A great replacement button remote for Apple TV [Updated review]


Function 101 Apple TV button remote★★★★☆
This Apple TV remote has what others lack -- buttons!
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Update: Function 101’s Button Remote for Apple TV has been upgraded with Bluetooth, allowing the multibutton remote control to work without direct line of sight to your Apple TV. This proves essential if you mount the streaming box behind your TV or hide it away in a cabinet. Otherwise, the remote looks and works the same, and is an excellent replacement remote for your Apple TV.

If, like me, you hate the fiddly Apple TV Siri Remote, Function 101’s Button Remote for Apple TV is a good replacement remote.

It’s a traditional infrared remote control — and now with added Bluetooth — with 18 simple buttons, hence the name. Thanks to its familiar design, it’s perhaps the easiest way to use your Apple TV.

It works with most TVs and home theater components out of the box, works with regular batteries, and isn’t as easy to misplace as Apple’s remote. There’s a lot to like, and it’s on sale for 25% off exclusively for Cult of Mac readers over the Memorial Day weekend. Use code CULTOFMAC25 (code applies to sitewide to all Function 101 products).

Function 101 Button Remote review: An affordable replacement

Function 101 Apple TV button remote: Function 101's Button Remote is a solid, easy-to-use alternative to the much-hated Siri Remote
Function 101’s Button Remote is a solid, easy-to-use alternative to the much-hated Siri Remote.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The Button Remote is compatible with Apple TV and the latest Apple TV 4K, and comes programmed to work with both devices out of the box. It exists only because of the weird shortcomings and design choices of Apple’s Siri Remote — both the original Siri Remote, which was widely hated, and it’s more recent replacement, which people still hate. Apple’s Siri Remote remains too small and fiddly, and too symmetrical to operate in the dark by touch alone. It’s hard to use and easily is lost.

Of course, Apple is well aware of the shortcomings of the original Siri Remote, which is why the clicker was replaced with a new design. The new aluminum Siri Remote ditches the glass trackpad in favor of a familiar button wheel, and costs $59 — twice the price of Function 101’s Button Remote. In addition, it’s still small and fiddly. And it must be recharged via Lightning cable.

A better design for an Apple TV remote

By contrast, Function 101’s Button Remote is about twice the size and double the thickness. It’s not a big remote by any means, but it’s a lot easier to hold and use than either of the Siri Remotes.

The problem may be that the Siri Remote was designed not just for video playback, but also gaming. It has accelerometers so it can be used as a Wii-style gaming controller. Its touchpad doubles as a joystick for games. The Siri Remote also packs a range of inscrutable (and hard to discover) gestures, taps and long press-and-hold clicks that invoke various commands.

Function 101 Button Remote review: Function 101's remote is bigger than the Siri Remote, making it easier to use and find among the cushions of the couch
Function 101’s remote is bigger than the Siri Remote, making it easier to use and find among the cushions of the couch.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The Button Remote’s 18 buttons are laid out in a familiar pattern that’ll be immediately recognized by anyone who’s operated a TV remote (i.e., the entire developed world aged 2 1/2 and up). The remote has a nice rubbery surface. And the buttons themselves feel pleasantly tactile and clicky.

Unlike the original Siri Remote, this one comes with dedicated buttons for fast-forwarding and rewinding, skipping forward and back, and stopping playback entirely, as well as mute and channel/page up and down buttons.

Siri’s swipe pad is replaced with a standard, four-direction carousel with an “OK” button in the middle. It’s dead-easy to use and a lot more precise than the Siri glasspad.

Infrared and AAA batteries

Because it’s an infrared (IR) as well as a Bluetooth remote, this Apple TV remote replacement also works with just about every TV and home theater system on the market. Out of the box, the Button Remote comes programmed to work with Samsung TVs. We own an Samsung TV with a Sonos soundbar (and satellite speakers), and I was pleasantly surprised to find the Button Remote worked perfectly with my entire setup with no configuration at all. When does that ever happen?

You can easily program the Button Remote to control the volume, mute and power on your TV, soundbar, or receiver, which is nice. (Instructions can be found on the Function 101 FAQ page.)

Another big advantage: The Button Remote is powered by a pair of AAA batteries rather than recharged by Lightning cable. In my book, this is better. Whenever I need the Siri Remote, it’s always, always, always dead.

Because the Button Remote works via infrared and Bluetooth, it no longer needs a clear line of sight to the Apple TV. If your streaming box is hidden in a cabinet or behind a big flatscreen, you will no longer have any trouble getting Function 101’s remote to work.

No Siri, and no input control

The Button Remote doesn’t have an input button, so it can’t be used to switch your TV’s inputs. If like me, you have multiple devices feeding into the TV — a cable box, a games console, an Apple TV — you can’t use the Button Remote to switch between them.

However, it’s not a huge loss. When the Button Remote wakes up the Apple TV (via the Menu button), it also wakes up your TV on the correct input.

The Button Remote also lacks a microphone, so you can’t use it for Siri voice commands.

This is the biggest loss for me. The one thing I like about the Siri Remote is Siri. Voice recognition is great for entering long, complex passwords. Plus, it often proves good for searching for shows (though not always). Your experience with Siri may be different. I’ve heard lots of people complain that Siri is useless, so the absence of a microphone may not be a big loss.

There’s no dedicated TV button, either, which on the Siri Remote takes you to the Apple TV Home screen. However, you simply long-press the Menu button on the Button Remote to bring up the Home Screen.

There are a couple of other hidden commands that are worth noting:

  • Long-press the P^ button to bring up the Apple TV Control Center.
  • Long-press the Pv button to bring up the App Switcher.
  • Double-tap the UP Arrow above the OK button to close an unresponsive app.

A cheap, reliable Apple TV remote replacement

I’m kinda old-school and often too lazy to learn new ways of doing things, which is why I like the Button Remote. It’s all extremely familiar and easy to use, even in the dark. This alternative Apple TV remote is reliable, and it’s easy to find if it gets lost in the couch cushions.

I miss Siri commands, but that’s no big deal. The Button Remote gets the job done. It’s $40 well spent.

The Function 101 Button Remote for Apple TV (Bluetooth edition) is available from Function 101, priced at $39.95. However, Cult of Mac readers can get 25% off sitewide with code CULTOFMAC25 through the Memorial Day weekend. The discount also applies to the infrared edition of the Button Remote, plus Function 101’s great cable management products.


Function 101 provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more stuff we recommend.

This review was originally on August 24, 2021, and updated on May 23, 2024 to include the updated Bluetooth version of the remote.


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