Apple TV 4K (2022) Review: Better Every Watch – WIRED

wp header logo 3171

To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.
To revisit this article, select My Account, then View saved stories

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED
I liked the second-generation Apple TV 4K, but I rarely recommended it to anyone except Apple die-hards. Sure, it has a good remote, but it was expensive compared to streaming devices from its peers, like Google, Amazon, and Roku. It didn’t perform significantly better either.
With the 2022 revision, there are finally enough reasons to pick the Apple TV 4K over the pack, even if it’s still pricier than the competition. Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, a USB-C port on the remote, and decent gaming performance make this a worthy addition to any living room, and one that will likely outlast the clunky OS inside your smart TV.
Visually, not much has changed between generations of Apple TV 4K, though when you hold them together, you’ll notice the predecessor is both slightly larger and heavier than the newer model. This change in weight is so dramatic it makes you wonder whether the next iteration could just be a dongle or streaming stick instead of a little black box. 
This box is compact enough to place anywhere you have a tiny bit of room, and a rubbery bottom means it won’t slip on otherwise slippery surfaces. The back has an HDMI 2.1 port, a place for the power cable, and an Ethernet port—that’s if you pay the extra $20 Apple upcharges for extra internal storage and the Ethernet connector. The Wi-Fi-only model comes with half the storage (64 GB) for $129. 
The included remote is how you’ll interface with the Apple TV 4K, and it’s one of the most well built in the business. It feels like the iPod Nano of old, milled out of a piece of aluminum with soft touch buttons and a sleek drag-and-move pad in the middle that lets you glide around menus like the trackpad on a laptop. It looks the same as the older version, except this time it comes with a more universal USB-C port for recharging instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable. Call it a victory for anyone that hates clutter and using different cables to recharge devices.
Inside the new Apple TV 4K is where you’ll find the biggest change: A huge upgrade in chip technology with the A15 Bionic—the same that powers the iPhone 13—making the streaming box capable of supporting HDR10+ (its predecessor maxed out at HDR10). That means better colors from supported content, and more future-proofing as media gets better and brighter down the line. This is also a big differentiator over cheaper streaming sticks as you’ll hardly ever experience any stutters or lag moving through the menus.
I also like that you get 128 GB of internal storage. Who knows how big mobile games will become down the line, but it’s nice to know I have plenty of room to install time-wasters from Apple Arcade (Apple provides three months for free when you buy the Apple TV 4K). It’s far more than what you’ll find on the likes of the Chromecast with Google TV.
Picture quality is better than ever thanks to the new A15 chip, but otherwise, you’ll get the same user experience everyone has been enjoying on Apple’s streaming device for years. That includes every app under the sun, easy menu navigation, and the ability to use stored passwords from your Apple keychain to log in to all your streaming apps.
Apple TV 4K (3rd Generation)
Rating: 9/10
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED
It leans toward Apple TV+ content in the same way that an equivalent Fire TV streaming device will put Amazon content front and center, or how Roku advertised the Weird Al biopic on its homepage. But Apple doesn’t force you into thinking its content is the only stuff available. That’s classy.
I streamed HBO Max, Netflix, Plex, Prime Video, Paramount+, and more, and all worked great. (I found it odd that Plex wouldn’t let me choose video quality settings, though this could be a problem with Plex instead of the Apple TV 4K.) If you have a slower wireless connection, spring for the higher-end model with Ethernet to eke out the fastest speeds possible. Otherwise, I had no problems loading content over Wi-Fi.
There are some fun Apple-exclusive features that folks might enjoy but I didn’t really use. You can use your iPhone with the Apple TV 4K to calibrate the color of your display if you’re worried your TV isn’t accurate. You can also use the microphone on the remote to access Siri to use voice search across all of your apps and services. That’s helpful if you’re really stuck finding something, I found myself more annoyed when Siri popped up.
One neat feature I like is SharePlay, which allows you to watch Apple TV together with friends and family via FaceTime. It’s great for those of us with family and friends around the country, especially during the holiday season. You can even see each other while you watch, so you can still be embarrassed when you cry in front of your friends after (spoiler alert) Goose dies in Top Gun.
Don’t forget the excellent Bluetooth options: You can easily pair AirPods of any make to the Apple TV 4K for silent viewing, and audio sharing also lets you use two pairs of AirPods to watch the same show or movie on the Apple TV—excellent for parents when the kids are asleep. I was even able to pair a Sony DualSense controller to play Apple Arcade games and navigate menus; accessibility options like this are welcome and don’t go unnoticed. Some people might struggle with a standard remote, so being able to use voice or pair a Bluetooth controller is a nice perk.
Besides the Amazon Fire TV Cube, which is more of a handsfree control system for your entire legacy home theater system, all of these Apple-specific features in the Apple TV 4K help make it the best premium streaming device out there. 
Apple TV 4K (3rd Generation)
Rating: 9/10
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED

© 2023 Condé Nast. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement and Your California Privacy Rights. WIRED may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Ad Choices


About the author

Elijah Lucas

Elijah Lucas

Elijah is a tech enthusiast with a focus on emerging technologies like AI and machine learning. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science and has authored several research papers in the field. Elijah is the go-to person for anything complex and techy, and he enjoys breaking down complicated topics for our readers. When he's not writing, he's probably tinkering with his home automation setup.