“A big frustration with the Apple TV 4K is about to be history,” my colleague Chris Welch wrote, when we learned that Apple’s premiere set-top box would finally be able play 4K YouTube videos at their native resolution instead of being stuck at 1080p. These days, even a $40 dongle can do better than that.
But though Apple’s latest software updates did bring YouTube 4K to the Apple TV 4K, the frustrations aren’t necessarily over. It turns out you’re limited to watching 4K at 30fps, instead of a smooth 60 frames per second, and without the depth of color and contrast that High Dynamic Range (HDR) provides. That’s what 9to5Mac noticed yesterday, and we’ve confirmed with Google that — for now — Apple TV only supports 4K at 30fps with SDR content.
On the plus side, the latest iPhones and iPads do support 4K 60fps HDR content if you’ve got iOS 14 installed. Just find a supported video (this is one of my go-tos), hit the three-dot settings icon at the upper-right hand corner, and change “Quality” to 2160p.
It’s just a shame that the best-of-the-best still isn’t available on a big 4K TV screen, where you’d more easily notice the difference. On my iPhone 11 Pro, I can’t always tell.
Perhaps Apple is saving that for a future model? It has been over three years since the company last updated the Apple TV, and there’s at least one rumor going around that new models are on the way.