Review: The Apple iPod touch brings many iPhone 4 features without the carrier

There are many of us who want to stick with our wireless carrier, yet still would like to experience the latest Apple touchscreen device. Thankfully, Apple launched the iPod touch in three different capacities and it provides consumers with the high resolution retina display, A4 processor, iOS 4.1, and HD video camera.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Last week Apple revealed its new iPod lineup and the only one that attracted my interest was the 4th generation iPod touch. I have an iPhone 3GS, but for the last 6-8 months I have only used it as an iPod and rarely used it as a phone and I am not going to add an AT&T account just to get an iPhone 4. The iPod touch offers much of what we see in the iPhone 4, including the 3.5 inch retina display, HD video recording, FaceTime support with the front facing camera, and A4 processor. I sold my iPhone 3GS on Craigslist and purchased a 32GB iPod touch to replace it, all at no out-of-pocket cost. I have now spent several hours with my new iPod touch and am quite pleased with the purchase. Check out a few photos in my short image gallery, the video walkthrough embedded below, and my first impressions.

Image Gallery:Check out some product photos and a comparison of the iPod touch 4th generation and 2nd generation iPod touch.
Image Gallery: iPod touch retail box
Image Gallery: iPod touch in hand

Available options and box contents

The iPod touch is available in 8GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. The 8GB model is available for $229, the 32GB for $299, and the 64GB for $399. There were not yet any 64GB models in my local store, but it looks like all are available for purchase on the Apple website. It seems to me that the 32GB is a no brainer over the 8GB where you get quadruple the memory for just $70 more.

Inside the box you will find the iPod touch, stereo earphones, USB 2.0 cable and Quick Start guide. The boxes keep getting smaller and smaller and are made of clear plastic.

Initial impressions

I thought the previous generation iPod touch was thin and light, but the new 4th generation model is even more compact and narrower. I was blown away by the compact solid feel of the device and have a feeling I will be carrying this iPod just about everywhere I go. I couldn't wait to turn on the screen to check out the retina display and I was not disappointed. WOW, the resolution is awesome and everything is super crisp and clear so I can see why people love their iPhone 4 devices.


Specifications of the iPod touch 4th generation include the following:

  • 3.5 inch 960x640 pixel resolution display
  • 8GB, 32GB, or 64GB internal flash memory capacity
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Video camcorder that records H.264 VGA video, 960x720 pixels, up to 30 frames per second with AAC audio
  • Internal mic for voice recording and VoIP calls
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, and light sensor
  • 4.4 x 2.3 x 0.248 inches and 3.56 ounces

In comparison, the iPhone 4 has a still camera that captures 5 megapixel image while the back camera on the iPod touch only captures still images at 0.92 megapixels. I never print my camera photos anyway so if the camera can capture photos good enough for posting to Facebook and Twitter then most of us may not even notice this low resolution camera. The iPhone 4 also has an IPS display that offers better viewing angles, but since I don't have an iPhone 4 and I don't really know why you need such a wide viewing angle I don't see any problem here either. The lack of GPS is a bit troublesome to me since I could have used the iPod touch for GPS navigation and for working out with the Nike Plus support to track my runs. Google Maps is included, but it just uses the WiFi radio to estimate your location and GPS would have been a welcome feature.

Walk around the hardware

The 3.5 inch display is the central focus of the device and takes up the majority of the front. As I stated earlier, it is absolutely gorgeous and the display itself is probably worth picking up an iPod touch. Centered above the display you will find the VGA front facing camera that you can use for FaceTime, taking still photos, or capturing video. The standard center button is also found below the display.

There is nothing on the right side and the only thing on the left side is the two distinct volume buttons. The power button is found on the top while the standard 30-pin dock connector port, 3.5 mm headset jack, and speaker are found on the bottom.

The main camera is found on the back upper left corner with a microphone opening adjacent to the camera lens. There is no flash on the device.

The hardware is fairly simple and feels fantastic in your hand.

Thoughts on the iOS 4.1 software

The iOS 4.1 operating system is slick and fixes a few issues I had with Apple's operating system in the past. Most notable of these are the ability to organize applications into folders, the ability to multitask, and the ability to quickly switch between running applications. I used to have 9+ pages of apps and now have two convenient pages organized to my liking. These folders alone make using my device much better than the iPhone ever used to be so I am quite pleased with the new operating system.

TV show rentals from the iPod touch are also a new feature and this is could be nice to have since rentals is one of the most common ways I have been getting media onto my iPad and old iPhone 3GS. I can now do this on the go with selected TV shows when I am in a hotel room in case I left my MacBook behind and am traveling light.

I haven't used FaceTime yet, but this may be a cool service as more people upgrade to the iPod touch.

The new Game Center multi-player gaming and social gaming service is just now rolling out and it took a couple hours last night to get some apps loaded. I now have Real Racing and FarmVille in the Game Center. I have never played FarmVille, but it was the only free software available when Game Center launched last night.

Final thoughts

If you already have an iPod touch then I can understand the desire to upgrade for the video camera and fantastic display. If you have an iPhone 4 I don't know why you would want one of these since you already have a device with the same features and more. This is clearly the best iPod touch ever and for someone like me who did not have an iPod touch or an iPhone 4 it was a pretty easy decision to pick one up, especially since I was able to sell my iPhone 3GS to pay for it.

Apple continues to dominate the media player world and the this version of the iPod touch sets the bar pretty high. There is still room to improve the still camera quality and add in a GPS receiver though, but there has to be more to differentiate the iPod touch from the iPhone other than just the wireless carrier.

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