After a year’s break, Apple is back with a new iPod touch for all those boys and girls who want all the apps but none of the monthly cost of an iPhone. Like the iPhone 5, it’s sporting a new look, with a taller 4-inch display and the updated iOS 6 software (and 32/64GB storage options).
That’s where the similarities end though: inside it’s powered by the same processor as last year’s iPhone 4S, and it takes some design cues from the iPod nano with the new line of colours. With a five megapixel camera around the back, could this put your camera out of business, if not your blower? Let’s take a look.
The iPod touch has always been shockingly skinny, and now at just 6.1mm it’s more anaemic than ever. Yet despite its wafer thin profile and bright coloured back panel, it’s tough as old boots, with the same glorious, hard-to-scratch four-inch display as the iPhone 4
It’s packing the same A5 processor as the iPhone 4S, which is to say it’s blindingly fast, with a solid battery life to match it: Apple’s eight hours of video playback on a charge claim actually holds true.
Out of the box, the new iPod touch runs iOS 6, Apple’s slick operating system that’s as easy to use as it is speedy. When connected to Wi-Fi, it’s almost indistinguishable from an iPhone in what you can do, from bossing Siri around to dictate emails, to making calls via FaceTime and iMessage.
Though the iPod touch has traditionally been a souped up Classic slash games machine, it’s now more a compact camera killer than ever before.
The five megapixel camera on the back takes decent shots in a pinch (in daylight, anyway), and for some people, the convenience of that, its speed and the host of editing and sharing apps on iOS will more than make up for the lack of an optical zoom. There’s even a hook on one corner to add a wrist strap included in the box, though you can pop it in so it stays flush if you don’t want to use it.
If there’s a problem, it’s more with the timing than anything else. More than half the UK population is now rocking a smartphone in their pocket, and even if it’s not an iPhone in yours, there’s a good chance it’s a touchscreen smartie with most of the same skills - and screen size. Why carry two gadgets that jump online, let you play games, listen to music and watch video on the go?
To make matters worse, the Apple iPad Mini is just around the corner. If you’re ready to spend around £250 on a new Apple device, you might want to hold fire: a 7.8-inch tablet running the same software is still very portable, but lets you get much more done, and read more easily too.
With iOS 6, Apple is polishing a gem that’s as foolproof as it is fast, with one exception: Apple’s new Maps app is still truly terrible. But it’s much less of an issue on the iPod touch: since you need a Wi-Fi connection for it do anything it’s not something that you’ll rely upon in a pinch.
The bottom line
The new iPod touch is as impressive as you’d expect it to be, though in 2012 that in itself might be the problem: it’s only what you expect it to be. A colourful backing can’t mask the fact that with smartphones becoming more and more powerful, the iPod touch as back-up-for-your-BlackBerry is becoming redundant. And with an iPad Mini around the corner, it might have to start looking for a new job entirely. Still, with the right 3D game and a nice Wi-Fi connection, you’re in for a treat.