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The new iPod touch: Big improvements, but not everything is there

On Wednesday Apple refreshed the iPod touch: The new model touts the same A8 processor and motion coprocessor found in the iPhone 6, along with an improved 8-megapixel camera, 128GB storage option, and new colors.

The iPod touch also retains its familiar four-inch screen design and size, allowing it to fit the same menagerie of cases and accessories designed for the previous model—though the protruding iPhone 6-style camera lens may cause problems for some really snug-fitting cases.

Where the iPod touch is lacking

There's still no Touch ID—perhaps a bit ironic, given the name "iPod touch"—though it's not the only currently-sold iOS device to lack this feature: Apple still sells older iPhones and iPads that don't have Touch ID. For all the company's emphasis on security, Touch ID is still a premium convenience feature used to drive customers to higher-end phones and tablets.

In addition, I've longed for a larger-format iPod touch ever since the iPhone 6 Plus came on the scene—Apple's answer to something like the Nintendo 3DS XL, as it were. Apple customers looking for a larger-format iOS product, however, are limited to the iPhone 6 Plus or an iPad mini.

Bye bye lanyard

It's also interesting to note that Apple has excised the lanyard from this generation of iPod touch. It seemed to be a handy feature to me, as I often sold iPod touches to families looking to outfit younger members with iOS devices without giving them a cell phone; lanyards were a way, at least for salespeople like me, to say "Here's how to secure it to your child's wrist so that they don't drop it and break the screen."

Then again, I see customers come in every day with broken iOS device screens, so that lanyard really didn't help that much—perhaps that's why Apple decided to do away with it. I suspect that many iPod touch customers never got it out of the box. And in fairness, a very small subset of customers are still interested in the iPod touch at all; most are much more interested in the iPhone.

Cost vs true cost

The total cost of the phone remains buried in agreements with their carriers, so they often don't think of the iPhone as a $650 device; they only compare the up-front price of $200. Penny-wise, pound-foolish, as the old saying goes. In fairness, the upgrade plans offered by many carriers gives them an excuse not to care about such trivialities.

To be frank, I'd wondered about the future of the iPod touch. The guts of the previous model were getting woefully out of date for some of Apple's current and future ambitions. The A5 processor in the older touch is the same generation found in the iPad 2, and three years is an epoch in computer time, especially given Apple's constant churn of new products.

The A5 may work okay for the fairly limited performance needed for the current Apple TV model, at least until Apple can move whatever mountains in its way to to get a new one out the door. But for an all-in-one game system, media player, and app handheld, it's getting long in the tooth.

Now the iPod touch is properly outfitted to take advantage of Metal, the graphics performance optimization Apple introduced with iOS 8, which should mean better gaming and more responsive apps, and is poised to take advantage of further enhancements coming to iOS 9 later this year.

Storage woes

Just as with the iPhone, 16 GB is a paltry amount of storage capacity. But unlike the iPhone 6, Apple's first storage bump for the iPod touch is 32 GB for an additional $50 (rather than 64 GB for an additional $100). $399 nets you the 128 GB model—which, even for an iPad, remains a very niche option.

I used to long for such a big iPod touch—something to replace the capacious storage of the venerable iPod classic, which was discontinued in 2014. But after using iTunes Match over the past couple of years and now Apple Music, I'm less concerned about having a portable device big enough to hold my entire library: Everything's in the cloud these days.

Additionally, iTunes Match's biggest liability for me—its 25,000 song limit—seems poised to quadruple this fall, if Apple's own chief music honcho is to be believed. Admittedly, the iPod touch is still hampered by its dependence on Wi-Fi—I'll lose my connection to the cloud if I leave my house or Starbucks, at least until I get one of those fancy new cars with built-in 4G LTE.

The iPod world in brief

So, to summarize: What we got: A faster iPod touch with a much better camera, a 128 GB capacity option, and different color options, poised to take better advantage of Apple's current and future iOS development plans. What we didn't get: Touch ID and a larger screen.

As an iPhone 6 user, none of today's announcements make me want to rush out and buy an iPod touch, especially since Apple has once again spurned my wish for a purple model. But the refreshed iPod touch is certainly a better value than it was yesterday, and is certain to suit a subset of Apple customers who want the benefits of iOS without the larger size of an iPad or the carrier hassles of the iPhone.

Are you ready to buy one? If so, what model and color? Let me know in the comments. If not, I want to hear from you too: Tell me why.

47 Comments
  • I actually ordered the 32GB Space Grey model. I already own an iPhone 6 Plus, and an iPad Air 2. The reason I bought it was actually as a reference device for the previous versions of software. I will not be updating it to the iOS 9 betas as I have my other devices. Instead, I will always keep it one step behind. I have never owned an iPod Touch. I will also end up using it as a development device to make sure everything works on a 4-inch device. I thought about buying another iPad Air 2 for this, but that was a bit more than I wanted to spend at the moment.. Plus, if I decide to get another device I'm sure my nephews or nieces would be happy with having an iPod touch.
  • I just want the blue color as an iPhone option. Would buy it in a heartbeat...
  • Hmm, I'd never considered this. That's a great idea: more iPhone colors without having to drop down to the "c" models and their plastic backs!
  • 64 GB iPod touch in Space Gar or maybe blue. Been waiting forever to replace my 4th generation iPod touch - its battery doesn't last too long nowadays
  • If you are happy with the iPod otherwise, why not replace the battery with an iFixit kit?
    .
    I replaced the battery in the iPhone 5 that I handed down to my daughter (using it as a baby monitor) The original battery had expanded and was pushing the screen up! Fry's had the kit on sale for $25 - normally $35 shipped from iFixit.
    It took me about 30 minutes - I cleaned it up while I was at it.
    What's weird is the battery was inflated! The outermost 'skin' of the battery was puffy but not rigid. I have seen many li-ion batteries actually expand and stay rigid, this was different, but equally ready to be replaced.
  • I won't be upgrading. My 5th Gen runs fast and fluidly with iOS 9 preview, and aesthetically they are identical. Personally, I still love the silver colour, so I'll stick with that. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Also Peter don't think you can pair an apple watch to it. That would have been a nice touch.
  • Need a mobile iPhone with data for that — at least for now.
  • I'd add that the new Apple Music app is convoluted and horrible to navigate. Not to mention they've removed the ablity to customize the icons on the bottom menu which is really problematic when you'd rather have the quick links to your own content categories like genre and artists and song rather than the itunes radio stuff. Options would have been nicer. Instead those are all buried. It's totally lost that streamlined approach that i always thought Job's championed.
  • As an Android user looking to switch to iPhone this fall, the new iPod appeals to me because of the price. I could save $500 by keeping my Android phone and getting an iPod instead! My question to you, fellow iMore readers, is this: How much do you love Touch ID and Apple Pay? Those features are a big reason why I'm considering the iPhone, and I'm trying to decide if I'd be ok without them if it means saving hella dough. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • So far, love Touch ID and Apple Pay. My mom, however, cannot use Touch ID. for some reason, the 'pounds' of hand lotion she puts on her fingers every day seems to make that a useless feature. LOL
  • My mother has the exact same problem as well as father, for whatever reason. I think Touch ID does not work for anyone over 60 years old, in general.
  • OK, I'm 77, and my phone responds flawlessly, every time, to either thumb or either forefinger. One handed, at an angle, touch and I'm in. It does help if you read the instructions. What Apple wants you to do is not intuitive.
  • TouchID was a requirement for me to upgrade my iPad. As such, I waited a year after the initial iPad Air release, and am incredibly pleased to have it on my iPad Air 2 (while my girlfriend taps in a passcode like on her original iPad Air like an animal! haha). It's also great for unlocking apps that support it like most banking and security apps, rather than typing in a password.
  • Don't waste money on the iPod and switch to the iPhone 6S (or whatever it'll be). You'll love it and yes, Touch ID is fantastic, I can't imagine having to enter any sort of passcode ever again! Apple Pay is genius as well, although not accepted everywhere I shop yet. Those places it is get extra love from me though and I can't wait to not need a wallet anywhere.
  • My children don't need a phone or expensive data plan. Why would I buy them an iPhone? All they want to do is play games and be able to carry them in their pocket.
  • That wasn't directed at you. It was a response to my question. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Ahh, I missed that part... in which case, I agree completely with JRX16's reply. Funny how a little bit of context can change things!
  • TouchID = Killer feature with 99% success rate (for me). It's awesome, especially for security. I have all the Lock Screen features turned off bc it's only a few seconds away with TouchID. I look forward to even further implementation in iOS, such as Safari password protection - just in case I let someone borrow my phone for whatever reason, if TouchID were required to fill password fields it would stop them from logging into my various online accounts.
    ApplePay = Not a killer feature. I use it every chance I can, but I don't go out of my way. It's neat, and I want it to be more widely adopted, so I'm helping instigate its adoption by contributing to the statistics.
    Your other options = another android phone with a comparable fingerprint system. Samsung's newest phones are supposed to be pretty good. I personally wouldn't give up the iPhone despite the inevitable problems (grass is always greener...)
    My advise = wait for the 2015 iPhone. By then the older iPhones will be cheaper, too, if price is a factor. The holiday season will bring even further price reductions, obviously, if you can wait that long.
    Good Luck!
  • I love Touch ID and Apple Pay. It has helped move me to more secure passwords because more apps are adding support for it all the time. It goes beyond Apple Pay. And Apple Pay in apps like Groupon? Dangerous how easy I spend money walking with my wife while grocery shopping! Sent from the iMore App
  • Touch ID and especially Apple Pay are a big deal. The delight and lust from younger cashiers when using Apple Pay is insane, particularly with the Apple Watch. Female cashiers get an instant girl crush on me. Male cashiers get an instant boy crush on me. It's insane.
  • I have an iPod Touch 5th gen (Moto G for cell) and have been looking for a better camera for a while. Nearly bought the Lumia 640XL for it's camera but that plan has been made obsolete by this development. Ordered a 64gb Space Grey via phone call to the Apple Store. They comped the next day shipping and it should be in on Friday. Really looking forward to the new camera and the M8 chip is a plus. Using a Mi Band so we'll see how they do together. going a bit off-topic but for those curious, the iOS 9 public beta is running just fine on my iPod Touch 5th gen. A couple force closes here and there but it is very usable and performance and battery are fine.
  • I'm happy to see them keep the iPod alive even though there isn't much of a market for them. Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't think the Touch needs Touch ID. This is mainly a gaming device for kids.
  • I was seriously tempted to buy a touch after it went live, but then began to compare to other apple options and look at the specs. I find my iPad Mini 1 is a bit too big for what I use it for most which is mainly listening to audio. It has stereo speakers also which I see the touch doesn't. I like the size of the touch but not the screen so much. I lived with the Classic's tiny screen though so its not a deal killer. I have a shuffle still and besides the charging cable which will eject on a whim, I like it best when out. Besides performance though, I can't see a reason to get a Touch now since my Mini is still capable of my needs. Lately I think more about price and the life of the item. Like the iPad Mini 1 I got this year but was out of date in a way even when I got it new from apple. I wonder if it will run on the next iOS, not 9 but the next. I just want things to be around longer. Like the Classic, seemed to have eternal life in a way. Simple and fit my needs. Hard to find a replacement for that now. Unlike most people it seems, I still prefer to manage my own music and much of it is apple lossless so larger in size since I like to hear the best I can. Flash memory is nice, but so expensive compared to storage the Classic had.
  • With the new A8 processor in the 2015 iPod one could assume it will be upgradable for at least 3 years, likely more. Older models will definitely have a shorter "upgradable life" since the 32bit processors are being phased out - I read/heard somewhere that Apple is going to stop developing iOS for 32bit devices in the next few years.
  • The limiting factor will probably be the 1 GB RAM, but at least for now, it's in good company with most of the product line.
  • I love my fifth gen Touch as an extra device around the house. Great as Apple TV remote or for surfing when iPhone is charging. And best use...in the gym. I sweat on it, drop it, and don't care. I wouldn't put my iPhone thru that. So, will I upgrade for better performance? I think so. I use the Touch every day, and the new model future proofs me more than fifth gen.
  • I ordered the 16gb gold because im poor. I already have the pink ipod touch 5g .dont no what to do with my old one now Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • If you were poor you would have kept your old 5g or maybe you're poor because you keep making these decisions and buying new things you don't need.....j/k just sell your old 5g on eBay.
  • I'll be buying several for Christmas presents this year.
  • no gps, no 240 fps on the video
  • For me, I have a phone upgrade in November 2015. I have been considering getting an Ipod so I am not using my phone and draining the battery.. The kids ipods are pre-generation 4 and that generation is a few years old. This would be a nice upgrade plus the youngest child has been using the 8GB model and wants her own.
  • I'm not surprised that this didn't come with TouchID.
  • @ Shatterpane: I do love the Touch ID, Apple style, and I still can't handle the fingerprint sensor on my Galaxy S6 (that I have had for three months now).
  • (I may repeat myself here across websites.) I consider the iPod Touch the smallest (and cheapest) computer in the Apple ecosystem. Just add a large screen (via Apple TV or adapter cable) and a Bluetooth keyboard (or a piano keyboard via the Lightning connector) - if you want. I have bought two iPod Touch (5th generation) earlier this year. One as the kitchen computer, one to contain all iPhone-oriented music software that I have (instruments, not just media players).
    I'd rather have had these new version, but for my purpose (and the few occasions I find to actually use them) they suffice.
  • re: "In addition, I've longed for a larger-format iPod touch ever since the iPhone 6 Plus came on the scene" It's actually opposite for me... I'd like to see a new iPhone the size of the iPod touch in the next-gen lineup again. As for getting one.... I'm not sure yet. I'd love to replace my 4th gen, as it's getting too slow in Podcasts (which is my primary use... I have like 60+ podcast subscriptions) and is holding be back as my only non-new-iCloud device. But, due to the prevalence of texting (ack!), I probably should get an iPhone (I hate the idea of like $80/month for a phone bill though!). If I did get one, I'd probably just get the space grey 32 GB. I wish the other colors, especially (product)RED or maybe the blue, came with the black face.
  • Why so negative? This is an amazing upgrade and to get current generation chips is a surprise. They are ideal purchases for kids too young to be getting an iPhone on contract. For anyone really cash strapped they are a great way to enjoy iOS alongside a cheap phone.
  • hi. $399 for 128gb? It used to be $349 for an iPod classic 160gb. Speaking of storage cost alone, how does Apple justify the added cost? It's 2015.
  • I hope this is sarcasm. If not, there are too many additional things to list, but the big ones: Larger screen
    Touch screen
    Bluetooth
    Wifi
    iOS
    Apple Music (if you are inclined)
    Flash storage vs spinning platters
  • Hi kazn3r. Wasn't the price for the iPod classic 249? I was curious about this as well. I mean, the price of a 128 GB iPhone 6 is about $850 or $900. The price of a 128 GB iPod Touch is $400. That is a big jump in price just to add cellular functions and a slightly larger screen. Yikes!!
  • Would be cool to use it as a second phone around the house using Continuity. I would use it also for some mobile recording and can free up my phone. Use as a ATV remote to free up my phone. Plus I love iDevices and looking for any excuse to get more. Sent from the iMore App
  • For a phone, I prefer (ahem) an Android. I've had an iPod Classic, with it's 128gb hard drive for 6+ years. It has been extremely servicable, and still works great (though the battery doesn't hold its charge as well as it used to). I've been anxiously hoping for an iPod Touch update that includes a 128gb model for some time now. My desire is for a large memory device with no hard drive (and it's battery draining, spinning parts). And, a touch screen, and maybe some additional apps. (Though, truthfully, I have all the apps I need on my Android phone, though, I could see using a few apps on the iPod Touch). But, primarily, I want the iPod Touch as a music player first. (I don't want to use my phone for playing music, as it has many other purposes, I don't necessarily want to have to interrupt music to take a call, and don't want the added battery drain). We could quibble over details of the above desires, but let's leave it at the fact that that's me. I don't have much use for streaming (iTunes Match or Apple Music, or any other), because 99% of my music-player use is in situations where I can't stream, or not reliably: in my car, in my yard where my wifi is not sufficiently reliable, and at work where my employer blocks streaming through the wifi network. So, I can only play downloaded music. Hence, a 32gb or 64gb model is not sufficient for my needs (I have a very large library, and occasionally a book on CD ripped to my device). I want a 128gb model so I can continue to carry my entire music library with me on my device, enjoy the Apple music ecosystem, and grow my collection with future acquisitions. So, while I understand that streaming and iPhone are the direction things are going, there are still some of us willing (and eager) to buy large capacity Apple music products out here. I was thrilled with yesterday's announcement, and have already placed my order for a Slate Gray 128gb iPod Touch, with a custom message lasered on the back..
  • I'll probably buy one: but Apple's prices for the storage upgrades are exorbitant, if not extortionate. I'll most likely buy a 16 gig one, and an {{SD card/USB stick} reader}/WiFi hub/power pack, and a 128 or 256 gig SD card or USB stick, and save $100 dollars over the price of a 128 gb itouch.
  • I just bought the 128GB Product RED version. It was way too expensive compared to what I actually needed (an iPod Classic with an SSD), especially since it will sit in my car for the remainder of its life. I wanted an easy way to have all my music handy without the sound quality issues of bluetooth from my phone. This way, the Touch can sync while my car is in the garage via WiFi. Does anybody else miss the old (watch-like) iPod nano 6th gen? It's really the only iPod I can use at work because it doesn't have any radios (bluetooth, WiFi, cellular). When my last two nanos die, I'm going to be very sad! They're going to be too expensive to buy off eBay, and the shuffle is far too limited and doesn't have a digital-out like the nano. Sadly, Apple seems to discontinue the things I really like. I'm still waiting for an update to my last-gen 17" MacBook Pro. Heck, I'd even be happier if they came out with a 19" MB Pro! I just need a portable desktop replacement... :(
  • I could replace my phone with it in a heart beat and save money because I actually don't make phones and there are so many voice over LTE options. But it only got half of what I wanted to see. A8 processor is great and you can argue that it'll last a while but considering we're potentially a couple of months from the A9, its kind takes the wind out of that sail. Hitting the nail on the head, is continued lack of LTE (I have no usable wifi at work), no larger screen size options to compete with bigger gaming devices, and Touch ID (though lower on the totem pole of wants). I do think that if they are pushing this for gaming and the lack of LTE warrants 128GB of storage. My biggest mistake in getting my iPad Air 2 was getting a 64 GB model. I don't keep but a few playlists on there but loading games and movies load it up way to quick.
  • Ipod touch 6th gen 16gb Blue.