on December 3, 2012
It's been nearly two years since the release of the last truly new iPod touch, but has that two years been worth the wait? The answer is a resounding YES! The iPod touch is still not perfect though. Where it could see some improvement is in Apple's native camera and photo apps. (See section titled "Camera and Photography" for details.)
I'm no Apple fanboy, just a gadget fan in general. I retain fandom of a wide range of mobile devices, not just Apple's, but I have to admit, when it comes to non-phone touchscreen media devices, Apple still takes the cake ...and the Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). The handful of iPod touch competition simply cannot compare, even after a two-year hiatus prior to a newer, even more spectacular model.
I'll take you hands-on with the new iPod touch, plus I'll share from my past four years of iPod touch ownership altogether, especially for those who haven't yet owned (or been slave to) this 'vice.
My review tends to run long, so I've organized information by section, with headings, to make it more helpful for those just looking for specific info. I've tried to cater my review towards both those familiar with technology like this, as well as those not too technically savvy, but sometimes tech-speak is unavoidable. If there's anything you don't quite understand, or if there's something you want to know about that I haven't covered, I encourage you to participate in a discussion by asking any questions in the comments for this review.
Finally, in hopes of making this the most helpful iPod touch review on Amazon, I'll also reveal a treasure trove of info on how you can legitimately download tons of quality apps and games for free! (See "Downloading Apps and Games" for details.)
Now, let's quickly cover what's new, and what each means for you.
===== What's New =====
+ Faster dual-core A5 processor (1GHz) - twice as fast; 7x faster graphics processing for gaming
+ 512MB memory - double the memory for maximum fun and multitasking
+ Taller 4" Retina display - 1136 x 640 resolution packed into a 326ppi pixel density for near-widescreen viewing (in landscape orientation)
+ 15% larger battery - 3.44 Whr/930 mAh plays 7 hrs of video & 40 hrs of audio
+ 5MP iSight camera (rear) - take 20x higher-res photos, or 1080p video, now with LED flash & image stabilization
+ 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera (front) - 4x higher-res photos or 720p video
+ Wireless N (dual band) - connect faster to a wider variety of routers with 802.11n support
+ Lightning dock cable - smaller, more versatile connector to charge your iPod and transfer data with
+ Siri included - now speak your iPod touch to life with this beloved virtual assistant (over WiFi)
+ 5 New Colors - personalize your iPod more than ever with new color options
+ Thinner, lighter than ever - barely noticeable in any pocket, but especially shirt pockets
+ New 'EarPods' - hear your tunes, videos and other audio in unmatched comfort and quality
Apple has once-again revolutionized the iPod we have grown to love. In exchange for these new features, you do sacrifice the option of a smaller 16GB capacity (and associated smaller price), but what's new is well worth the cost, in both price and sacrifice.
If you're new to the iPod touch, and are debating whether to buy old or new, the previous model is certainly a viable lower-cost alternative, but not by much (if comparing by capacity). If you want a 16GB model, you'll have to stick with the prior model. However, the new 32GB model is well worth the couple extra presidents you'll spend, plus 32GB is really the minimum iPod touch capacity I can comfortably recommend.
===== The Lines are Still Blurry =====
Two years ago, the lines began to blur between the iPhone and the iPod touch (frequently called an iPhone without the phone), when a new iPod touch was introduced with a Retina display, two cameras (rear and front-facing), 3-axis gyroscope, wireless-N and a faster processor to boot. Two years later, Apple is confirming their dedication to keeping the iPod touch relevant and in step with its iPhone counterpart, by giving the new iPod the same 4" retina display and 512MB of memory, along with a higher quality iSight camera and native support for panoramic photos. Just a few iPhone features remain missing in the iPod touch, besides the obvious phone: true GPS hardware, a magnetometer (compass) and matching processor and rear-camera quality (8MP instead of 5MP, though 5MP is far superior than the prior model's 0.5MP!).
===== iOS vs Android =====
Apple has held the top spot for non-phone multitouch mobile media devices since the iPod touch first arrived with iOS, the iPhone's operating system (OS). Other non-phone mobile devices do exist running other operating systems like Google's Android OS, but you don't often hear about them.
Apple's iOS is popular because it was first to revolutionize smartphones with its streamlined interface and multitouch display that you could navigate and interact with by simply using your finger, rather than a stylus that most smartphones before it had required. Plus, iOS has garnered support from leagues of app developers who remain firmly grounded on their decision to stand behind Apple's mobile platform, though a handful are slowly starting to port their apps over to Android as well.
The iPod touch has really made iOS what it is today. It does a lot of what the iPhone does, without a contract, as is the case with the iPhone and the iPad (3G models). If it weren't for the iPod touch, a lot of the market share Apple now has in the industry would have been stifled by carrier exclusivity, because you could only get an iPhone through AT&T for several years.
Meanwhile, Google's Android platform has seen en explosion of growth in the past couple years, mainly because Android isn't tied to a select few devices, and it's open source, so it can be further developed by manufacturers who use it. Indeed, several mobile device manufacturers have now latched onto Android as a foundation for numerous devices. People who couldn't have an iPhone have also taken a liking to it. Now, tons of Android devices have been released, and there's no end in sight. Furthermore, manufacturers want a piece of the iPad pie, too. So, there is now a glut of Android tablets.
Yet, to my surprise, one thing remains the same as it was two years ago: the competition remains quite lukewarm in the arena of non-phone mobile devices. These so-called 'Android Players' are really few and far between. The fact remains: there are plenty of reasons why the iPod touch is still untouchable.
===== Look and Feel =====
The new iPod touch has certainly improved aesthetically over the prior model. It's resoundingly thinner, lighter and sexier--smaller in every way but one: screen size. The new taller, yet equal-width iPod touch gives you more room to surf the web, read emails, watch videos, play games, you name it!
Did it need to be any lighter? Indeed! Ever try to stick one in your shirt pocket? Until now, its weight was noticeable. Now it feels barely there, but the truly remarkable thing is how they crammed all that technology into a thinner, lighter form factor.
The previous iPod touch model came in just black or white fronts, both with an easily-scratched chrome back. The prior lack of color customization goes against that of non-touch iPods. The iPod nano and other iPod lines have offered a variety of colors for years. Apple now extends that generosity to the iPod touch with 5 rear colors. The only color featuring a black front is Slate. The remaining colors all feature a white front: Silver, Pink, Yellow and Blue. Unfortunately, no Orange.
The sleek and refined new iPod touch has a truly refreshing new feel to it, yet it's tough enough to withstand the brunt of all that mobile devices have to deal with. Each new iPod touch model is crafted out of a single piece of silky-smooth anodized aluminum that feels phenomenal in the palm of your hand. It's the same peculiarly soft, yet durable metal used in Apple's MacBook line. Genius!
===== So What Can the iPod Touch Actually Do? =====
Well, what can't it do?
The iPod touch is like a magical little box, only it's flat. While it can't cook your breakfast, yet (I'm sure someone is already working on that), it can indeed do some pretty extraordinary things. It's an amazing catch-all device that can provide hours of entertainment, give you the power of the Web in your hand, and it can even replicate the functionality of countless one-off products. Developers have been creating apps that take advantage of special hardware of the iPod touch to emulate some other product for less, and sometimes even for free.
Even expensive products have seen cheap iOS based clone apps. For just 99 cents, you can snag a special alarm clock app that monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you up when you're in an ideal state of wakefulness. I spent 350 bucks on an aXbo
(http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0014RDSSY?tag=1pod-20&ie=UTF8) a few years ago, who's functionality is now easily replicated by several "sleep phase" alarm clock apps in the app store. When you do the math there, you see that it's easily a no brainer: buy yourself an iPod touch now!
Note: I've listed more apps like this in the comments.
Plus, with the support of such a strong community of app and game developers, there's never a drought of fresh new apps and games. There's always something to do with the iPod touch, and I guarantee you'll never be bored with it. I can't honestly say the same thing about Android, though I do still tote my EVO 3D around with me. Admittedly, the EVO's mobile hotspot comes in handy for providing the iPod touch with a WiFi connection when on the go.
===== Downloading Apps and Games =====
Downloading apps on your iPod touch couldn't be easier. Once you set up your iTunes account with a credit card, all you need to do is find the app you want, tap the download button (usually it says the price rather than "download", which then changes to "buy" after you tap it), then tap again to confirm. Enter your password once per App Store session, and voila! You've just bought an app. Behind the scenes, Apple then charges your card the amount of the app plus tax, while you're already off enjoying your new purchase. This ease of access is a blessing and a curse, because you can easily empty your wallet if you're not carefully considering each purchase.
All apps in the App Store range in price from Free and 99 cents on up, always incrementing in whole dollar amounts (1.99, 2.99, 3.99, etc). The maximum price for an app is set to $999.99, of which there are only eight currently priced so outrageously. And don't even think of toying with them. Apple does not allow refunds on apps you have purchased--all sales are final!
Now for the juicy money-saving secrets of the App Store! With the proper resources, you can legitimately download thousands of high quality apps for free. I do it all the time and it's perfectly legal. You see, Apple allows developers to temporarily put their apps on sale (and even drop the price to free). Usually they do this in hopes that you'll write a rave review for the temporarily-free app. The secret to your success here is having the resources to help you spot these special app sales--so you know when and where to get them during these often extremely-limited-time promotions.
In hopes of making this the most helpful review on Amazon for the iPod touch here's how to obtain these special promotional sale and temporarily-free apps for yourself!
There are several resources you can use, both on the Web and on the iPod touch itself. I prefer to use an app called "AppShopper" which lists all apps that recently went on sale or dropped to free. You can filter out "iPad" apps (which don't work on the touch) and show just "iPhone" apps instead, which are the ones that work on the iPod touch, and you can also filter just the free apps, just the sale apps or show all price-dropped apps. But so many apps go on sale, making it hard to cut through the clutter, which is where AppShopper truly shines: the "popular" tab shows only the most popularly downloaded free/sale apps. If several other people aren't downloading an app, you won't see it listed there!
AppShopper is a phenomenal little gem, and it has gotten me tons of apps FREE! It also has a companion website that lists the same apps. You can even create an account and track the apps you own, so you don't end up accidentally trying to redownload an app if it goes on sale again. It also supports "watch lists" via an AppShopper account you create, and the app can send you an alert whenever an app you're interested in goes on sale. It's a thing of beauty! There are other apps such as Free App a Day, AppZappPush, AppSniper, AppAdvice, Apps Gone Free, and more, but none of them leverage the power of the masses to help you filter out the unwanted apps by letting you optionally hone in on just the popular ones. Feel free to check them out if you like, though!
===== Web Browsing =====
Alongside spending lots of money on apps in the App Store, Web browsing is one of the most popular uses for the iPod touch. Browsing the Web with mobile Safari was my original attraction to the device. The experience hasn't changed too drastically in the past few years, and while it's still very powerful, there are some definite flaws. And no, I'm not talking about Flash. Just minor usability issues I'd like to see overcome, but first let's look at the positives.
Mobile Safari has a smart approach to zooming in on content. Double-tap on a paragraph of text or an image to cinch that content right up to the edges of the screen. The downside: some sites aren't mobile-friendly, so zooming in on a really wide block of text can still leave you with tiny text. You can zoom further manually, by using the "unpinch" multi-touch gesture, but because the browser doesn't have an option to reflow the text to the screen width, you have to scroll left and right, as well as up and down, just to read the text. Android's browser doesn't feature smart zoom, but it does reflow the text to fit the screen when zoomed in. It's a nice feature, and Apple should add it at least as a preference for Safari.
Browser history can also vanish after a few days, and browser windows get overwritten by links from other pages sometimes (usually when I've hit the maximum of eight tabs). Also yet to be seen is support for bookmarking a link by tapping and holding. That would be invaluable for adding bookmarklets--bookmark based scripts that help overcome browser shortcomings.
Flash is also a great debate, one I won't get into. I will just say that all is not as it seems with the Flash-support-touting Android platform. Flash does work, but it's buggy because Flash doesn't play well with touch interfaces. Flash based video players don't work right, and I even run Android 4, which is supposed to have the "full Flash experience". It doesn't, trust me. So you're not missing much by not having Flash on the iPod touch!
Indeed, we can just hope and pray that Web developers and Flash-fiends see the light and start replacing Flash content with technologies like HTML5, which is poised to take on a lot of Flash's most popular abilities.
===== Media =====
Despite all the things the iPod touch can do, audio and video are still one of the its greatest strengths. And with the near-widescreen resolution of the new iPod touch's 4" retina display, black bars are less pronounced when watching widescreen videos.
For those interested in watching live TV (even cable channels) on the go, Sling Media's SlingPlayer app, paired with one of their Slingbox devices (http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?keywords=slingbox&tag=a52-20&ie=UTF8) is a phenomenal and freeing experience, especially considering your alternate choices for watching live TV on the go were pretty much nil up to this point.
On top of that, Netflix's media streaming app has also been a much-welcomed addition to my ever-growing collection of apps. Netflix videos stream quickly, and even moving the play position back and forth in the timeline, the movie starts playing very quickly without much time rebuffering the video.
===== Camera and Photography =====
Apple continues to bring the iPod touch close to the realm of iPhone-quality photography. The thought of photography with a media player was once laughable. Along came the Instagram app, and now everyone thinks they're photographers! I'll admit, I'm no photographer, but I'm no less obsessed with taking perfect photos. My wife tells me I take too many, but I'm just trying to make sure I've got at least one good shot, you know? With that in mind, I really wish the iOS camera had a BURST MODE--the ability to snap full-res photos continuously in rapid-fire succession. The thumb is simply not fast enough! More on that and other shortcomings in a minute though.
The new 5 megapixel camera on the iPod touch is something we were all hoping for two years ago, with the initial introduction of a camera to the iPod. However, when what we got wasn't even a full megapixel (rather, just half), it was a little disheartening. Nevertheless, the quality of the photos were still half way decent, so I tried not to complain. Now, we've got a camera that is on par with the iPhone 4 resolution-wise, yet sporting some improvements in the actual technology behind said camera. If that weren't enough, users can now shoot panoramic photos natively. Awesome!
With the more powerful dual-core processor and double the memory, I'm holding out hope that the speed of photography will not be affected by other bottlenecks in the hardware (such as the flash storage). It was pretty fast when I thoroughly inspected the review model, pretty much taking new pictures as fast as you could tap. However, realistically speaking, the camera is always fast on any device when it's brand new. Just like how computers are always fastest when they're new. Everyone knows, things begin to slow down after you install apps and fill your storage space with media several times over, but I wasn't given enough time to thrash it like that, as is expected once a user gets it into their hands for keeps.
For me though, there are some honest downsides to photography with the iPod touch, but these same issues plague just about every other camera-toting smartphone and portable media device out there, even the mighty iPhone and the popular Android. Still, that's no excuse for the best mobile OS to slack off. Pick up that slack, Apple!
As I said, the first gap that needs filled is the lack of burst-mode. This gap can be filled to a certain degree by apps from the App Store, most notably Camera+. However, the quality and resolution of photos taken with non-native apps like Camera+ shot with burst mode all pale in comparison to those shot with the native camera app. The reason? In order for a non-native app to take photos fast enough, they have to take smaller-sized low-res photos. Those kinds of low quality photos are undesirable.
All Apple needs to do is allow their camera app to buffer full-res photos shot with that burst-mode to memory while each is waiting to be saved to the slower flash storage. This would overcome the flash-storage bottleneck that is the cause of any camera app slowness. Apple can tout having the fastest camera around, but let's see them put their money where their mouth is when users start cluttering their device with 20,000 photos, all sorts of media and apps, and their storage space gets filled and fragmented. The camera will undoubtedly slow down, especially if you transfer photos to your computer without iPhoto, leaving those thousands of thumbnails and photo data to clog your camera roll. I don't like iPhoto, so I use software called iExplorer that lets me browse the device as if it were a USB drive.
The second area where Apple absolutely must improve is with the poor state of media organization in the Photos app. Screenshots get saved to the 'Camera Roll' album when they have nothing to do with the camera at all. Videos should also be excluded from the 'Camera Roll' album, so they'll be easier to find and easier to separate from the millions of photos an obsessive point-and-shooter like myself takes. Instead, screenshots and videos should all be saved to their own separate albums called 'Screenshots' and 'Videos' respectively. Screenshots should also use a filename different from those used for photos, preferably something that identifies the date, time and app that they were taken in, especially since the resulting PNG files have no date metadata in them. Videos might also benefit from separate filename patterns too.
Furthermore, we need to have the ability to actually *move* photos out of the 'Camera Roll' album and into their own albums, instead of the current ability to only *copy* photos into their own album, while leaving the original back in the 'Camera Roll' album too. Being able to move instead of simply copy photos between albums would greatly declutter the 'Camera Roll' where all freshly-shot photos are stored. Additionally, when photos are transferred off the iPod touch via a file explorer rather than iPhoto, their thumbnails should also be removed from the iPod's 'Camera Roll' album.
===== Videography =====
Shooting video or making FaceTime calls, on the other hand, remain on the up-and-up. Video quality on the back side improves from 720p to true-widescreen 1080p, and looks phenomenal on the new 4" screen which is nearly 16:9 ratio when watching videos in landscape orientation.
The ability to also connect with friends face-to-face via FaceTime has been a futuristic dream come true, and now the iPod touch can make those FaceTime calls in 720p high-definition, and you can still switch to the rear camera during a FaceTime call. FaceTime also handily rotates along with the iPod when flipped between portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) orientations. Still, you'll have to be on WiFi to make those FaceTime calls, even though the iPhone can now make said calls over a cellular connection. Regardless, video calling is a long-time dream come true. We're living the future!
After shooting your videos, the Photos app (ironically, where you view your videos, not via the video app) offers basic video editing support. Apple also has an "iMovie" app: an advanced video editing studio right on your iPod touch. It's just five bucks on the App Store. Apple makes it hard NOT to make great videos. Why not shoot a whole movie on the thing?
===== E-Reading =====
Unless any of us have been living under a rock, we're all well-aware that the iPad has been Apple's heavy hitter when it comes to reading eBooks and the sort for a couple years, but that hasn't exactly been the same story for any generation of the iPod touch so far. Granted, it's not exactly marketed as an eReader like its iPad counterpart, but regardless, there are some really great apps out there for reading media on iPods, so there's no reason not to use it for that? With the Retina display, all text and content appears extremely clear, even when zoomed out (so long as you don't mind reading tiny text, else feel free to zoom in as much as you like).
The only downside to using it for reading is if you like to read outside. Granted, backlit screens have never really been that clear outside, unless on full battery-gulping brightness. However, the new in-cell technology behind the new 4" retina display has better visibility and reduced glare outside. Between that and having more real estate on the new display, you can read more with less effort. It's a beautiful thing!
===== Gaming =====
If you're like me, you probably don't have much time for games. Well, quit spoiling your fun! There's a child within us all, just waiting for the opportunity to be set free. The iPod touch makes it so easy, there's no excuse not to enjoy yourself. I most enjoy racing games (like Need for Speed) and strategy games (like Tower Defense style games, including the stunningly-designed Carrot Fantasy), but I do play Angry Birds on occasion. Solipskier is quite addictive as well. However, if you like games that take serious advantage of the 3-axis gyroscope, check out the not-so-angry Bird Strike as well as Dark Nebula, a phenomenally-themed labyrinth-style game series on steroids!
With the iPhone and iPod Touch having taken on a clear role as a gaming console that has been as revolutionary for mobile gaming as the Wii was for living-room gaming when it first came out, it goes without saying that the iPod touch is, and will continue to be, one of the best platforms for mobile gaming. It's simple, convenient, and pretty much instant. Whenever you have a few moments of free time, wherever you are, just turn it on, find your game, and bam! You're gaming. Simple as that.
===== Productivity =====
It's so hard to get things done when there are so many distractions afoot, and the iPod touch offers plenty of those, so how can it possible be any effective at boosting productivity? The answer is simple: focus! While iOS offers the ability to multitask, and is known to offer the occasional 'Squirrel!' moment* with its hard-to-ignore notifications, the nature of the one-app-visible-at-a-time paradigm still makes the iPod touch a concentration powerhouse. Since the screen is small, that tends to force you to focus on the task at hand.
* (See Pixar's movie 'Up!')
With iOS 6, it can be made even more effective at times by employing the Do Not Disturb feature that disables audible alerts when active, or during a daily scheduled block of time if desired. Nice! Though, more advanced scheduling would be ideal for silencing the device automatically at different times on different days, especially Sunday mornings.
In the context of software though, Apple's own suite of productivity apps for the office, collectively called "iWork", has been further refined for the iPod touch and its new 4" display. Because of the aforementioned "focus factor" of the iPod touch, I have found myself to be surprisingly productive when working on documents with it. iWork has 3 apps: Pages lets you edit word processing documents. Numbers lets you edit spreadsheets. Keynote lets you edit slideshow presentations (including PowerPoint files).
These apps are useful if you have work to do, but don't feel like being at the computer to do it. Another great app for that is "iTeleport" which lets you access a computer remotely. LogMeIn Ignition and TeamViewer are similar apps that are slightly easier to set up, but a bit slower than iTeleport when you're just working over the same WiFi connection as the remote computer (such as from another room in your home or office).
Furthermore, there's a whole category of iPod touch apps in the App Store specifically dedicated to productivity. Some of my favorite productivity apps include: Bento (info management), Things (project management), iTeleport (remote computing), and GoodReader (best PDF reader around). Search for them in the App Store.
===== Email, IM and Social Networking =====
The iPod touch is makes staying in touch convenient. Whether it's reading or composing email, instant messenging, or social networking, you've got plenty of options here.
Instant messaging is easy with channels such as AIM, Yahoo, Gtalk, MSN, Skype. Some apps handle multiple channels: IM+, Fring, Nimbuzz, BeejiveIM and Fuse Messenger. There are plenty of apps to help you interact with social networks like Facebook & Twitter, too.
However, with the new iOS 6, posting content to Facebook and Twitter has become native (no need to open an app). Just open Notification Center by swiping your finger down from the top edge of the screen, then tap either the Facebook or Twitter button. Voila! Off you go, posting a status update, albeit natively. And now, since Siri is included in the new iPod touch, you can ask for her help in posting those status updates too. Muah!
For email, you need not look any further than Apple's native "Mail" app. Even if you're using Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, or Apple's own MobileMe, setup is a snap. It even supports Microsoft Exchange, often useful for corporate email setups. Other email accounts that support POP3 or IMAP connection types will work with the Mail app too.
===== Location Services =====
Location services such as the built-in Maps app can help you find your way around, but only to a certain extent, at least in the case of the iPod touch. This is one of the areas where the iPod and iPhone significantly differ.
The iPhone has true GPS hardware that uses satellites in the sky to accurately provide your location to apps that need it. When the sky isn't visible (e.g. indoors), it falls back on cellular triangulation which measures the signal from three nearby cellular towers to locate you.
The iPod touch can only use WiFi-based location, which uses your internet connection's IP address to roughly approximate your location. This works fine some of the time, but WiFi-based location is often inaccurate and can't be always be used on the go, rendering the iPod touch useless as a mobile atlas/GPS device. True GPS hardware has no fee to use but is admittedly a bit costly, but tons of high cost GPS apps are in the App Store now to offset that cost a bit for Apple.
===== Praise =====
+ Apple continues its trend of creating the best multi-touch experience around. Android doesn't even come close.
+ 4" Retina Display - more room to get your gaming and media multitasking on
+ Dual-core 1GHz A5 processor - the high performance of the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, a win for gaming and multitasking.
+ 512MB memory - finally we can enjoy more of the multitasking love that iOS now grants us!
+ Multitasks like a dream with iOS 6 and the powerful processor, and double the memory. Someone pinch me!
+ 20x more megapixels - I'm not going to complain here, as it's still on par with the iPhone 4.
+ Thinner design - This is the more-squared design I've been waiting for! It's easier to grip, handle and press the power button.
===== Disappointments =====
+ No GPS - Location service in the new iPod touch are still WiFi-based, which is often inaccurate. Especially with Apple's new Maps app and the iPod's higher price, at least give us REAL GPS.
+ Still no 120GB model - Useful for higher-res videos that look great on the new 4" Retina display.
+ No burst mode for camera - despite the faster processor, and faster snapping of photos, the speed of photo capture still slows way down after you tend to load up the device with all kinds of software and other media, including the photos and videos you've taken with the device.
+ Poor photo organization - Apple needs to stop saving screenshots and downloads to the camera roll, and instead put them in their own folder, with a better filename than IMG_XXXX.
+ Still no vibrate capability
+ No orange color - now I'm just being nit-picky, but seriously... why tease us with only 3 real colors, but not orange? Pink, but not purple?Yellow, but not green or lime? A special Red version is slated to arrive though.
===== The Bottom Line =====
It's absolutely clear: the sleek and highly-refined new iPod touch simply cannot be touched... by its competition! It's in a league of its own when it comes to mobile entertainment and gaming for non-phone multitouch devices. Can you live without it? Good luck with that, unless you have an iPhone, which has a few undeniable perks beyond the iPod touch. If you don't need the phone or location features, the iPod touch is more than sufficient, and will continue to fill most gaps where the iPhone remains unavailable.
Could you still benefit from having an iPad too? Perhaps. After all, it does have unique qualities that sets it apart from the iPod touch. But unless you specifically see the need for one of those unique qualities, then no, you don't necessarily *need* both.
Given all my tips, I think you'll find the iPod touch extraordinarily useful, even addictive, with a price tag that is well worth it, especially the 32GB model. With all the things that the iPod touch can do, it'll undoubtedly enhance your life and change the way you interact with the Web. It might even make a mobile gamer out of you if it hasn't already, it sure did for me!
I hope you've found my hands-on review helpful. Feel free to join the discussion via the comments link below. :)
on October 13, 2012
I pre-ordered the 5th generation 32GB PRODUCT RED iPod Touch directly from Apple and got it from the FedEx man just yesterday (Friday October 12th 2012). For the past 2 years I have been the proud owner of a 4th generation iPod Touch, which, until now, I thought was a near-perfect product; I thus had the luxury of doing a head-to-head comparison. Here is what I discovered.
SIZE/WEIGHT/DESIGN: The first thing I noticed is that the new iPod Touch is significantly thinner and lighter. It weighs only 88 grams according to Apple, and it is only 6 mm thick. Its edges are not curved/tapered like the 4th Gen Touch. At first this felt strange, but now I prefer the feel of the new Touch. The Touch also, obviously, comes in colors. With the disclaimer that I've only been using it for a day, it seems like the new anodized back is much more durable and scratches much less easily than the chrome on the back of the 4th generation.
CAMERAS: The one place that I thought Apple really messed up with the 4th generation was the cameras. They were added to the 4th generation as an afterthought. The new iPod Touch, however, has a 5 MP iSight camera with a sapphire crystal outer cover (prevents scratches). The image quality is exponentially better than the camera on the old touch. The front camera is also much better than the front camera on the old Touch and is now 720p compatible.
SCREEN: As you all probably know, the screen is about a half an inch taller. Apple has been heavily marketing this, as it included the same bigger screen on both the iPhone 5 and the 5th generation iPod Touch. The extra .5 inches allows one to watch widescreen content that encompasses the full screen area. It also allows one to see more emails and whatnot. However, the really cool thing about the screen is that it is far more vibrant than the screen of the old Touch. According to Apple, it is 44% more vibrant, and it covers the whole sRGB spectrum. In layman's terms, that means the iPod Touch can accurately reproduce EVERY color that Hollywood movie cameras can capture. The old iPod's screen couldn't. In real-world usage, I've found that the new Touch's screen is far more vivid than my old Touch's screen, which appears to have a blueish hue and doesn't accurately reproduce some colors. The new screen also seems to perform better when looked at from extreme angles.
A5 PROCESSOR / FASTER WI-FI: In the 5G iPod Touch, Apple upgraded the processor chip from the A4 to the A5 and the Wi-fi chip from single-band N to dual-band N. Theoretically, Apple claims that the processor will be two times faster, graphics up to 7x faster and that the wi-fi will be twice as fast. In my real-world test of the wi-fi speed, I found that the old Touch had a download speed of about 12 Mbps with a 15 ms ping on my school's wifi, whereas the new Touch reached speeds of 36 Mbps with a 10 ms ping. I tested this using the SpeedTest App for iOS. Web pages definitely load faster, IMO. The faster processor means that apps load faster too. Naturally, that means that the largest speed increase will be found in processor and graphics-intensive apps that also use Wi-Fi. In other words, Facebook, Twitter, News Apps, etc. I tested how fast it took the Facebook App to load and update on both devices. The 4G Touch took 10.4 seconds. The 5G Touch took 2.4 seconds. If I did the math right, that means that the 5G touch opens the Facebook App 77% faster than the 4G Touch. The CNN App loaded and updated in 2.7 seconds on the new Touch, as opposed to 5.4 seconds on the old one, a 50% difference. The faster wi-fi chip and processor should also allow streaming of 720p HD content onto the new Touch, a feature that really wasn't available on the old Touch.
ODDS AND ENDS: The new Touch includes a new power-cable connection, called Lightning. The Lightning Port is considerably (>60%, I'd wager) smaller than the old Dock Connector Port. This is a welcome change, as I found that the old dock connector port would get all crusty and dirty on the inside - it just seemed to attract the dirt from the inside of my pocket. The new Lightning Connector is also reversible, which means you will never have to worry about plugging it in right side up. The faster processor and wi-fi of the new Touch allowed Apple to enable Siri on the iPod Touch. This feature is NOT available via upgrade on older iPod Touches. I really like Siri and find her useful, so this was a welcome addition though please note that Siri ONLY works when you have an active wi-fi connection. Apple added a small LED flash for the camera - this was a nice touch and seems to work well as long as the object you are trying to photograph is fairly close to you. They also added a little "hidden button" that you can press to attach an included wriststrap to the Touch. This is really quite useful, as anyone with a propensity for dropping their iPod Touches (like my younger sister :) can tell you. Finally, Apple included a new type of earbuds - called EarPods - with the new iPod Touch. These both sound and fit my ear MUCH BETTER than the old Apple Earbuds. Honestly, they sound well enough that I've been alright with wearing them for light usage (i.e. - walking to the mailbox) when before I would have worn my Beats by Dre Studio headphones. The Beats are much better, don't get me wrong, but sticking in the EarPods is quicker and easier if I just want to take a quick stroll around the neighborhood.
CONCLUSION: The new iPod Touch is not an incremental upgrade. It is a giant leap for iPod-kind. The iPod has long had a lock on the MP3 Player market. Even though it is now two years old, the iPod Touch 4th Generation still is a great product and arguably the second-best MP3 Player on the market. However, the iPod Touch 5th Generation has dethroned its predecessor as the BEST MP3 Player on the market with gusto. It is a far and away better product. Apps load twice as fast. Internet content loads twice as fast. The interface is far more fluid and responsive. The screen is far more vibrant; According to Chris Heinonen, AnandTech's resident screen geek, the screen on the iPhone 5 and the 5th generation iPod Touch has better color accuracy and grayscale-reproduction than ANY monitor or TV of ANY SIZE that he has EVER tested, save for one $20,000 projector. Before I got the 5th generation iPod Touch, I was perfectly content with the screen on my 4th generation iPod Touch. Now, as I look at them both side-by-side, the screen on the old Touch looks like a piece of garbage (keeping it PG-13 here :). The cameras on the new Touch blow the old Touch's cameras OUT OF THE WATER. In addition to being thinner, lighter, and available in six different color options (Pink, Yellow, Blue, Silver, Black, Product RED), the new iPod Touch is made out of more durable and scratchproof anodized aluminum and just looks and feels like a higher-quality more professional product. The degree of refinement in this product makes me feel like my old 4G iPod Touch is a cheap kid's toy inferior in every way - speed, build quality, and feature-set. I am really impressed that Apple, a company that has had a virtually uncontested corner on the MP3 Player market for almost a decade, continues to innovate at such a high level. I'd give this product 6 out of 5 stars if I could!
on October 26, 2012
Why buy an iPod Touch, and not the iPad or iPhone?
I have owned every gen iPad. I would use it enthusiastically for a couple weeks, then slowly lose interest, and I would end up selling it. But I have never been long without an iPod Touch. I think it's because I enjoy the form factor of a pocket device more than a tablet. If I am at home, I use my iMac for web, HDTV for movies and shows, and my Xbox 360 for gaming. When I leave my house, I always have my iPod Touch in my pocket. I rarely ever brought my iPad on the go with me. The size and weight make it inviting to use. I can hold it in front of my face with one hand when I am lying in bed, watching a youtube video.
I thought, maybe the iPad Mini would be the tablet that could change my mind, but after the announcement, I have no plans to make the switch. The iPod Touch is less expensive, and it comes with twice the storage (which is much needed), it has the retina display, and is more portable.
People ask me, "Why dont you just get the iPhone?". Well, first of all, I am on a family plan, and I only pay $10 for my cell phone. Granted, it's a dumb phone, with no data, but I have owned a 4G smartphone with unlimited data, and I discovered, I really don't use it that often at all. Not enough to warrant the cost of an iPhone plan. I also got freedompop, and so I have 500mb of free 4G data a month, so I can use my iPod Touch like a poor mans iPhone when needed.
So those are my reasons why I use the iPod Touch, now on to the device itself...
I've owned every generation iPod Touch. Some generations improvements were mediocre. The 5th generation is in my opinion, the biggest improvement so far in the products life cycle. Apple pulled out the stops and improved just about every major aspect to the device.
You hear about how thin and light it is, but once you actually have it in the palm of your hand, you will still be impressed, despite knowing what to expect. It feels impossible. Alien technology? Witchcraft? I'm a cyclist, and I use it on my rides, and weight is a huge factor for cyclists. We spend a lot of money just to shave a few dozen grams. So I appreciate it's light weight. It almost feels TOO light. I just hope I don't forget it's in my jeans pocket before I throw it in the washing machine.
The larger screen is definitely welcomed, and does not compromise the portability. What struck me about the new display is how rich the colors are. They seem more vivid. It's just a beautiful display, and that's really cool how the Touch gets the same screen as the iPod 5, considering the touch usually gets the previous iPhone gen's hardware. The screen can go brighter than many other smart phones screens I have seen.
Since I am a techie, one of my favorite upgrades, is the doubled RAM (512MB). Having more memory improves performance with just about everything. Combined with the A5 processor, the iPod Touch executes tasks very quickly. Along with the improved wifi, surfing the web is noticeably faster. The loading time on apps is much improved.
The next improvement I like the most is the camera. It has a better lens, higher resolution, flash, and a panorama feature. Since the device is always in my pocket, it is my primary point n shoot camera, and I use it for everything, from photographing an item to sell on eBay, to taking a scenic picture to post on facebook, this camera can handle all the regular photo tasks. See my panoramic photo I posted with this review.
Lastly, is Siri. It's not a mere gimmick that you will get bored of after 10 minutes and never use again. Siri does many basic tasks, and executes it faster than doing things the old way. From setting alarms, and timers, to finding certain businesses and information, using Siri is just a lot faster and easier. I do like testing Siri and see what she can/cant do. I've been surprised a few times. I'll ask something obscure like, what's mick jaggers astrological sign? And i'll get an answer. Also, related to Siri, is voice dictation. When I send a text that's more than one sentence, I use the voice dictation. It's surprisingly accurate, and a big time saver.
I think the internal speaker is louder this time around, which is nice. Also, the anodized aluminum backing feels nice. It does feel like it might slip out of my hands easily, so the attachable wristband is a welcome feature. Also, I like the smaller size of the lightning adapter, and how it plugs in either side.
The higher cost entry point. No more $199 model. It would have been nice to see a $199 8GB version, or a $250 16GB version. But in my case, it doesn't affect me, because 16GB isn't enough for my needs. Also, the highly publicized Maps app. At the time of this review, it's still messed up. I wish Apple would show Google Maps some love. Or at the least, fix their own maps asap. And the included earpods are still barely average at best as far as sound quality goes.
Overall, the device is fantastic. Wether you are upgrading from an older touch, or it's your first one, this is the best non cellular pocket device on the market.