Apple TV 3 Update Coming: New Model Features Improved Specs, But No New Outer Design

 @redletterdave on January 30 2013 2:37 PM

An updated version of the third-generation Apple TV is coming soon, and while recent FCC filings have indicated the new model, currently listed as "AppleTV3,2" in iOS 6.1 support logs, might be smaller than the current Apple TV, Apple on Wednesday released a statement (via The Next Web) to the contrary.

"We sometimes make component changes, which require an updated model number for regulatory approval," an Apple spokesperson told TNW. "The component changes we made don't affect product features, and Apple TV customers will continue to have the same great user experience."

The FCC paperwork on the new Apple TV update initially suggested the new device might measure about 94 mm, compared to the 98 mm of the current model, but after doing some more digging, Brian Klug of AnandTech discovered many more changes made to the Apple TV, particularly to its processor -- allegedly Apple's A5X SoC initially used in the iPad 3 -- and its wireless chip -- allegedly an upgraded BCM4334 from Broadcom.

"From what we can glean from the FCC documents there's no longer a two antenna solution for the BCM4330 WiFi+BT combo, but rather a single antenna solution with different gain and utilizing a BCM4334 combo instead," AnandTech said. "This is the same WLAN+BT combo as used in the iPhone 5 and basically all of the newly refreshed iDevices, and is built on a 40nm RF CMOS process.

"Since the previous antennas were part of the Apple TV PCB, and the FCC disclosure notes that the new Apple TV uses a single PIFA (Planar Inverted F Antenna), it's highly likely we're looking at a completely different PCB."

Upgrading to the A5X from the A5 will certainly make the Apple TV work faster, but this new PCB and wireless combo sounds like it could make the Apple TV significantly more efficient, especially with power and stabilized wireless streaming.

"This is an interesting silent update and development for the Apple TV," AnandTech said. "Given the IPSW release onto the Web before an actual hardware announcement, I originally suspected this was a silent upgrade of the Apple TV platform to newer hardware, however the presence of an A5X SoC inside makes things a big more curious. Hopefully we will see an official announcement in the next few days."

Apple will likely announce this upgraded Apple TV in the coming days or weeks, but customers should know that while this certainly sounds like a nice upgrade, it is no reason to dump your Apple TV 2 or 3, in what appears to be a mild hardware refresh.

While new Apple TV hardware is always interesting, it could indicate that Apple is ready to release new Apple TV software. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an excellent track record with predicting next-gen Apple devices, said in his annual report that he expects a new Apple TV model to arrive late in the first calendar quarter -- in other words, around mid- to late-February.

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