4K HDR movies are popping up on iTunes – is this a sign of a 4K Apple TV?

The terms 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) typically don’t go hand-in-hand with Apple. Sure, Apple has the 5K Retina Display iMac but even its very own streaming video player – the 2015 Apple TV – opted to stay with regular ol’ HD. 

But that might be changing in the near future.

An eagle-eyed MacRumors reader living in the UK spotted a 4K HDR listing for a recently purchased film on iTunes – which is a little strange because iTunes doesn’t support films in Ultra-HD. 

Upon further investigation, MacRumors found several films in the new standard, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Passengers.  

Despite all these films showing up in users’ purchase histories as 4K HDR content, however, no one was allowed to watch anything in the higher-resolution format. To make things more confusing, readers living in the US reported that they didn’t have the 4K option at all. 

Sound a little suspicious? Yeah, we think so too. 

Apple TV 4K for 2017?

The most logical conclusion to draw here is that Apple is prepping its video library for an unveiling of a new Apple TV that supports 4K HDR, as purchases carry over from iTunes to Apple TV. We’ve heard rumors of the fabled streamer over the last two years, but it’s been relatively quiet for the last two months. 

The last publication to hear tell of the Apple TV 4K (our name, not theirs) was Bloomberg’s tech team, who reported that the player, codenamed "J105" internally, would display more vivid colors, suggesting HDR support. 

That player, they said, could be out as early as later this year. 

If Apple isn’t prepared to launch the new streaming video device, another feasible possibility is that it’s loading up its video store for an influx of new Macbook Pro or iMac users, many of whom might be upgrading to 4K HDR laptops and desktops in the coming months and years. 

Either is possible at this point, but we're leaning more towards a bigger play from Apple in the 4K streaming video box space.

Apple has yet to comment on the situation, but we’ll certainly be following the situation closely and will update this story as soon as we get a reason.