iPod touch 2015 review

iPod Touch 6
(Image: © iMore)

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2015 doesn't bring the next generation of iPod touch: It's still the same general design Apple introduced back in 2012. Yet that design was so forward-thinking, it evolved and spread through the iPad and iPhone lines as well. As a result, even without a major design overhaul the iPod touch still looks sleek and sophisticated and utterly modern.

The insides, however, are truly modern. Gone is the old 32-bit Apple A5 chipset; in its place is the scorching fast Apple A8—the same silicon inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Gone also is the old 5-megapixel iSight camera, replaced with the much better 8-megapixel iSight—the same sensor and lens from the iPad Air 2.

There's more to the new iPod touch as well: a better front-facing FaceTime camera, faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and fresh exterior finishes that match—and extend—the rest of Apple's iOS product lines.

But is it enough? Let's find out!

For people who want:

  • Affordable access to the App Store
  • An incredibly small, thin, light "tablet"
  • No cellular plan to worry about
  • A connected camera
  • A family remote control
  • An extra development device

Not for people who want:

  • A phone
  • Cellular and/or GPS
  • A larger-than-4-inch display
  • Touch ID
  • Apple Pay

iPod touch video review

Give us 4 minutes and we'll give you the iPod touch!

iPod touch Evolution

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPod touch 1iPod touch 2iPod touch 3iPod touch 4iPod touch 5iPod touch 6
Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1 Row 0 - Cell 2 Row 0 - Cell 3 Row 0 - Cell 4 Row 0 - Cell 5 Row 0 - Cell 6
Code Namen45n72n18n81n78n102
Model NameiPod1,1iPod2,1iPod3,1iPod4,1iPod5,1iPod7,1
Screen Size3.5 inches3.5 inches3.5 inches3.5 inches4 inches4 inches
Screen Resolution480x320 163ppi480x320 163ppi480x320 163ppi960x640 326ppi1136x640 326ppi1136x640 326ppi
System-on-a-ChipSamsung S5L8900Samsung S5L8720Samsung S5L8920Apple A4Apple A5Apple A8
CPU412 MHz ARM 1176JZF-S533 MHz ARM 1176JZF-S600 MHz ARM Cortex A8800 MHz ARM Cortex A8800 MHz dual-core ARM Cortex A91.1 GHz dual-core ARM v8 Typhoon
GPUPowerVR MBXPowerVR MBXPowerVR SGX535PowerVR SGX535PowerVR SGX543MP2PowerVR Series 6XT GX6450
Co-processorN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AApple M8
RAM128 MB128 MB256 MB256 MB512 MB1 GB
Max storage32 GB32 GB64 GB64 GB64 GB128 GB
iSightN/AN/AN/A0.7 mp, 720p5mp, 1080p8mp, 1080p
FaceTimeN/AN/AN/A0.3mp, VGA1.2mp, 720p1.2mp, 720p
BluetoothN/ABluetooth 2.1 + EDRBluetooth 2.1 + EDRBluetooth 2.1 + EDRBluetooth 4.0Bluetooth 4.1
Wi-Fi802.11b/g802.11b/g802.11b/g802.11n802.11n802.11ac
SensorsAccelerometerAccelerometerAccelerometerAccelerometer
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Connector30-pin Dock30-pin Dock30-pin Dock30-pin DockLightningLightning
Height4.3 inches4.3 inches4.3 inches4.4 inches4.86 inches4.86 inches
Width2.43 inches2.43 inches2.43 inches2.32 inches2.31 inches2.31 inches
Depth0.31 inches0.33 inches0.33 inches0.28 inches0.24 inches0.28 inches
Weight4.2 ounces4.1 ounces4.1 ounces3.6 ounces3.1 ounces3.1 ounces
Battery580 mAh739 mAh789 mAh930 mAh1030 mAh1043 mAh
ColorsBlackBlackBlackBlack
White
Slate/Space Gray
Silver
Yellow
Pink
Blue
Red
Space Gray
Silver
Gold
Pink
Blue
Red
Launch OSiPhone OS 1.1iPhone OS 2.1iPhone OS 3.1iOS 4.1iOS 6iOS 8.4
Starting Price$299$229$299$229$299$199
Release DateSeptember 2007September 2008September 2009September 2010September 2012July 2015

iPod touch design

The 2015 iPod touch looks almost identical to the 2012 iPod touch, lacking only the wrist strap and its pop-up anchor; likely few, if any, will miss it. The colors have evolved, too. Other than that, everything on the outside appears identical.

Packaging

If you're not already familiar with it, the iPod touch comes proudly displayed just beneath a transparent plastic lid. Remove the device, and you'll find a quick start guide along with a pair of Apple EarPods for listening and a USB to Lightning cable for charging (and, if you're old school, syncing to iTunes).

Unlike the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac, the iPod touch doesn't come with an AC adapter: If you want one of those, you'll have to buy it separately.

Design language

The 2012 iPod touch was at the leading edge of Apple's current industrial design language, and as such, it still fits in brilliantly despite its age. The rounded corners, the metallic finishes, the extreme thinness—all of those design elements from 2012 have moved across the line to iPad mini, iPad Air, and most recently, iPhones 6.

Even the new MacBook fits in perfectly now. Only the Apple Watch, which harkens back to the original iPhone design, stands apart.

What's particularly impressive about the iPod's design is that it isn't "classic" or "timeless;" the 2012 casing was simply ahead of its time, and now everything else has caught up.

While it's not shocking to hold the way it was a few years ago, it still feels impossibly light and impossibly thin. Especially when compared to the big and bigger iPhones 6, the iPod touch still feels almost too light to be real. Yet its structure remains strong: The casing never feels like it'll bend or fold, at least not with anything even approaching normal use.

My question is this: Where does Apple's design language go from here? Given that the iPod touch was just refreshed and the Apple Watch seems to be taking cues from the past, which new device will lead it?

Display

The iPod touch followed the original iPhone's launch in 2007 with a similar 3.5-inch, 480x340 163ppi display. In 2010, when the iPhone 4 went Retina, the iPod touch 4 followed again with a similar 960x640 at 326ppi display. Likewise, in 2012 when the iPhone 5 went to 16:9 at 1136x640, the iPod touch 5 followed.

Now the iPhones 6 have gone to 4.7- and 5.5 inches, 1334x750 at 326ppi and 1920x1080 at 401ppi respectively, but the iPod touch 6 has stayed stuck with the same resolution and screen size as in 2012.

For some, that's a disappointment. The idea of an iPhone 6- or iPhone 6 Plus-sized mini tablet for surfing, reading, or gaming held a lot of appeal. For others, the new screen sizes themselves were literally big disappointments, and the iPod touch staying at its original size is the best thing that could have happened to the device.

Regardless of which side you fall on, Apple now has a modern lineup with devices that range from 4 to 9.7 inches. They're not numerous enough to cover every quarter-inch increment like some competitors, but Apple's iPhones, iPods, and iPads still fill a very wide array.

Personally, after having used an iPhone 6 Plus almost exclusively going on nine months now, going back to the 4-inch screen feels almost claustrophobic. The human brain is remarkably pliable, and 4-inches, to me, now seems like such a small window. Because it's so small and light, however, I liked it a lot more than my experiences returning to an iPhone 5s with the same-sized display. The difference goes both ways, though: Despite its slim frame, the new iPod touch still lacks the in-cell display technology and dual-domain pixel in-plane switching arrangement of the iPhone.

That means the contents still looks like it's beneath the glass, not inside the glass the way it does on an iPhone 6 or iPad Air 2, and that the extreme viewing angles are a little less extreme and a little less color consistent.

In terms of overall quality, this year's iPod touch looks about the same as 2012's. Mostly. To my eyes, the 2015 displays are slightly cooler (bluer) than the 2012 (yellower), and closer to the balance of the current iPhones and iPads. Opinions on cast vary, but I definitely prefer it this way.

Gold and gamuts

The new iPod touch comes with new metallic finishes. Space gray and silver are still here, of course; yellow, however, has been replaced with gold to better match the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and even the new MacBook. The gold is, as usual, closer to champagne and much nicer on my eyes than the metallic yellow ever was.

The blue is darker and deeper now; the iPod's original metallic blue was closer to cyan or turquoise, while the new one is more cerulean. Likewise pink: The previous color was closer to salmon; the new one is richer and—yeah, I'll say it—hotter. Product RED, which supports the AIDS charity of the same name, remains both an extra color option and an Apple exclusive.