Apple TV 4K vs Apple TV 4K (2021): Should you upgrade?

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

The Apple TV 4K from 2017 is still a great streaming box with many features such as 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and HDR10. So fellow Apple fans, the question that needs to be asked is if you already own the 2017 model, is it worth spending your hard-earned cash on the Apple TV 4K (2021)?

Apple TV 4K vs. Apple TV 4K (2021): Let's compare

There are many similarities but also some major differences between the Apple TV 4K from 2017 and the Apple TV 4K (2021).

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple TV 4KApple TV 4K (2021)
Price$179 for 32GB$179 for 32GB
HDR 10YesYes
Dolby VisionYesYes
Dolby AtmosYesYes
WiFi NetworkingWiFi 5WiFi 6
60fps high framerate videoNoYes
HDMI standard2.0a2.1
Thread supportNoYes
Siri Remote1st gen2nd gen

Though the differences don't seem major, the Apple 4K (2021) has more technological advances and is more futureproof than its predecessor. Let's take a look at some of the major features and compare the two 4K streaming boxes, so we can determine if it's worth an upgrade.

Apple TV 4K vs Apple TV 4K (2021): 4K video

Both versions of the Apple TV 4K feature 4K HDR video in HDR10 and Dolby Vision and support 2160p Ultra HD video resolutions. Their video processing is similar in every way except for one major difference. The Apple TV 4K (2021) has support for 60fps high framerate HDR video. This allows fast-moving action to appear more lifelike and smooth. This will be especially noticeable for sports fans.

If you own an iPhone 12 Pro, you can shoot HDR video at 60fps in Dolby Vision, and now you can Airplay those videos to the 2021 version of the Apple TV 4K, as there is Airplay support for 60fps HDR video.

Apple TV 4K vs. Apple TV 4K (2021): Siri Remote

Apple Tv Remote 4k Review

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

The 2nd generation Siri Remote that ships with the Apple TV 4K (2021) is a great improvement over its predecessor. Apple added a mute button and a power button for greater TV control. The Siri button has moved to the right side of the remote, similar to the placement on an iPhone. The remote is thicker and longer, which means it's less likely to get lost. However, the most important change is Apple included a five-way clickpad that also touch-enabled, so you have more accurate control over navigation.

One omission from the 2nd generation Siri remote is that it's missing an accelerometer and a gyroscope. This means that you will need a gaming controller to play certain games that you could previously play with the 1st generation Siri remote.

Apple TV 4K vs. Apple TV 4K (2021): Networking

The Apple TV 4K (2021) features WiFi 6, the latest WiFi standard. If you also have a WiFi 6 router, you should notice faster data transfer speeds than the Apple TV 4K.

The 2021 version also contains support for Thread, a new standard for smart home integration. Thread is a low-power networking technology that offers a mesh-based system to interact with other Thread-enabled devices. This is one of the features that may not seem important now, but down the road could be.

Apple TV 4K vs. Apple TV 4K (2021): Is it worth the upgrade?

Apple Tv 4k Review

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

Given all of the similarities, if you currently own an Apple TV 4K and are happy with its performance, there are minimal reasons to upgrade at this point. That is, unless HDR video at 60fps, updated networking standards, Thread support, or a 2nd generation Siri Remote is important to you.

The Apple TV 4K (2021) will be a more futureproof streaming box, but if you already own the original Apple TV 4K, you can keep it without missing out on many features. That being said, if you don't already own an Apple TV 4K, there is little reason to buy the older version.

If you just want to purchase a 2nd generation Siri Remote, Apple does sell it separately so you can get all of the advantages of the clickpad, mute and power buttons, and a remote that is less prone to get lost, without buying an entirely new Apple TV 4K.

Mark Goldschmitt

**Mark Goldschmitt** is the father of three boys and loves anything Apple. Born and raised in Queens, NY, and currently residing on Long Island, Mark is a lifelong New York Mets fan. {.end}