Should you upgrade to the Apple TV 4K (2021)?

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Should you upgrade to the Apple TV 4K (2021)?

Best answer: Yes, if you care about having the best possible picture and have a TV that can take advantage of the picture quality Apple TV 4K (2021) can produce. If not, sticking with your Apple TV 4K (2017) won't have you missing out on much.

Better picture is possible with the Apple TV 4K (2021)

If you already have the Apple TV 4K (2017), you may be wondering if you should upgrade to the Apple TV 4K (2021)? While the changes between the two devices are slim, there's no question that the Apple TV 4K (2021) can produce a better picture. Does that make the new Apple TV 4K (2021) the best Apple TV? Let's break it down.

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CategoryApple TV 4K (2021)Apple TV 4K (2017)
ProcessorA12 BionicA10X
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 5
Dolby VisionYesYes
Dolby AtmosYesYes
Storage32GB or 64GB32GB or 64GB

The Apple TV 4K (2021) has an HDMI 2.1 port, which allows the Apple TV to put out 4K HDR video at 60fps. The HDMI 2.0 port found on the older model can't do this. Also, if you happen to have an iPhone 12, you can AirPlay Dolby Vision 4K video at 60fps to the Apple TV 4K (2021).

The big caveat to all of this is you need a TV that can support 4K HDR video at 60fps if you want to truly take advantage of the new capabilities of the Apple TV 4K.

Faster processor, but it may not matter

Another major difference between the two models is the Apple TV 4K (2021) comes with the A12 Bionic chip. That's definitely an improvement over the A10X you find in the Apple TV 4K (2017).

If you just use your Apple TV to watch your favorite content, you likely won't notice too much of a difference with the faster processor. However, if you're a big Apple Arcade fan, your games should run much more smoothly on the A12 Bionic.

Wi-Fi 6

If you've got a Wi-Fi 6 router in your home, then you'll be happy to know that the Apple TV 4K does support Wi-Fi 6 instead of just Wi-Fi 5 like the older model. Much like the picture quality, this only really matters if you have the ability to make use of it.

The new Siri Remote is compatible with both models

A big part of the new Apple TV 4K (2021) is that it comes with the new Siri Remote. The remote ditches the all-glass design of the previous version and comes complete with must and power buttons.

The good news is the new Siri Remote can be bought separately, and it works with the Apple TV 4K (2017), so if you don't think the new model is worth the upgrade, you can still snag the improved remote.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.