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Apple TV 4K (2022) review: A price cut and a speed bump
We simply love to see products get faster and cheaper.
The 2022 Apple TV 4K is a small year-on-year upgrade that nonetheless manages to make the fruity set-top box that little bit more appealing - largely thanks to a cheaper price. You'll still pay more for a new Apple TV 4K than most other streaming devices, but it's novel to see a manufacturer cut prices in a year where everything else has been getting more expensive.
The 2022 Apple TV 4K is a case of don't fix what ain't broken. The overall experience is very similar to last year's models, but you'll find a much newer processor under the hood, USB-C on the remote, a thinner design, and a cheaper price tag.
Considering seemingly everything else has been getting more expensive this year (including Apple's services and iPads), a new product costing less than its predecessor is noteworthy in itself. The 2022 Apple TV 4K is still firmly in the premium space, but it represents more value than ever.
How much does the Apple TV 4K (2022) cost in Australia?
The new Apple TV 4K starts at $219 with 64GB of storage. That's $30 cheaper than last year's entry-level model with twice the storage. Alternatively, you can get a 128GB model with an Ethernet port and Thread connectivity for $249. That's the same price as last year's entry-level model with four times the storage.
Extra storage doesn't really matter that much if you're predominantly using your Apple TV 4K as a streaming device to watch content, whether it's buying from iTunes or streaming via Netflix et al, but it could be welcome if you're interested in the set-top box's gaming aspect. Games for the Apple TV tend to start around 1GB, and some will use 4GB of storage space if not more.
There are some price-related caveats. You no longer get a cable to charge the remote in the box. This year's Siri Remote charges via USB-C. If you don't already have a cable that can charge USB-C devices, Apple's homemade cable will set you back an extra $29, which entirely offsets the savings from the price drop. Of course, there are plenty of cheaper options on Amazon.
And as has been the case for a while, you don't get an HDMI cable in the box. Apple recommends Belkin's high-speed HDMI cable, which will set you back $50, but once again, there are cheaper alternatives if you don't already have one. You'll just want to look for a Certified Premium option like this cable from Monoprice.
The new entry-level Apple TV 4K doesn't support the Thread smart home standard, if you were hoping to use the set-top box as a smart home hub. You'll need to get the 128GB model for this functionality.
While the Apple TV 4K is undeniably better value this year, it's still comparatively expensive for a streaming device. Both the 4K Chromecast with Google TV and Amazon Fire TV 4K Max retail for $99. And since they're dongle-based, you don't need to think about an HDMI cable.
At the same time, the 2022 Apple TV 4K's pricing isn't out of line with more robust set-top box options like the $219 Fire TV Cube or the $239 entry-level NVIDIA Shield TV 4K.
What's new with the new Apple TV 4K?
Under the hood, the 2022 Apple TV 4K benefits from an A15 Bionic processor. That's a three-generation increase on the A12 Bionic found in last year's model, and the same processor you'll find in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14. Unsurprisingly, it makes for a very zippy experience. It's easily the most responsive set-top box we've tested, and a day-and-night comparison to the Chromecast with Google TV, which can be prone to stutter.
There's less of a performance gain when compared to previous Apple TV 4K models, but apps do genuinely open faster. Disney+ took about four seconds to load on the new Apple TV 4K, compared to seven on the 1st generation model. Of course, after the app is open, jumping back right into is instantaneous on both models, for the most part.
The fast processor makes the 2022 Apple TV 4K a surprisingly great gaming machine when paired with a controller. While it's not going to rival a dedicated console, Apple Arcade's ever-expanding library combined with the App Store gives you a whole host of gaming options. While some titles like The Pathless clearly haven't been properly optimised for Apple TV (it frequently lagged), most games I tested were smooth as butter.
The 3rd generation Apple TV 4K also brings support for the HDR10+ standard. This largely benefits those using Samsung TVs or other models that don't support Dolby Vision, and makes the new Apple TV 4K that little bit more attractive.
The 2022 Apple TV 4K naturally includes the redesigned Siri Remote from last year, but this time around, it has a USB-C port rather than Lightning. If you've got an Apple TV older than last year's model, the new remote represents a pretty big upgrade in terms of usability and ergonomics. It's more precise, has more buttons, and is more comfortable.
Is the 2022 Apple TV 4K worth buying?
The new Apple TV 4K is easy to recommend if you're looking for a premium set-top box experience. For many, an entry-level streaming stick like a Chromecast or Fire TV will do, but if you want something faster, the Apple TV 4K is a great upgrade pick.
It's also that little bit more versatile thanks to its gaming potential, as well as integration with other Apple products like Fitness+. Naturally, the deeper you are in the ecosystem, the greater the benefits.
If you've already got an Apple TV 4K, there's very little need to buy the latest unless you genuinely need more storage or want HDR10+ support to go with your TV. I still use the 1st generation Apple TV 4K I've had for years and it runs swimmingly. Saving a few seconds opening apps isn't going to be worth it for most.
If you're also on a 1st generation model, you can always buy just the new Siri Remote itself for $89. And honestly, that's the upgrade that will make the biggest difference day-to-day.
Disclosure: This author owns shares in Apple