Apple TV: History, specs, TV+, pricing, review, and deals - 9to5Mac (2024)

Apple TV is Apple's streaming device that accesses the Apple TV+ service ($4.99 per month), Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and countless other entertainment apps.

The Apple TV is Apple’s set-top box that runs tvOS. The company currently sells the updated Apple TV HD first introduced in 2015 and the 2021 second-generation Apple 4K models. Alongside the two products, Apple also has the Apple TV app, which is available for iOS and Android users as well as lots of smart TV owners, and Apple TV+, the company’s video streaming service with exclusive original content.

Table of contents

  • History
  • Specs
    • Apple TV HD (fourth-generation)
    • Apple TV 4K (sixth-generation)
    • Second-generation Siri Remote
  • Third-party certified Apple TV Remote
  • tvOS 15: what’s new to the Apple TV
    • tvOS 15.1 features
    • tvOS 15.2 features
    • tvOS 15.3 features
    • tvOS 15.4 features
    • tvOS 15.5 features
    • tvOS 15.6 features
  • Pricing
  • 2021 Apple TV 4K release
  • Review Apple TV 4K (1st-gen)
  • Deals
  • Apple TV app
  • Apple TV+
  • Read more


The first-generation Apple TV was unveiled in September 2006. The product, which would be called iTV, couldn’t have this name since the British terrestrial broadcast network ITV already held the right to the name in the UK and threatened to take legal action against Apple.

Shipped six months later, the first Apple TV had a 40GB HDD, and a 160GB HDD option was later released.

The second-generation Apple TV was announced in September of 2010 and was the first model to run on a variant of iOS. In a smaller, all-black case, it was one-quarter the size of the original Apple TV. The HDD was replaced by 8GB of internal flash storage, enough for buffering purposes. Also different from the first set-top box, this one was only used for streaming content. It also supported output up to 720p over HDMI only.

Apple TV: History, specs, TV+, pricing, review, and deals - 9to5Mac (1)

The third-generation Apple TV was released almost two years later in March 2012. It included the A5 chip and support for 1080p output. As of 2021, the third-generation set-top box still works with streaming services including Apple TV+, Apple TV Channels, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix.

The fourth generation, or the Apple TV HD, was the biggest revamp to the set-top box in years, and it launched in September 2015. With a brand-new black remote charged via Lightning cable, it introduced the tvOS operating system with an App Store allowing downloads of third-party apps for video, audio, games, and other content. This device includes the A8 processor and support for Dolby Digital Plus.

Two years later, in September of 2017, Apple introduced the fifth-generation Apple TV, or the Apple TV 4K, which supports 2160p output, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and includes the A10X Fusion processor. This model is similar to the fourth-generation model with the only difference being the addition of vents on the base and the removal of the USB-C port.

The sixth-generation Apple TV, or the second-generation Apple TV 4K, was introduced in April of 2021. With a similar design to its predecessor, the main change is the A12 chip and the second-generation Siri Remote.


Currently, Apple sells the fourth and sixth generation of its set-top box.

Apple TV HD (fourth-generation)

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Launched in 2015, the Apple TV HD uses the A8 chip with 64-bit architecture. It supports videos up to 1080p and 60 fps. Only available in 32GB storage option, the set-top box uses the second-generation Siri Remote, featuring Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology, an IR transmitter, and a Lightning connector for charging.

These are its ports and interfaces: HDMI 1.4, 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, IR receiver, USB-C for service and support, built-in power supply.

The fourth-generation Apple TV runs the latest tvOS software, currently on iOS 15.

Apple TV 4K (sixth-generation)

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Launched in 2021, the second-generation Apple TV 4K uses the A12 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture. It supports videos up to 2160p and 60 fps, HEVC Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Dolby Atmos technologies. Available in 32GB and 64GB storage options, the set-top box uses the second-generation Siri Remote featuring Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, an IR transmitter, and a Lightning connector for charging.

These are its ports and interfaces: HDMI 2.1ax, 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO; simultaneous dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, IR receiver, and Built-in power supply.

The sixth-generation Apple TV runs the latest tvOS software, currently on iOS 15.

Second-generation Siri Remote

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Alongside the new Apple TV 4K, the company introduced a redesigned Siri Remote. It is made of aluminum and rubber buttons. It has a microphone for Siri, an IR transmitter, a Lightning connector for charging and uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology.

In an interviewwith Apple Vice President of Product Marketing for Home and Audio Tim Twerdahl, the new remote is inspired by the iPod click wheel:

“Once we came up with this circular design we thought it looked a lot like the iPod quick wheel, so what could do that could really help people with their TV using an interface like that? The scrubbing of the video came as such a natural thing, professional editors often use these jog-style controls, which are quite powerful, and it’s really nice to bring this into people’s living room.“

Although it was rumored, the second-generation Siri Remote doesn’t have a U1 chip to help users find the accessory when it gets lost on the couch. According to Tim Twerdahl, the thicker design of the remote chassis means it won’t get lost in couch cushions as much as the previous generation.

You can learn more about the second-generation Siri Remote here.

Third-party certified Apple TV Remote

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In August of 2021, Deutsche Telekom started offering a third-party certified Apple TV Remote. This is the first company to offer Universal Electronics’ remote control to customers who purchase a new Apple TV 4K directly with the carrier with a Magenta TV subscription.

The alternative Siri Remote from Universal Electronics looks more like a classic TV remote control since it does not have a trackpad and comes with buttons for switching channels and accessing the TV guide. However, it also includes all the buttons needed to navigate through tvOS, including the Siri button and even a built-in microphone.

tvOS 15: what’s new to the Apple TV

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Apple released on September 20 tvOS 15, the operating system to the Apple TV HD and 4K (1st and 2nd gen). Here’s everything new with it:

  • For All of You:Browse a new row in the Apple TV app to find something that everyone in the house can’t wait to watch.
  • Shared with You:Movies and shows shared through Messages appear in a new row in the Apple TV app.
  • Spatial Audio:Listen with AirPods Pro or AirPods Max for a theater-like experience with sound that surrounds you.
  • Smart AirPods routing:Get an automatic onscreen notification to magically connect your AirPods.
  • HomeKit camera enhancements:View multiple cameras around the house at the same time on your Apple TV.
  • Room-filling stereo sound:Pair two HomePod mini speakers with Apple TV 4K and enjoy rich, balanced sound for everything you watch.

You can learn more about tvOS 15 here.

tvOS 15.1 features

tvOS 15.1 brings the long-awaited SharePlay feature. With it, you can watch movies, shows, or listen to songs while on a FaceTime call on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with friends.

tvOS 15.2 features

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A month after launching tvOS 15.1, Apple seeded tvOS 15.2. This software brings a new way to view your Memories. Apple Music subscribers can hear songs that combine expert recommendations with your music tastes, and what’s in your photos and videos.

Here is what else is new:

  • Apple TV app: The Store tab is a new all-in-one destination to browse, buy, and rent the world’s best movies and TV shows.
  • Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri.
  • Siri now includes language support for Dutch and French in Belgium, Russian in Russia, and French, German, and Italian in Switzerland.
  • Screen savers: Enjoy stunning views ofIceland and Scotland. Location details can be found by pressing the clickpad or tapping the Touch surface on your Siri Remote.

tvOS 15.3 features

Different from tvOS 15.2, tvOS 15.3 doesn’t bring changes for the Apple TV, only small improvements and bug fixes.

Apple TV: History, specs, TV+, pricing, review, and deals - 9to5Mac (8)

tvOS 15.4 features

tvOS 15.4 bring some interesting features to the Apple TV hardware:

  • Captive Wi-Fi network support;
  • New “Up Next” queue that can be viewed from the “Now Playing” screen;
  • Revamped Spatial Audio controls with tvOS 15.4;
  • New non-binary, American Siri voice

tvOS 15.5 features

Different from other software updates, Apple doesn’t specify what’s changed with tvOS 15.5.

tvOS 15.6 features

Different from other software updates, Apple doesn’t specify what’s changed with tvOS 15.6, most likely just bug fixes.

Apple is currently testing tvOS 16.


The Apple TV pricing starts at $149 on the HD model and goes up to $199 on the 4K model with 64GB of storage.

  • 32GB, HD model: $149
  • 32GB, 4K model: $179
  • 64GB, 4K model: $199

Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.

2021 Apple TV 4K release

The new set-top box launched on May 21. Pre-orders started on April 30.

Review Apple TV 4K (1st-gen)

In our opinion article about the previous Apple TV, is its simplicity that people love the most:

The Apple TV is the true TV hub for the streaming era, especially for Apple fans. In many ways, it’s the simplicity of the Apple TV, with an ad-free experience and a range of 4K HDR content, via iTunes Store that makes people still own this product after all this time.


Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the Apple TV and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone appto receive push notifications for new deals as well.

Apple TV app

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The Apple TV app holds AppleOriginal shows and movies from AppleTV+. It also includes the Apple TV Channels, with over 30 streaming services ready to be subscribed to within the app.

With personalized and curated content, it’s easier to discover new shows. You can also search for your library while also being able to buy or rent content from the iTunes Store.

Apple TV+

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Apple TV+ launched on November 1, 2019. It features Apple’s original TV shows and movies.Here’s what’s on Apple TV+.

At its2019 September iPhone event, Apple officially announced launch details for its premium TV service: $4.99 per month for a family subscription. Customers who purchase an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, or Mac can enjoy one year of the service for free.

Since the Apple TV+ debut, Apple has received a total of 1,115 awards nominations and accolades, and 250 award wins from the Oscars, including Best Picture, Critics Choice Awards, Writers Guild Association, Critics Choice Documentary Awards, Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Peabody Awards, and more.

“Ted Lasso,” “CODA,” and “Wolfwalkers” are three of the most prized shows on the catalog.

Read more

  • Apple forgot about tvOS 16, but here’s everything new
  • Comment: tvOS 15 is a small update, but it brings two important new features to Apple TV
Apple TV: History, specs, TV+, pricing, review, and deals - 9to5Mac (2024)


What is the difference between Apple TV and Apple TV+? ›

The name Apple TV is used for different products and services, which can be confusing. Apple TV is a media player and Apple TV+ is a streaming service. With the Apple TV app, you can watch the entire selection of movies and series in one place.

How much is the Apple TV+ subscription per month? ›

$9.99/mo. A monthly subscription is just $9.99 per month after a free 7-day trial. Share Apple TV+ with your family.

How to get Apple TV Plus for free? ›

  1. The standard 7-day free trial from Apple. ...
  2. Buy an Apple product. ...
  3. The 1-month Apple One free trial. ...
  4. The Apple Music Student Plan. ...
  5. Claim three free months at Best Buy. ...
  6. Get three free months from a Roku device. ...
  7. Get a T-Mobile Go5G plan. ...
  8. Get a Sprint MAX plan.
Nov 6, 2023

Is Apple TV Plus subscription worth it? ›

Is Apple TV Plus worth getting? This is highly subjective, but the TLDR is that it's only worth it if you're interested in its original shows. There aren't many movies or documentaries, and there's very little third-party content of any kind. How do I get free Apple TV Plus?

What's the point of Apple TV+? ›

In addition to hosting Apple TV+ originals, the app lets you subscribe to other services, which it designates as channels. These include on-demand services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Paramount+, as well as DirectTV Stream and other live TV services. You can also rent and buy movies and shows from the app.

Is Netflix free on Apple TV? ›

You can download Netflix onto your Apple TV for free (although you'll still have to pay for a membership, of course). Every Apple TV model aside from the 1st Generation supports it. Some Apple TV models, like the Apple TV 2 and 3, even come with it pre-installed.

How do I get my free 1 year subscription to Apple TV? ›

Make sure your eligible device is running the latest iOS, iPadOS, tvOS or macOS. Offer must be claimed in the Apple TV app within 3 months after first setting • up your new device. To see the offer appear, you will need to sign in with your Apple ID on your new device.

Is Apple TV free with Amazon Prime? ›

If you are wondering how to watch Apple TV on Amazon Prime? Look no further. There are many streaming channels included in Amazon Prime, but Apple TV is not among them. Apple TV is not free with Amazon Prime.

What is the downside of Apple TV? ›

* You can't download movies or TV shows to Apple TV, smart TVs, or streaming devices. You can download HDR content only to certain iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models. You can't download 4K video content to any device.

Is Apple TV Plus worth it in 2024? ›

Apple TV+ ties for No. 7 in our roundup of the Best Streaming Services of 2024, earning a 3.6 out of five.

Is it hard to cancel Apple TV Plus? ›

You can also open the Apple TV app or App Store on your mobile device. Tap your account icon in the upper right, then select Manage Subscriptions or Subscriptions. At the Subscriptions window, tap the Apple TV+ entry and choose Cancel Subscription. Tap Confirm to proceed with the cancellation.

How do I get Apple TV+ on my TV? ›

Browse or search for “Apple TV.” (whichever is available for your Smart TV). On your Smart TV's home screen or app launcher, select the Apple TV or Apple TV+ app to open it, then sign in with an Apple ID if prompted.

Why do you have to pay for shows on Apple TV? ›

Your Apple TV subscription only includes original Apple content. That's it. Nothing else. If you want content that comes from some other outlet, you need to buy it.

Does Apple One include Apple TV+? ›

Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud+, and more are bundled into one simple plan with Apple One. With a Family plan or Premier plan, you can share it all with your family.

What stations do you get with Apple TV? ›

What are Apple TV Channels?
  • Acorn TV.
  • BritBox.
  • CBS All Access.
  • Cinemax.
  • CollegeHumor's Dropout.
  • Epix.
  • Eros Now.
  • HBO.
Mar 25, 2019

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