Cupertino downplays redesigned Apple TV reports

Cupertino has downplayed reports that its upcoming Apple-branded set-top box will feature a revamped design paired with new hardware and UI.

Indeed, an Apple spokesperson has officially confirmed that the “slightly tweaked” device would look and function just like the current model, likely meaning a minimal hardware upgrade and the same user interface (UI).

“We sometimes make component changes which require an updated model number for regulatory approval,” Apple told The Verge in an emailed statement.

“The component changes we made don’t affect product features and Apple TV customers will continue to have the same great user experience.”

Cupertino’s official statement was made shortly after an FCC filing indicated an unannounced Apple TV model would be slightly smaller, while featuring a low-power 40-nanometer Broadcom wireless chip (BCM4334). The chip is already in Apple’s iPhone 5 and offers both Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi connectivity.

Additional sources reported the device may also feature a faster A5X chip, similar to the SoC found in the third-gen iPad.

“It’s possible that Apple could be making the silent switch to an A5X chip in an effort to gradually ramp up production of the processor for another, more popular device,” speculated AppleInsider’s Neil Hughes.

“A strong candidate would be the iPad mini, which rumors have suggested will receive a high-resolution Retina display with a second-generation update later this year.”

Indeed, Apple adopted a similar strategy in 2012 when it launched the current Apple TV, a product update that added 1080p video support and a shrunken 32nm A5 chip.

The same SoC also powers the $399 iPad 2 – a device that was previously driven by a 45-nanometer A5 chip. As expected, the new SoC improved battery life by up to 16% due to its revamped design.