The new iPod touch 4G almost has an easy ride of things. Here we are in 2010, and no other media player has even come close to touching the jack of all trades capabilities of previous models, even if there are better sounding tune chuckers out there to be had. And yet Apple has still seen fit to up the ante once again, with a new screen, new camera, and even slimmer body. Is it worth the extra price? Find out in our full new iPod touch review right here.
We’ll be upfront: there are no surprises to be had with the new iPod touch, but that’s no bad thing, and three years into the series, we’re still no closer to seeing a rival media player for the mass market that comes even remotely close for convenience and all around pleasure.
First, to the build. The new iPod touch 4G inherits the problems we had with last year’s model (The metal backing attracts fingerprints like nobody’s business), but still manages to make itself utterly beautiful. It’s hard to believe it’s possible to make anything thinner than the last two iterations of iPod touch, but Apple’s done it, in style. Now, it’s just impossible to conceive of anything being thinner than the new iPod touch.
The metal band that bulged out around the sides of older iPod touches is gone: instead, you’ve got a sheer, smooth front face. The volume rocker stays on the left hand side (with isolated keys now), while the lock button moves to the top right. It’s just a little bit hard to press when you’re looking at the screen, but it’s a minor quibble – especially when compared to the screen on the new iPod touch.
Like the Retina Display on the iPhone 4, the panel on the new iPod touch is absolutely stuffed full of pixels – so much so that you can’t see them. It uses the same 960×640 resolution as the iPhone 4, and side by side, we struggled to notice any difference in viewing angle. The new iPod touch’s screen is ever so slightly less rich when it come to colour and contrast, but its crispness makes it one of the best we’ve ever seen regardless.
The camera on the new iPod touch meanwhile is a mixed bag. The long lost piece of the iPod touch puzzle, it’s emphatically not the same sensor as that found in the iPhone 4 (For more on that beauty, see the sample gallery in our iPhone 4 review). Stills top out at a maximum of just 960×720, so you will not be printing these off. The samples we took were horribly mottled, and rather disappointing. We don’t think all that many people will be without a phone with a better still camera at any point they’d be holding an iPod touch – the fixed focus doesn’t help matters.
But that slick A4 processor powering the new iPod touch means the same sensor is still capable of using that sensor to power through 720p HD video, and compared to most of those same phones, it’s rather splendid. You can see a sample video below: It’s not spectacular but motion is smooth, and the fixed focus much less noticeable than we first expected.
Said processor also helps burning through games and apps. Performance was on a par with the iPhone 4 (Which is to say, er, speedy) and the pace at which it bumped HD videos onto YouTube (A new option in iOS 4.1) was frankly frightening for a handheld device. We did notice some strange sticking in two of the big software additions, Games Center and FaceTime, but based on the slickness of everything else, we’re inclined to think these are bugs which will be ironed out in no time.
It’s too early to tell how Games Center will pan out, with just a handful of games on it right now, but FaceTime worked just fine on the new iPod touch, with the same camera rotating options as on the iPhone 4. Your account is tied to an email address, and all it takes is a one time verification and you’re up: we rang through to an iPhone 4 owner in just the same way.
While video chat is nothing new on phones, it is slickly done here, and more to the point, FaceTime feels more natural and useful on an iPod touch – we can see long distance couples snapping these up as an easy solution which doesn’t require Skype and USB webcams.
Other than that, little has changed with iOS on the new iPod touch. Multitasking is the same as before, but of course, codec/format support (Apple, please add native AVI and MKV support) and iTunes’ limitations are too. The videos you can play look great, it’s just not everyone likes to source their videos through iTunes.
Audiophiles too will still resent the max capacity of 64GB (And the eyewatering accompanying price), and the lack of FLAC file support. But audiophiles (and TV torrent addicts) should know by now that Apple isn’t gunning for these markets with this iPod. The sound quality is good enough (indistinguishable from last year’s), supported videos look beautiful, and the user experience unsurpassed. That’s the secret to Apple’s winning combination, even if magic isn’t the best way to describe it.
What the new iPod touch should do, is convince those lugging around a mid-range phone or lower, but with aspirations to come aboard the iOS train, to slap down the cash – even if Apple’s jacked up the entry price at the same time. This really is a masterful, all rounder of a music, media and gaming machine.
The new iPod touch 4G has made our Top 5 Best iPod and Top 5 Best MP3 player shortlists, which is why we’ve given it our Recommended rosette. Check out more Top 5s here and find out more about how they work with our Top 5 guarantee.