to allow for tactile navigation of the Apple TV, but there's still touch control - dragging your finger in a circular motion around the outer ring - that allow for better scrubbing control when watching movies and TV shows. The Siri button has also been moved to the side, just like on the iPhone range, which should negate accidental activations.
It also looks like it'll be more durable than the original Siri remote, ditching the glass for an all-body aluminium design. Hey, at least you won't have to get a new one if the glass breaks this time around!
For more context, take a look at our selection of the best media streamers.