Apple TV 4K Review (2020)

Apple TV's 4K-enabled set-top box is powerful and is our top choice

Apple TV
(Image: © CordCutters)

What to Watch Verdict

The best all-around streaming TV box you can buy, period.


  • +

    Hardware that holds up years later.

  • +

    Continues to get new software updates.

  • +

    Has apps for every video service you want.


  • -

    The remote control is awful.

With Apple TV, it only makes sense that Apple has a strong hand in the streaming video space, right? It's already taken over our pockets, and our wrists. And with more and more of our home lives being fed through our television sets, something like Apple TV makes more and more sense.

But let's just come down to it —  Apple TV is our No. 1 choice for someone who's looking to move to an all-streaming solution.

Here's why.

What is Apple TV

Apple TV is a small set-top box that runs Apple's tvOS. If you're familiar with iOS on an iPhone or iPad, you'll mostly be at home here.

The home screen is just a series of icons. Select one with the Siri Remote (yes, that's what they call it, because Siri), or you can use your voice to launch apps. (Because, again, Siri.)

Apple TV works very well alongside Apple's other devices, including the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers. It allows you to copy over accounts and settings from those devices, making setup a breeze. The "AirPlay" feature lets you easily put content from a phone or computer onto the larger TV display. And you have full access to anything you've purchased through iTunes, in addition to all the other streaming services.

Which Apple TV should you get?

Technically there are two models of Apple TV. There's "Apple TV 4K," which is the most recent and more expensive of the two (though not by much), and then there's the plain ol' "Apple TV," which is still fine but aging and doesn't quite have the technical chops of its newer sibling.

Apple TV 4K itself comes in a couple models, depending on how much local storage you need. For $179 you'll get 32 gigabytes of onboard storage. And for $199 you'll get $64GB of storage.

If you'll be downloading a lot of movies from Apple, you might want the extra storage. If you'll just be streaming a lot, the 32GB model probably will do just fine.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Apple TV 4K Apple TV
Row 0 - Cell 0
Price $179/$199 $149
Form factor Set-top box Set-top box
Release date September 2017 October 2015
OS tvOS tvOS
Supported resolution Up to 2160p (4K) Up to 1080p
HDR10 Yes No
Dolby Vision Yes No
Dolby Atmos No No
Ethernet Gigabit 10/100BASE-T
Storage 32/64GB 32GB
Expandable storage No No
Memory 3GB 2GB
Processor A10X Fusion (64-bit) A8 (64-bit)
Wifi 802.11ac 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0 4.0
Row 16 - Cell 0 See at Amazon See at Amazon $69 at Walmart

How much is Apple TV and where do you get it?

You've got all kinds of options when it comes to buying Apple TV. Again, we'd recommend going with the 4K option — it's just better, and you'll get more life out of it than you will the previous generation. So that'll set you back $179 for the 32GB model, or $199 if you plan on downloading a lot of shows locally.

As for where to buy it — you've got options. This is one of those times where store credit can come in real handy, as Apple TV is available all over the place. Here are some handy links:

And we're even seeing some of the streaming services give away an Apple TV for free if you sign up for service. That's not a bad deal at all.

What's good about Apple TV?

What's so great about Apple TV? It just works, and it works well. It's fast to run apps, and crashes are few and far between. The hardware is excellent and includes both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, so things will look just about as good as they can on a 4K display. Apps also generally are similar in nature, with gestures and menus and what not sharing the same sort of design.

And you'll be hard pressed to find a streaming service that isn't available on Apple TV. (The lone major exception is Google Play Movies & TV.)

Plus, Apple TV has some of the coolest screensavers around. The aerial views are worth watching on their own.

A simple rubber sleeve drastically improves the Apple TV Siri Remote. ($12 at Amazon.)

A simple rubber sleeve drastically improves the Apple TV Siri Remote. ($12 at Amazon.)

What's not so good about Apple TV?

If I had to pick a single thing to gripe about it'd be the Siri Remote. First, they call it "Siri Remote." C'mon.

Second is that it's just not a good remote control. It's in no way ergonomic. Using the Menu button like a Back button is confusing on a good day. And the swiping touchpad is interesting, but not as precise as a good old-fashioned D-pad.

It's just not a great remote control. Fortunately, there are options if you're willing to give up voice control.

And Apple TV also is missing support for Dolby Atmos audio. That's a missed spec box more than it is something most folks need to worry about, though.

Who is Apple TV for?

Apple TV is one of those rare Apple products that isn't just for someone who only uses Apple products. (My main phone is Android, for what it's worth.)

Sure, you'll get more out of it if you're all-in on iOS and Apple's own cloud services. But you'll get plenty out of Apple TV even if you use Google or Microsoft or whatever in your day-to-day existence.

(And there's no reason you can't also use something like a Chromecast alongside Apple TV if you need to make up the difference.)

No. What you get here is just the best streaming box you can buy, period.