Apple TV 4K Comparison Guide – Understand the differences between the models

Apple TV 4K Comparison Guide – Understand the differences between the models

When just looking at the specs between the Apple TV 4K, the 4th Generation model and older models, it can be difficult trying to understand what those differences actually mean to you and which upgrades are something you might actually benefit from. So in this article, you’ll not only get a complete list of all the differences between these two models, but you’ll also learn what each of these features do and how they could impact your viewing experience.

Now the biggest different between the 4K model and the one before it (4th Gen Apple TV) is that the 4K model supports 4K while the previous model only supports up to 1080p.

But below you can see a complete break down of what’s the same and what’s different as well as an explanation of how those differences may or may not really affect you.

Currently the Apple 4K TV is about $179 (32GB model), but you can click here to check the current best price or for any promotional discounts on either model. 

Here’s a comparison of the different features each model has:

And if you’d like to get a quick summary of just the key differences between the 4K model and the previous 4th Generation model, you can skip to the end of this post for that.

PROCESSOR

The Apple TV 4K has an upgraded processor which is the same one used for the iPad Pro. What this means is that it’s adequately powered for playing back 4K content, it’s MUCH smoother for gaming and it’s snappier when navigating through menu’s and different content (compared to the 4th Gen Apple TV).

The 4th Gen Apple TV uses the A8 chip which is the same one used on the iPhone 6. Apps still run fine on both models as app developers are still targeting the 4th Gen Apple TV since this is what most people still have.

The bottom line here is that if you don’t have a 4K TV and don’t plan on getting one anytime soon, or if you’re not using your Apple TV for gaming, then the upgraded chip is really unnecessary and you’d be just fine with the 4th Gen model.

The only caveat to that is if you’re someone who wants to be able to navigate around menu’s and so forth as quickly as possible, then it would certainly be worth it to spend a few more dollars for the 4K model.

Apple TV 4K:  Apple A10X Fusion

4th Gen Apple TV:  Apple A8

3rd Gen Apple TV:  Apple A5

2nd Gen Apple TV:  Apple A4

1st Gen Apple TV:  1 GHz Intel Crofton Pentium M

 

STORAGE (VIDEO, MUSIC & PHOTOS)

Apple TV 4K:  Up to 32GB or 64GB (depends on which model you choose)

4th Gen Apple TV: Up to 32GB or 64GB (depends on which model you choose)

3rd Gen Apple TV:  N/A

2nd Gen Apple TV:  N/A

1st Gen Apple TV: Up to 40GB or 160GB (depends on which model you choose)

 

APP STORE

Apple TV 4K App Store

Apple TV 4K:  Yes

4th Gen Apple TV:  Yes

3rd Gen Apple TV:  No

2nd Gen Apple TV:  No

1st Gen Apple TV:  No

 

GAMES

Apple TV GamingApple TV 4K:  Yes

4th Gen Apple TV:  Yes

3rd Gen Apple TV:  No

2nd Gen Apple TV:  No

1st Gen Apple TV:  No

 

SIRI

Apple TV 4K:  Yes

4th Gen Apple TV:  Yes

3rd Gen Apple TV:  No

2nd Gen Apple TV:  No

1st Gen Apple TV:  No

 

UNIVERSAL SEARCH

Apple TV 4K:  Yes

4th Gen Apple TV:  Yes

3rd Gen Apple TV:  No

2nd Gen Apple TV:  No

1st Gen Apple TV:  No

 

BLUETOOTH

Apple TV 4K Bluetooth ScreenApple TV 4K:  Yes

4th Gen Apple TV: Yes

3rd Gen Apple TV:  Yes

2nd Gen Apple TV:  Yes

1st Gen Apple TV:  No

 

SUPPORTED FORMATS

Apple TV 4K:  H.264 up to 2160p, HDR10, Dolby Vision, AAC, MPEG-4, MP3

4th Gen Apple TV:  H.264 up to 1080p, AAC, MPEG-4, MP3

3rd Gen Apple TV:  H.264 up to 1080p, AAC, MPEG-4, MP3

2nd Gen Apple TV:  H.264 up to 720p, AAC, MPEG-4, MP3

1st Gen Apple TV:  H.264, AAC, MPEG-4, MP3

 

NETFLIX STREAMING

Apple TV 4K:  Yes

4th Gen Apple TV:  Yes

3rd Gen Apple TV:  Yes

2nd Gen Apple TV:  Yes

1st Gen Apple TV:   No

 

MAXIMUM HD RESOLUTION

Apple TV 4K:  4KApple TV 4K

4th Gen Apple TV:  1080p

3rd Gen Apple TV:  1080p

2nd Gen Apple TV:  720p

1st Gen Apple TV:  720p

 

INTERFACES

Here’s where you’ll notice another change between the Apple 4K TV and the prior model. First, they removed the USB type C that used to be on the back of the 4th Gen model. This was something mostly used by developers or for those wanting to side-load their own applications (ie. emulators, etc.).

But this is an example of something the average consumer won’t miss or notice at all. However, if you are a developer then this is something you may want to consider if deciding between the two models.

One improvement though is that the 4K model now uses Gigabit ethernet instead of 100-megabit ethernet (for the 4th Gen model). This is important for 4K content as the amount of 4K content continues to rise (and possibly networks becoming more saturated) this is preparing for that future.

So while you may not have a need or see a benefit initially from this, it’s great to see they included that as it’s one less thing you’ll need to worry about upgrading in the future.

Finally, the HDMI connection has been upgraded to 2.0 with the 4K model to allow for the transmission of 4K content over an HDMI 2.0 cable. This is an **IMPORTANT** thing to note as Apple TV 4K does not come with a HDMI 2.0 or 4K compatible HDMI cable. That is something you’ll need to purchase separately.

And just to clarify, not all HDMI cables are 2.0. So if you already have an HDMI cable but it’s not an HDMI 2.0 cable, then you won’t get the full effect of your 4K content.

If you need to get an HDMI 2.0 cable, this is the one I’d recommend getting that’s the best value for your money.

Apple TV 4K:  HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, IR Receiver

4th Gen Apple TV:  HDMI, 100-megabit Ethernet, USB-C, IR Receiver

3rd Gen Apple TV:  HDMI, Ethernet, Optical Audio, Micro USB, IR Receiver

2nd Gen Apple TV: HDMI, Ethernet, Optical Audio, Micro USB, IR Receiver

1st Gen Apple TV:  HDMI, Component A/V, Optical Audio, Analog Audio, USB 2.0, Ethernet, IR Receiver

 

NETWORKING

Apple TV 4K:  Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0

4th Gen Apple TV:  10/100 Base-T Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0

3rd Gen Apple TV:  10/100 Base-T Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

2nd Gen Apple TV: 10/100 Base-T Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

1st Gen Apple TV: 10/100 Base-T Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

 

REMOTE CONTROL

Apple TV 4K Siri RemoteApple TV 4K:  Siri Remote with touchpad and mic

4th Gen Apple TV:  Siri Remote with touchpad and mic

3rd Gen Apple TV:  Apple Remote

2nd Gen Apple TV:  Apple Remote

1st Gen Apple TV:  Apple Remote

 

REMOTE CAN CONTROL TV

Apple TV 4K: Yes

4th Gen Apple TV: Yes

3rd Gen Apple TV: Yes

2nd Gen Apple TV: No

1st Gen Apple TV: No

 

USE APPLE WATCH AS REMOTE

Apple TV 4K: Yes

4th Gen Apple TV: Yes

3rd Gen Apple TV: Yes

2nd Gen Apple TV: Yes

1st Gen Apple TV:  No

 

WEIGHT (in pounds)

Apple TV 4K: .94

4th Gen Apple TV: .94

3rd Gen Apple TV: .6

2nd Gen Apple TV: .6

1st Gen Apple TV: 2.4

 

SIZE (in inches)

Apple TV 4K: 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.4

4th Gen Apple TV: 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.3

3rd Gen Apple TV: 3.9 x 3.9 x .9

2nd Gen Apple TV: 3.9 x 3.9 x .9

1st Gen Apple TV: 7.7 x 7.1 x 1.1

 

PRICE

You can check and compare all the best new and used prices using the links below:

Apple TV 4K:  (Best Price Available on Amazon)

4th Gen Apple TV:  (Best Price Available on Amazon)

3rd Gen Apple TV:  (Gamestop) vs (BuyBackWorld) vs (Target)

2nd Gen Apple TV: (BuyBackWorld)

1st Gen Apple TV:  (Mercari) vs (Amazon)

Click here for pricing of refurbished Apple TV products directly from Apple.com

COMPARING APPLE TV 4K (5TH GEN) TO 4TH GEN APPLE TV

So what all this boils down to for most people is that the big difference with the newest and latest Apple TV is that it supports 4K. And watching 4K content does look noticeably clearer and sharper. If your newer to viewing 4K content, it’s awesome!

Aside from that, anyone that enjoys gaming with the Apple TV will notice an improved experience with the newer 4K model (due to the more powerful chip and a better frame rate).

The user interface looks cleaner but when it comes to launching apps, there’s almost no difference in the time it takes to load (though the 4K model is a tad quicker).

The Siri experience is the same on both.

Your movie library is updated to 4K for free which is very cool. So any movie in your iTunes library that has the option to watch it in 4K, you’ll get that for free without having to purchase the 4K version of that movie.

Check Best Price for Apple TV 4K

So hopefully this comparison was helpful. If you have any additional questions or would like clarification on any of the points above, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Also, if you’re thinking about upgrading or still trying to decide between the two, feel free to post a comment below about your specific situation as well.