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Apple TV 4K vs. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K: Which should you buy?

Apple Tv 4k Review
Apple Tv 4k Review (Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

The Apple TV 4K and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K have more similarities than differences. Both play video at 60FPS, support HDR10, and Ultra HD 4K, have Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. Apple TV 4K adds support for Spatial Audio and comes with an ethernet port, while the Fire TV Stick 4K supports HDR10+ and has a more attractive price point.

If you're heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, an avid user of Fitness+, or tend to rent flicks through iTunes, the Apple TV 4K is the box you want. Playback is flawless, media and devices sync through iCloud, and you can use your iPhone to adjust your TV's color balance, control the volume, and pick and choose what to watch.

Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Amazon Fire TV Stick: 4K features

The Apple TV 4K and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K are two of the best streaming devices on the market today. You'll get essential features in both units, including Ultra HD 4K, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, Wi-Fi, and voice control.

When you look a little deeper, there are defining differences between the streamers. Apple's new Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos is supported only on the Apple TV. With Spacial Audio, you get a sound experience with movies, TV, and music that puts you on a theater-like adventure.

The Fire Stick 4K offers HDR10+, though it only works with select Samsung TVs. HDR10+ sets the color and brightness on a frame-by-frame timeline, making the picture look more realistic.

Let's break everything down.

Apple TV 4KFire TV Stick 4K
Release date20212021
Price$179$36
Storage32GB8GB
Voice controlSiriAlexa
CPUApple A12 Bionic1.7GHz quad-core
BluetoothYesYes
Frame rate60FPS60FPS
Ultra HD 4KYesYes
HDR10YesYes
HDR10+NoYes
Dolby VisionYesYes
Dolby AtmosYesYes
Supports Spatial AudioYesNo
Ethernet portYesNo

The Amazon's Fire TV 4K Stick's price that's hard to pass up. It's also portable and packable. It doesn't take up much space on a TV stand and can be tossed in a backpack when you head on a vacation so you can stream your favorite shows wherever you are. So, what else is there to love about these devices?

Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Fire Stick 4K: So much to love

Our review of the Apple TV 4K was favorable, and we found a lot to love. We gave high marks for Apple's speedy new chip that supports 4K 60FPS HDR video. It's a superb update to the previous generation of the Apple TV that only offered 30FPS. We also loved the ability to calibrate your TV via the front camera on your iPhone. It's an intuitive way to make fine adjustments, so you're assured you're getting the best picture.

Apple TV 4K (2021) is a superb update to the previous generation of the Apple TV that only offered 30FPS.

The update that stands out most with the Apple TV is the new remote. It's bigger than the previous generation, easier to hold, and has buttons instead of the despised trackpad found in the earlier model. It's the best remote for Apple TV, and you can buy it separately and use it with your old Apple TV, too.

Spatial Audio is a new addition to the Apple TV and will give you a front-row seat during your favorite action movie, making you feel like you're part of the cast. Those additions are all welcome and appreciated, but we don't find anything groundbreaking with the Apple TV 4K's 2021 edition. The updates are minimal, while the price remains far above what we'd consider affordable.

Firetvstick4k 2021 Lifestyle

Firetvstick4k 2021 Lifestyle (Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K was refreshed in 2021. It also arrives with a new and more intuitive remote. Push-press buttons for Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu are now found on the bottom row of remote, which makes the system a little easier to operate. Everything else on the remote remains the same.

It's a solid deal, especially considering its price point, but there is one considerable downside we can't get behind: the ads. Amazon displays ads on various menus, subtracting from an otherwise positive experience. Unlike the Amazon Kindle, where you can pay a small fee to remove advertisements, you can't do the same with the Fire TV Stick.

The new Fire TV Stick 4K is a bit snappier than its predecessor, and there's a new menu interface, but the innards are mostly the same as the previous (and now unavailable) 2018 model.

However, the portability, size, and price are great, and, for the money, it's still an impressive streamer. Picture quality and sound are excellent, and except for the lack of Vudu support, there's an abundance of content available.

Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Fire Stick 4K: Which should you buy?

Apple Tv 4k 2021 Remote

Apple Tv 4k 2021 Remote (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

In our Apple TV 4K vs. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K battle, the deciding factor comes down to price and ecosystem. If you're a diehard Apple fan, use Fitness+, stream movies through iTunes, or want to use the Apple TV as a HomePod, you should go with Apple. It's pricey, for sure, but if you don't already own a previous generation Apple TV, you won't be sorry you invested. The 2021 Apple TV 4K is a home theater system that supports every streaming service, doesn't make you sit through ads, and like everything else Apple, it just works.

If you're agnostic for operating systems and don't have much to spend, the Fire TV Stick 4K is a solid streamer for the price. It's pint-sized, portable, and the most affordable 4K streaming device out there today. There's a price for that, though. Like most things that come out of Amazon's warehouse, you'll have to stomach an endless stream of unwanted ads.

Jodi Owan works behind a keyboard and a camera. She's a freelance writer for iMore, Android Central, and Windows Central.