In its first redesign since 2017, the Apple TV 4K has addressed one of the main customer complaints in recent years: the remote. The new design features a silver color scheme, a click wheel, touch buttons on glass, and the addition of power and mute buttons. Siri has also been moved to the side. Apple loyalists will appreciate the changes, and Apple is making the new remote available separately for existing Apple TV owners with an MSRP of $59.
More importantly, the Apple TV device itself may look the same, but its internals have been overhauled. It now comes with an A12 Bionic processor to enhance image processing and make Apple Arcade games run more smoothly. The more modern chip also enables HDR content to be played back at higher frame rates, whereas previous models were capped at 30 frames per second.
For true cinephiles – the kind of people who are willing to spend hours fine tuning and calibrating their TV’s image quality – Apple has also introduced an intriguing new feature to make the calibration process nearly automatic. Apple TV owners who also have an iPhone updated to iOS 14.5 can use the phone’s sensor to measure colors coming from their TV and Apple TV’s output will then be adjusted to meet professional standards. Apple has promised to roll out this feature to existing Apple TV owners through a specific software update.
The problem for the Apple TV is that it’s still expensive in comparison to the competition. The new model is $199, and the older version remains $179. By contrast, an Amazon Fire TV Cube costs $120, a Roku Ultra can be purchased for $100, and Chromecast with Google TV is just $50. What Apple is banking on, as usual, is that its iOS and App Store ecosystem and general software polish is attractive enough to keep Apple fans engaged. Thus far, that’s a strategy that has served the company well, as iPhone owners continue to disproportionately purchase Apple TV devices compared to owners of other smartphone brands. That said, according to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, tie ratios for Apple TV among iPhone owners in the US aren’t as good as they could be. The TV/OTT device space is an incredibly competitive one and Apple’s fairly late start (and initial trip ups) has resulted in only 17% of iPhone owners also having an Apple TV, compared to 19% of Google Pixel owners who have a Chromecast device, and 33% of Samsung smartphone owners who also have a Samsung smart TV.