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

  • mbf - Sunday, September 12, 2010 - link

    I had deliberately held off getting a 32GB iPod Touch 3G, because I wanted to see what the new 4G would bring to the table. When it was finally introduced I was casually optimistic. Now and especially after reading this article, I'm not really sure if it's worth the asking price "here" compared to the 3G version.

    When I say "here" I mean Denmark, where at the moment the cheapest offer for the 32GB 3G (as long as stocks last) is DKR 1789 (approx. $306) while the 32GB 4G is on preorder for DKR 2289 (approx. $391). Not only do I feel ripped off by the unjust price hike (which in itself isn't anything new), but I seriously question if the 4G is worth this substantial amount of extra cash.

    I can't really see myself using Face Time, although I *was* hoping for the actual iPhone 4 IPS "Retina display" and also the double amount of RAM.

    I'll probably use the iPod Touch more for "serious" apps and also plan to do some development of my own. It probably won't see much use as a media player.

    Any thought or comments?
  • SadTouchLover - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    I did the same thing and held off on the 3G. This new touch is just not worth it and frankly I don't want to purchase it and reinforce Apple's deplorable behavior. BAD doggy, Apple, BAD! Reply
  • TheFlyingSquirrel - Sunday, September 12, 2010 - link

    dissapointed in the screen, memory and camera but whatever
    I'll wait to see what microsoft and sony churn out
  • ianmills - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    It looks like the reason Anand is taking so long to post the battery results is because the battery SUCKS on the 4g. Putting it in sleep mode the battery goes from 80% to 20% over night. lame.
  • Hrel - Sunday, October 10, 2010 - link

    I'd probably buy this if: It had the same camera sensor as the iphone. Had an sd expansion slot, an fm tuner you can turn on and off and support for other browsers if it doesn't now. Also $200 should get you 16GB and $300 should get you 32GB (as it does now). I'd like a nicer screen but I'm not willing to pay for it; good enough. Reply
  • Mezinger - Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - link

    I've just shelled out for an unlocked iPhone 4 to replace my first gen iPod touch... it's beautiful but I have to say I don't get the battery life out of it that I would have expected... which left me wondering how it compared to the newest touch? Any news? Should I be suffering from buyers remorse? Thanks. Reply

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