The new iPod touch is the best iPod Apple’s ever built, emulating the iPhone 5 in several areas. Its $299 starting price will be a turn off for some users, but it’s still the cheapest way to get the full iOS 6 experience in your pocket.
The new iPod touch (5th generation, 2012) is miles ahead of last year’s model, which was a minor update to the 2010 iPod touch. The new iPod touch features the same Retina display as the iPhone 5, a faster processor and a slimmer design. The hardware combined with the wide selection of games, apps and media from iTunes and the App Store make the iPod touch the best pocketable media player on the market, earning it a Gotta Be Mobile Editors’ Choice Award.
The 32 GB ($299) and 64GB ($399) iPod touch models are priced the same as the iPhone 5 models with the same capacity. However, iPod touch buyers don’t have to sign up for an expensive two-year wireless plan, which makes up the bulk of the iPhone’s total cost of ownership. There’s no 16 GB option for the new iPod touch this time around, but Apple is still offering the last year’s iPod touch (4th Generation, 2011) with 16 GB for $199.
The iPod touch is just $30 cheaper than the iPad mini, which may give some users pause. The only reason reason to buy the iPod touch rather than the iPad mini is portability. If you plan to sit on the couch with an iOS device you’re going to get more out of the iPad mini, even though it doesn’t have a Retina display. The iPod touch is the way to go if you need a device you can throw in a small pocket.
iPod touch Design and Overview
The new iPod touch is taller than the old model and features a 4″ Retina display. It is extremely thin, measuring just 6.1mm thick and weighing in at 88 grams (3.1 ounces). That’s 20% thinner and 21% lighter than the iPhone 5. The device feels very light and is easy to handle. It has excellent fit and finish, which should be expected of a $299 to $399 pocketable device.
Like the rest of Apple’s latest mobile devices, the iPod touch has the new Lightning port. The new connector is smaller than the old 30-pin connector and is easier to use since it can be inserted with either side up, but it isn’t compatible with older accessories unless you fork over $29 for an adapter. The adapter isn’t compatible with all accessories, so you may have to trade in your favorite speakers and docks. Of course iOS users will need to make the transition at some point, but the iPod and iPhone accessory market is in flux with the new Lightning connector and there aren’t many compatible docks, speakers or charging solutions available at this point.
The display looks fantastic with bright colors and crisp shapes and text. The 16:9 screen ratio means users won’t be bothered by black bars above and below most movies. In the above photo you can see that the iPod touch’s Retina display (right) is every bit as good as the iPhone 5’s (left). The sharpness is especially important for those who plan to read a lot of Web content, eBooks or email on the iPod touch.
The iPod touch is now available in six colors, including black, grey, pink, blue, yellow and red. The black iPod touch has a black bezel,while the others have white bezels around the display. The iPod touch has a small popup button to attach a matching wrist strap.
The strap helps protect the iPod touch from accidental drops, which are more likely to happen when using the device as a camera and when playing motion-controlled games. The strap is a fantastic idea considering parents often trust the iPod touch in small hands.
The back of the iPod touch does have a couple of oddities. The camera sticks out a bit and there’s a black plastic strip in the top-right corner. The plastic strip is a sort of window to allow Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals through.
iPod touch Camera
Picture quality is more than adequate for posting snapshots on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but we don’t recommend using the iPod touch as a primary camera. The rear-facing 5 MP iSight camera is a huge improvement over those found on older models, but it does not rival point-and-shoot cameras as Apple claims.
The iPod touch shoots decent 1080p video in bright settings, but it has trouble in dimly lit rooms and at night. In dim situations, such as the above video in Disney’s Cars Land, the iPod touch produces grainy video and has trouble focusing.
The front-facing 1.2MP Facetime camera takes mediocre self portraits, but is perfectly acceptable for placing FaceTime video calls.
iPod Touch EarPods
The iPod touch comes with Apple’s new EarPods, which are contoured to stick in ears better than the round earbuds Apple offered for years. The EarPods sound much better than the older earbuds, especially when it comes to mid and low tones. Music enthusiasts will still want to buy third-party headphones to get the best audio quality.
While the EarPods sound just as good as the set that ships with the iPhone 5, the iPod touch version doesn’t come with the inline microphone or audio control buttons. This means users can’t adjust the volume, activate Siri, pause music or skip tracks using the headset like they can with the iPhone 5’s headset. Sure, the iPod touch isn’t a phone, but Apple really should include a microphone since the iPod touch features Siri and FaceTime.
iPod touch Apps and Performance
The iPod touch has plenty of power for all of its built-in apps and most anything you’ll download from the App Store. Some games won’t run as quickly on the iPod touch as on the iPhone 5, but that won’t matter to a lot of users. Graphics-intensive games like Need for Speed Most Wanted run perfectly fine on the iPod touch.The new iPod touch runs on an A5 processor, which is significantly slower than the iPhone 5’s A6 processor. The iPod touch scored 629 on Geekbench 2, a benchmarking app that’s available in Apple’s App Store. That’s identical to our Geekbench results on the iPhone 4S and just a little behind the iPad 3 (722) and iPad mini (752). The iPhone 5 blows all of those devices out of the water with its faster processor, clocking in a Geekbench score of 1,642.
The new iPod touch is the first iPod to feature Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant. Siri generally works well as long as you know how to phrase questions and phrases to its liking. Apple provides several example queries within the Siri app to help users get up to speed. Siri is still far from perfect however, returning with no results on occasion, presumably because Apple’s servers aren’t responding or are overloaded.
Apple still offers the most robust app and media shopping experience of any mobile device. Almost anything that can run on the iPhone will run on the iPod touch. One issue with the new iPod touch is that many developers haven’t gotten around to updating their apps to accomodate the taller screen, which means you’ll have to put up with black bars above and below some apps in portrait mode for the time being.
The iPod touch doesn’t come with a GPS module, which means you can’t load it up with an offline maps app and use it to navigate. It also means apps won’t necessarily be able to pinpoint your exact location and will instead have to rely on geo-location by Wi-Fi, which isn’t as accurate.
Apple claims the iPod touch will run on a single charge for up to 40 hours while playing music and up to 10 hours while playing videos. The battery does indeed seem to run forever and we went two to three days between charges with moderate use. Watching 4 hours and 10 minutes of movies and videos brought the iPod touch’s battery meter down from full to just 63%, a rate that’s slightly ahead of Apple’s claim.
iPod touch Review Conclusion
The new iPod touch is an excellent mobile device, though its price tag exceeds those of some small Android tablets and is just $30 shy of the iPad mini. Its new Retina display and performance that’s on par with some of Apple’s more expensive devices make it very attractive. While it does have a few shortcomings, the iPod touch is the best iPod or personal media player we’ve seen to date and highly recommend the device. We only wish Apple would offer a slightly more affordable 16GB iPod touch as an entry point for the full iOS 6 experience.