Device Review: Apple iPod Touch 5G

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Apple | iPod | $ 299 (32GB) $ 399 (64 GB)

After two years of being left in the dark without an upgrade, Apple announced updates for the new iPod Touch using the iPhone internals of yesteryear. Many were disappointed about the lack of an A6, but the new Touch still ends up being one of the best that Apple has made.  Read on to see more about the new Touch:

In the Box

  • iPod Touch 5G
  • Apple EarPods
  • Wrist Strap
  • Lightning USB Cable
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Apple includes the bare necessities with the new iPod Touch.

Design

Apple’s iPod Touch has grown internally and externally since we last saw it. The new iPod is taller than its predecessor due to the longer 4” display. It still holds the same characteristics as the previous Touch though: large glass display, rounded corners, home button, and centered camera.

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The core design of the Touch really hasn’t changed too much.

This time around, Apple has decided to ditch the polished silver backing for some anodized aluminum. The result is an iPod that is available in a multitude of vibrant colors: black, silver, blue, yellow, pink, and red. All models, except the black, come with white glass.

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Colors! For the first time in the Touch’s history, it isn’t just monochromic!

Despite the camera protruding outward, the back of the new iPod looks exceptional. Contrary to what many would think, the camera doesn’t get in the way while being used on a flat surface. There is a little button opposite to the camera that comes out to allow use of the wrist strap. It comes out further than the camera does unfortunately and will cause a few problems when being used on a flat surfact

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A protruding camera isn’t as problematic as I though.

The aluminum backing gives the new iPod a nice soft texture. Unlike the previous generation, it’s a harder to scratch, but still possible. Going back to the design of the first and second generation Touch, the WiFi antenna is now visible again on the back of the iPod. The new iPod’s rear design is basically a first gen iPod colored (which I like a lot).

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Apple decided to make the antennas visible on the new Touch.

As stated before, the new iPod has a gorgeous 4” display that results in a taller device. Although the display looks great, using it could be a bit problematic from time to time. Having to stretch for certain items on the screen is no fun. Apps that haven’t updated, or won’t, to the new screen size are obvious on the white glass.

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Black bars contrast very strongly against the white glass.

The dock connector has been changed on the bottom since the locations of the headphone jack and speaker have been reversed. The new dock connector utilizes Apple’s new Lightning connector. At current time, there are very scarce accessories available for it. With time, however, they will come… Apple built it, they will come.

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Apple reversed the locations of the speaker and headphonejack.

The new iPod’s design is a welcome addition as it fixed one gripe about the previous generation, buttons are easier to press now. The buttons are in the proper place allowing access while in your hand and on a flat surface. The new iPod’s design is improved from yesteryear, but I have a few new gripes about it.

Design: ★★★★½

Features

With the new iPod comes a ton of features. Many of these come from the iOS 6 upgrade. One iOS 6 feature is said to not be included: offline reading lists. Upon testing, however, I found that many of the past history is cached on the device already, so it’s possible to view, and read your reading list offline. iOS 6 has many features that are not unique to the new iPod.

There are, however, many new hardware improvements and innovations that Apple has done to create new features in the new Touch. The first is the loop (I call it a wrist strap). The mysterious little disk on the lower corner of the iPod simply pops out with the push of a button and allows you to attach the loop. This keeps the iPod attached to your hand more, and attached to the ground less.

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Push the button on the back and something pops out allowing you to hook the loop.

A new display has been introduced with the new Touch. This time around, the display matches that found on the iPhone. The display has many positives along with it, an extra row of icons would be one that Apple pointed out themselves.

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An extra row of icons is a prime example of the use of the display.

More space allows for more information displayed on screen. Even Apple has taken advantage of this idea themselves in many of the stock apps. What used to be hidden is now shown in plain daylight. The display works great for videos as well as just about any game that is optimized for the 16:9 ratio.

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The display allows viewing of hourly weather without opening anything up.

There are, however, a few apps that really didn’t improve with the bigger screen when they could. An example of this is something that has long been forgotten, the calculator. Apple seemed to like to change the icon of this app with time. However, the portrait mode still remains very limited, surely the larger screen could have helped this out a bit. Guess not.

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I don’t want bigger buttons, I want more functions!

The real last piece of software that came with the new Touch is the smarter Siri that comes on the iPhone and some iPad models. Testing Siri, I did find that she doesn’t understand every word I said, but still pulled up the relevant information I wanted. Siri remains the sassy robot with a humorous personality.

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Siri really can replace the Wolfram Alpha app in the App Store. She’s very witty as well.

Along with the updated software, updated hardware is also a must. Sure, the hardware is from yesteryear, but the improvements are still vast in themselves when coming from a 4G. Double the RAM makes most, if not all, games stable and the additional processor makes them liquid smooth. Updated WiFi and Bluetooth allow for faster data transfer as well as quality music streaming (Bluetooth). One downgrade, however, is the lack of an ambient sensor on the 5G Touch. It will be missed by many.

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A beautiful light sensor is not one of the features on the new Touch.

A new lightning cable is also used to replace the 30-pin adapter on the new Touch. This update is long overdue, but entirely voids just about every dock and accessory made for the 30-pin connector. There are adapters available (but they don’t entirely solve the problem) though. This is a problem for the present, but not one for the future.

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The new lightning connector has many people complaining, they’ll be less verbal as time comes and accessories get made.

My favorite part of the new iPod is the camera. Yes, I could make the old Touch’s camera do things I wanted. I was able to get some nice shots. The thing’s still crap though. A new 5 MP sensor is included on the Touch combined with the same lens found on the iPhone 5. The camera is really beautiful and able to compete with many point-n-shoots. It features dynamic focus, white balancing, and exposure (all semi-automatically controlled with the option of full-automatic). These are nice to have, but allowing for manual control would have been big (or at least giving devs APIs for it). Along with the new hardware upgrades, Apple has also given users a new Panorama feature that works very well.

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The camera would have to be my favorite upgrade in the new Touch.

Apple packed the new iPod with a ton of features. They have taken advantage of some of these features in some software, but haven’t in others. They have found a way to include stronger, faster hardware while removing something that many used on a daily basis. Overall though, it’s a positive outcome.

Features: ★★★★½

Audio

The new iPod comes with a new set of earbuds, the EarPods. The ‘Pods provide a sound that leans closer to the fun side of things. I see the general public liking them a lot more. I did like the original ‘buds though, these aren’t a huge upgrade over them, on the technical level. For mainstream music, they work wonders. I will review the new EarPods when I have time (separately).

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Apple’s new EarPods are “ear shaped.”

I have no measurements, no objective data on the new Touch’s DAC and output. I can do a quick comparison to the old Touch though. Though the differences are minute at best, they are there. The new Touch is a tad bit softer on the low end than the 4G despite being a tad warmer. The 5G gives treble a tiny bump as well. Quality wise, they seem about the same, the new Touch may be a bit better though. Since these observations are complete subjective, the Audio won’t be scored.

Build

Apple has always chosen good materials to build the iPod Touch with. They may have been prone to scratches on the rear, but still held strong. Apple has continued the strong build, and improved the scratch-prone nature of the back side. One problem I always ran into with the 4th gen was the home button. Only time will tell how this Touch will be regarding this. However, the craftsmanship on the new Touch is remarkable. It has a nice heft to it and doesn’t make it seem like a cheap piece of plastic. The materials not only feel firm and stiff, but also has a subtle texture to it.

The connectors connect very sturdy to the 5th generation as well. They almost just snap together, something I haven’t felt with an Apple device in a while. Overall, I feel that the iPod is build very nicely with attention to just about every detail.

Build: ★★★★★

Value

The iPod Touch 5G comes with a 299 dollar price tag for the 32 GB and a 399 for the 64. Dropping the base 200-230 dollar model has caused a stir in the community. In many ways, I do see their point. The iPod itself isn’t more expensive, instead, the cheap model is gone. I still feel, though, that the new iPod is still worth its value due to the (mostly) upgraded hardware and new attractive design. A new camera makes up for a bit of the price. The larger display and upgraded processor and RAM make the big difference though. It would be nice to have a cheaper model still.

Value: ★★★★½

Final Thoughts

It took Apple 2 years to develop, it felt like 4 for anyone who anticipated something new. They did deliver, but with yesteryear guts. Still, it’s undeniable that the 5G Touch fares better over the 4G. Upgraded software and hardware merge to create an (almost) perfect 5G iPod Touch.

Overall Score

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Apple iPod Touch 5G

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
All accessories, applications, themes, tweaks, or other products were purchased by iFans at their respective prices unless stated otherwise.
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