Apple TV 3 vs. Apple TV 4: Upgrade or Stick With the Old Box

Finally we can put all the rumors to rest because the new Apple TV 4 is finally here. Apple’s new media box certainly has a lot of catching up to do because it’s been three years since the release of the Apple TV 3. So much has changed for set-top players; like games, apps, and resolutions.

The Apple TV hasn’t been touched since 2012 and even at that time the set-top box was barely upgraded. In fact, the Apple TV was never a huge focus for Apple, until the market explosion of streaming boxes from other companies, like Google with their Chromecast and Nexus Player; Amazon with their Fire TV, Roku with their Roku 3, and some other options.

But now Apple is back in the game with its new Apple TV: this is a complete overhaul and it comes with a re-designed user interface and all new features.

There’s actually a lot to discuss about the Apple TV 4, and you may have already heard rumors about the new set-top box because this new Apple TV has been a hot topic of discussion for quite a while now.

So, some of these rumors may be true and some may not be, but Apple have announced some details that are definitely worth knowing about. Just to make things a little easier, we’ve compared all the need-to-know information on both the 2012 and 2015 Apple TVs, just to see the difference a few years can make.


Apple TV (2015) Apple TV (2012)
Price $149, $199 $99
Dimensions 3.9 x 1.3 x 3.9 inches (98 x 33 x 98mm) 3.9 x 0.9 x 3.9 inches (98 x 23 x 98mm)
Weight 0.94 pounds (425g) 0.6 pounds (272g)
Output resolution 720p, 1080p 720p, 1080p
CPU Apple A8 Apple A5
GPU PowerVR GX6450 PowerVR SGX543MP2
Internal storage 32GB / 64GB 8GB
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 a/b/g/n
Wired network 10/100 Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet
Bluetooth v4.0 v4.0
Ports HDMI 1.4, USB-C HDMI, USB, Optical
Motion control Yes (accelerometer, gyroscope) No
Operating system tvOS iOS 5
Video codecs H.264 1080p, MPEG-4 480p H.264 1080p, MPEG-4 480p, M-JPEG 720p
Audio codecs HE-AAC, AAC, MP3, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 HE-AAC, AAC, MP3, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV, Dolby Digital 5.1
Apps Yes No
Available content iTunes, AirPlay, iCloud, Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, MLB, NBA, NHL, CNN, FOX, PBS Kids, ABC News, Disney Channel, ESPN, USA and more iTunes, AirPlay, iCloud, Netflix, MLB, NBA, NHL, YouTube, Vimeo, WSJ Live, Flickr


Possibly the biggest difference is the ability to download video games and third-party apps. This really does make the Apple TV 4 a significantly better model than the Apple TV 3, because, in the past, Apple TV users had no choice but to use only Apple stock apps.

So What’s Still the Same

We are disappointed to note that the biggest downside to the Apple TV 4 is that they still haven’t provided 4K output: it’s not so terribly important right now, but this could become a problem for the Apple TV in the future when 4K content becomes more popular.

We’re still wondering why Apple TV 4 doesn’t support 4K content right now, particularly when the new iPhone 6S is capable of recording 4K video. This means that you won’t be able to watch your home videos on your new Apple TV at the resolution the video was designed for.

But, it is true that 4K televisions aren’t that popular at the moment, and perhaps the new Apple TV already has the capabilities to play 4K content and it would just require a simple software update by Apple to enable it. For now, though, Apple TV 4 maxes out at 1080p HD.