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iPhone 5 vs. iPod touch 5G

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October 9, 2012

How do Apple's newest iOS devices compare?

How do Apple's newest iOS devices compare?

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The iPod touch is a strange bird. The first edition was released just a few months after the iPhone in 2007 as the iPod line's lone multitouch device. Through the years, though, it's become known more as a Nintendo DS rival than an MP3 player. Though kids' gaming may be the iPod touch's claim to fame, the device is almost on par with the iPhone. That point may be more valid today than ever, as the iPod touch has received a long-awaited update - probably its biggest yet. How does the new 5th generation iPod touch compare to its big brother, the iPhone 5? Let's take a look…

Dimensions

Apart from the iPod touch's incredible thinness, these measurements look similar
Apart from the iPod touch's incredible thinness, these measurements look similar

When looking at dimensions, you could argue that the iPod touch is the winner. The iPhone 5 is ridiculously thin for a high-powered smartphone, but the 5th gen. iPod touch makes it look chunky. It may be the thinnest mobile device you've ever seen.

Both devices have the new longer style, to accommodate the matching 16:9 displays. The iPod touch is a hair shorter than the iPhone, with identical width.

Weight

The iPhone 5 is light, but the 5G iPod touch is much lighter
The iPhone 5 is light, but the 5G iPod touch is much lighter

Much like its thinness, the weight of the iPod touch is mind-boggling. The iPhone 5's lightness is one of its hallmarks, but the iPod touch's lack of heft blows it away. Apple may as well have branded it as the iPod Air.

Display

The iPod touch gets an equal display this time around
The iPod touch gets an equal display this time around

The 5th generation iPod touch gets the exact same display as the iPhone 5. Though the 4th gen. edition had identical (Retina) resolution as the iPhone 4/4S, it was a cheaper display. This year, the two devices are equals.

Judging by these first few categories, you'd think the iPod touch was the superior device, but things are about to change …

Processor

No A6 for the iPod touch
No A6 for the iPod touch

The iPhone 5's A6 chip is a market-leader, which has broken multiple benchmark records. But the iPod touch has no such luck. It's still stuck in the land of A5, the chip found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. By 2012 standards, it still delivers impressive performance, but it's no A6.

RAM

With less RAM and a weaker processor, the iPod touch won't perform like the iPhone 5 does
With less RAM and a weaker processor, the iPod touch won't perform like the iPhone 5 does

The iPod touch also got the short end of the RAM stick. The iPhone 5 jumped to 1 GB, but the touch's 512 MB (again) matches the amount in the iPhone 4S.

Storage

There is no 16GB option for the iPod touch
There is no 16GB option for the iPod touch

The only difference here is that the iPhone 5 is available in a 16 GB model (for US$200 on-contract), while the new iPod touch's base storage option is 32 GB ($300).

Wireless

Despite rumors we heard last year, the iPod touch still doesn't come with mobile data
Despite rumors we heard last year, the iPod touch still doesn't come with mobile data

Wireless is the biggest differentiator between the two devices. Namely, the iPhone is a phone, and the iPod touch isn't. You'll be limited to Wi-Fi networks with the touch, so no mobile browsing unless it's tethered to a portable hotspot.

The iPod touch also lacks GPS. Though it can still utilize location-based services, they won't be nearly as accurate as they are in the iPhone.

Battery

These stats don't make much sense side-by-side, but we may see similar battery life
These stats don't make much sense side-by-side, but we may see similar battery life

If you're wondering how to compare the above stats, you aren't alone. Until the iPod touch ships and we get some real-world use, there will be no accurate way to compare the two devices.

Though the iPod touch should have a smaller battery than the iPhone 5 (a big part of its lightweight status), it isn't burdened with cellular data drain, so uptimes may even out.

Cameras

The iPhone 5 has a superior camera
The iPhone 5 has a superior camera

If you want an excellent camera, your choice is easy. The iPhone 5 takes the great camera in the iPhone 4S and improves its low-light shooting. The iPod touch's camera, meanwhile, is probably closer to the shooters in the iPhone 4 and 3rd gen. iPad.

Both cameras have front-facing (FaceTime) cameras, primarily for video chat.

Intangibles

The iPhone 5 delivers power, while the iPod touch comes in bright colors (Mr. T: s_bukley ...
The iPhone 5 delivers power, while the iPod touch comes in bright colors (Mr. T: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com, paint splatters: Shutterstock)

What in blazes is Mr. T doing here? As the iPod touch is often sold as a kid's gaming and media device, it's appropriate to tag the iPhone 5 as the big boy's toy. And who represents raw power better than Mr. T?

To support its status as the introductory iOS device for kids and teenagers around the world, Apple introduced a variety of colors to the 5th gen. iPod touch. The device is available in black & slate and white & silver, like the iPhone 5. But it also adds yellow, blue/teal, and reddish-pink models (my descriptions, not Apple's). Apple is also selling a (Product) Red model exclusively in its stores.

Like with the iPhone 5, the iPod touch sports the new Lightning connector, so you'll need to order a $30 adapter if you want to keep using your old accessories. It also ships with Apple's redesigned earbuds (EarPods), but they are missing the volume rocker/voice control button. The iPod touch also features a wrist-strap, so little Johnny can fling Angry Birds without flinging his $300 device.

Summing up

Though the iPod touch won't be an iPhone replacement for most people, it's only a few specifications shy of its big sibling. For kids who don't need phones or adults who want to get in on the iOS fun without an expensive wireless contract, it's a great choice.

If you want the best of the two, though, make no mistake: it's the iPhone 5. Despite the iPod touch's insane lightness and thinness, the iPhone's faster CPU, additional RAM, improved camera, and wireless capabilities make it the more capable choice.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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6 Comments

Buy a used 4s for less than the new Touch and you get everything except the longer screen and lighter/thinner. Plus you could activate the phone if you wanted to.

Michaelc
10th October, 2012 @ 10:05 am PDT

Nice article Will. Thanks for posting. One thing I did not notice you mention, however, is the lack of a GPS chipset in the the new Touch. I was so hopeful and sorely disappointed that the 5th Gen lacks a GPS chip. I currently have a G2 Touch in a GPS cradle. I so wanted to upgrade and ditch the cradle. I'm a heavy GPS app user: Nike Running and Motion X GPS for cycling. Even if Apple offered the GPS option at a higher price, I would have considered it. I guess I may now pursue Michaelc's suggestion and purchase a 4S iPhone instead.

Macg4d1g
10th October, 2012 @ 01:06 pm PDT

I like the article but anyway it would convince me to buy a Ipod touch don't let me wrong it looks lovely piece of gadget, but I still prefer to buy a cheap 5" or 7" tablet does all the same things and for less you can even get GPS and 3G modem in some cases.

Tiago Roque
12th October, 2012 @ 05:51 am PDT

In my opinion if you are looking for an entertainment gadget then I would like to vote for iPod Touch because as we compare prices between iPhone and iPod Touch then you will see that you paying 50% more in iPhone just to get a cellular facility.

SPINX INC.
8th November, 2012 @ 08:44 pm PST

Tnx man I am covinced to buy a ipod touch 5g just tell me which is a better gamming device and whether all the games of iphone are available on ipod 5g tnx

Akshay Yadav
31st May, 2013 @ 07:45 am PDT

Very informative indeed!

Mohammad Azeemullah
30th January, 2014 @ 11:39 am PST
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