The iPod touch lives on. When Apple neglected to update its oddball iOS device in 2011, some speculated that the end was near. But now the touch has been updated to its 5th generation, and life goes on for the iPhone without a phone. Apple opted to keep the older 4th generation iPod touch on the market, next to its younger sibling. How do the two stack up against one another? Let's take a look …
Apart from getting thinner, the iPod touch's physical design didn't change much for its first four generations. The iPod touch 5G gets a huge redesign, however. Its longer build mirrors the iPhone 5's evolution, and makes room for its obtuse 16:9 display.
Both devices are ridiculously thin, but the new 5G iPod touch is so svelte it's practically non-existent. It will disappear in your pocket.
Speaking of insane measurements, picking up the 5th gen. touch will feel like nothing.
To lend some perspective, it weighs roughly the same as 18 sheets of notebook paper. Paper can be written on and folded into an airplane; the iPod touch 5G plays Infinity Blade.
The 5G iPod touch's display is a huge upgrade. Though the 4G touch shared the same resolution as the iPhone 4/4S, it was made of cheaper materials, with inferior viewing angles.
Not only does the 5G iPod touch get a longer four-inch screen, but it's the exact same display as the one in the iPhone 5. That's a good thing.
The 5th generation model is the first iPod touch to rock a dual-core processor. Though it's not in the same class as the zippy A6 found in the iPhone 5, the A5 was fast enough to power the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. It will make the 5G touch fast and powerful enough for most uses.
The A4 in the older touch is growing long in the tooth. It's the chip that was in 2010's iPhone 4 and original iPad, so it's a bit slow by today's (rapidly evolving) standards.
The new iPod touch also sees its RAM doubled, coming in at 512 MB. That isn't a huge number, but – when combined with the dual-core chip and the lean, efficient iOS – the 5G touch should be fairly quick.
Until recently, the 4th gen. iPod touch was also available in the same quantities as the new version (along with an 8GB model), but Apple cut down on flash memory for the discounted 2012 release. That leaves it coming in 16GB and 32GB models, with the new model available in 32GB and 64GB options.
Nothing to see here. The very definition of an iPod touch is that it's almost an iPhone. Its biggest missing piece is cellular connectivity, as these are both Wi-Fi only affairs.
Though it still isn't mind-blowing, the camera in the 5G iPod touch represents a massive upgrade over its predecessor. For reference, the 4G touch's camera is roughly – if not exactly – the same as the one in the iPad 2. The 5G touch's camera is roughly – if not exactly – the same as the ones in the iPhone 4 and 3rd gen. iPad.
Estimated battery times are roughly equal, with the new model supposedly getting an extra hour of video playing. Until we get our hands on the new touch, we're going by Apple's projections.
The iPod touch 5G is the fourth Apple device to get Siri (after the iPhone 4S, New iPad, and iPhone 5). Though the virtual assistant has been mocked for its obvious limitations, it still comes in handy for dictating messages, booking a restaurant table, or checking sports scores. Keep in mind, though, that you'll need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network in order to use Siri.
Another potential perk for the 5th generation update is that it comes in colors. Apart from the black and slate version, the 5G touch will have a white front and the color of your choice on the back.
The only reason to choose the older 4G touch over the 5G version is its cost. It will set you back US$199 for the 16 GB version, compared to $299 for the 32 GB 5G model.
So which do you choose? Do you splurge for the latest and greatest, or save a bit on the older model? Saving $100 is nice, but remember that the newer iPod touch gives you a larger – much better – display, improved performance, and a much improved camera. Depending on your needs, that extra $100 may be well worth it.