While the iPod Touch is quite a popular device, I've never really been attracted to one because my annually-upgraded iPhone has always been a more capable device. And although the new iPhone 5 continues to lead, I must admit that it hasn't really excited me much. Thus, I've decided to give Windows Phone 8 or the Nexus 4 a shot as my primary communications device. However, I'm very much tied to the iOS ecosystem with all my songs, videos and apps bought from the App Store. So as an "insurance", I decided to pick the latest iPod Touch and thats why you're reading this article.
Packaged in a clear small box with an arrow pointing on where to strip the tape off, the iPod Touch is unmistakably an Apple product. Inside the packaging, you find a pair of the new earplugs known as EarPods, as well as the Lightning cable, a USB charger and the loop along with a quick-start guide.
Measuring 123 x 58 x 6.1 mm and weighing a paltry 88 grams, the 5th generation iPod Touch is insanely thin and light and probably an indicator of what Apple wants the iPhone to weigh in a few generations. Available in quite a few colors, I picked up the blue version which has an Aluminum back that has been quite resistant to scratches in the couple of weeks that I have used and somewhat abused it.
From the front, the new iPod Touch looks almost identical to the iPhone 5 with a 4" screen and a camera on top and the home button at the bottom. About the only thing that differentiates the two from the front is the absence of the earpiece and proximity sensor next to it. On the left side you have volume buttons while power/lock button sits on the top. Apple has moved the 3.5mm plug to the bottom of the device along with the Lightning connector. the new Lightning connector is quite small and I like the fact that you don't have to flip it around to plug it into your device. As far as compatibility with older docks and connectors is concerned, Apple has used their older connector for longer than any USB standard on other phones and it was going to happen sooner or later.
The back side of the iPod Touch houses a 5 megapixel camera with a flash. Next to the flash is a black strip that looks a bit awkward and out of place, however this is where the Wi-Fi antenna for the device is placed. Also present on the back but towards the bottom is a silver button that pops out when pressed. This is where you attach the included loop- Apple's marketing term for a wrist band. I don't care much for wrist-bands so the Loop pretty much stayed in the packaging but I guess it could be a good accessory for people who like running.
Although the previous generation iPod Touch has had a retina screen, I've been told that the quality of that screen was not comparable to what the iPhone offers. However with the latest generation, Apple decided to use the same display as the iPhone 5 and to say the screen is stunning is an understatement. The 640 x 1136 pixel screen uses an IPS panel which provided excellent viewing angles and beautiful color production. It's easily the best display I have seen in a mobile device and with the in-cell screen technology, you feel as though the icons are painted on the display.
Under the hood, the iPod Touch uses the older Apple A5 processor found on the iPad 2 and Phone 4S. By no means is the A5 slow as I zipped in and out of applications and web pages without any noticeable lags. I bought the base unit with 32GB of storage, however a 64GB version is also available. You also get 802.11 dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 along with Nike+ support, however GPS is sadly lacking which is a shame as it could have worked well with Nike+ for runners. Also unlike the iPhone, the iPod Touch only has a single speaker which is fairly loud, however a pair of stereo speakers is always preferred.
Using the iPod Touch gave me a bit of a peak on how an iPhone 5 would be like. The beautiful larger screen is utilized really well with more information displayed- such as the number of emails and tweets. As an added bonus, the new screen has an aspect ration of 16:9 giving your videos the wide-screen treatment that previous versions of iPhone and iPod Touch devices have failed on. As a multimedia device, it would be hard to find something better than the new iPod Touch.
The camera on the back takes pretty decent pictures although sadly not at the same aspect ratio as the screen which now shows black bars on the sides. Low-light photos were a bit grainy but that was expected. Apple has upgraded the front camera on all their new devices to take 720p videos which certainly helps when you're using FaceTime. The back camera is capable of shooting videos at 1080p as expected. Here are two sample shots from the back camera- one without the flash and one with it.
Wrapping things up, the battery life on the new iPod Touch is pretty impressive. In the last two weeks, I've charged it every third or fourth day. My usage pattern on the iPod Touch is probably somewhere between light to moderate with a daily activity of emails continuously flowing in, taking a few pictures, listening to some music and watching videos- as well as my daughters playing their favorite games. The iPhone would probably not make it to a second day with such usage.
Overall, the iPod is a pretty impressive iOS device. It lets you do most of the things that an iPhone does other than making calls or using the GPS. Siri is present on the new iPod Touch as well offering amusing and helpful voice-aided advice. The lack of an earpiece doesn't make the iPod Touch an impressive calling device, however, you can get around that using a Bluetooth or a wired headset.
Priced around AED 1,200, the iPod Touch is not an impulse buy. In fact it is a bit on the expensive side considering the iPad mini is out and should officially cost just a 100 Dirhams more when it launches in the region. This makes it very hard for me to recommend the iPod Touch. Yes, it is more portable and offers more storage than the mini at the AED 1,200 price level and if that is what you're looking for then it would serve you well. For all other purposes, I would pick the iPad mini.