iPod touch 4 torn down, 256MB of RAM confirmed

iPod touch 4 teardown

The frenzied folks over at iFixit have torn down the iPod touch 4 and the big news -- or rather small news -- is that it only has 256MB of RAM, the same as the iPad and iPhone 3GS, but half what the iPhone 4 has.

Along with the tiny .7mp camera, lack of IPS display, and lack of a 128GB option, this feels like a cost-savings measure by Apple.

An unsubsidized iPhone 4 will run you over $600 or $700. No one would pay that for an iPod touch, so are lower specs worth the lower price?

I like the 512MB of RAM in iPhone 4. I can keep tons of Safari pages cached at once, unlike iPad where I can only keep 2. We'll see how iPod touch performs with it.

The almost forgotten Zune HD aside, iPod touch pretty much has its product category to itself. However, as we start seeing 7-inch and smaller "tablets" start to hit the market, the iPod touch begins to compete with them as well. Being relatively cheap is a huge advantage there, probably as much as access to the iTunes App Store is.

What do you think? 256MB a deal-breaker for anyone? Last straw? Or still not an issue at that price?


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPod touch 4 torn down, 256MB of RAM confirmed


This thing is looking less, and less like a new iPod Touch, but a iPod Touch Gen 3.2. The mire I hear about short comings, the more I think it will not be long until you get the apple message. This new iOS 6 does not cover the iPod Touch 4. Just not enough memory to make iOS 6 look good on the device. I think they could have given us a better camera, and decent memory for a little more. If this is the way apple makes the new iPod Touch, makes you wonder what will be left out of the new iPad.

The amount of memory only matters insofar as it harms performance. If the performance is good, who cares how much ram is in there? If it is bad, then who cares how much ram is in there. The user experience, not the specs, matter.
I have not used the Touch, but I had a 3gs with iOS 4 and loved it. My wife uses it and loves it. I now have the iPhone 4 with more RAM, and love that (especially now that the proximity sensor is fixed).
All that matters is the quality of the user experience.

It's certainly a cost saving measure and one I'd expect in addition to the other major components that are missing compared to the iPhone4 (GPS, IPS, and obviously the cell radio) and that's definitely where most of the $400 difference in price would come from.
It also shows more and more why that back camera wasn't them trying to save on costs but trying to play one of two games. Either form over function making the touch 1/20th of an inch thinner or playing the incremental upgrade game to milk money from customers by including a real camera/flash option for casual photos and doc images in next years version without having to actually increase their manufacturing costs. I've been looking at the Fixit teardown and it really looks like the 3GS camera would have been able to fit into there and probably would cost them the same to manufacture as the one they actually put in there. They even found a plastic space holder, probably for keeping the components fit tight, that shows they had extra space to work with near where the camera is to include a flash as well.

The camera space issue was a front to back issue; the autofocus needs to move to work. The ipod is already thinner making it harder to get an autofocus camera in there.
And I agree with others, sure its half the RAM and a lower MP camera, but its a cost tradeoff instead of paying $400+ You have to cut costs somewhere to get pricing competitive.

I don't see it as a big deal or "game-breaking". The iPod Touch is significantly less in cost than the iPhone 4, it is impossible for it to have the same specs.

I think we live in a pretty awesome time when our expectations for a gadget that barely existed 3 years ago are so high. It's no longer enough for some people to have a pocket computer that can browse the web, take HD video, run awesome apps, video conference, etc. People still want more and that will just push companies to make even cooler stuff in the future.

just picked one up today and I am impressed with the little device. the video quality is very good, and the pictures are good enough for posting online (picasa, twitter, facebook, etc.) facetime is really cool and the screen looks great!! I have a Droid Incredible and love it so I likely wont be keeping the touch but it is really cool.
the deal breaker for me was lack of GPS which means i cant use it with Runkeeper to track my runs.
but I am really really impressed with how awesome this little thing is.

It's pretty simple. If you perceive that you are not getting the value for the money, you don't buy it.
Did Apple make a mistake in understanding their customers? Well, that's always a question that comes up for every single product and product update. They have a very long string of hits. They probably know what they are doing. They are bound to very real and physical limitations. Unlike us, who are not bound by anything but our imaginations.
I'd get it for my kids. Maybe even two. For me though, I already have a 3GS, why would I need it when iPhone 5 is mere 9 months away and my contract conveniently ends at the same time. ;)

No way am I getting the 4th iPod touch, next years will defiantly be worth it. No a9 chip no dice; I am with nvidia on this the a8 is a stop gap processor. But the a9 and eagle variant will be desktop class computing enough to untether from the Mac; An independent device.

I went to the Apple Store to buy one today and the second one I played with CRASHED almost immediately. It was very weak rendering apple.com when you zoomed in. I didn't buy it. I sure hope they put the iphone 4 on Verizon, that would be the prefect device, with the best carrier and Apple would sell sooooooo many more devices.

So the thing that confuses me... and this isn't entirely related to iPods... but rather tech in general... is if that's all it takes to power a computer... I mean.. literally... the processor, ram and hd are the size of a stick of gum... and yet netbooks and nettops are still $300+ with full size components? I must be missing something...

I knew it would have had at least 512, I'm surprised, with multitasking it just seemed to make sense, 256 works but 512 is better

I didn't even think about the memory. 512 mb without question I thought. It's really a deal breaker for me, I was going to get one

@ I completely agree with you. I feel like people are getting a little too spoiled. This device doesn't need more than 256.

Oh yea, and about this being a 'deal breaker', if this is such an outrage, what MP3 player do you consider better? lol This is as good as it gets in this realm, the iPhone needs to be differentiated from the iPod touch, they shouldn't be compared.

Wow, Another marvel of engineering...
I have no problem for the 256MB of RAM, coz i've seen iOS 4 running with iTouch 3gen (that also 256) and it have enough power for multitask and the homescreen backgrounding, however, the animation not rendered @60fps but still "enough".
I think the A4 chip will cover the lack of animation smoothness.
And yes Rene, i think it's how Apple was able to decrease the price of this iTouch without removing important parts.

NO! I want iPhone 4 species give people a high end option because I would buy one for $500 or even $600 if it had iPhone 4 species pulse 128 GB.

Blegh. That's the last straw with the touch for me. Aesthetically, the design is almost the same as last year's- ok, it's thiner, but I don't care about that- hell, I think it's too thin. The volume controller is still a rocker- no separate buttons like on the iPhone 4. The back is metal, scrunchable and boring- no sleek iPhone 4 style glass. The camera sucks- nothing compared to the iPhone 4, and not there's even an LED flash! The headphone jack is still at the bottom, which is the absolute worst place to put it- the iPhone has had it on top since it launched. No flat back like the iPhone 4 has- still the same old curved back that I'm sick to death of seeing. No IPS display- it does have a retina display thankfully. And it's the same 256 MB of RAM as last year- the iPhone 4 has 512 MB of RAM. Come on. There's not trace of the sleek iPhone 4 industrial look to it at all. The design is still the same old rounded, scratchable, and boring design as last year. An iPhone without the phone? No, more like an iPhone 3GS without the phone. I'd rather buy an iPhone 4 as soon as the fabled Verizon version arrives- failing that, I'll an unsubsidized iPhone 4 (that won't be cheap, i know...) and I won't put a SIM card in. I know I'm nitpicking and complaining endlessly, but Apple had an incredible, beautiful design with the iPhone 4- so why the hell didn't they use that design on the Touch? Why? The iPhone 4 is a work of art. The iPod Touch is still playing second fiddle.

You people kill me. It's a music player with 100 more things on it. That came out a few years ago and your crying that it don't have this and that. Cmon. Your lucky it has a camera period. And no gps lol seriously people think about it. People want it to have the same things as a iPhone 4 has lol. Why have the iPhone then. If you don't like don't get it. If you bought one and you don't like it bring it back. There no other music player that can hold a candle to it now.

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Macboy: It's not just a music player. If it were just a music player, it would be advertised as such. They advertise it as a gaming device, and just a general "app device." Calling it a music player is very narrow minded. It's an iPhone without the phone (and contract.) El Jobso said it himself. But it's not up to par with the current iPhone- it's in between an iPhone 3GS and an iPhone without the phone (and without the contract). Why can't I just get an iPhone? Because I'm on Verizon, and I like to have coverage that doesn't suck. I'd never want to switch to AT&T. Their coverage is spotty where I am, and Verizon has a strong network- hell, it's actually cheaper. So why would I buy an iPhone? The iPod Touch would be perfect for me, but Apple did a half-assed job on it. I'm "lucky" to even have a camera? Please. Oh, poor Apple, people demand so much of them... what can they do, they're just a 40+ billion dollar company after all. Please. Apple did a half assed job, and it shows.

Removing GPS is a genuine cost cutting measure, it is expensive to stuff a GPS into a device this size along with everything else that is already in there. The camera on the other hand is like a $10 difference if that to use something like the 3GS camera. And when it comes to accessories there are GPS accessories (don't know how well they fit with the 1/20th of an inch thinner iTouch4) but there aren't an auto-focus camera LED flash attachments that I'm aware of and the cost to produce verse price they could sell them for probably wouldn't be worth it even if there were.

its simple marketing. Why wold apple put iphone aspecs on a ipod.? That wold be compiting whit its self.people say "i rather buy an iphone 4" thats exactly what apple wants you to say. So you will actually end up payn 500 dollars instead of 220. Apple wins. And you too since apple makes such great gadgets