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

Best Apple TV of 2021
Best Apple TV of 2021 (Image credit: iMore)

Both the Apple TV 4K and the Fire TV Stick 4K with 4K Ultra HD are great options for streaming 4K video. Both devices support HDR10 and Dolby Vision — although not every 4K TV out there supports both or either of those formats just yet. The Fire TV Stick 4K also supports the enhanced HDR10+, and both support Dolby Atmos for better, more immersive surround sound.

If you're all-in on Apple's ecosystem, and especially if you purchase or rent movies from iTunes, the Apple TV 4K is the box you want to get right now. It connects wonderfully with Apple's other products through iCloud, from syncing watch histories and playback status through the TV app to the ability to type on the Apple TV using your iPhone or iPad.

Fire Stick 4K vs Apple TV 4K: Breaking it all down

Apple TV

How to remove a beta profile from your Apple TV (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

With both being boxes that stream 4K video content, you might think that there's not a lot of daylight between the Apple TV 4K and the Fire TV 4K Ultra HD, and on the one hand, you'd be right. Both support their company's voice assistants. Both connect over 802.11ac Wi-Fi, meaning they support wireless speeds of up to 1.3Gbps. But the devil is, as they say, in the details.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple TV 4KFire TV 4K Ultra HD
Max resolution2160p (4K)2160p (4K)
Dolby VisionYesYes
Dolby AtmosYesYes
Voice controlSiriAlexa
CPUApple 10X Fusion1,7GHz quad-core CPU
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0

For the Fire TV 4K, the standout feature is the price; it's hard to beat, especially compared to the Apple TV 4K's starting price. It's also small, sticking out of the back of your TV and taking up no surface space on your TV cabinet or shelf. It also comes with Atmos, Dolby's format for immersive audio, out of the box now, and while the Apple TV 4K is getting that soon, it isn't here just yet.

Fire Stick 4K vs. Apple TV 4K: Features galore

Fire Tv In Use

Fire Tv In Use (Image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters)

While the Apple TV 4K isn't exactly competitive on price with the Fire TV Stick 4K, it's worth noting that it delivers what is, in many ways, a technically superior product. We've spent a ton of time with this unit and reviewed it highly. A lot of this comes down to Apple's use of the A10X Fusion, the chip that powered the 2017 iPad Pro models, to run the Apple TV 4K. It allows for snappy performance across all types of apps and games. The Apple TV supports almost every major video service already, but for those that don't have an Apple TV app, you can always stream them to your TV from your iPhone or iPad over AirPlay.

There's also the matter of available UHD content. There are no apps for Google Play, Vudu, or iTunes, the three biggest distributors of 4K HDR movies, on the Fire TV Stick. And though Amazon is a participant in Movies Anywhere, which collects your movie library from across various services, letting you watch them on any participating service, films are not reliably available in 4K across every member service. This means that the selection of available 4K titles boils down primarily to Prime Originals, though more 4K HDR titles are starting to appear in Amazon's library.

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

Right now, if you're all-in on Apple products, the Apple TV 4K is the best. But even if you're not, it's still a great option. It supports both major high dynamic range formats, almost every streaming service under the sun (including Amazon Prime), and Dolby Atmos. If you can spend the money on this streaming box, go ahead and do it. The Apple TV 4K is a "no-doubt" home theater solution offering everything you might look for in a 4K set-top box, though that price tag is still a wallop to your wallet.

With that being said, the Fire TV 4K Ultra HD has a lot to offer, especially for the price. And with support for Dolby Vision, on top of HDR10 and Dolby Atmos, it's ready for any 4K content you can throw at it. It's small, portable, and flat-out the most affordable 4K streaming device on the market. That comes with a price, of course. Like many things from Amazon, you'll have to deal with advertisements.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.