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Apple TV 4K Specs: How The Two 3rd Gen Players Compare

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Apple has two new Apple TV 4K (3rd generation) players for consumers to consider. Both models are fairly alike, although there are some differences in the specs department that may make one more suitable than the other. As to be expected, the more expensive model is the better option overall. However, both versions are cheaper than the Apple TV 4K (2nd generation) released last year.

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In terms of the price, the Apple TV 4K (3rd generation) can be picked up in the United States for either $129 or $149 from Apple. The main differences between them is that the $149 model features an Ethernet port, a greater amount of internal storage, and Thread support.

Below is a more detailed look at the specs of both new Apple TV 4K (3rd generation) players:

Apple TV 4KWi-FiWi-Fi + Ethernet
Height1.2 inches (31 mm)1.2 inches (31 mm)
Width3.66 inches (93 mm)3.66 inches (93 mm)
Depth3.66 inches (93 mm)3.66 inches (93 mm)
Weight7.3 ounces (208 g)7.5 ounces (214 g)
Storage64GB128GB
ProcessorA15 Bionic chipA15 Bionic chip
Siri Remote3rd generation3rd generation
SDR videoup to 2160p, 60 fpsup to 2160p, 60 fps
Dolby Visionup to 2160p, 60 fpsup to 2160p, 60 fps
HDR10+/HDR10/HLGup to 2160p, 60 fpsup to 2160p, 60 fps
HDMI2.12.1
IR receiverYesYes
Bluetooth5.05.0
Wi‑FiWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2x2 MIMOWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2x2 MIMO
Gigabit EthernetNoYes
Thread supportNoYes

Choosing the right Apple TV 4K player

In general, both new Apple TV 4K players are largely interchangeable, with both loaded with the same A15 Bionic processor, offering the same support for streaming apps, and utilizing the same version of tvOS. They both also come with the same Siri Remote (3rd generation) which is now fitted with a USB-C charging port. If the ability to connect via Ethernet is not a requirement, and there’s no major need for the increased storage level, then the cheaper model may prove to be the better option.

However, it is also worth keeping the Thread support in mind. The more expensive Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet) model is the only one to come with support for the wireless connectivity standard. In terms of smart homes, this means that Thread devices can not only talk to each other via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but also Thread. It is a protocol specifically designed for devices to talk directly to other, making home automation more seamless and less reliant on a master hub device.

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One way to decide on whether Thread support is worth the extra $30 is in terms of future-proofing. If just looking for an Apple-based streaming player to watch streaming services like Apple TV Plus on, then the Wi-Fi-only model is fine. However, if you want a device that’s going to play nicely with other devices, and plan to become more involved in home automation, then the Wi-Fi + Ethernet model is likely to be a better option.

None of this is to say that the Wi-Fi-only Apple TV 4K can’t be used as a smart home hub, it can. It is just the Wi-Fi + Ethernet model’s ability to lean on the Thread mesh networking makes it a more capable smart home hub, thanks to improved connectivity and greater compatibility with more devices.

Apple TV 4K specs summary

With the two new Apple TV 4K players, consumers now have cheaper tvOS options to consider. Both models are designed to offer a similar level of performance in general, and both come bundled with the newer Siri Remote. As a result, either model is going to be a good option for homes looking for a streaming player that’s tightly integrated with Apple’s services.

Overall, and when taking the Thread support, increased storage, and the ability to connect via Ethernet when needed, in mind, the Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi + Ethernet) is worth the extra $30. However, the cheaper Apple TV 4K (Wi-Fi) is more than capable of catering to the streaming needs of many homes.

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Regardless of which of these models a consumer ultimately opts for, they will be getting a more powerful device than Apple’s previous Apple TV players. Not to mention, at a cheaper price than the previous Apple TV 4K.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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