Should you upgrade your Apple TV 4K to the Apple TV 4K (2021)?

The 2017 model

Apple TV 4K

From $179 at Best Buy

Pros

  • Can do most of what the 2021 model can
  • 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision)
  • Integrates with your Apple devices

Cons

  • Inferior Siri remote
  • A10X processor is aging

The Apple TV 4K from 2017 is still a great streaming box, but it’s packaged with an inferior remote, and its A10X processor is four years old and beginning to show its age.

The 2021 model

Apple TV 4K (2021)

From $179 at Apple

Pros

  • Updated A12 processor
  • WiFi 6
  • 4K HDR at 60fps
  • Packaged with an upgraded Siri remote
  • Thread support

Cons

  • Same exact design as the 2017 model
  • Siri remote lacks an accelerometer and gyroscope

The 2021 version of the Apple TV 4K is the ultimate streaming box, especially for those in the Apple ecosystem. It comes with an updated remote, and the more modern processor allows for 60fps 4K HDR streaming.

The Apple TV 4K from 2017 is still a great streaming box with many features such as 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and HDR10. So fellow Apple fans, the question that needs to be asked is if you already own the 2017 model, is it worth spending your hard-earned cash on the Apple TV 4K (2021)?

Apple TV 4K vs. Apple TV 4K (2021): Let’s compare

There are many similarities but also some major differences between the Apple TV 4K from 2017 and the Apple TV 4K (2021).

Apple TV 4KApple TV 4K (2021)
Price$179 for 32GB$179 for 32GB
HDR 10YesYes
Dolby VisionYesYes
Dolby AtmosYesYes
WiFi NetworkingWiFi 5WiFi 6
ProcessorA10XA12
60fps high framerate videoNoYes
HDMI standard2.0a2.1
Thread supportNoYes
Siri Remote1st gen2nd gen

Though the differences don’t seem major, the Apple 4K (2021) has more technological advances and is more futureproof than its predecessor. Let’s take a look at some of the major features and compare the two 4K streaming boxes, so we can determine if it’s worth an upgrade.

Apple TV 4K vs Apple TV 4K (2021): 4K video

Both versions of the Apple TV 4K feature 4K HDR video in HDR10 and Dolby Vision and support 2160p Ultra HD video resolutions. Their video processing is similar in every way except for one major difference. The Apple TV 4K (2021) has support for 60fps high framerate HDR video. This allows fast-moving action to appear more lifelike and smooth. This will be especially noticeable for sports fans.

If you own an iPhone 12 Pro, you can shoot HDR video at 60fps in Dolby Vision, and now you can Airplay those videos to the 2021 version of the Apple TV 4K, as there is Airplay support for 60fps HDR video.

Apple TV 4K vs. Apple TV 4K (2021): Siri Remote

The 2nd generation Siri Remote that ships with the Apple TV 4K (2021) is a great improvement over its predecessor. Apple added a mute button and a power button for greater TV control. The Siri button has moved to the right side of the remote, similar to the placement on an iPhone. The remote is thicker and longer, which means it’s less likely to get lost. However, the most important change is Apple included a five-way clickpad that also touch-enabled, so you have more accurate control over navigation.

One omission from the 2nd generation Siri remote is that it’s missing an accelerometer and a gyroscope. This means that you will need a gaming controller to play certain games that you could previously play with the 1st generation Siri remote.

Apple TV 4K vs. Apple TV 4K (2021): Networking

The Apple TV 4K (2021) features WiFi 6, the latest WiFi standard. If you also have a WiFi 6 router, you should notice faster data transfer speeds than the Apple TV 4K.

The 2021 version also contains support for Thread, a new standard for smart home integration. Thread is a low-power networking technology that offers a mesh-based system to interact with other Thread-enabled devices. This is one of the features that may not seem important now, but down the road could be.

Apple TV 4K vs. Apple TV 4K (2021): Is it worth the upgrade?

Given all of the similarities, if you currently own an Apple TV 4K and are happy with its performance, there are minimal reasons to upgrade at this point. That is, unless HDR video at 60fps, updated networking standards, Thread support, or a 2nd generation Siri Remote is important to you.

The Apple TV 4K (2021) will be a more futureproof streaming box, but if you already own the original Apple TV 4K, you can keep it without missing out on many features. That being said, if you don’t already own an Apple TV 4K, there is little reason to buy the older version.

If you just want to purchase a 2nd generation Siri Remote, Apple does sell it separately so you can get all of the advantages of the clickpad, mute and power buttons, and a remote that is less prone to get lost, without buying an entirely new Apple TV 4K.

Going strong

Apple TV 4K

Still powerful

From $179 at Best Buy

The Apple TV 4K first debuted in 2017, and if you still own it, there are few reasons to upgrade to the 2021 version.

New remote and 60fps HDR video

Apple TV 4K (2021)

The new standard

From $179 at Apple

The Apple TV 4K (2021) contains all of the original 4K box features but adds an upgraded A12 processor, 60fps HDR support, WiFi 6, and Thread support. It also ships with the 2nd generation Siri Remote, with a 5-way clickpad and a power and mute button.

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