Skip to main content

Apple TV 2021 — Apple should copy this remote now

Apple TV 2021 should copy the Function101 Apple TV remote
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Henry T. Casey)

The Function101 Button Remote for Apple TV is not something that should exist. It exists because Apple thought that a remote control should have a touchpad instead of the directional navigation buttons that you find on every other remote.

In recent years, Apple has favored form over function, which is why we were stuck with the Butterfly switch and touchbars on Macs, and the square touchpad on the Apple TV remote. But while laptop users are getting relief in the form of redesigned MacBooks, it looks like we’re stuck with the current iteration of the Apple TV remote.

For those — like me — who love the Apple TV but hate the remote, the Function101 is just the ticket. It may not look as sleek as Apple’s remote, but it has physical buttons that make navigating Apple’s interface so much easier.

Cheaper than a universal remote

At Amazon, the Function101 Button Remote for Apple TV is $39, which includes free shipping. Function101 has it for only $29, and you pay extra for shipping. That’s about half the price of Logitech’s least-expensive universal remote, the Logitech Harmony 665 ($59.99 at Best Buy), and a while lot cheaper than Logitech’s cheapest smart remote, the Logitech Harmony Companion ($149). Of course, those remotes can control more than one device. 

No points for style

Apple TV 2021 should copy the Function101 Apple TV remote

(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Henry T. Casey)
Function101 Button Remote for Apple TV specs

Weight: 3.2 ounces
Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 0.7 inches
Batteries: 2x AAA
Compatibility: All Apple TVs

While the Apple TV Siri remote is a super small and slim piece of aluminum and plastic, the Function101 Apple TV remote is a more traditional black slab. Rubber on the top, and hard plastic on the bottom, it's a lot more like a Roku remote than an Apple device. 

At 3.2 ounces and 0.7 inches thick, the Function101 Apple TV remote is twice as heavy and more than three times as thick as the 1.6-ounce, 0.2-inch Siri remote. This isn't a serious flaw of the Function101 alternative, unless you want your den to have an extremely minimalist aesthetic.

The most important aspect of the Function101 Apple TV remote's design is that it feels good in your hand. The one nit to pick is its top edge, which could be a little duller — though I wouldn't call it "sharp" by any means.

Unlike the Apple TV remote, it requires 2 AAA batteries, which it includes in the packaging.

Apple TV 2021 should copy the Function101 Apple TV remote

(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Henry T. Casey)

The buttons are the big picture

There are two great things about the Function101's buttons. First off, you may be surprised (I was) that the remote works with all Apple TVs out of the box (via the Apple TV infrared protocol). Apple's typically operates in its own walled garden, and I thought the Apple TV would only work with Apple-made devices.

Apple TV 2021 should copy the Function101 Apple TV remote

(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Henry T. Casey)

At the top of the remote is a menu button and a directional pad; in the middle are volume and page up/down rockers, and towards the bottom are Play/Pause, Stop, Skip Forward and Skip Back, Fast Forward and Fast Rewind. Those rewind and fast forward buttons are a huge boon for the Apple TV, as the Siri remote makes you rely on the sensitive touchpad to skim forwards and back.

And not only are there navigational buttons, but all of the Function101 Apple TV remote's buttons actually feel good and have a speedy response time too. Sure, you may not be able to quickly scroll down a whole page of icons as you would with the Siri remote, but you can land on the one you want with precision.

That said, it's missing two of the Siri remote's buttons: the TV button (which is great for app switching) and the Siri button, which I primarily use for entering long and complicated passwords (which doesn't happen too often). The former is a greater loss.

Just like the Siri remote, the Function101 remote is not backlit. 

Who should buy this remote?

If you've been annoyed with the Apple TV Siri remote's very sensitive touchpad, then you need to try this alternative. At $40, it's a cheaper alternative than our other picks for the best universal remotes, which start at around $60. (Those remotes let you control more than one device, though.)

Apple TV 2021 should copy the Function101 Apple TV remote

(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Henry T. Casey)

However, if you find yourself using the TV button or asking Siri questions via the Apple TV, you should stick with the regular Siri remote. Over the course of my Function 101 Apple TV remote review, I found myself in that camp, which had me gravitating back to Apple’s remote.

I'm hoping that Apple learns from its laptops, and redesigns its remote for the rumored Apple TV 2021. Until then, the Function 101 Button Remote for Apple TV is a good compromise for those who crave physical buttons.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is an editor writer at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and Apple. Prior to joining Tom's Guide — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and looking for the headphone adapter that he unplugged from his iPhone.