Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Amazon Fire TV Cube: Which should you buy?

Apple Tv 4k
Apple Tv 4k (Image credit: Apple)

Apple TV 4K (2021)

Apple Tv 4k

The Apple TV 4K streaming box brings 4K and HDR streaming to life with an A12 Bionic processor, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. The new Siri Remote also makes navigating your favorite streaming apps a breeze.

Apple TV 4K (2021)

The premier 4K box

4K HDR content on Apple TV+
Intuitive design
Apple Music
More expensive
Doesn't support HDR10+
No smart speaker function

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Amazon Fire Tv Cube

The Amazon Fire TV Cube streaming box provides instant access to 4K Ultra HD content, plus support for Dolby Vision and HDR, HDR10+. It also features a built-in speaker, voice remote, and doubles as an Echo device.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

The cheaper contender

More affordable
Doubles as Echo device
Supports HDR10+
Built-in speakers could be better
No USB connector
No Apple Music of Now TV

Both the Apple TV 4K (2021) and the Amazon Fire TV Cube can watch 4K Ultra HD and HDR content at an affordable price, with minimal assembly required. While the Amazon Fire TV Cube is a bit cheaper, the Apple TV 4K's expansive library of 4K content and high-quality audio and visual features might make it the better product.

Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Amazon Fire TV Cube: Prices and features

While the new Apple TV 4K looks pretty much identical to previous iterations of the streaming box, the latest version is optimized for streaming the highest quality visuals. It contains an updated A12 Bionic processor, which is the same one you'll find in last year's iPad.

When it comes to cost, the Apple TV 4K is available at two price points: the 32GB version retails for $179, and the 64GB version retails for $199. You can also pick up the new Apple TV HD in 32GB for $149. Both versions of the streaming box utilize Dolby Atmos for enhanced surround sound support and Dolby Vision HDR, as well as continue to support AirPlay, HomeKit, and Siri, just like the first-generation Apple TV 4K.

Like the Apple TV 4K, the Amazon Fire TV Cube is also optimized to stream 4K Ultra HD content and features support for Dolby Vision and HDR. However, it's also compatible with HDR10+ and is the slightly cheaper option at $120.

The Amazon Fire TV Cube's other features include a built-in speaker and compatibility with Alexa, making changing live cable or satellite channels with your voice super easy. You can also access Alexa via the Fire TV Cube when the TV is turned off. Users who aren't fans of voice commands can also use the remote's power and volume buttons to control the TV manually.

Similar to the Amazon Fire TV Cube's Alexa-enabled voice remote, the new Apple TV 4K also comes with a new and improved voice remote. The new Siri Remote is compatible with all previous Apple TV models, including the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. In addition to coming with the new Apple TV 4K, the Siri Remote can be purchased separately for $60.

The Apple TV 4K also boasts a new color calibration mode feature. That upgrade allows users to point their iPhone at the TV screen, which prompts the Apple TV 4K to adjust the color balance automatically for the best picture quality based on the lighting in the room.

Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Amazon Fire TV Cube: Who should buy the Apple TV 4K (2021)?

When comparing the two streaming boxes, it's safe to say that the Apple TV 4K seems to be a little more user-friendly.

Specifically, the menu page for the Apple TV 4K isn't as detailed as the Amazon Fire TV Cube, which may be a perk for newbie streamers seeking a more intuitive and easy-to-navigate experience. Similarly, users who depend heavily on the Apple TV+ media library may want to pay the extra bucks for the Apple TV 4K, as the Amazon Fire TV Cube doesn't currently offer that particular service.

The Apple device is also probably the better option for audio and visual sticklers. While neither device offers 4K Blu-ray levels of visuals, the Apple TV 4K has a bit of an edge over the Amazon Fire TV Cube. Additionally, if you're comparing the audio of each device before adding external speakers or a soundbar, the Apple TV 4K's audio delivery is slightly richer.

Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Amazon Fire TV Cube: Who should buy the Amazon Fire TV Cube?

Amazon Fire Tv Cube

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

In addition to being the cheaper option, the Fire TV Cube is the most powerful Amazon Fire TV streaming device and sets itself apart in two major ways.

The first is that it also works like an Echo device and can be used even when your TV is turned off. The Fire TV Cube also contains a built-in IR transmitter, which means users can use the voice remote to control compatible AV systems, turn on the TV, change channels and volume, as well as switch inputs.

Also unique to the Fire TV Cube is that it's designed to protect the privacy of its user. As such, it features built-in privacy protections and controls, including a "microphone off" button that electronically disconnects the microphone when it's not in use.

Apple TV 4K (2021) vs. Amazon Fire TV Cube: Which streaming box should you buy?

If you're looking for a streaming box that's a step up from the Chromecast with Google TV in both price and functionality, both the Apple TV 4K and the Amazon Fire TV Cube are among the best streaming devices in that price range. Both devices are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, both devices are powerful enough to stream 4K HDR content, and both devices also offer voice controls and streaming apps designed to add value to your smart TV.

Besides cost, the key difference between the two devices probably comes down to the actual content available on each, and that's where the Apple TV 4K may have an edge. Both devices offer the standard lineup of popular apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, ESPN+, and YouTube TV. However, the Apple TV 4K offers Now TV, which provides access to exclusive Sky content and live Premier League coverage without the necessity of a Sky subscription.

Additionally, the 32GB and 64 GB versions of the Apple TV 4K also come with pay-as-you-go access to 4K HDR films via Apple TV+. As mentioned above, Fire TV Cube users don't currently have access to Apple TV+, but it's expected to be available soon.

There's also a slight difference regarding streaming music, which may be a dealbreaker for some. While both devices offer Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, and Deezer, only the Apple TV 4K also includes Apple Music. If that's your music streamer of choice, then the decision might be an easy one.

Keegan Prosser

Keegan Prosser is a freelance contributor based in the PNW. When she's not writing about her favorite streaming apps and devices for Android Central, she's listening to a true-crime podcast, creating the perfect playlist for her next road trip, and trying to figure out which fitness tracker she should try next. You can follow her on Twitter @keeganprosser.