Last week Apple announced a complete overhaul of its iPod lineup including a new Shuffle, a new Nano (with multitouch screen) and a new iPod Touch. While the nano looks cool, it’s pricey and honestly I haven’t been interested in a dedicated MP3 player in about a decade.

The new iPod Touch however piqued my curiousity. With many of the same specs as the iPhone 4, I wondered if the new Touch might be a neat way to get most of the functionality of the 4 without the albatross of a contract AT&T hangs around your neck.

It turns out there’s a lot more than a cellular radio that separates the new iPod Touch from the iPhone 4.

iPod Touch, The Fourth

The new Touch comes with a pair of typical Apple earbuds (the ones without a mic or remote!) and a dock cable (no wall power adapter) in a fancy new plastic case:

Apple hasn’t given the new iPod Touch the full iPhone 4 styling treatment. You get a glass front but a smudgefactory chrome back:

This is after less than a day of use

The entire device is ridiculously thin, it makes the iPhone 4 feel like a brick. It’s comfortable to hold in your hand and honestly the size I wish all smartphones were.

The buttons are also cheaper than what you get on the 4. The new iPod Touch has individual rubber volume up/down buttons on the left side and a low profile power/lock at the top.

There’s a 1/8” output jack at the bottom of the iPod Touch, but the opening is tapered so you actually leave a bit of your headphone connector exposed when it’s plugged in:

It’s not the most elegant (or engineering friendly) design, but it does work.

There’s an external speaker at the bottom of the iPod Touch, but it’s not quite as loud/bassy as what you get with the iPhone 4. It’s enough to listen to music in a relatively quiet room but you’re much better off with headphones.

To give you an idea, I measured sound pressure 5” above the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch while playing a Kanye West track (Power):

External Speaker Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 Apple iPod Touch (2010)
Sound Pressure - Higher is Better 90 dB(A) 78 dB(A)

The 4’s external speaker weighed in at 90dB(A) compared to 78dB(A) on the new iPod touch. This is very important for our FaceTime discussion later.

The new iPod Touch is available in 3 flavors: 8GB, 32GB and 64GB. The features are the same across all models.

iPod Touch Pricing
  8GB 32GB 64GB
Apple iPod Touch (2010) $229 $299 $399

Internally, the new iPod Touch uses Apple’s A4 SoC. The A4 is an ARM Cortex A8 based SoC with integrated PowerVR SGX 535 GPU. The Cortex A8 in the SoC runs somewhere in the 700 - 900MHz range and appears to be the same CPU speed as the iPhone 4. The GPU also appears unchanged. I ran a few sanity tests to confirm:

Apple iPhone 4 vs. iPod Touch (2010) Performance
  Apple iPhone 4 Apple iPod Touch (2010)
Geekbench 380 378
Sunspider 0.9 10666.8 ms 10693.2 ms
Rightware BrowserMark 30915 32106
Linpack 34.5 MFLOPs 33.9 MFLOPs
3D Benchmark App 47.7 fps 46.9 fps

If you’re wondering why I didn’t run Epic’s amazing Citadel demo, it’s because of the next major difference between the iPhone 4 and the iPod Touch: memory size.

The A4 in the iPod Touch appears to be a lower clocked version of what you get in the iPad, it only has 256MB of memory compared to the 4’s 512MB. Currently Epic’s Citadel demo treats the iPod Touch as an iPhone 4 and crashes before getting into the demo as a result. Epic should have an update out soon that fixes the problem by lowering texture quality to fit within the memory limits of the iPod Touch.

The reduction in memory size simply means you won’t be able to have as many apps open as you would on an iPhone 4. iOS does a relatively good job of memory management so you’ll only see this surface while multitasking with a lot of apps. When it does surface you’ll simply try to switch to an application and note that it has to reload from scratch rather than just picking up where you left off.

This is purely a profit play on Apple’s part. The iPhone 4 is much more expensive, especially taking into account AT&T’s contract, and as a result you get more hardware despite relatively similar up front costs.

The Retina Display


View All Comments

  • SadTouchLover - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    Don't do your little winkie face at us, jacko. This is obviously a case of Apple trying to float a subpar product in hopes of the masses being too clueless to care. They absolutely could have put in a camera that wasn't WORTHLESS and a screen that was the same as the iphone and STILL made profit. Just not as gigantic of profit. BOOOOO APPLE. Reply
  • sabot00 - Thursday, September 9, 2010 - link

    You should compare the iPod Touch 4G to the 3G too, you haven't compared the 2 at all.
    I want to know is the "weak" speaker is better/worse than the 3G and is the black level on the screen better/worse.
  • grant2 - Thursday, September 9, 2010 - link

    Ok Anand, honestly, what multi-function device were you playing MP3s on back in the year 2000? Reply
  • grahamnp - Thursday, September 9, 2010 - link

    Nice to see a review that points out the flaws instead of why they don't matter. Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    I leave a dedicated MP3 player in my car. It makes a lot of sense, since it's always plugged in, it has a dedicated 24hr battery, it holds a ton, and it's easier than messing with your phone.

    The SanDisk Fuze kicks butt. $50-70 gets you a 2-8GB model with an empty microSD slot. So you can have a 10GB player for $63! 24GB for $104! Even expand it up to 40GB. ...versus the iPod Nano 8GB for $149, or 16GB for $179! And you can transfer music like any USB drive.
  • austonia - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    if it had GPS i would be interested in getting a Touch to replace my Evo for tracking the miles i walk while listening to audiobooks. Evo is a bit bulky and heavy but gets the job done. maybe next year. seems like it won't be long before they run out of features to add.

    also not a fan of the shiny metallic case. easy to scratch and then it looks worn out. better if they used extruded aluminum like the nanos, or anything else really.
  • jed22281 - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    Compared to the engadget review.....
    Will always come back to you guys for objective/measured reviews.

    You simply are one of the best in the business.
  • SadTouchLover - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    Agreed. Reply
  • Pliablemoose - Sunday, September 12, 2010 - link

    I know you got lots of attention for bashing the iPhone 4's reception, but you're off the mark here, you're asking Apple to produce an iPhone 4 for less than 1/2 of the price.

    Will it get you page views? Yes.

    Is it a fair comparison? No.

    If iPhone 4 performance equality is what one wants, buy an off contract iPhone 4 and don't activate it.

    Problem solved.
  • SadTouchLover - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    Uh do you REALLY believe that adding a camera that isn't a dismal 0.7 megapixels and using screen materials that aren't from the bargain bin would make up the $350+ difference between an ipod touch and an unsubsidized iphone? No. This was a calculated move by Apple to get the kiddies to purchase this product and make as much money as possible. They left enough features so Steve Jobs could have his buzzwords at the keynote address and shaved material quality to maximize profits. An Iphone 4 costs less than 200 bucks to make. Apple just doesn't give a hoot about consumers who aren't going to pay them upfront AND month to month. Reply

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