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Jun292021

2021 Apple TV 4K vs. 2017 Apple TV 4K

Category: Comparison

This is the new Apple TV 4K – but how much has changed? Is it really worth the upgrade over the previous gen Apple TV 4K from 2017? In this video, we’ll be comparing the old and new Apple TV and tell you guys if it's worth buying.

Right off the bat, here are the major difference and similarly for you to see.

Category

Apple TV 4K (2021)

Apple TV 4K (2017)

Processor

A12 Bionic

A10X

HDMI

HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.0

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 5

Remote 

New Improved

Old Remote

Price 

$179

$179

Dolby Vision

Yes

Yes

Dolby Atmos

Yes

Yes

Storage

32GB or 64GB

32GB or 64GB

With that said, let’s take a deep look at the differences

Design

When it comes to look and feel, both of them look exactly the same side by side - same size, same color, in fact all the ports alignment is also the same - with power, HDMI and Ethernet connectors on the rear of the unit. However, the only change here is the HDMI port on the newer version is 2.1 rather than the 2.0 found on the 2017 device. That means if you have external soundbar that supports HDMI eARC, then you should get the newer Apple TV 2021.

Remote

One of the major upgrades in the new Apple TV is the improved Siri remote. 

The 2017 remote was something every Apple TV user hated, in fact don’t get me started with the problems -- the touch surface is confusing, the trackpad goes all the way to the end, there is no mute button and the back button is labeled with the TV icon.

Finally, Apple fixed all these problem with the new Siri remote. 

They have replaced the touch bar with touch-enabled click-pad that surrounds the circular select button in the upper part of the remote.

There’s also a mute button.

The back button is labeled correctly as a back button.

Now, you also have a dedicated ‘Power’ button in the upper corner of the control, plus a Siri button on the side of the unit.

I also like the new remote is not a perfect square like the previous gen, so it won’t slip under the couch and the silver colors helps to see it in the dark room compared to the black one in the previous remote.

Also, the new remote comes with Bluetooth 5.0, unlike the 4.0 in the previous version, which means it will maintain connections over further distances.

You'll also be able to control your TV or receiver via IR or CEC, a feature the old remote didn't offer.

Let me know if you would like to see a dedicated video on how to use Apple TV new remote effectively.

Overall, the new Siri remote is compatible with both models. And Apple allows you to buy the new Siri remote separately for $69. With the improved features, you can consider only upgrading the Siri remote alone.

Processor

Another change that has come in the new Apple TV 4K is in terms of the processor.

Where the older 4K model came with an A10X processor, as found in the 2017, the new Apple TV 2021 comes with A12 Bionic chip, yes, it’s the same chip that was used in iPhone XS. But does it make any difference?

Well, for the most part, we didn’t find the old Apple TV to lag in terms of performance, the basic browsing and streaming Netflix, YouTube is same in both.

However, if you play Apple Arcade games, by connecting your PS5 or PS4 controller, you might get a little boost in performance in a new Apple TV 4K 2021, but it’s nothing significant for most people to notice, since the previous gen is already super-fast.

HDMI 2.1

As we mentioned earlier, the HDMI port in Apple TV 4K 2021 now supports HDMI 2.1 unlike 2.0 in the previous gen. This upgrade does mean a few nice things for you.

You can now watch 4K HDR video at 60 fps, plus iPhone 12 users can stream Dolby Vision 4K video directly to the Apple TV 4K (2021) over AirPlay. Of course, it goes without sayings that you TV should also support this. And there is still no 4K at 120 fps, although that would have been dope.

Wi-Fi 6

If you've got a Wi-Fi 6 router in your home, then the Apple TV 4K does support Wi-Fi 6 instead of just Wi-Fi 5 like the older model. 

That said, there won’t be much difference even with Wi-Fi 5 routers, since Wi-Fi 6 is mostly handy when you have a lot of devices on the network and you need good battery life on your phone. In terms of speed, we didn’t notice any major differences between Wi-Fi 6 and 5.

Software

Both run on exactly same tvOS 14.5, and look exactly the same.

You'll get Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR in both models. Also, Apple AirPlay (for casting from other iOS devices), Apple HomeKit (for smart home connectivity), and the Siri voice assistant all work similarly on both devices.

In fact, there’s one doubt that we would like to clear - the new calibration feature that most of you saw in the apple event, where you just have to use the camera in your iPhone to calibrate the color balance from the new Apple TV 4K. Well, this feature is not limited to new Apple TV only, you can use it with both Apple TV 4K models and the Apple TV HD.

Just use the Apple TV app, point the iPhone at the screen and you'll be able to fine tune hues so you get the best possible video displayed.

That said, of course, in long-term updates, the new Apple TV 2021 will outperform its predecessor when it comes to moving up to the next few versions of tvOS, but at the moment, they both deliver pretty much the same experience.

So, should you buy it or not?

So, if you already have the Apple TV 4K (2017), should you upgrade to the Apple TV 4K (2021)? 

Well, not really, while the new Apple TV 2021 does have a better remote and offer marginally better picture quality, it’s not worth the upgrade. 

In fact, given how small the changes are over the previous, four-year-old model, it’s not surprising to see only a hardware upgrade from Apple instead of a complete overhaul.

But if you don’t have any Apple TV at the moment, then the new Apple TV 4K 2021 is the only option, since Apple has discontinued the older version.

Also, if you are looking for more value for money option, do consider Firestick 4K or Shield TV 4K as well.

As always, thank you for reading and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you’d like to know about tips and tricks and comparison related to new streaming devices.

See you in the next one.

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