July 27, 2016 at 5:36 p.m. PST
Apple TV 4 comes with the revolutionary Siri Remote. The remote, constructed out of glass, is fragile and can break upon impact. This article presents ways to protect the Siri Remote.
The Siri remote is one of my favorite features of the new Apple TV 4. I use Siri to launch apps, change settings and search for movies and TV shows. With its accelerometer and gyroscope, the Siri Remote is an excellent gaming controller. Racing games, such as Asphalt 8, are so intuitive and easy to play using the Siri Remote as a virtual steering wheel. The Siri Remote sets Apple TV 4 apart from its competitors. Other TV appliances offer voice control remotes. Only the Siri remote offers a Touchpad, gyroscope and accelerometer. It’s about as smart as a TV remote can be.
The Siri Remote has an Achilles’ heel. It is constructed out of glass, making it fragile. Unlucky Apple TV 4 owners have dropped their remote, shattering the glass, and rendering it unusable. A replacement costs $79, which is more than half the price of new Apple TV 4. The fragility and cost of the Siri Remote is upsetting to many customers. The device gets very poor ratings on Apple’s site, mainly from customers who have dropped and shattered the remote.
When I first heard about this issue, I was upset. Why would Apple make a TV remote out of glass? There’s a good reason for the Siri Remote’s glass construction. The Touchpad is made out of glass. It’s the only material that can provide excellent and smooth tracking. The rest of the remote’s front face is constructed out of glass to give it a uniform appearance. Other Apple touch surfaces, such as the Magic Trackpad and touch surfaces on MacBooks are also made out of glass. If you drop a Magic Trackpad, it may also shatter. Although the Siri Remote is fragile, with proper care and accessories, one can prevent accidental damage.
Handle the Remote Carefully
It seems a bit obvious to tell readers to handle the Siri Remote carefully. There are specific practices one can employ to keep the remote safe. It’s important to treat the Siri Remote like it is a smartphone, and not a TV remote. This simple attitude adjustment can save you $79 and a lot of frustration.
When you are not using the Siri Remote, put it in a safe place. I always put my Siri Remote in a cabinet in my AV center. This ensures it can’t slip off a table or the sofa when I am not using it.
Placing the Siri Remote on my sofa when I am using it seems to help avoid accidents. I put it all the way towards the back of the sofa cushion, so it can’t fall off easily.
When using the remote, don’t hold it out and point it at your Apple TV. This behavior will increase the likelihood of dropping the remote. The Siri Remote communicates with Apple TV using Bluetooth. There’s no need to point it at your Apple TV 4 unit. I don’t even pick it up off the sofa, unless I need to do a sensitive operation, such as scrubbing through a video. When I do pick it up, I make sure it is close to my body. If I drop it, it will just fall in my lap. If you have an older TV, you may need to point the remote at your TV in order to turn it on or adjust the volume. Try to keep the remote close to your body. Don’t extend your arm when pointing the remote at your TV.
Never leave the Siri Remote in your lap. You may forget it is there, stand up, and drop the remote. I have read about quite a few people who have done this.
Food and TV often go together. People often enjoy buttered pop corn or other foods while watching TV. Your Siri Remote can easily slip out of greasy hands. The remote is very smooth, unlike most plastic TV remotes. Always make sure to wipe off or wash greasy hands before handling the Siri Remote.
It’s also a good idea to protect your Siri Remote from liquids. The Siri Remote is not waterproof. Exposure to liquids can corrode and damage internal components. It’s always a good idea to place drinks away from the Siri Remote. If your Siri Remote has come in contact with water, wipe it off immediately. The same techniques for dealing with a wet iPhone apply to the Siri Remote. For more information, please read “How to Fix a Wet iPhone”.
Play Games on Carpet
Apple TV 4 brings gaming capabilities into your living room. Although one can use a dedicated gaming controller, the Siri Remote is well suited for many games. The accelerometer and gyroscope make it easy to steer a race car. I always use the Siri Remote to play racing games, such as Asphalt 8.
Ideally, you should try to play games while seated. This reduces the likelihood of dropping the Siri Remote. Unfortunately, some games are best played while standing. I always play Asphalt 8 while standing, so I can be closer to my TV. Make sure to be standing on a carpeted area while playing games with the Siri Remote. If you drop the remote on carpet, it is far less likely to shatter. If you have hardwood floors, a small area rug can help protect your Siri remote. It will also reduce audio reflections, which can improve the audio quality of your TV or stereo.
Purchase a Protective Case
Protective cases for the Siri Remote emerged shortly after Apple TV 4 launched. These cases are typically constructed of silicone and cover much of the remote’s body, leaving the buttons and Touchpad accessible.
It’s important to be realistic about the protection a case provides. Just like with a smartphone, your Siri Remote can still shatter on impact, even if it is in a case. At best, the case will reduce the likelihood of your remote shattering when dropped. Given that many of these are inexpensive, they seem like a worthwhile investment.
Siri Remote cases vary in price, quality and construction. On the low-end, one can purchase an inexpensive Silicone case for $1.99. These cover the entire remote, with the exception of the Touchpad. The Touchpad, however, is constructed of glass. These cases may prevent shattering from some impacts, but they don’t protect the Touchpad. The silicone may also make the remote easier to grip, ensuring that it won’t slip out of your hands.
Higher end protective cases augment the size of the Siri Remote and protect the glass Touchpad with a protruding “bumper”. These basically turn your Siri remote into the larger, traditional TV remote that fits well in one’s hand. Apple loves to make things small and thin. Unfortunately, this makes it harder to securely grasp the Siri Remote. Griffin, Sakai, Akwox and others make these larger Siri Remote cases.
I personally don’t use a case with my Siri Remote and have no relationship with case manufacturers. If you are prone to dropping things, I highly recommend purchasing one of these larger cases.
Make sure that the case has a hole for both the front and back Siri microphone. Some cases cover up one or both of the remote’s mics.
Purchase a Wrist Strap
Wrist straps are another popular protective accessory for the Siri Remote. They usually plug in to the lightning port and are designed to wrap around the user’s wrist. Apple makes an official wrist strap for the Siri Remote. At $12.99, it’s the usual steep price one would expect from Apple. If it saves you from shattering your $79 Siri Remote, it is well worth it. That said, you can shop around and find a wrist strap for much less.
Unlike cases, wrist straps are intended to prevent dropping the remote while gaming. For example, if you are playing a bowling or racquet game on Apple TV 4, a wrist strap will prevent the remote from slipping out of your hand. A strap won’t prevent the remote from falling off a table. You could even drop the remote while trying to slip on the strap.
Some cases come with wrist straps. Using both a case and strap provides the most protection for your Siri Remote.
As with many products, extended warranties don’t prove to be a good deal for Apple TV 4. Only AppleCare+ offers coverage for Apple TV 4. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cover accidental damage. AppleCare+ will not cover replacement or repair of a shattered Siri Remote. SquareTrade doesn’t offer warranty coverage for Apple TV 4. At best, your credit card may offer protection for accidental damage.
Use a Different Remote
You don’t have to use the Siri Remote with Apple TV 4. If you’ve shattered your Siri Remote or are worried about doing so, you may want to replace the Siri remote with something less expensive or more robust. If you have young children, it may be a good idea to have them use a different remote.
An old iPhone can serve as an excellent replacement for the Siri Remote. Apple’s Remote App for iOS turns your iPhone into a remote control for Apple TV 4. Unfortunately, the current version only offers basic controls for Apple TV 4. It doesn’t offer support for Siri. It doesn’t even have a Home button. The upcoming version of the Remote App will offer Siri and a Home button, as well as a dedicated gaming mode. Of course, an iPhone is just as fragile as the Siri Remote. If you have an old iPhone lying around and don’t plan on selling it, there’s nothing to lose.
You can also use the stainless steel Apple Remote that shipped with the 2nd and 3rd generation models. This works with Apple TV 4 without any configuration, however, it provides limited functionality.
Virtually any remote can be configured to work with Apple TV 4. Simply go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Learn Remote and follow the onscreen instructions. None of these replacement remotes provide Siri capabilities. Although it is fragile, nothing beats the Siri Remote. I would only recommend a different remote if you break your original Siri Remote or you are accident prone. The Siri Remote is the best thing about Apple TV 4.
No Parts for Siri Remote
In theory, it should be easy for anyone to repair a shattered Siri Remote. Only the top face is made of glass. It’s all one unit that can be pried off. Unfortunately, there are no spare parts for the Siri Remote on the market. I was also unable to find any repair service for the Siri Remote. This may change in time, as Apple TV gains in popularity. At this point, there just aren’t enough Apple TV owners to make the replacement parts and repair market profitable.
If you break your Siri Remote, you either have to replace it or use another, inferior remote. You may find cheaper prices for the Siri Remote, but be wary of any deal that seems too good to be true. I found Siri Remotes for less than $60, but I have to wonder if they are authentic. With the iPhone, many warranty and repair services offer replacements that are mostly constructed of counterfeit parts. Only the logic board is genuine. I would suspect that a $60 Siri Remote may not be genuine. If that’s the case, the gyroscope, accelerometer and microphones may not work as expected.