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iPod touch 5G vs. iPod touch 4G

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October 10, 2012

Does the iPod touch 4G stand a chance against the new 5G model?

Does the iPod touch 4G stand a chance against the new 5G model?

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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 …

Dimensions

This is the most significant iPod touch redesign since its inception in 2007
This is the most significant iPod touch redesign since its inception in 2007

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.

Weight

Both devices are light, but the new model is freakishly so
Both devices are light, but the new model is freakishly so

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.

Display

Though the pixel density stays the same, everything else about the display in the 5G is be...
Though the pixel density stays the same, everything else about the display in the 5G is better

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.

Processor

The A5 in the 5G touch is the one found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S
The A5 in the 5G touch is the one found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S

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.

RAM

512MB isn't a huge amount of RAM, but it's double what you'll find in the 4G version
512MB isn't a huge amount of RAM, but it's double what you'll find in the 4G version

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.

Storage

Apple offers a healthy amount of storage for both models
Apple offers a healthy amount of storage for both models

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.

Wireless

No cellular data here
No cellular data here

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.

Cameras

Though it isn't exactly cutting-edge, the rear camera in the new model is a huge improveme...
Though it isn't exactly cutting-edge, the rear camera in the new model is a huge improvement

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.

Battery

Apple is advertising similar uptimes in the two versions
Apple is advertising similar uptimes in the two versions

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.

Intangibles

Siri and colors, or some extra cash? (paint splatter: Shutterstock, pennies: Shutterstock)
Siri and colors, or some extra cash? (paint splatter: Shutterstock, pennies: Shutterstock)

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.

Summing Up

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.

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
16 Comments

I bought my wife an iTouch a few years ago. In spite of several attempts to get existing MP3 files (made from albums we own) onto it, I was never able to do so. The interface must be just TOO intuitive I guess. :-|

The only way she managed to get it to play songs was by buying songs on iTunes, songs we'd already bought on CDs!

After about a year, it stopped working altogether so she now uses a much cheaper, higher capacity (Samsung) MP3 player that simply looks like a hard drive if you plug it into a PC. It was 3 years old when she started using the Samsung and now it's 6 years old and still going strong.

That's about it for me and Apple.

warren52nz
11th October, 2012 @ 01:34 pm PDT

@warren52nz. That's strange because the iPod touch has been capable of playing mp3's since at least the 2nd gen. I have a 2G and never had a problem with mp3's. It may have had to do with setting iTunes to manually manage your music as opposed to letting iTunes do it automatically...but I could be wrong. Mp3's no problem however.

twistyturns
11th October, 2012 @ 02:19 pm PDT

@warren52nz you probably tried to drag and drop .mp3 files into the itouch device. you have to import the .mp3 files into itunes then sync it. I have over 800 songs I didn't purchase from iTunes on my ipod touch, no problems. don't blame apple, blame yourself.

Mylah Stewart
11th October, 2012 @ 05:30 pm PDT

The PDA is dead! Long live the iPDA!

The Personal Digital Assistant never "died", Apple just changed its name.

Gregg Eshelman
11th October, 2012 @ 09:41 pm PDT

Will, thank you for taking the time to compare these two devices. I searched for any details about the connector on the bottom. You didn't say anything about it. The iPhone 5 has the new "lightning" connector. Does the iPod5 have the old or new lightning connector? Thanks!

Ed. - James, the 5th-gen iPod touch (and 7th-gen iPod nano) does indeed sport the new Lightning connector. See here for more details: http://www.gizmag.com/ipod-touch-nano-update/24119/

James Kelly
12th October, 2012 @ 06:34 pm PDT

I use my 4G as a professional quality multi-track recorder with the awesome GuitarJack audio interface and MultiTrack DAW app. That's rules out on the 5G. Big advance. I'm sure that the only reason the 4G lives on is the venerable dock connector which too many of us depend on.

The new connector is too small to ever allow attached devices like the GuitarJack without an intervening cable. Fail. Most existing docks won't properly hold the new device even with a Fool Adapter which, it is reported, requires the attached device to have a license.

Site foot, shoot.

DonGateley
19th October, 2012 @ 07:55 pm PDT

Very thorough and helpful comparison. Thanks so much! But there are two additional costs to keep in mind if upgrading to 5G: a new $20-$30 case to accommodate the new dimensions, plus the $30 cable needed to attach the new Lightening connector to an existing dock (or else spring for a new dock as well). So the after tax difference in price is roughly $175, not $100 (plus the cost of a new dock if you get one).

DSL
13th December, 2012 @ 12:45 pm PST

I bought iPod touch 4G as cost here in Australia for iPod Touch 5G is $329 inc GST for 32 GB (can be had from nearby electronics store for slightly less). Although, there are lot of improvements but to be honest, it is quite close to Android 7" Tablets pricing & of course iPad Mini & although they are not quite portable as iPod touch but there is a feeling that one has wasted money on iPod touch when for the similar price you could have something bigger & better & buy a iPod Shuffle or nano instead. (I am assuming that most people have limited funds & are resourceful about their money). I got iPod Touch 4G (16GB) for $185 (inc GST) from The Good Guys which I felt was real value for money.

Secondly, in person I still found iPod 4G more classy (we just have choice of Black or White with Steel back but it looks awesome) whereas the new ones I felt were bit jarring (Blue looked OK, Gray & Silver were OK too but I felt they were not as good looking as the older model). Just my personal opinion though.

Thirdly, if one already has iPhone 5 or iPad 3 or 4 (or saving moolah for them), why spend on iPod Touch 5G when you can still get a decent experience out of iPod Touch 4G. Older chip be damned, it is music player first & foremost, all other niceties are just extra bonuses. & A4 is sufficiently powered for that. For bigger & better games, I would rather play them on tablet. The only real advantage that I found was bigger screen size in the new Gen. But to be honest after being spoiled by big glorious screens of Android phones, I find 4" screen size puny anyway. Bit less screen size of 4th wasn't a deal-breaker for me.

Him Rekhi
16th December, 2012 @ 07:45 pm PST

I didn't mention additional cost associated with new lightning connector as I was already discussed above but when you factor in things like more widely available accessories still supporting older connection & are obviously cheaper, then the difference becomes even more glaring. or just spring $30-35 for adapter but still in some cases like DonGately said above, it just won't be the best solution.

So, I saved $144 (Diff in price between 4G & 5G - altough 4G is just 16 GB but for me it is plenty) & saved another $35 on adapter. Total = $179 & it is a lot of money.

Cheers

Him Rekhi
16th December, 2012 @ 07:57 pm PST

@Him Rekhi: agreed; DonGately made a good point. When they changed the connector the pin-outs change so all previous devices that use to work, are now 'if they work'. This same deal happened when I switched from iPod classic to the iTouch, lost all my devices; no FM, no analog audio out thru dock, etc. That kind of thing is what tic's me off. I would still say (an validate this as being an audio engineer); the iPod may be the only Apple product I own but 9 out of 10 audio engineers own iPods (guess why).

bikeamtn
19th December, 2012 @ 01:44 pm PST

I upgraded from my 3g iPod Touch to the 5g model. The reasons were

- camera, and that's a big improvement from not having one

- better screen

- up to date processor, as my old iPod Touch was becoming fairly unresponsive

Having used it a bit, the number of new and upgraded features is a pleasant surprise.

I don't have any dock issues, except needing a few extra sync cables, so the lightening connector is a non-issue. I'm a little surprised about the grumbling about the connector, but in any case in two years it will be hard to find accessories that use the old connector. I like that I just plug it in, and dont have to think about the orientation. I am not happy about the new iTunes though.

David Lewis
30th December, 2012 @ 03:15 pm PST

I buy my iPods for Music listening, and this states nothing about audio quality between the two. It's like reviewing a phone without mentioning anything about call quality :(

Harshan Wickramasinghe
24th February, 2013 @ 07:51 pm PST

Thanks for posting this article bro. I use Facebook and YouTube and Gmail all the time...and I am in need of a mobile device to check them nowadays. You did a good job comparing the iTouch 5 to the iTouch 4...I remember my friends old iPod 4 and it was really slow and unresponsive. I'm glad to know about the screen. Your article was the first I found in the google search and I'm glad I came across it. Thanks brahhhh

Love--Michael

Michael Vera
22nd March, 2013 @ 03:04 pm PDT

Personally I think the ipod4 g was a fail and the iPod 5 g is as

Well why spend that money for a 4 inch screen when you

Can do what I did by spending less on a Google nexus 7

Brian Keith Greathouse
15th May, 2013 @ 01:06 pm PDT

I am still gong with the 4th Gen. The 5th is only the slight different. I also have a Kindle fire. I don't care for Siri much. Really after asking all the silly questions possible, it gets boring. My father has IPhone 4S and he NEVER uses it. I don't care for colors. The only thing I am worried about is apps not working. Since iOS 7 is coming out, I am afraid apps will start updating so where you will need iOS 7 to use them! hope that doesn't happen!!!

Krista Tegeder
27th June, 2013 @ 02:59 pm PDT

I have a 4th gen, is it possible to transfer my memory from a 4th gen to the 5th gen?

Brandi Young
15th July, 2013 @ 03:32 pm PDT
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