The Apple TV is not, technically, a TV — it’s a set-top box. But a new series of images leaked to Chinese social media might hint that Apple is experimenting with an actual TV, display and all.
The images were leaked to Weibo early Wednesday morning and posted to Twitter by mobile leaker Benjamin Gaskin. They reportedly depict a standalone Apple television — with an integrated display — in a specialized testing facility. The original Weibo posting refers to the images as “Apple OLED TV spy photos.”
Blurry as they are, it’s hard to figure out anything concrete from the images. Two of the photos seem to depict two angles of the alleged Apple television sitting on a table, seen through a CCTV monitor. An additional two photos are taken from inside the room, and they show a series of cables connecting the device to what looks like large, specialized testing equipment.
The original Weibo posting claims that the device’s display is about “60 inches, and it’ll sport a narrow design with a metal body. The photos seem to show off rather thin bezels for the device’s front, as well a prominent Apple logo on the rear. Per the photo’s title, the TV would presumably have an OLED display. Additionally, the Weibo post points out that the alleged Apple television has onboard cameras at the bottom of the screen — but they aren’t visible in any of the posted images.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard word of an Apple-made television with a display, but the last report on such a device — a 2015 Wall Street Journal story — seemed to indicate that Apple had killed off the plans three years ago. According to the WSJ, Apple had spent over 10 years experimenting with a proprietary ultra-high-definition television set before shelving the plans. Apparently, there’s wasn’t enough of an untapped market for an Apple proprietary TV. In the wake of that decision, Apple apparently went the set-top box route.
Of course, with rumors of UHD 4K streaming and HDR capabilities slated for the fifth-generation Apple TV, it’s perfectly possible that Cupertino is again researching its own proprietary television set — which could be an integrated television display or a UHD display sold separately. Another possibility is that the pictures depict an upcoming Mac computer monitor, although a 60-inch screen is rather large for that application. However, it is hard to tell the size of the display from the images, so the 60-inch description might not be accurate.
As with all rumors, it’s recommended that you take these photos with a grain of salt. For example, there’s no viable way of dating the images, so it’s entirely possible that the images are pre-2015 and don’t represent Apple’s current plans.