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Apple TV 4K: Upgrade over the previous gen or not?

Apple 4K TV featured Image

Apple TV 4K (2021), the latest and upgraded content streaming device introduced by Apple Inc., at their latest “Spring Loaded” launch event.

Apple has also launched several other products, including the iMac 2021, iPad Pro, a purple iPhone 12 and AirTags. In addition, they announced their Podcast Subscriptions which can be accessed on all Apple devices, including the Apple TV 4K.

Now, coming to the topic, is it a good decision to upgrade to the older model (if you own one) or to buy the new one (if you don’t own one).

  • New A12 Bionic Processor.
  • New designed remote.
  • High frame rate HDR
  • Colour calibration.
You can also check out our new article: Upcoming iPhone 13
Apple 4K TV

Don’t worry, we are here to provide everything good and bad about the latest and older gen of Apple TV streaming devices, which will probably make your buying decision easy.

Before moving on, let’s take a look at the specs and features of the Apple TV 4K 2021.

Apple TV 4K 2021: Specifications

Design and Build

  • There is overall no change in the design and build of the Apple TV 4K 2021.
  • It is the same round-edged square box-shaped device with a big Apple TV logo on the top.
  • Dimensionally it is 3.9 inches on the sides and 1.4 inches in height.


  • The 2021 edition gets a major boost in terms of performance.
  • The new model gets the A12 Bionic chip from Apple, which also powered the iPhone XS, XS Max and the XR.
  • It was also used in the 2019 versions of the iPad Air, iPad mini and the iPad.
  • The A12 Bionic chip is significantly faster than the A10X processor used in the older models.
  • The new chip will offer smoother performance and faster app loading times, which are as expected.


  • Unlikely, port availability remains the same as the older ones.
  • Mainly the HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet Port and the power cord input.
  • With the new upgrade, it now supports HDMI 2.14.

Apple TV 4K 2021: Features

New and Improved Remote
  • While the main device hasn’t physically changed but now gets a new remote control.
  • Made of aluminium, the new remote is similar in shape to the original Apple TV remote.
  • Now comes equipped with a round touch surface which also doubles as a clickable directional navigation pad instead of the regular flat touchpad.
  • The dedicated power button and the mute button are some new additions to the remote.
  • The menu button is now removed, and the Siri button is now placed on the side rails.
  • The mute button is a value addition that allows you to instantly duck the volume if you want to listen out for something.
  • The new remote now uses Bluetooth 5.0, an upgrade over the 4.0 on the 2017 model.
  • The remote also has IR and CEC support to control your TV and receiver.

Video Playback Improvment

  • It now supports a high frame rate HDR.
  • Content can now be played at 4K HDR at 60 fps.
  • Supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

Colour Calibration through iPhone

  • A unique feature to optimize the content played on the TV.
  • Using the iPhone’s front camera automatically calibrates the picture quality.
  • It works on iPhones which are equipped with iOS 14.5 and Face ID.
  • To use this feature, enable the Colour Balance option.
  • Turn your iPhone around to face its front camera on the tv screen.
  • Keep the phone within one inch of the TV screen.
  • Once completed, you are ready to enjoy an immersive viewing experience.

Comparison: Apple TV 4K 2017 vs Apple TV 4K 2021

Overall, there isn’t any distinguishing change. Both have the same form factor, design and even colour. Upgrades can be seen under the hood. The 2021 model gets a new processor, the A12 Bionic, which is more than enough for a streaming device. Moreover, the implementation of the A12 chip reserves its dominance for future support and compatibility.

There won’t be any noticeable changes in video playback or normal usage. App response time and navigation through the UI will be further smooth. People using Apple Arcade may see some changes while playing games. The device has support for 4K HDR @ 60fps which is also available on the 2017 version but @30fps. HDMI 2.1’s addition supports this high frame rate compared to HDMI 2.0 on the previous gen.

Through AirPlay iPhone 12, users can stream Dolby Vision 4K video (@60fps) directly to the Apple TV 4K 2021. 

Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support and help in streaming high-quality content. However, to experience all of this, you should have a 4K HDR television which supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

In terms of software, the 2021 Apple TV 4K comes with TVOS 14.5, which will be further released for older devices. This is a good gesture by Apple that it constantly works on software updates.

Apart from the features mentioned above, the rest of the features remain the same.

The major supported apps include Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, Apple Music and Apple Arcade.

Shared experience features include Audio sharing, iPhone control, HomeKit, AirPlay and Multi-user Support.

Apple TV 4K
Related Video: Apple 4K TV Remote

Reasons To Buy

  • Upgraded processor
  • 4K HDR @60FPS support
  • New remote control
  • Latest tvOS 14.5

Reasons To Avoid

  • Same old design, which hinders its portability.
  • No upgrades, including app support and smart features, same as before.

Should you upgrade from your existing Apple TV 4K to the latest version?

Most probably NOT! Apart from getting a slight boost in performance and 60fps 4K support, there isn’t much to offer in the new model.

Everything is the same, including the design of the main device.

Regarding the upgraded remote, it can be purchased separately and will support older devices.

Includes the colour balance calibration feature coming to previous Apple TV devices via an OS update.

Older devices will update the TVOS 14.5, making more obvious sense not to upgrade to the latest version.

The previous-gen devices offer a similar experience, and you get to use the new remote and OS on the same.

The pricing of the Apple TV 4K 2021 is priced the same as the previous model.

Shelling the same amount of money for the same new device with just one or two worthy upgrades isn’t a smart move.

The variant with 32GB storage is priced at $179, and the 64GB variant at $199.

If you want to have a hint of the upgrade, you can probably buy the remote separately, and it will work. Moreover, it is justifiable at $59.

Should you buy one, if you don’t already own one?

I guess it is solely a decision to be made by you. There are many other alternatives out there in the market, which perform quite well and offer a similar viewing experience with UHD and HDR content. Some of them include Amazon Fire TV Cube ($119.99) and Roku Ultra ($99.99), which are relatively cheaper.

That said, if you are an Apple fanboy, the Apple TV 4K 2021 is the one to go for. Some people want a premium experience and don’t care about the cost.

So, it’s a must-buy for them, and treat themselves as the elites.

Owning the latest gen device would make more sense than buying an older one as they both cost the same.

Also read: Purple iPhone 12


All that being said and compared to the Apple TV 4K 2021 is a good product for someone who is looking for a new streaming device for the first time, wants a premium experience and is brand conscious. 

But, if you’re already a previous model user, stick to your old device only. Because there isn’t much difference whilst you can also get the new remote and OS updates to enjoy a new like experience.

Also, if you want to upgrade from your HD box to 4K, it is a fairly good choice. Many other brands are offering a similar experience in the market, which the rest can opt for.

On this note, I conclude my verdict. Hope you liked this one.


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