iPod touch 5G vs PS Vita


October 16, 2012

Each device has its distinct advantages

Each device has its distinct advantages

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Dedicated portable gaming consoles are in trouble. Nintendo 3DS sales have improved, but Sony's Playstation Vita hasn't sold well. Smartphones and tablets have taken what was once a safe market, and turned it into a gamble.

Though millions of people game on their iPhones and iPads every day, the closest Apple gets to a dedicated gaming device is the iPod touch. The popular iOS device has been bought for countless young children and teenagers, often as a replacement for a DS or a PSP. It's the threat that Sony and Nintendo didn't anticipate.

With the release of a new (5th generation) iPod touch, Apple has given the struggling Sony one more thing to worry about. Is the iPod touch 5G a legitimate Playstation Vita replacement, or is it just kids' stuff? Let's take a look …


Physically, these devices don't have a lot in common

These are two radically different devices. The Vita is big and rugged. Its physical controls announce that it's built for serious gaming. The iPod touch, meanwhile, is sleek and airy. As the lightest and thinnest iOS device ever made, its minimal simplicity is the polar opposite of Sony's bulky workhorse.

If you want classic gaming controls, your choice is clear. If you want something that will disappear in your pocket, your choice is equally clear.


The weight again illustrates the radical differences

If portability is your priority, the touch wins. It's roughly three times lighter than the Vita.


Though the Vita's display is larger, the touch's has higher resolution

Size is about the only display advantage for the Vita. Its resolution is lower, despite toting an extra (diagonal) inch. The display in the iPod touch 5G is identical to that of the iPhone 5; in other words, it's terrific. Not only does it dazzle with 326 pixels per inch, but its use of in-cell display tech makes it thinner and closer to the surface.


The Vita's quad core processor is built for power

Here's where we start to see the Vita's raw power. At least on paper, its processor blows away the A5 chip in the iPod touch. With four cores and a maximum clock speed of 2GHz, it's built for hardcore gaming.


The GPUs are similar, but the Vita adds two extra cores

Both devices share variations on the same GPU. The PowerVR graphics in the Vita are quad core, next to the dual core version in Apple's A5.


All equal here

Here both devices are even, each with 512MB of RAM. The Vita does, however, add an extra 128MB of Video RAM (VRAM).


If you want Vita storage, you'll have to pay

Sony dropped a big stinker here. With no internal storage, (optional) digital downloads require the purchase of a proprietary Vita memory Card. The prices are much higher than those of typical SD cards: US$20 for 4GB, $30 for 8GB, $60 for 16GB, and $100 for 32GB. If you plan on avoiding physical game cards, be prepared for an extra purchase (or buy a bundle that includes a memory card).

The iPod touch, which only supports digital content, comes in 32GB and 64GB flavors.


The Vita comes in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models

The standard Vita model is Wi-Fi-only, but Sony also sells a more expensive 3G-enabled model. The iPod touch is – and always has been – Wi-Fi only.


Despite the Vita battery's extra capacity, uptime could potentially be longer in the touch

Apple doesn't market the touch solely as a gaming device, so there are no estimates for gaming uptime. Its hardware is less intensive, though, so its lower mAh battery could go farther.


The Vita's cameras aren't meant for photography

If you're looking for a solid camera, the touch delivers. The shooters in the Vita, meanwhile, aren't meant for photography. They can help you with things like face detection and head-tracking in games (along with Skype video calling), but don't expect a point-and-shoot replacement.


Nathan Drake, or Angry Birds?

Despite all the hardware specs, this may be the category to base your decision on. iOS devices have a wealth of potential for hardcore gaming, but they're more often associated with casual fare. Some developers do release console-like games for the App Store: Infinity Blade (I and II), Grand Theft Auto III, Dead Space, and Modern Combat 3 are standouts. For the most part, though, expect to see games in the vein of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.

Despite its focus as a hardcore gaming device, though, the Vita's library is still sparse. The standout first party titles – Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and LittleBigPlanet – don't have much (noteworthy) company. Classic PSP games are available, but there's no UMD slot, so they all require digital purchases.

Speaking of purchases, the iPod touch is a bit more expensive than the Vita (US$50 more for the base model). But when you factor in the (possible) additional purchase of a memory card – and its more expensive games – the touch could be cheaper in the long run.

Summing Up

Though there is some overlap, each device has distinct advantages. If you don't have patience for touchscreen gaming, the Vita – with its classic physical controls – is the clear winner. If you want a slick multipurpose device with a gargantuan (but largely casual) gaming library, look no further than the iPod touch 5G.

Have you traded in your old portable gaming devices for smartphones and tablets? Or do you still carve out a place for the dedicated console? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. 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

Prefer a full size gaming console that also doubles as a DVD movie player.

Terry Mulcahy

The Vita by far is the better system plus with the variety of games like madden, uncharted and assassin creed no competition.

Cal Verdun

actually, the processor in the iPod Touch is 1Ghz dual core, not 800Mhz. 800Mhz dual core is only found in the iPhone 4S.

Nacho Sambade

i'll rather go for the psp vita

Alexander Thomas

It's clear that the iPod Touch wins against the PS Vita. But you won't be able to compare the 3DS (if so) that one still remains as a Portable GAMING Console...

Miguel Amatón

The 3DS is just terrible...well the DS is terrible in general

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