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A 4K HDR Apple TV Could Be on The Way

Apple's streaming set-top box, Apple TV, is getting an overhaul with a new processor and more RAM to make the device powerful enough to stream 4K movies and TV shows.

The refresh has been rumored for months, but an iPhone firmware leak over the weekend has all but confirmed the new device, appropriately named Apple TV 4K, which will jump up from the fourth-gen version's 2GB RAM and A8 chip to 3GB of RAM and an A10X Fusion chip — the same chip in the newest iPad Pro. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith, who combed through the code and found the Apple TV details, said the new chip could enable the device to stream 4K videos with 60 frames per second. Say goodbye to buffering. The iPhone firmware also hinted at the iPhone X's ability to shoot 4K 60fps videos, which would tie in perfectly with the Apple TV's 4K support.

We expect to see the new Apple TV take the stage at Apple's iPhone event on Sept. 12.

The iPhone source code leak isn't the first evidence of a 4K Apple TV, but offers additional confirmation that the device is on the way. Over the summer, developer Guilherme Rambo found evidence of 4K output for an unreleased Apple TV as well as high dynamic range support (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision) by digging through the HomePod speaker's firmware code.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's Guide)

The fourth-generation Apple TV, released in October 2015, didn't seem built for the future without these features. The device, which introduced tvOS and brought Siri to televisions, is ripe for an update now that more televisions support these standards, and more 4K content is coming from services like Amazon Video and Netflix all the time.

Perhaps more telling is that Apple has started listing some movies in iTunes as supporting 4K and HDR, which would make sense if it planned to spread those standards to more devices.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple may also announce new content partnerships with providers who plan to offer 4K videos on Apple TV. We'll find out tomorrow what Apple has in store for streaming TV.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is an editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.