Foxtel iQ4 Review: A Comprehensive Guide


Our Verdict

Foxtel Pay TV

Foxtel's new iQ4 brings the pay TV giant into the 4K age, with a nice speed upgrade as a bonus.

Overall 90%

Review was updated on 23rd October, 2021

When Foxtel launched their iQ3 box, it was an ambitious product that aimed to revolutionise the pay TV set-top box. Three years later, with the release of the iQ4, the revolution finally arrived!

What’s In this Review

Foxtel iQ4 Review

The Foxtel iQ3 set-top box wasn’t without its annoyances — not least being the simple fact that the underlying hardware simply wasn’t powerful enough for the tasks being demanded of it. It did what any good DVR should do — prioritised recording and playback integrity at all costs, even if that meant slow, sluggish on-screen menus, and a user interface that occasionally made the simple act of browsing through available channels feel like an exercise in slow-motion.

The long-rumoured update to the iQ3 is a set top box that slots into the same niche as its predecessor, but does everything far, far better (and a lot faster). It also happens to support 4K content. It’s the Foxtel iQ4, and trust us, if you use Foxtel, you want one.

Foxtel iQ4 highlights

  • Price: One-off $150 fee with subscription (can be reduced or waived with promotions for new customers and self install only)
  • Tuners: 8 Foxtel satellites, 2 for Free-to-air channels
  • Recording: 345 hours (SD), 172 hours (HD), 62 hours (4K)
  • Video output: HDMI (720p, 1080p or 4K)
  • Foxtel iQ4 Remote: dual Bluetooth and infra-red
  • Streaming/downloading: Yes, via Ethernet or Wi-fi
  • App Support: Netflix, ABC iView, SBS On Demand

Foxtel’s ubiquitous iQ3 set top box has received its fair share of bouquets and brickbats over the four and a half years it’s been around. Many people immediately warmed to the more interactive interface, which was a welcome change from the earlier iQ2’s “hotel movie channel chic” menu system. The generous 1000 GB hard drive allowed for recording of a week’s worth of HD channel programming, an important upgrade as more and more HD channels came online. Its plethora of tuners — a remarkable ten in the satellite version, including two for free-to-air TV — meant you could easily record multiple shows at once without regular viewing being interrupted or recordings clashing with one another. Those huge leaps in usability got a much-needed under-the-hood boost with the arrival of the iQ4 box, which improves on its predecessor in every way. So does it deliver the goods in terms of features? How easy is it to use? And is it worth spending a little extra to get one? We’ve taken a long look at the iQ4 to find out.

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What’s New with the iQ4?

While the external appearance of the iQ4 box is almost the same as that of the iQ3, though you can tell them apart instantly if you know what to look for — the iQ4 has a pair of buttons on the right hand side of the front panel, while the old box has a single power button. But the lookalike appearance is deceptive — what’s inside the newer set top box has pretty much nothing in common with the iQ3 except the software it runs on, and the same ten-tuner count (the iQ4 box is only available in a satellite version, by the way, as Foxtel slowly phases out cable connections over the coming years).

Under the hood is a variation on Arris’s MS6505 device, with a powerful processor and hardware support for the very latest video standards. HDMI 2.0 support solves the issues some had with the former iQ box and modern TVs, while also providing full support for 4K video — both broadcast and streamed. But most important of all, the upgraded hardware gives Foxtel’s interface all the breathing room it needs to really shine — the difference in speed and responsiveness is night and day.

Foxtel 1Q4

Foxtel 4K Support

The main reason for the iQ4’s arrival — above and beyond being a drop-in replacement for the no-longer-made iQ3 — is 4K streaming. Foxtel launched Australia’s first 4K broadcast channel in 2018. That’s now expanded to two channels: an Ultra HD sports channels playing various forms of live cricket as well as Formula 1, Rugby League and AFL in full 4K, which are included in the Sports HD pack, and a new Ultra HD Movies channel which features movies is delicious 4K 24 hours a day. More 4K channels are undoubtedly on the way – Foxtel has left space on their satellite for at least two more.

Satellite is an ideal delivery method for 4K, freed from the constraints of free-to-air broadcast TV when it comes to available bandwidth. The only real limit is how much capacity Foxtel has on the satellite.

This also means that even if you’re one of the many suffering from slow broadband and you can’t stream 4K content with your WiFi or internet connection, you’ll have no such problems with the iQ4 — the use of satellite means pristine 4K quality is available to everyone.

The iQ4’s output also supports two different forms of HDR (High Dynamic Range) video. We don’t know yet whether Foxtel intends to show any HDR content — so far they haven’t, and the on-board Netflix app doesn’t use HDR either — but we’d recommend plugging the iQ4 directly into your TV when possible, rather than through an amp or sound bar (many such devices don’t pass through all the HDR information to the TV). As for 4K streaming, Foxtel hasn’t committed to it at all just yet. But the iQ4 is more than capable of doing it, with support for the H.265 format used by the likes of Netflix to help keep streaming rates low. That support also means, of course, that Netflix can stream in full 4K on the iQ4. 

Foxtel iQ4 Features

Despite being a completely different set top box internally, compared to the previous iQ box, the iQ4 box has quite a bit in common with its older sibling. This is not entirely surprising, as it’s very likely that some of the same designers worked on the newer box. And so once again we have ten tuners (eight satellite and two terrestrial), a 1000 GB hard drive for about 160 hours of HD recording, and a Bluetooth Foxtel remote control.

Aside from the major internal upgrades, the iQ4 also boasts fast dual-band Wi-Fi for a more reliable connection to your home network (we still recommend using an Ethernet cable, though) and the aforementioned HDMI 2.0 output, for which you’ll need a premium-grade HDMI cable (one is supplied in the box, though a bit on the short side at only 1.5 metres – Foxtel will apparently provide a longer one on request).

Foxtel iQ4 Remote

New customers who get the iQ4 delivered will get the latest, upgraded Foxtel iQ4 remote control, which also works with infra-red, making it more reliable and responsive, and offers direct-access buttons for content categories as well as voice search. That new voice remote is also available to existing users for a small fee.

Foxtel iQ4 remote image

What are the IQ4’s Best Features?

  • Real 4K satellite television – always perfect quality 4K with no buffering
  • Streaming – the latest movies and multiple seasons of your favourite shows to stream on demand, including the entire HBO library.
  • Easy to use – the entire user interface has been redesigned for fast navigation and tight integration with on-demand streaming 
  • Picture quality – the IQ4 uses the latest video tech to deliver the best Foxtel picture quality yet, especially on a 4K TV.
  • Connected – download shows and movies to watch whenever it suits you with no buffering
  • Recording – easily records individual shows or entire seasons with rock-solid reliability with Series Link; also records every game in a sporting code for your preferred team by using the Team Link feature.

User Experience

Now, here’s where things get good — the moment you have the iQ4 plugged in and turn on the power. The box does its usual iQ start-up procedure — but multiple times faster than the old set top box did — and then will automatically install the latest software and reboot. And from that point on, after quickly pairing the Bluetooth remote by tapping the front panel button and choosing your output resolution (up to 2160p for 4K TV owners), you’re let loose on a device which is an absolute treat to use.

The difference in responsiveness and performance compared to the old set top box is night and day. It’s hard not to smile a little as you seamlessly fly through the on-screen menus, deftly navigate around the program guide, sail through the channel list and swiftly explore the On Demand section. This is undoubtedly the sort of hardware the designers of the iQ software were expecting their system to run on, and set free from its underpowered older sibling, it becomes a much more usable, pleasant and fun experience.

The completely redesigned user interface streamlines everything from the Home screen (with program highlights and your in-progress titles) to the genre-based on-demand streaming sections for movies, TV shows and sports, and of course your library of recorded and downloaded programs. Foxtel spent a huge amount of time with actual users testing out design improvements to see what worked best, and the result is brilliant – finally, the iQ4 feels like a true multi-faceted entertainment device, embracing both broadcast TV and on-demand streaming within the same seamless interface.

Foxtel streaming box

The new Foxtel iQ4 remote control is now backlit, and equipped with buttons to directly access on-demand movies, TV shows, sports… and Netflix! That’s right – the iQ4 also includes a full-scale Netflix app right there on the box. You can sign in with an existing account (or sign up through Foxtel, with a Netflix subscription included as part of Platinum Plus or available as an optional add-on) and get streaming in up to 4K – just press the big white Netflix button on the remote (or, if you’re still using the older remote, press the “Apps” button). 

The new Home screen on the iQ4 highlights key shows and movies that you might be interested in based on what you watch – and these highlights include titles from Netflix as well, which you can directly access from the Home screen. Make no mistake – the new software for the iQ4 makes this device easily the one with most features and user-friendly digital recorder you can get.

Foxtel iQ4 Highlights

  • Effectively a second-generation, far more powerful iQ3
  • Full support for 4K broadcast TV, the first box in Australia to do so
  • Much more powerful CPU means a smooth, fast user interface
  • Access to the massive Foxtel on-demand streaming library built in
  • Full Netflix support including 4K streaming

How to Get Foxtel iQ4

Even if you don’t have a 4K TV — at least, not yet — the iQ4 is still very much a worthwhile upgrade if you’ve ever found yourself frustrated by the slowness of the iQ3 menu system or its other assorted quirks. If you want to upgrade to the iQ4, you simply need to give Foxtel a phone call  — what the actual cost of swapping out to the new box will be varies wildly depending on your current setup, as well as your Foxtel package subscription and other factors, so you could be up for as much as $150 (most likely less, though). We still think it’s worth it regardless! Note, though, that the iQ4 is only available in a version for satellite installs. If you get your Foxtel via cable, you’re going to have to hang onto your former set top box for a little while longer. Cable customers wanting the iQ4 can often make the switch to satellite, which means having a tech over to install a dish and run cables. You’ll need to speak to Foxtel about whether this is possible, and if so, what it’ll cost.

It’s worth noting that the new 4K channels are going to need a satellite installation that has dual outputs — in other words, if your Foxtel point at home only has one socket, a tech will need to visit to upgrade your dish and run a new cable.

Foxtel launches the new iQ5

More than three years after the launch of iQ4, Foxtel releases the all-new Foxtel iQ5 box. While it is initially offered to only select customers this year, the iQ5 will be widely available at the beginning of 2022. 

What distinguishes the latest iQ5 from its predecessor is that you can select its setup via satellite or your internet connection. Fundamentally, you can now watch Foxtel with the Foxtel iQ5 through your internet connection – this is similar to what you can do with the Foxtel Now box.

However, the Foxtel Now box doesn’t allow recording of sports and your favourite shows, but the Foxtel iQ5 still can! Being a plug and play iQ box, you can watch sports, movies, and your favourite shows instantly with no traditional cable or satellite installation required. 

The box records two internet channels and one free to air channel at the same time while allowing you to watch a fourth. So if you can’t or don’t want to install a Foxtel satellite dish on your roof (and who would!), then the iQ5 connects through your broadband connection while allowing you to watch Foxtel’s 4K channels.

Compare Foxtel Plans

Main Event
  • Main Event
  • No Lock-in Contract
  • Easy access via broadcast on Foxtel
  • Basic Foxtel subscription required
  • starts at $20/7 days
starts at $20/7 days
cost per event, duration depends
Min Cost - Boxing and UFC from $50/per event

Foxtel Plus Bundle
  • No set up costs.
  • Foxtel Plus Bundle
  • 12 Month Contract
  • Set-top Box Included
  • 50+ channels
  • Enjoy 130 complete drama series
  • $49/mth
Min Cost - $588 on a 12 month direct debit plan with iQ4. New customers only.

Foxtel Plus Bundle
  • Foxtel Plus Bundle
  • No Lock-in Contract
  • Set-top Box Included
  • 50+ channels
  • Enjoy 130 complete drama series
  • $49/mth
Min Cost - $334 on direct debit for 1 month with iQ4 (incl $150 iQ4 box fee, $35 standard connection & $100 professional install fee).

Foxtel Plus & Netflix Bundle
  • Foxtel Plus & Netflix Bundle
  • No Lock-in Contract
  • Set-top Box Included
  • Netflix Standard Plan included
  • 50+ channels
  • $63/mth
Min Cost - $348 on direct debit for 1 month with iQ4 (incl $150 iQ4 box fee, $35 standard connection & $100 professional install fee).

Movies HD Bundle
  • Movies HD Bundle
  • No Lock-in Contract
  • Set-top Box Included
  • Foxtel Plus & Movies HD
  • 1000+ hours of movies
  • $69/mth
Min Cost - $354 on direct debit for 1 month with iQ4 (incl $150 iQ4 box fee, $35 standard connection & $100 professional install fee).

Last audited 10th of November 2021

Foxtel on the Go

Watching Foxtel at home with the iQ4 boxes is one thing, but did you know that you can also take it with you and watch anywhere you go? Thanks to the Foxtel Go app, you can watch all the shows, sport, and movies that are part of your subscribed channel packs through a number of mobile devices. 

Using this app is completely free — so long as you’re subscribed to any Foxtel Pack. You can stream instantly, even prior to setting up your iQ4 box at home. Check out the table below for the complete list of compatible Foxtel Go devices and start watching Foxtel on the go. 

What Devices is Foxtel iQ4 Compatible with?

The Pros and Cons

The Good

  • Foxtel’s fastest and most feature-packed box ever
  • Superb picture quality 
  • Responsive interface
  • Well integrated downloading and streaming
  • Netflix support built in

The Gotchas

  • User interface is too low-res
  • Only one free-to-air show can be recorded at a time
  • No HDR support for 4K on both Foxtel and Netflix

Contact Foxtel

If you’re interested to get the latest iQ box with a Foxtel TV plan, their customer service service can talk you through the various options available. You can call the friendly sales team on 1300 130 799. You can also visit the Foxtel website to check other info about entertainment bundles, services, support, account, trending 2021 Foxtel sports and shows, and any other queries you may have.

Summary: Is Foxtel iQ4 right for me?

Foxtel’s iQ3 has long been one of the most user-friendly DVRs (digital video recorders) around, completely separate from its obvious task as a receiver for your Foxtel channels. But the sluggish performance of that device was always an annoyance to one degree or another. With the iQ4, that annoyance is completely gone, replaced by a fast, feature-rich and hugely capable box which makes the experience of simply using Foxtel magnitudes better. The fact that it comes with access to 4K broadcasts via satellite, well, that’s just the icing on the cake. If you love your TV, you’ll want an iQ4 connected to it.

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