As it turns out, the Apple TV 4K includes a hidden Lightning port. This discovery was first made on Twitter by Kevin Bradley, better known as nitoTV on Twitter. This could lead to access to the Apple TV 4K’s firmware.
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While earlier Apple TV models had Micro USB and USB-C, the Apple TV 4K dropped all outwardly-facing ports other than Ethernet and HDMI. Under the hood, however, there’s a hidden Lightning port, as Bradley discovered.
The Lightning port is hidden in the ethernet connector on the Apple TV 4K. Bradley teased on Twitter:
None of us looked THAT closely to the hardware of the AppleTV 4K and the magic locked in the ethernet port until fairly recently.
As for getting the Lightning port itself to work, Steven Barker said in a tweet that this is proving to be “difficult.” The Lightning port is stuck at the very back of the ethernet port.
Ultimately, it’s not really clear what the Lightning port discovery could mean. One thing it could lead towards is the expansion of jailbreak capabilities for the Apple TV 4K, though Bradley cautions:
Just because we know it’s lightning doesn’t mean anything past that. Just because we find a way in doesn’t mean anything will DEFINITELY be released due to what we discover. The barrier for entry might be way too high.
One of the more logical explanations for the port is that it’s simply there for Apple to use for debugging, as Steve Troughton-Smith pointed out. Apple has a history of hiding ports on its products designed purely for service, diagnostics, and support.
You can read more about the Lightning port discovery on the Twitter accounts of Steve Barker and Kevin Bradley.
The original first-generation Apple TV featured a USB port, while the second and third-generation models featured a Micro USB port. The fourth-generation Apple TV – now known as Apple TV HD – features a USB-C port for “service and support.”