5 things I love about the new Apple TV 4K — and one thing I hate
As I explained in my Apple TV 4K (2022) review, I love this streaming device. Outside of my iPhone, it’s probably the piece of technology I use the most in a given day.
And that’s partially because this new model doesn’t change a whole lot. And after around a week of testing the new Apple TV 4K, I’ve found myself feeling stronger about Apple’s way of streaming than I have in a while. Maybe that’s because I just reviewed two 1080p streaming devices (the Roku Express 2022 and the Chromecast with Google TV HD). Or maybe it’s because I just lived through a lot of ads on the Fire TV Cube 2022’s home screen.
Either way, long after I got past the fact that the new Apple TV 4K’s biggest feature is its $50 price drop, I found myself thinking “damn, this is one of the best streaming devices.” But not all about the Apple TV 4K is great, as there’s one not-so-little thing that feels bizarrely left on the cutting room floor for this year’s model.
Here’s what I love (and loathe) about the new Apple TV 4K:
The new Apple TV 4K is really fast
So, over the weekend, when I was testing the Apple TV 4K against the field, I discovered what this device’s A15 Bionic system-on-chip can do. And that’s when I saw how fantastically speedy it loaded apps. Nearly every popular app I threw at it, the latest Apple TV not only beat its predecessor, but beat the field as well.
Check out this table of my results:
|Apple TV 4K 2022||Apple TV 4K 2021||Amazon Fire TV Cube 2022||Roku Ultra 2022||Chromecast with Google TV 4K||Roku Streaming Stick 4K|
Loading Netflix in a short four seconds — less than a third of the time of the Amazon Fire TV Cube (2022), which is speedy on other apps — is impressive. That’s also less than half of the 10-second time the Roku Ultra (2020), which is the fastest Roku device, too.
My favorite time, though, comes from YouTube. I am addicted to YouTube. I pay for YouTube Premium because I watch it so much I get tired of the ads. So for the Apple TV 4K (2022) to load YouTube in 2 seconds, shaving a third of the time off the 2021 model, halving the time from the Fire TV Cube (4 seconds) and coming in at a third of the Roku Ultra and Chromecast with Google TV 4K? Color me impressed.
And while we know the Apple TV 4K is too pricey for most people, it’s intense to see it outclass the other $50 streaming device — the Roku Streaming Stick 4K — which is our #1 pick for the best streaming device. When you spend 258% as much on a streaming device, it better be faster, but it’s nice to see the return on that investment.
Apple ecosystem integrations make streaming easier
The Apple TV 4K just snaps into all of your existing Apple stuff — making it worth the price for those already invested. For example, it’s super-simple to pair AirPods with the Apple TV 4K. You just put them on, and tap the TV button once the AirPods connection pop-up appears.
But the Apple integrations get better for those who want instant access to their TV. With a flick and a tap, my iPhone becomes my Apple TV remote. This is huge for reasons I’ll get to later (in the “what I don’t like” section), but I love this integration.
You don’t even need to unlock your iPhone in order to access its software remote for the Apple TV. As long as you’ve enabled the Remote button in the Control Center (Settings > Control Center, tap the + next to Apple TV Remote), you can easily open your Apple TV’s virtual remote faster than Siri can call up your favorite song.
This is just one of many integrations that I really, truly prefer using the Apple TV over even the best Roku devices. Further, this virtual remote works fantastically with my password manager of choice, 1Password. Instead of typing a password into the Apple TV (or speaking it, which you can do via Siri), I just tap the Passwords button to open 1Password, use Face ID and then tap the entry I need. Often times, this fills both the username and password fields.
The new Apple TV kicks Lightning out of the living room
I’ve given up on the space behind my TV being a rat’s nest of cables, but I haven’t stopped trying to de-clutter the area in front of the big screen. This is why I was happy to see Apple kill off the Lightning port on the Apple TV remote.
Lately, I’ve been trying to keep my phone down (and not nearby) when watching TV, because it’s a distracting screen. As much as the aforementioned iOS remote is a great help, the rest of my iPhone only serves to force me to rewind what I’m watching because I missed the words said on screen. So, when I don’t need the phone for entering a password, I try and leave it charging in my bedroom.
Now that the new Siri remote is USB-C, I can charge it with the same cable I use to charge my PS5 controllers and various other devices. I can’t wait for the USB-C iPhone and AirPods to arrive to fully eradicate the Lightning port.
More storage means less thinking about storage
During my review process, I was able to load up the Apple TV 4K without thinking twice. And because this new model (I tested the 128GB Wi-Fi + Ethernet version) is more spacious, that meant I could install not only every streaming app I could think of, but also bunches of the games you can play on the Apple TV 4K, including those from Apple Arcade.
The entry-level $129 model is also roomier than 2021’s 32GB entry-level model, sporting 64GB of storage.
Now, I don’t intend to game a lot on the new Apple TV 4K, but I do like the fact that this model is roomy enough for me to be a digital hoarder. The one time I hit a storage limit on the 32GB 2021 Apple TV 4K, it was due to having some games installed. Now, I’m pretty sure you have enough space to dabble in gaming on the Apple TV no matter which model you buy. Or at least you won’t find yourself tangled in the storage management settings.
tvOS is still the best streaming device platform
The best part about the Apple TV 4K is that it’s very similar to the old one, and that the tvOS home screen hasn’t changed much. The tvOS home screen is very good at getting out of your way.
Maybe you like suggested content — fair, the Chromecast with Google TV 4K is probably the device you want. But I just want a giant screen full of apps, because I know what I want to watch, and I use a lot of different apps. And when I’m using one of my five favorite apps (HBO Max, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Sling) — which I moved to the top of the screen the day after my review went live — I appreciate that there’s no ads cluttering it all up in that carousel. At worst, there’s a big image of a Netflix show — but I have to have Netflix selected for that to appear.
Meanwhile, Fire TV OS feels like you’re living in Idiocracy’s ad-filled dystopia. Sure, the ads aren’t dumb, but I don’t want a car ad on my streaming device home screen. Ever.
The Apple TV’s new Siri remote still needs to catch up
OK, get this. Apple already has its own Find My tools, which it uses to track down missing iPhones, as well as anything you’ve slapped an AirTag on to (assuming the controversy around AirTag hasn’t put you off the tracker).
The AirTag came out around the same time as the Apple TV 2021, so I expected the two would merge eventually. I don’t expect every team at Apple to be in sync with the other.
So, when the Apple TV 4K 2022 was only a rumor, I thought “Wow, a new Apple TV already? Guess they’re itching to put Find My in the Apple TV remote they just upgraded in 2021.”
I thought wrong. In a world where the $99 Roku Ultra’s has offered its own “find your lost remote” tools for years, and Amazon is rolling out its own remote finder in the forthcoming Alexa Voice Remote Pro, Apple decided to wait.
If I had to guess why, I bet it’s about either power consumption or the size of the remote. Apple’s very concerned about battery life and its device measurements, so it feels like they kicked this can down the road to 2023. But in a world where my couch has tons of places for my remote to hide, and my living room has so many other places for me to leave a remote without thinking? Find My in the Siri Remote is overdue.
Outlook: How Apple TV 4K’s flaws could be fixed
Just like my other minor quibbles — which are ways that tvOS could be smarter — this Apple TV 4K remote problem can be solved easily. In 2023, Apple just needs to introduce a new(er) Siri remote, with Find My built in. And, if you can prove you bought the 2021 or 2022 model, you should get a discount on the new remote.
Otherwise, the Apple TV 4K seems kinda future-proof right now. The A15 Bionic system-on-chip feels plenty fast (especially once you time it), and we’re not going to need 8K support any time soon. So, congrats Apple: the Apple TV 4K (3rd Generation) is one of the very best streaming devices.
Now, give us the remote it deserves.