The original iPod touch was released five years ago as an answer to people who wanted the features of the iPhone, without the cellphone bill. Five years later and Apple still hasn’t changed the formula.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the iPod touch is how incredibly slim the body is. Dressed in anodized aluminium, the iPod touch looks slicker than ever. Apple has even released a number of colours to best suit your taste, unlike the previous generation which only came in black and white.
All the new iPod touches feature a white face except for all-black model – but the rear of the coloured models look great. On the front it’s pretty familiar – it looks kind of like an iPhone without the phone speaker - but this time it features a 4 inch screen similar to the iPhone 5.
This is also the first device to arrive in South Africa which carries the new “Lightning” connector. Lightning is Apple’s new proprietary connector which replaces the old 30 pin dock connector – which was getting a little old, despite its massive popularity across docks, cars, hifis etc. The problem is that if you have a bunch of devices which use the old connector, you will need to use converter plugs, or buy new cables to make it work with the new iPod touch – something which can quickly become very expensive.
Case in point - I had to buy a new extra cable for my car, and a new converter plug for an alarm clock dock. This added up to R520.
The other major change is a new camera – which we will get to later. There is also a new small button that pops up from the bottom corner which is used for the loop accessory, included in the box.
Apple has stuck to the Retina pixel density, while making the screen slightly taller than before. When using the device you notice an extra set of icons on the home screen – but apps need to be updated to support the new taller screen. Unlike the switch from non-retina to retina, we were surprised to see the vast majority of our favourite apps already updated for the new screen. If they are not, they simply get letterboxed – which you do not really notice on the black model we reviewed. All other colours feature a white front which will make the letterboxing a lot clearer.
The retina screen is as good as ever, but some users might miss the mega-sized screens of some other devices, but Apple is sticking to their guns in terms of screen width. In use, we found the taller screen still comfortable to use, but smaller hands need to stretch their thumbs a little further to the top corners.
This time round the camera is a first class citizen in the iPod touch. It shares the same 5MP picture size as the iPhone 4 – which might seem old, but it still takes great photos. But the body of the iPod Touch is so thin, that the camera bulges out slightly on the back, which we are not fans of. This is the first iOS device that has a bulging camera lens, and it does feel a little un-Apple like.
In use the camera takes great photos – while not up to the same standard as the iPhone 4S, it is definitely a great casual camera. It does feel faster than the 4S though – it quickly shoots through a fast series of snaps, but low light does slow it down somewhat. Low light pics are surprisingly good, and definitely look better than pictures from the old iPhone 4, despite also having a 5 megapixel sensor. Our guess – it’s not only a new sensor with better optics, but some decent software wizardry as well. The front camera has been improved as well – so self portraits are a bit sharper this time round.
The little button on the bottom is made to connect a “loop” to – further accentuating the Touch’s new focus on photography. The loop attaches firmly, and has a subtle click to let you know it is in place. The loop does feel cheap though – I would not be swinging the device around using the loop.
If you have used an iPhone 4S, you can expect similar performance from the iPod Touch. It shares the same Apple A5 processor on the inside. The new generation iPod Touch comes in 32GB and 64GB model (the previous model is still available in 16GB), which means you have plenty of space to keep your games, photos and videos. RAM is stuck at 512MB, so not quite up to the iPhone 5’s 1GB of RAM.
Games launch quickly, and more intensive games like Asphalt 7 or the Need for Speed games run great – but our worry is rather the games that are coming in the future. While the iPhone 5 has the latest A6 processor, we find it strange that Apple has stuck with the older A5, despite the fact that it needs to push more pixels this time with the new screen.
In terms of connectivity – well, there is only Wifi and Bluetooth. Apple has given it 5GHz capability which we welcome.
Apple claims 40 hours of continuous battery life from the new iPod Touch – we did not need to test that. Seeing as the Touch is more focused as a gaming device, we threw some games at it, and it easily lasted for more than 7 hours with continuous play. 3D games do chow up the battery faster though. Apple has used the little bit of extra room on the inside and increased the battery to 1030mAh.
We like the iPod Touch – it is thin and beautiful. The screen is first rate, and the performance is decent as well. However – we wonder who the iPod Touch is still aimed at. With iPad mini arriving soon at an only slightly higher cost, we wonder whether the average user would not simply go for the slightly larger screen. The iPhone is still much more expensive, but included with a contract it becomes a lot more bearable.
It is clear that Apple is shifting the iPod Touch to a gaming device primarily, and camera second. The music player capability is no longer the focus of this iPod Touch. Not that the music player is lacking – it does what it needs to do. Apple has also upgraded the included earbuds – this time called “earpods”. They do sound better, but they still fall out of some people’s ears. If you were fine with the old Apple earbuds, you will be thrilled by these new versions.
The iPod Touch does remain the best all round media player on the market – but it does come at a steep price.
Good battery life.
Lightning plug means expensive cables and converters.
Bulging camera very un-Apple like.
Watch Bandwidth Blog TV’s review of the iPod Touch in the video below: