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Review: Apple TV 4K (2022)

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The new cheaper Apple TV 4K (2022), also known as Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen), features the A15 Bionic SoC (first used in iPhone 13 in 2021), increased storage capacity of 64GB or 128GB, more RAM (4GB), HDR10+ support, and soon HDMI 2.1 QMS. It is the first TV device to feature a 5nm chip with improved energy efficiency which should bring significant performance gains to the table. It was already powerful enough for 4K video but can Apple TV 4K start to encroach on Xbox and PlayStation's territory with console-quality gaming? Is it worth upgrading from a previous generation Apple TV 4K? And what else is new?

Let's find out. First, the specifications. Changes in the 2022 version vs. the 2021 version are marked in orange.


Price and retailers:

US retailer
UK retailer
DE retailer

Apple TV specifications

Apple TV 4K (2022)Apple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2017)Apple TV HD (2015)
DesignBoxBoxBoxBox
Dimensions (HxWxD)3.1 x 9.3 x 9.3 cm3.5 x 9.8 x 9.8 cm3.5 x 9.8 x 9.8 cm3.5 x 9.8 x 9.8 cm
Weight208 / 214 g425 g425 g425 g
CoolingPassive (heatsink)Active (fan)Active (fan)Passive (heatsink)
HardwareApple TV 4K (2022)Apple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2017)Apple TV HD (2015)
System chip (SoC)A15 BionicA12 BionicA10XA8
Technology node5nm7nm10nm20nm
RAM4GB (LPDDR4X)3GB (LPDDR4X)3GB (LPDDR4)2GB (LPDDR3)
Storage64/128GB32/64GB32/64GB32/64GB
Storage typeNVMe SSDNVMe SSDNVMe SSDSSD
Video/audioApple TV 4K (2022)Apple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2017)Apple TV HD (2015)
HDMI versionHDMI 2.1HDMI 2.1HDMI 2.0bHDMI 1.4
HDMI 2.1 QMS
Video outHDMI
Up to 4K60 DV
HDMI
Up to 4K60 DV
HDMI
Up to 4K60 DV
HDMI
Up to 1080p60
Video decoding4K60 DV / HDR10 / HDR10+
4K60 SDR
4K60 DV / HDR10
4K60 SDR
4K30 DV / HDR10
4K60 SDR

1080p60 SDR
Video codecsHEVC
MPEG4
MPEG2
HEVC
MPEG4
MPEG2
HEVC
MPEG4
MPEG2
HEVC
MPEG4
MPEG2
HDR formatsHDR10
HDR10+
Dolby Vision
HDR10
Dolby Vision
HDR10
Dolby Vision
-
HDMI eARC/ARC (all TV audio to HomePod)
Audio outHDMI
Bluetooth
WiFi (AirPlay 2)
WiFi (Home Theater)
HDMI
Bluetooth
WiFi (AirPlay 2)
WiFi (Home Theater)
HDMI
Bluetooth
WiFi (AirPlay 2)
WiFi (Home Theater)
HDMI
Bluetooth
WiFi (AirPlay 2)
Audio codecse-AC-3 (DD+)
AC-3 (DD)
FLAC
Apple Lossless
MP3
HE-AAC
AIFF
WAV
e-AC-3 (DD+)
AC-3 (DD)
FLAC
Apple Lossless
MP3
HE-AAC
AIFF
WAV
e-AC-3 (DD+)
AC-3 (DD)
FLAC
Apple Lossless
MP3
HE-AAC
AIFF
WAV
e-AC-3 (DD+)
AC-3 (DD)
FLAC
Apple Lossless
MP3
HE-AAC
AIFF
WAV
Dolby AtmosDecoding
Output: HDMI (MAT 2.0) or WiFi (to HomePod)
Decoding
Output: HDMI (MAT 2.0) or WiFi (to HomePod)
Decoding
Output: HDMI (MAT 2.0) or WiFi (to HomePod)
-
Spatial Audio w/ AirPods
 OS & featuresApple TV 4K (2022)Apple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2017)Apple TV HD (2015)
OS (at launch)tvOS 16.1tvOS 14.5tvOS 11tvOS 9
OS (latest supported)tvOS 16.2tvOS 16.2tvOS 16.2tvOS 16.2
Match frame rate
Match HDR/SDR-
Color Balance calibration
AirPlay 2
HomeKit
Siri
 ConnectivityApple TV 4K (2022)Apple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2017)Apple TV HD (2015)
Remote controlSiri Remote 2022
USB-C port
Siri Remote 2021
Lightning port
Siri Remote
Lightning port
Siri Remote
Lightning port
TV controlHDMI CEC + infraredHDMI CEC + infraredHDMI CEC + infraredHDMI CEC + infrared
Ethernet1000 Mb/s (only 128GB version)1000 Mb/s1000 Mb/s100 Mb/s
WiFiWiFi 6 (ax) with 2x2 MIMOWiFi 6 (ax) with MIMOWiFi 5 (ac)WiFi 5 (ac)
Thread(only 128GB version)
Matter
Bluetooth5.05.05.04.0
Controller supportPS5/PS4
Xbox One/Series
Nintendo
MFI
PS5/PS4
Xbox One/Series
Nintendo
MFI
PS5/PS4
Xbox One/Series
Nintendo
MFI
PS5/PS4
Xbox One/Series
Nintendo
MFI
ServicesApple TV 4K (2022)Apple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2017)Apple TV HD (2015)
Apple App Store
Apple TV+
Apple Arcade
Apple Music
Apple Fitness+
FlatpanelsHD
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First impressions

The new Apple TV is smaller in height, width and depth, and the weight has been reduced by more than 50% to 214 grams for the 128GB version and 208 grams for 64GB version. This is explained mainly by the lack of active cooling (a fan) which is made possible by the more efficient A15 Bionic processor. To reduce costs Apple has removed the Ethernet port from the base 64GB Apple TV. We have the 128GB version with an Ethernet port. In addition, the 128GB version features Thread for Matter smart home compatibility – more on that later. To help offset the removal of the Ethernet port, Apple has implemented improved WiFi. Both Apple TV 4K (2022) boxes support WiFi 6 – like the Apple TV 4K (2021) – now with 2x2 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) which is method to multiply the bandwidth capacity by using multiple input and output antennas. Other advantages of MIMO include improved signal range, reduced errors, and reduced power consumption. Apple TV is still considerably larger than Chromecast and other HDMI dongles but we don't mind. The remote control connects via Bluetooth so you can easily hide away Apple TV in a TV rack. The puck design is what allows Apple TV 4K to be many times more powerful. Apple should stick to its strategy and not engage in the race to the bottom like Roku or Google. In the long run, it would ruin tvOS with more ads and more monetization. If a company does not make money on the hardware, it has to make money somewhere else. So stick to the price point, make the hardware as capable as possible, let the profits fund continuous hardware development. Four generations of Apple TVs:
We like the combined click and touch pad on Apple's redesigned remote control from 2021 as it allows you to use swiping and clicking at the same time (or only clicking) as well as scrubbing to fast-forward / rewind. However, we miss the elegance of the old remote control and dislike the placement of the Siri button on the side. The current remote control falls to the table like a rock and the clicking sound of the buttons is not very pleasing. We know that many people like the new design but we would like to propose changes: Bring back the flat back with rounded edges. Move the play/pause button one step down and replace the mute button with the Siri button. Add a speaker and UWB for 'Find My' functionality. And bring back the accelerometer and gyroscope to make it compatible with early Wii-style Apple TV games. The only change in 2022 is USB-C instead of Lightning. There is no USB-C cable in the box.

Apple Siri Remote 2022

Left: 2022 remote with USB-C. Right: 2021 remote with Lightning. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Setup and operation

Setting up Apple TV is as easy as ever if you own an iPhone. Just place the iPhone near to it and confirm with Face / Touch ID. Most settings (but not video/match settings) including WiFi and Apple logins now get transferred to it and if you enable 'One Home Screen' it will even automatically install all apps and games from your old box and keep things in sync between the homescreens. It takes a little longer to set up without an iPhone but just follow the steps. Unlike Android TV and various Smart TVs, Apple TV does not force upon you sponsored apps during installation from third-party companies that pay to be your homescreen. Only Apple's own apps are preinstalled. After installation you can manually update tvOS or just wait for it to happen automatically – typically during nighttime.

Apple TV setup

iPhone users can automatically set up Apple TV by holding their iPhone close to it. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Unfortunately, login credentials still do no transfer automatically for third-party apps such as Disney+ and Netflix. It is a tedious process to log in again if you do not own an iPhone but if you do iPhone will automatically bring up a text field that suggests username and password for each service. It is an elegant system (requires the use of iCloud Keychain on iPhone) but a new Apple TV should automatically transfer login credentials... Like before, Apple TV 4K (2022) automatically sets up HDMI CEC to let the remote control turn on/off and adjust audio volume on your specific TV brand / model. The TV's remote control can also control the Apple TV user interface. In addition, you can use the Remote app on iPhone/iPad or a compatible third party remote – lots of choices. An earlier tvOS update introduced 'Color Balance Calibration' to let you use an iPhone's Face ID sensors to calibrate your TV's color balance. We explored it in our review of the Apple TV 4K (2021) and have nothing to add. We tested Apple TV 4K (2022) on tvOS 16.1 and 16.2 beta.

Measurements

Apple TV 4K (2022) with the 5nm A15 Bionic is more power efficient and consumes even less power than its predecessors. It now has lower power consumption than Chromecast with Google TV and approximately 50% lower than Nvidia Shield 2019. Games that exceed 150W on PS5 such as The Pathless or Sayonara Wild Hearts draw 6W or less on the latest Apple TV.
Power consumptionApple TV 4K (2017)Apple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2022)
Video streaming4.3–6W3–4W1.9–2.3W
Gaming3.5–8.5W4–9W2–6W
Menus2.6W3W1.8W
Standby1.3W1.5W0.8W
Apple TV 4K (2022) review

Apple TV as a media player

Since the launch of the original Apple TV (4th Gen), later renamed to Apple TV HD, tvOS has gained new features such as frame rate and dynamic range matching, Dolby Atmos support for both video and music, Spatial Audio with AirPods, Home Theater mode with HomePods, and HDMI eARC to let Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K (2022) receive audio from a TV and all of the HDMI devices connected to it and beam it wirelessly to HomePods. We covered these new developments in depth in our review of Apple TV 4K (2021) so in this review we will focus on new features and try to summarize. First of all, we consider Apple TV 4K (any version) the best streaming media player out there due to its elegant and responsive user interface, wide support for international and local streaming apps, wide support for 4K and HDR in apps, wide support for Dolby Atmos in apps, the best match function with support for both integer and fractional frame rates, and the more recently added audio features mentioned above. Also read: Full list: 4K HDR & Atmos movies on Apple TV Some argue that frame rate matching is relevant only to Europeans because many TVs can detect the 24fps cadence in a 60Hz signal, but this is not entirely true. It depends not only on your TV model but also your picture settings, and there is no guarantee that your TV will properly distinguish between 23.976fps (fractional) and 24.000fps (integer) which is becoming the norm for new content. There are also European documentaries, shows or sports transmissions on American services and these are shot in either 25fps or 50fps. Frame rate matching is a prerequisite for proper video playback and only Apple TV 4K supports it natively for both integer and fractional frame rate across the majority of video streaming services. Why spend so much money on a great TV display and then use another playback device that doesn't serve the content in the right format? Also read: First look: Chromecast and Android 12's frame rate matching is a work in progress

Apple TV 4K recommended settings

GroupSettingValue
VideoFormat4K SDR 60 Hz (USA)
4K SDR 50 Hz (Europe)
HDMI outputYCbCr (use RGB only if you know how to set up your TV)
Chroma4:4:4
Match ContentMatch Dynamic RangeOn (OLED & high-end LED LCD TVs)
Off (all other LED LCD TVs)
Match Frame RateOn
AudioAudio FormatAuto
Reduce Loud SoundsOff
Audio ModeAuto
FlatpanelsHD
But it is not perfect. tvOS offers access to streaming apps such as Disney+, HBO Max and Netflix as well as apps for playback of local media over the home network such as Infuse, Plex, VLC and MrMC (Kodi port but without the plugins). It now supports four flavors of HDR; HDR10, HDR10+ (new for 2022), HLG (which converts to HDR10 for output), and Dolby Vision. It also supports Dolby 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos. However, there are caveats. Apple TV 4K (2022) still does not support Dolby Vision profile 7 and it still does not support Dolby Atmos in TrueHD, both of which are used on UHD Blu-ray discs. That may seem logical as it is a streaming player and not a disc player but some users still like to rip their discs in 1:1 quality and use apps such as Infuse for playback. It supports DTS-HD MA for local medie only if you pay for the license in, for example, Infuse, but it does not supports DTS:X. Apple advertises HDMI 2.1 support for both Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K (2022) but neither of them support HDMI 2.1 bandwidth – HDMI 2.1 compatibility at launch covers only eARC which allows manufacturers to advertise HDMI 2.1 on the spec sheet. Instead, it features an HDMI 2.0 port that supports up to 4K 60Hz HDR output. We had hoped to see Apple take the jump to real HDMI 2.1 with 4K 120Hz support but perhaps A15 Bionic is not powerful enough to decode video in 4K120.
On the other hand Apple has confirmed that it is bringing HDMI 2.1 QMS to Apple TV 4K (2022) via a tvOS update later this year. Paired with the Match Frame Rate function, QMS will allow Apple TV 4K to seamlessly match frame rates for output in 23.976Hz, 24.00Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz etc. without any black screen (so-called HDMI bonk) or picture interruptions on the TV. QMS does not eliminate the blackout when switching between dynamic range modes; HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. To work, QMS must also be supported by the TV and at this time there are no TVs with QMS support – maybe next year. You can see which HDMI 2.1 features are supported in which TV models on FlatpanelsHD's up-to-date list here. Apple is seemingly preparing to add AV1 video codec support but the company has yet to comment publicly on its plans. Curiously, both Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K (2022) on tvOS 16.1 handled our AV1 test files in 1080p and 4K SDR via Infuse, but it is not clear exactly what is happening in the process. A 4K HDR AV1 test file worked but not in HDR. Apple TV 4K (2017) failed to handle the 4K AV1 files but did play the 1080p version. YouTube's AV1 videos fell back on VP9 on Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K (2022). When Apple enabled HEVC back in 2017, the company enabled it across all devices either as a hardware or software decode. Coming from Apple TV 4K (2017) you get an upgrade to YouTube in 4K60 with HDR as well as general support for 4K60 HDR (if you can find the content) instead of maximum 4K30 HDR or 4K60 SDR. The 2022 version also supports HDR10+ exclusively which is relevant if you own a Samsung TV as all other leading TV manufacturers support Dolby Vision. Apple has started adding HDR10+ versions of iTunes movies and TV+ titles in the Apple TV app, in addition to versions in HDR10 and Dolby Vision. HDR10+ already works in the Apple TV app installed on Samsung Smart TVs but you get significantly higher 4K bitrates using Apple TV 4K than the Apple TV app on third-party platforms since these using the lowest common denominator for HEVC profile. Apple TV 4K (2021) fixed a problem with raised blacks in Dolby Vision that was visible in some movie scenes when using Apple TV 4K (2017). The fix remains in place in Apple V 4K (2022).

Apple TV HDR10+

The Apple TV app shows the HDR10+ badge only if the content is not available in Dolby Vision. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

In our testing, we found HDR10+ to also be working in the Amazon Prime Video and Infuse apps meaning that HDR10+ is supported on the system level of tvOS. Other streaming services can therefore freely add support for HDR10+ via app updates. Is HDR10+ better than HDR10? In theory yes because it, like Dolby Vision, uses dynamic metadata but in our experience it is not a drastic improvement. Rather than thinking in terms of HDR10 vs. HDR10+ vs. Dolby Vision you should focus on buying a TV that actually has the hardware to deliver HDR picture quality, i.e. OLED or QD-OLED. Ironically, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision deliver the biggest improvement on low-end and mid-range LCD TVs as the dynamic metadata helps these TVs to balance the LED backlight rather than just maxing it out all the time. Other than that, we have not discovered changes in terms of video or audio support. The faster A15 Bionic processor does not improve video playback but it does make navigation, video start times and other tasks seem a little snappier.
Before we move on to gaming we want to cover three subjects: Firstly, tvOS updates as Apple's commitment to updating Apple TV is exemplary. You get new features regularly and to give you an idea here are just some of the features introduced with tvOS updates: AirPlay 2, Match frame rate, Match dynamic range, Dolby Atmos support, Apple Arcade gaming service, Apple TV+ streaming service, Apple Fitness+, HomeKit expansions and scenes, Matter support, Control Center, multi-user functionality, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo game controller support, Picture-in-Picture support, Home Theater mode with HomePod, AirPods audio sharing, Color Balance calibration, captive WiFi support, iCloud Shared Photo Library, and support for integer and fractional frame rates (i.e. 24.000 and 23.976). Secondly, tvOS 16.1 introduced a redesigned Siri user interface that moves Siri to the right side of the screen as a floating menu. Siri on Apple TV is optimized for content discovery and playback and while you can ask Siri to show you the weather forecast she will not answer most other questions. Siri on Apple TV has most recently been expanded to Chile, Finland, and South Africa, and will launch in Denmark, Luxembourg, and Singapore later this year. Hey Siri now also works with AirPods connected to Apple TV (must be enabled manually) and it works exactly as expected in our testing.

New Siri Apple TV

Siri on Apple TV in tvOS 16.1 responding to "show me new releases". Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Here are some of the things you ask Siri to do on Apple TV:
  • "Play Finding Nemo on Disney+ (works only with Siri compatible apps, so not Netflix)
  • "Show me horror movies"
  • "Movies with Christian Bale"
  • "Find new movies in Dolby Atmos"
  • "Open Netflix"
  • "Open Sayonara Wild Hearts" (game)
  • "Find the best movies from the 80's"
  • "Turn up/down the volume" (requires HomePod or AirPlay 2 speakers connected to Apple TV)
  • "Fast forward four minutes"
  • "Play from the beginning"
  • "Turn on English subtitles"
  • "Where's my iPhone"
  • "What football games are on"
  • "Turn off the lights" (HomeKit) With tvOS 16.2 that will be released later this year, Siri "will be able to recognize each user’s voice, so they can easily access their movies, shows, music, games, and apps, and pick up where they left off. By using the Siri Remote and asking “What should I watch?” users can get tailored recommendations," according to Apple. This was added in the last tvOS 16.2 beta and it works as intended to change my tvOS user profile using Siri.

    Audio sync Apple TV

    Thirdly, we want to highlight the audio features added in recent tvOS versions. Apple TV 4K still does not support Dolby Atmos in TrueHD (neither via PCM or passthrough) or DTS:X but for streaming it provides wide support for Dolby Atmos that you can listen to either with external speaker systems (via HDMI) or with AirPods Max, Pro and 3rd Gen via the Spatial Audio system that takes a 5.1, 7.1 or Dolby Atmos soundtrack and turns it into an immersive headphone experience with head tracking. It is quite impressive especially with AirPods Max, and if you haven't experienced it yet you should definitely make it a priority to try. All versions of Apple TV 4K also feature the most reliable and promising wireless TV audio platform called 'Home Theater' that lets you set a pair of HomePods as default speakers for Apple TV with support for stereo, 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos audio sources. With eARC in Apple TV 4K (2021 and 2022) the box can pull audio from your TV and all of its other HDMI-connected devices including PS5, Xbox etc. in up to Dolby Atmos. We have used the solution with two original HomePods for over a year and it just works – no dropouts – with quite impressive sound for a pair of compact speakers. It even works with realtime audio in games. The company has discontinued the original HomePod and we do not recommend using HomePod mini for TV sound, but there is a rumor that Apple will launch a TV-optimized HomePod next year. The main limitation right now is that it's limited to two front speakers so you cannot add wireless rear speakers. Code in the tvOS beta suggests that Apple is planning to expand this functionality to AirPlay 2 speakers which would instantly make wireless TV sound accessible to millions of users. By the way, if you are hearing audio lag with AirPods or HomePods it's because of a timing mismatch between Apple's HDMI output and your TV's processing (Apple TV can't automatically detect the input lag of your TV) so use the 'Wireless Audio Sync' feature in Apple TV. This must be run multiple times, first with Apple TV set to 24Hz output, then 50Hz and 60Hz. After that, you can set Apple TV to your preferred setting again with the match features activated and it will now know the input lag of your TV's various modes to determine AV sync. Wireless Audio Sync should be run again if you make big changes to the TV's picture settings.

    Audio sync Apple TV

    Wireless Audio Sync checks your TV's video processing time to avoid lipsync issues. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

    It is still not possible to use two pairs of AirPods with Apple TV 4K and get spatial audio in both pairs – most likely a bandwidth limitation in Bluetooth. Connecting two pairs of AirPods to Apple TV 4K will instead give you conventional stereo. There is no support for high-res lossless in the Apple Music app either.
    Apple TV 4K (2022) review

    Apple TV 4K as a game console

    There are two versions of the A15 Bionic, one with four GPU cores and one with five GPU cores. Apple TV appears to be using the former (latter, according to Apple's developer portal) and the lack of active cooling implies that Apple is not pushing clock speeds. As for the CPU, A15 in Apple TV is actually a binned version with only five CPU cores as opposed to six in other A15-based products, as confirmed by the TV Info app. In our CPU benchmark testing A15 was roughly 40% faster than A12 in the previous Apple TV – short of Apple's claimed 50% improvement that may use different testing methodology. On the other hand we were surprised to see A15 throttle less than A12 considering that it does not have active cooling. A 20-minute CPU stresstest throttled A12 to 65% while A15 throttled to just 84%, meaning that the new Apple TV 4K can sustain most of its CPU performance during prolonged heavy loads in games.
    Left: Apple TV 4K (2021). Right: Apple TV 4K (2022)
    The CPU in A15 Bionic is much, much faster than previous-generation game consoles such as Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The A15's CPU performance core is also significantly faster than PS5's CPU core (single-core performance) but PS5 pulls ahead in multi-core performance because it has 8 cores as opposed to 5 cores in the Apple TV version of A15. PS5's CPU equivalent is AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and here is a benchmark comparison with A15.
    Game consoles: Graphical performance

    Apple TV HD
    0.1 TFlops
    PlayStation 3
    0.23 TFlops
    Xbox 360
    0.24 TFlops
    Nintendo Switch (in dock)
    0.38
    Apple TV 4K
    0.5 TFlops
    Nvidia Shield (2019)
    0.5 TFlops
    Apple TV 4K (2nd gen)
    0.7 TFlops
    Apple TV 2022 (A15)
    >1 TFlops
    Xbox One
    1.3 TFlops
    Xbox One S
    1.4 TFlops
    PS4
    1.8 TFlops
    As for the GPU, Apple TV 4K (2022) on paper exceeds 1 TFlops of graphical performance but how much is a little unclear as there are no GPU info or benchmark apps available for tvOS. In terms of TFlops performance it still cannot match last-gen game consoles such as Xbox One and it has only half the amount of RAM (4GB vs. 8GB). On the other hand Apple TV 4K (2022) has much faster RAM and is equipped with a very fast NVMe SSD unlike the old-school hard drive in last-gen consoles. We are starting to get to a point where Xbox One and PS4 games should, in theory, be playable on Apple TV without too many compromises. One hardware limitation that has held Apple TV back was SDD storage capacity. With only 64GB of storage there was a hard limit to which games that can be supported and how many installed games it can hold, even with tvOS's dynamic and highly effective storage management system that automatically deletes completed game levels and download/install new levels on-demand as the player progressed in the game. It is a chicken-or-egg situation and it is a given that AAA games will not come to tvOS if the hardware is not capable so the upgrade to A15 Bionic, 128GB storage, and 4GB RAM is a welcomed change for people who like to use the box for Apple Arcade or App Store games, and it is a better foundation for gaming. Still, A15 not M1 or M2. M1 starts at 2.6 TFlops of graphical performance and tops out at 21 TFlops in M1 Ultra. M2 starts at 3.6 TFlops. As you can see, there is a clear roadmap to making Apple TV much more capable in terms of GPU performance, even if Apple does not want to develop a dedicated TV SoC. It would obviously make it more expensive but a $200 Apple TV 'console' that doubles as an HDMI 2.1 video box for 4K 120Hz would most likely appeal to lots of users.
    Apple TV 4K (2022) review
    Apple TV would not let us install additional games despite its 43.6% of free disk space. Photo: FlatpanelsHD
    Unfortunately, tvOS 16.1 and 16.2 both appear to have a bug that affects the 128GB version which prevented us from installing additional games after storage usage exceeded approximately 64GB. This must be fixed ASAP. We fired up one of the most demanding games on tvOS, Beyond a Steel Sky (available on Apple Arcade), which at launch was unplayable on Apple TV HD and struggled on Apple TV 4K (2017). Things got a little better with Apple TV 4K (2021) but performance was still not great. A15 improves things further. Still, we had hoped for an even better and more consistent frame rate.

    Apple TV 2022 review

    Apple TV 4K (2021) brought with it drastically reduced loading times in games and Apple TV 4K (2022) improves on that further, although additional improvements are welcomed.
    Apple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2022)
    NBA 2K23
    (quick match loading)
    18s16s
    The Pathless
    (new game loading)
    22s20s
    Beyond a Steel Sky
    (loading after intro scene)
    10s7s
    Flatpanels
    Worth highlighting here is that games such as NBA, The Pathless and Sayonara Wild Hearts that exceed 150W of power consumption on PS5 draw 6W or less on Apple TV 4K (2022). Graphics and frame rate performance is significantly better on PS5 but in some cases it is the exact same game.
    Apple TV 4K (2022) review
    NBA 2K23 automatically adjusts graphics settings to Apple TV 4K (2022). Photo: FlatpanelsHD
    Another game that puts A15 to the test is NBA 2K23 and the game actually loads with graphic settings set to High (or Ultra High) as opposed Medium on the previous Apple TV 4K from 2021. NBA 2K23 looks and plays great and it is thought-provoking seeing this type of game run on a tiny box that consumes 25+ times less power than a PS5. However, NBA 2K23 on Apple TV it is obviously not a match to the console version. We tested the box with a range of other good games available on Apple Arcade including The Pathless (a PS5 launch title), The Last Campfire, Little Orpheus, Sayonara Wild Hearts and Creaks. These games are also available on consoles and if you have yet to try them on Apple TV grab a game controller and connect it. And if your kids haven't played Arcade-exclusive Sneaky Sasquatch they are missing out – it's hilarious. Also read: Apple TV: Best games on Apple Arcade & App Store The Pathless supports rumble with PlayStation and Xbox controllers but not many other games do. iOS/tvOS supports the Sony DualSense's adaptive shoulder buttons too but at this time only one iOS game supports it and it is not available on Apple TV. Another example worth highlighting is Tetris Beat which is the first game we have discovered that supports Apple TV's Spatial Audio in AirPods. Combined with Dolby Atmos or another object-based audio format, this has the potential to deliver the most immersive game audio to date.
    This is a snapshot of the state of gaming on Apple TV 4K and obviously we need either new or optimized games to take full advantage of A15's capabilities. An important factor to enable this is to make sure that Apple TV supports the same APIs as Apple's other types of devices. Earlier this year, Apple introduced Metal 3 (link) which is an hardware-accelerated 3D graphics API to enable high-quality gaming on Apple Silicon. Metal 3 does not work on any previous Apple TV box as it requires an A13 chip or newer. Apple TV 4K (2022) with A15 has hardware support for Metal 3 meaning that it should, in theory, be capable of supporting more graphically intense games released for macOS and iOS. It does not guarantee anything but Apple TV 4K (2022) now has feature parity with Mac and iPhone/iPad in terms of gaming APIs.

    Apple TV Metal 3

    The hardware in Apple TV 4K (2022) should support Metal 3. Photo: Apple at WWDC 2022

    If you want to play more GPU intensive games on Apple TV you can try apps such as SteamLink that allow you to play PC games on Apple TV over your home network from a PC. Cloud game streaming services such as Microsoft xCloud (in Xbox Game Pass) are still not available on tvOS due mostly to politics. So what is Apple TV 4K (2022) exactly? It is obviously not a console killer but if you zoom out and view things in perspective it looks poised to expand the gaming market just like iPhone did with mobile gaming. For now, it is a device for casual couch gaming alone or with the family but it is clear that Apple is building the foundation for a more serious gaming push in the living room with Apple TV's 'quick resume' function, multi-user support with iCloud save files, wide support for game controllers, APIs for rumble and adaptive triggers, offline and online multi-player through Game Center, Buddy Controller to let you help the young ones while using a separate controller, SDR/HDR matching for games, and other gaming-focused features.

    Apple TV 4K as home hub

    All four tvOS-based Apple TVs function as a HomeKit home hub and have all been upgraded with Matter compatibility, the new home automation connectivity standard backed by Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, and others. Only Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K (2022) – only the 128GB version – support Thread which is a low-power and low-latency wireless mesh networking protocol that lets smart home devices (lights, media devices, TVs, sensors, AC, shades etc) communicate with each other, locally without the need for internet. The 64GB version of Apple TV 4K (2022) supports Matter over WiFi/LAN, but not Thread. The same applies to Apple TV 4K (2017) and Apple TV HD. To get started in a smart home built on Matter and Thread you need a Thread border router, which connects the Thread network to WiFi/LAN so you can control it via a smartphone, voice commands and other devices. Apple TV 4K (2021) and Apple TV 4K 128GB (2022) function as Thread border routers, in addition to HomePod mini.

    Matter and Thread

    How Thread and Matter works. Illustration: Thread Group

    Apple's new Home app with an improved architecture will launch with iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2 and macOS Ventura 13.1 later this year – currently in beta. This requires all of your Apple devices to be on the latest version, otherwise they will no longer be able to control the home. If your smart home devices do not support Matter or cannot be updated to support Matter, they will continue – in the Apple ecosystem – to be controllable as before via HomeKit. With the launch of Thread and Matter, users can start to eliminate extra hubs such as the Philips Hue hub once lights and other home devices gain Thread support. HomeKit has in the past often been unreliable but Thread over Matter and the new Home architecture should markedly improve stability, reliability, and speed. It is too early to test this as our other devices have yet to be updated with Matter but we have high hopes that Matter and Thread will finally fix make the smart home smart. Apple TV 4K (2022) 128GB can act as the central hub in all of this.

    Conclusion

    Apple TV 4K (2022) is smaller, lighter, quieter, faster and better. It still supports more or less all of the popular streaming apps, offers the best TV user experience, the best remote control, the widest support of 4K, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos across streaming apps, the largest catalog of 4K movie rentals/purchases, and unique features such as spatial audio with AirPods which works very well. It integrates seamlessly with HomePods for wireless audio and is even capable of pulling audio from your TV and its HDMI-connected devices over HDMI eARC.
    Ad:
    Apple TV 4K (2022) has gained HDR10+ support but still lacks official AV1 video support. The 128GB version supports Thread over Matter which turns it into a Thread Border Router for the smart home but the 64GB lacks both Ethernet and Thread. It is HDMI 2.1 certified with eARC and later QMS to eliminate blackouts when switching frame rate but lacks HDMI 2.1 bandwidth for 4K120. Most of these limitations are hardware-related but a few may be addressed through tvOS updates that Apple continues to provide on a regular basis to even the Apple TV HD from 2015. A15 Bionic in Apple TV 4K (2022) is a binned version with only 5 CPU cores as opposed to 6 CPU cores in other A15-based Apple products, confirmed in our testing, and possibly also reduced GPU performance based on Apple's claimed 30% GPU improvement, although we cannot confirm this due to lack of GPU diagnostics and benchmark apps for tvOS. It is the most efficient, fastest and first 5nm chip in a TV device and it delivers smoother navigation, improved performance with less throttling, and reduced power consumption. It is one step closer to console-quality gaming and 128GB of storage lets you install more games, but it is not quite there yet and in the end A15 falls between two chairs. It is overpowered for 4K60 streaming but underpowered for 4K120 streaming and console-quality gaming. Apple TV 4K (2022) is a decent casual 'game console' with a handful of good games from Apple Arcade and wide support for PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo and other controllers but there is so much more potential here. Bring the M-series chip to Apple TV! If you own Apple TV HD and a 4K TV it is time to upgrade but if you own either one of the previous Apple TV 4K boxes it is harder to find compelling reasons to buy the third generation unless you like to play Apple Arcade games or want HDR10+ for your Samsung TV. QMS is a potentially nice upgrade for video enthusiasts while Thread with Matter turns Apple TV 4K into the brain of the smart home. If you decide to upgrade, we recommend the 128GB version with Thread and Ethernet. It is so good that is raises the bar for 'Features' in our dynamic score system (see 'How the score system works' below).

    Price and retailers:

    US retailer
    UK retailer
    DE retailer


    Fastest CPU, GPU in TV box
    Best TV operating system
    Continuous tvOS updates
    Frame, dynamic range matching
    HDMI eARC + wireless audio
    Rich app catalog, Arcade games
    Very low power consumption
    First device with HDMI 2.1 QMS (later)


    Binned A15 Bionic
    No AV1 hardware decoding
    128GB bug prevents game installation
    Only 128GB version has Thread, Ethernet
    No 4K120 support







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