Tests show Apple TV's Color Balance feature can actually make images worse

How To Calibrate Color On Apple TV
How To Calibrate Color On Apple TV (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

What you need to know

  • tvOS 14.5 allows users to adjust their Apple TV color balance without adjusting their TV.
  • Tests performed by a professional TV calibrator show that Apple's Color Balance feature could make things look worse.

Apple's tvOS 14.5 update added a new Color Balance feature that promises to adjust your Apple TV's video output to look as great as possible without making changes to your TV's settings. But new tests carried out by a professional calibrator show that it could actually make things look worse than before.

Professional television calibrator Vincent Teoh was the one who carried out the tests, posting his findings to YouTube. Teoh tests three different TVs using two different Apple TV 4K boxes – and one of those TVs was a £30,000 reference monitor. After running Apple's Color Balance feature, the results showed a general shift towards blue, while overall color accuracy was less than ideal.

Check the video out and see for yourself.

We ran the [Color Balance] process using an Apple TV 4K box (1st gen) & an iPhone 12 Pro on an LG C9 OLED TV, a Samsung Q80T QLED TV, & a Sony XH90 (X900H) LED LCD television, then measured the results. We even used a Sony BVM-HX310 mastering monitor worth £30,000 as reference.

The video makes for an interesting watch, even if a lot of what's said gets down into the TV calibration weeds. That might be part of the point here, though. Most people aren't going to pay to have their TVs calibrated at all. Surely Apple TV's Color Balance feature is better than nothing, right?

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.