tvOS code hints at a new Apple TV 4K with 120 Hz playback

The Apple TV 4K and remote.

Enlarge / The Apple TV 4K and remote. (credit: Samuel Axon)

It has been well over three years since Apple updated the Apple TV 4K, and online speculation about a follow-up hits a fever pitch every time Apple has a product unveiling event planned. So far, a new device hasn’t materialized, but code in the tvOS 14.5 beta may hint not only that a new Apple TV is on the way, but that it will support 120 Hz playback at 4K.

As reported first by 9to5Mac, tvOS 14.5’s PineBoard (the operating system’s interface manager) contains references to the terms “supports120Hz” and “120Hz,” a not-too-subtle indication that the OS will support 120 Hz refresh rates. And since the current Apple TV 4K only has an HDMI 2.0 port, which does not support 4K at 120 Hz (as opposed to the more recent HDMI 2.1 standard), this discovery seems to suggest that new Apple TV hardware is on the way as well.

Of course, only a few TVs today support 120 Hz refresh rates—typically high-end ones favored by gamers and made in the past two years. Most TVs still target 60 Hz. There is very little 120 Hz video content currently available, though enthusiasts have speculated that refresh rate could be a real boon for sports content. However, the new video game consoles that launched last year—Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S—support 120 Hz playback, which is preferred by some players for certain very fast-paced and difficult or competitive games.

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