Rumor Analysis: A New Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K.

There is a rumor that we may see a new, 2019 Apple TV 4K next week. What would it offer and why?

Apple TV 4K
Apple TV 4K

The juicy tidbits are at 9to5Mac Is a new Apple TV coming next week?” Zac Hall cites three things that suggest a new product.

• Apple TV HD debuted in 2015 followed by Apple TV 4K in 2017 so a 2019 revision might make sense (even if it replaces the current Apple TV 4K in the lineup)

• The Twitter account @never_released which goes by the codename Longhorn expects a new Apple TV 11,1 model with an A12 processor upgrade from the current A10X Fusion chip

• An anonymous tip we received tonight expects a new Apple TV with HDMI 2.1

Heretofore, the prevailing thinking on my part was that the latest Apple TV 4K from 2017 is all that Apple needs for now. And that may still be right. But there are some new factors to take into consideration.

Game On

Most recent 4K/UHD TVs and the current Apple TV 4K use HDMI 2.0a, released in 2015. That supports 4K/UHD at 60 fps. And it supports High Dynamic Range (HDR). That’s all most customers who watch broadcast, cable/satellite or streaming TV content need.

Now 8K TVs are going to require HDMI 2.1 which supports 4K at 120 fps all the way up to 10K at 120 fps. See: “8K Association Announces Key TV Performance Specs.” So one might wonder if Apple is jumping on the 8K bandwagon early.

I think that’s not the driving factor. More likely, Apple is after that 120 fps performance (and other advanced HDMI 2.1 technologies) for its Arcade service, and that may require a corresponding upgrade from the current A10X to an A12 CPU. Those games place a lot more stress on high speed motion than regular 4K TV content. Plus, Apple is showing signs of updating its non-iPhone products more frequently. See: “With Some iPhone Luster Gone, Apple is Pouring it on With Other Products.

Apple took a lot of heat for being a little late with the release of the Apple TV 4K in 2017, so this new rumor may reflect that Apple wants to get ahead of the game now that it’s focusing on new video services like Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade.

Unfortunately, an Apple TV 4K with HDMI 2.1 may not be exploitable by most current 4K/UHD TVs and AV Receivers in the field now. Author Hall sums it up.

Just prepare to buy a 2019 or later TV with HDMI 2.1 ports and a new HDMI cable with 2.1 support.

For Apple to be way out front like this would be a new sensation. But why not? If Apple wants to be a leader in 4K/UHD TV content and games, it might as well be a leader with its own TV hardware.

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