Disclosure: Tech Daily is reader-supported. If you click-through, make a purchase or sign up for a service through our links, we may earn a commission or fee (at no cost to you). Learn more.
These days, watching streaming content in the best possible quality is all the rage. Now that there is so much to choose from for entertainment, people want only the greatest quality possible. Anything less than that just simply will not do.
Most of the time, companies compete against each other to win over customers and sell the most popular streaming devices. But sometimes companies compete with themselves. Sometimes a company offers multiple models of their products and leaves it up to the customer base to decide which one they want.
That is what Apple is doing with its Apple TV. You now have multiple options available for which Apple TV you bring home and plug into your TV. And one of the hardest choices to make is if you should pick up the Apple TV HD or the Apple TV 4K.
While you may think the difference between the two is minimal, they are actually quite large and important. And the differences should certainly play a part in which Apple TV product you pick up.
So, should you stick with the Apple TV HD or its superior brother product, the Apple TV 4K? Read on to find out.
Apple TV HD Vs. 4K at a Glance
Apple TV HD Advantages:
- Comes with a new and improved tvOS
- Allows for third-party apps
- AirPlay availability with other Apple products
Apple TV HD Disadvantages:
- The remote is a bit lacking
- More expensive than its competitors
- Will eventually lose support from Apple
Apple TV 4K Advantages:
- 4K picture looks incredible
- Existing iTunes libraries become updated to 4K HDR for free
- Best streaming quality available
Apple TV 4K Disadvantages:
- Very expensive
- The up-conversion of non-4K/HDR doesn’t improve image quality
- HDR processing doesn’t always make video look better
Winner: Once again, Apple has made multiple products that are worthy of your time and money. However, you should probably invest in the Apple TV 4K. Yes, it is more expensive, but it’s money well spent and will last for years, especially as video quality becomes more important. It’s the future of streaming devices while the HD is still impressive but fading in functionality.
What’s The Difference Between Them?
The big question here is which Apple TV is the best option for you. The new Apple TV 4K is outfitted with the most recent resolution capabilities, including Dolby Vision, HDR10, and 4K UHD streaming, which can deliver a picture that’s as good as 60 frames per second.
This allows for seamless video and the type of vivid colors that can only be produced by HDR. Being prepared to appreciate the moment is becoming increasingly important as 4K HDR and Dolby Vision material is made more widely available on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.
In the future, more and more streaming services will offer 4K HDR, meaning the 4K model is great for the future as well as the present.
There are benefits to joining the Apple series of products in addition to the shows and movies it provides. Users of some iPhones, for instance, may utilize an Apple TV 4K to play back films they’ve recorded in this quality.
They may find the presence of 60 fps and Dolby Vision to be particularly appealing. As apparent as it may seem, you’re looking in the wrong place if you don’t already own a television that can handle these capabilities and don’t have any immediate plans to upgrade.
At the same time, the Apple TV HD, which was introduced in 2015, has proven a reliable streaming device. However, because of its absence of HDR support, Dolby Vision, and a 1080p limit, it is less applicable in the current mostly 4K TV environment.
There are still a lot of individuals who are quite content with their SD version of Netflix membership with a 1080p TV set, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you are looking to step things up, you will need the Apple TV 4K.
It’s a heavier price point, for sure, but the upgrade in quality speaks for itself and is well worth it for many.
Verdict: There is no question that the Apple TV 4K is the way to go if you are buying a streaming device with the hope of having superior resolution. It is light years ahead of nearly every single other product on the marketplace.
One of Apple’s most popular features is Siri, the handy virtual assistant who is able to tell you the weather, download apps for you, remind you of things, and do just about anything else you need. And she has made her way to Apple TV. Both boxes, the HD and 4K models offer Siri via the remote control.
The way this works is rather simple. You speak directly into the remote when you need Siri to do something and she posts the results from your query on your TV screen. It couldn’t be easier to use.
The remote control does more than just that, of course. The device is made with the same superior quality and design that comes from most products Apple makes. The aluminum design is sleek and feels great in the hand, comfortable and weighted but not too heavy.
The circular directional pad is both made of buttons and a touchpad. You can actually click on the button or swipe it like you would on your smartphone.
The new remote that comes only with the 4K model takes things up a notch with the remote, adding both a dedicated power button and a mute one as well. The button to bring up Siri has been moved too.
Now it sits on the side of the remote. There is no doubt that the Apple TV 4K has a better remote, simply because of those changes alone. But even the Apple TV HD remote is superior to most other streaming remotes out there.
Verdict: Again, the Apple TV 4K is the right choice if you are trying to get the best remote control. The few changes Apple has made are very intuitive and comfortable.
Apple recently started using the A12 Bionic processor for its Apple TV 4K. It’s a strong, impressive, top-of-the-line chip that is great for video processing.
That means that your Apple TV 4K is better when it comes to streaming, but it’s also better in terms of power too. In every sense of the word, the Apple TV 4K packs more of a punch.
Whether you are watching videos, looking at photos, playing video games, or doing just about anything, the 4K is the way to go mostly because of the power provided by the new A12 chip.
Now, the Apple TV HD is still quite a powerful device. If you don’t care so much about having 4K video, then the HD could be exactly what you need. It has more than enough power for Full HD streaming, and you can get some great power for a lower price.
Again, though, there is again little competition between the HD and 4K. The 4K has the HD beat here too.
Verdict: Here we go again. While the Apple TV HD is a great, powerful little unit, the 4K is the winner here because of Apple’s A12 Bionic processor, which is great for video, games, and everything else. It’s Apple’s best processing chip yet.
Now, this is a big category that means a lot to many people. And there is a good reason for it too. Apple doesn’t come cheap. The company always charges a lot for the products they release. And that’s no different with their Apple TV. Both the Apple TV HD and 4K are more expensive than most of the competition out there.
The original Apple TV HD will cost you about $150. And the new Apple TV 4K is only $30 more for the lesser 32 gig model. That’s a very small difference in price for such a profound difference in quality. If you are thinking of buying an Apple TV, you should most definitely just spend the extra $30 on the 4K model.
The benefits of having the 4K over the HD are seemingly endless, from the processing power to the remote control to the ability to game.
Either way, the Apple product you buy will definitely cost you more than purchasing a Roku or Fire Stick, or Chromecast. But you have to remember that a high price point just comes with anything related to Apple. As long as you keep that in mind and don’t mind spending nearly $200, then you will be just fine.
Verdict: It’s shocking that the Apple TV 4K doesn’t cost more than it does. For only an extra $30, you can get better quality, better power, and better stats across the board. If you are debating between the HD and 4K model, you should just shell out the extra money and get the 4K.
Here is something relatively new for Apple products. Usually, Apple hasn’t been on the cutting edge of providing game fans a way to play their games. But that has changed with Apple in a big way.
The Apple TV HD and 4K both allow people to play games now. And, what’s more, Apple has introduced Apple Arcade over the last couple of years. Apple Arcade is filled with games that are only allowed to subscribers who pay a monthly fee.
If this matters to you, you want only the very best quality. And you will get that with the Apple TV 4K. As mentioned before, the 4K comes with the A12 Bionic chip, which provides intense and wonderful performance over the 10X predecessors.
The HDMI 2.1 and variable refresh rate upgrade with the 4K makes Apple Arcade or any game so much better. The 4K comes in two models – both 32 gigs and 64 gigs – and both provide you plenty of space and speed to make sure the games play like dreams.
So if you are looking to buy an Apple TV with hopes of gaming on your TV, the 4K is the no-brainer better choice.
Verdict: There aren’t too many options for gaming on Apple TV, but Apple Arcade is very promising and always growing. For gaming needs, the Apple TV 4K is the best product to choose because of its superior power and processing speed. Keep in mind that Apple Arcade will continue to release more products and that is reason enough to buy the Apple TV 4K.
Usually, a choice like this is hard to make because there are many similarities but a huge difference in price. But that isn’t the case when it comes to the Apple HD and 4K. That is because the 4K model is a whole lot better than the HD and its price isn’t too hard to swallow.
You will be able to get so much more from the 4K. Picture, speed, resolution, gaming abilities, and just about everything else is majorly upgraded. Apple has put a lot of effort and energy into the Apple TV 4K. And yet it only costs $30 more than the HD. So it’s really a no-brainer if you are willing to spend just thirty more bucks.
And you really should because the Apple TV 4K is set to last a long time while the HD doesn’t have much more life left in it. There will be fewer and fewer things you can use the HD for, while the 4K will have plenty of options in the future. As streaming services release more HD products and the quality of images matters more and more, the 4K will only gain more value.
If you are debating between the Apple TV HD and the 4K, you should definitely spend a bit more money and take the dive with the 4K. It won’t cost you too much extra now and you will only thank yourself in the future when you are playing games, streaming movies, and doing everything at whip-fast speed.