Apple TV 4K (2022) review: The best way to enjoy Apple content on your TV
Apple made the Apple TV 4K smaller and more powerful, but not more expensive. In fact, it’s actually way cheaper than before.
The new Apple TV 4K (2022) is a very straightforward product. There are two models, and thankfully you don't need a spreadsheet to understand their differences.
The set-top box is faster and supports HDR10+ content, is more affordable than the previous generation, and — perhaps important to you — the tvOS 16 interface is ad-free. The Apple TV 4K (2022) is also a great hub for your smart home, and it connects seamlessly to other Apple devices and iCloud. Any complaints are really just minor nitpicks. It’s easily Apple’s best streaming box to date.
What we like
5. It's cheaper
There is nobody who will be unhappy that the new Apple TV 4K is more affordable than the 2021 version. The new black box is priced at $129 (64GB) and $149 (128GB). In comparison, the previous Apple TV 4K was priced at $179 (32GB) and $199 (64GB). Apple gets a lot of flak for raising prices on products, but it's good to see new devices get cheaper, especially in the current times when prices are going up for everything.
4. Doubled storage
Unless you only stream content to your Apple TV 4K, more storage is always a plus. And this time, Apple has doubled the storage on both Apple TV 4K (2022) models. That's more storage to save purchased TV shows and movies, and more space for games. Whoever is in charge of the iPhone 15 should take notes from the Apple TV 4K team. If 64GB of storage is the base for a set-top box, there's almost no reason any iPhone or iPad should start at 64GB of storage when those devices do so much more.
3. Plays HDR10+ content
Watching TV and movies in HDR is great so long as you have a TV to enjoy that enhanced content on. The previous Apple TV 4K supported HDR10 and Dolby Vision; the new model adds HDR10+, completing the trifecta of HDR formats that work with Apple's streaming box. Most people will not care about the nuances between HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. RTings has a great breakdown of the differences. Ultimately, all that matters is the new Apple TV 4K (2022) is capable of playing HDR content from any service, in any of the three aforementioned formats. Of course, the catch is that your TV needs to support HDR10+. If it doesn't you're not getting the enhanced colors or brightness that come with the format.
Separately, there's a software update coming later this year that will add QukcMedia Switching Variable Refresh Rate (QMS VRR). This jargon-sounding technology will prevent screen blackouts when the Apple TV 4K (2022) switches between content encoded at different frame rates. For example, there won't be display blackouts when you switch from a movie playing at 24 fps to a video at 30 or 60 fps. This feature will come with a catch, too: your TV needs to support QMS VRR, and none on the market currently do, which means this isn't something anybody can use until those launch next year.
2. 3D games run better
Not that the A12 Bionic chip in the previous generation Apple TV 4K was a slouch or anything — tvOS 16 runs as snappy as tvOS 14 did — but I did notice fewer dropped frames with some 3D games like Oceanhorn 2. Games also booted up faster on the Apple TV 4K (2022), no doubt because of the faster A15 Bionic chip. This chip may be underutilized for many Apple TV-ready games, but it’s a chip that’ll mean great performance for several software updates out.
Apple sent a PS5 DualSense controller with my review unit to test games. The controller paired and worked flawlessly over Bluetooth. But using the gamepad to play games like Oceanhorn 2 and NBA 2K21 did make me pine for more 3D games on Apple TV. Genshin Impact is great on iPhone and iPad, but why isn't it on Apple TV with controller support? Where is Diablo Immortal or Call of Duty: Mobile? I know you can AirPlay an iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV and play any game on your TV, but turning the Apple TV 4K into a bonafide game console seems like a no-brainer.
1. Siri Remote has USB-C
The future is USB-C. Everyone knows it and Apple is finally getting with the program. It's both strange and delightful to see a USB-C port on the new Siri Remote. On the one hand — about time! On the other hand, how does the Siri Remote get a USB-C port for charging before the iPhone or AirPods? Whatever the reason is, I love that the Siri Remote has USB-C.
What we don’t like
3. Thread support costs extra
The $20 difference between the $149 Apple TV 4K and the $129 model gets you double the storage, an Ethernet port, and Thread support. The latter, as Inverse previously explained, is a way to future-proof your smart home — assuming you care about that at all. If you have a smart home or plan on building one out, spring for the higher-end Apple TV 4K (2022). It's only $20 more and you'll be glad you didn't skimp when it comes time to add new devices to ecosystem.
I care less about the Ethernet port, and I understand the inclusion along with Thread to justify the $20 upsell, but framing Thread support as more choice for customers feels icky. Most people don't even know what Thread is, but that future is coming fast and these people are going to be limited to HomeKit-enabled smart home devices.
2. No Wi-Fi 6E
Similar to USB-C, there seems to be no methodology as to why some new Apple devices get a certain feature and others don't. Currently, the M2 iPad Pros are the only Apple devices with Wi-Fi 6E. I'm in the process of replacing my home router with a Wi-Fi 6E one. An Apple TV 4K that's meant to last several years ought to support newer networking that delivers faster Wi-Fi speeds and lower latency. If there's any Apple product that should have the latest and greatest in Wi-Fi, it's the streaming media player that you never want to see any "buffering".
1. No Find My for Siri Remote
Remotes are easy to lose. The Siri Remote, despite being thicker than the one from two generations ago, is still easy to misplace. It would have been great to get Find My's Precision Finding, the aim-your-iPhone-to-locate feature enabled by Apple's U1 chip, built into the Siri Remote. Precision Finding was introduced in AirTags and Apple added it to the charging case in the AirPods Pro 2.
Some companies like Spigen sell a case to attach an AirTag with a Siri Remote. For now, I'll live with the AirTag taped to the back of my Siri Remote. Next time, I'd like to see Find My and Precision Finding built into the remote.
Should you buy the Apple TV 4K (2022)?
There are a few other notables on the Apple TV 4K (2022). The volume is 20 percent smaller thanks to its new fanless design; I don’t think this really matters when the box is going to stay tucked under your TV. tvOS 16 is smoother with less lag bopping between apps and in and out of games — again, no doubt thanks to the more powerful A15 Bionic chip.
Some features like QMS VRR and “Recognize My Voice” (Siri can detect different family members to offer personalized content) aren’t coming until an update later this year. I saw a demo of Recognize My Voice and it seemed to work really well, though I wasn’t able to try it for myself.
The best reason to buy an Apple TV used to be for watching Apple's exclusive TV+ content like the gripping Severance on your big screen, but the TV app is now available in tons of other media sticks, boxes, TVs, and consoles.
If you have an older Apple TV streaming box and navigating around tvOS is slow (or it doesn't even support the latest tvOS 16), then the Apple TV 4K (2022) is an easy buy — it’s the best way to enjoy Apple content whether it’s TV shows or movies on TV+ or Apple Arcade games. If you finally got a 4K TV (hopefully with HDR) and you're ready to watch TV and movies in greater detail, you'll love the Apple TV 4K (2022). But if you have a streaming stick or box from Roku, Amazon, or Google Chromecast, and it works just fine for basic streaming Netflix or Hulu, the Apple TV 4K (2022) might be overkill.
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