Alongside announcements of new iPads last week, Apple also unveiled its latest take on a dedicated streaming device. The 2022 edition of the Apple TV 4K marks the third generation of 4K-capable streamers from the company, and the seventh generation overall (the first few models topped out at HD/1080p). But what does this new version bring to the table and how does it compare to its predecessors?
The new additions this time around are notable, if not numerous. The third-gen Apple TV 4K boasts a new A15 Bionic chip at its heart, which replaces the A12 Bionic found in last year's version.
That 2021-era model wasn't exactly lacking in processing horsepower, but Apple says this newer chip offers up to 50 percent faster CPU performance and up to a 30 percent improvement on the GPU (graphics) side. While that may not translate into dramatically smoother menus when you're scrolling through streaming apps, it could come in handy for those into playing games on their Apple TV 4K.
Along with better performance, Apple also touted the A15's improvements in efficiency. In fact, this latest iteration leaves out the internal fan that previous models used for cooling. As a result, the overall case is slightly smaller in all directions compared to the 2021 version it's replacing.
This latest model also brings with it HDR10+ support, a Samsung-backed alternative to the Dolby Vision standard that previous 4K models already offered. The addition of HDR10+ opens up more high-dynamic range options and should make the third-gen streaming device more attractive to owners of compatible TVs.
There's another slight change from last year, but it's on the remote control. The Siri Remote received a substantial revamp when the 2021 Apple TV 4K was announced. And while this year's remote retains the same overall design, it does swap out the Lightning port for a USB-C connector.
The new remote is also available as a standalone purchase for $59 — in case current Apple TV users are looking to purge their Lightning port from their devices.
Perhaps the most notable effect of the third-gen Apple TV 4K's arrival is what it means for Apple's overall streaming device lineup. Prior to last week, potential users had two models to choose from: the 2021 Apple TV 4K, or the non-4K Apple TV HD which dates all the way back to 2015.
Now that the third-gen offering is here, though, it's effectively replaced both the low- and high-end models in Apple's lineup. At the more affordable end, the $129 base model gets you 64GB of onboard storage and WiFi-only connectivity.
For $149, you can opt for the higher-end model that doubles storage to 128GB (for games and other apps), and adds Gigabit Ethernet for those looking for wired connections. It also includes the emerging smart home standard known as Thread. That could make the pricier option more attractive to anyone looking for a smart home hub as well as a streaming device.
Preorders for Apple's latest streaming device went live the same day as the announcement last week. So anyone looking to snag the company's latest streamer can do so right now. Click here to see the new Apple TV models and here for the new Siri remote.
Apple says it expects the third-gen Apple TV 4K to ship by Nov. 4th.