Ye Giant iPod Touch (2010) Review
At Apple’s launch event, Steve Jobs called the iPod Touch their most popular iPod. It’s not hard to understand why.
Through the year, the iPhone-without-a-phone has received various software updates and enhancements that kept it on par with the iPhone, hence benefiting users of the iPod touch. Apple has also been boasting about gaming on the iPod Touch and iPhone, claiming it outdoes both Sony’s Playstation portable and Nintendo’s DS portable gaming systems in terms of sales (combined). While we cant say it’s a dedicated game console, we will admit to it having a wide plenitude of games, with rich graphics that will keep any body happy.
And at the same time, it’s still an iPod, an internet device, and a gazillion other things thanks to the immensely popular iTunes App Store.
The 2010 iPod has also gotten a huge amount of updates thanks to it’s iPhone 4 counterpart, boasting a new Retina Display, A4 CPU, two cameras (one in the front and a 5 Megapixel at the back) which allow for FaceTime calling and 720p HD video recording, and all the new features of the iOS 4.1 mobile operating system.
Inspite of all this, we still have to ask ourselves, is it worth the premium price tag? Read on to find out.
The Retail Package:
The 2010 iPod Touch comes with a pair of typical Apple Headphones (the one thats without a mic or remote) and a USB-to-iPod-Connector cable (with no wall power adapter) in a new plastic case. Check out our unboxing post for more details.
If you are a proud owner of the last version of the iPod Touch, the design of the 2010 version shouldnt be a suprise at all. Instead of going with the iPhone 4′s new all-glass look, the touch stays true to the same design, but with a super slim, thin profile that’s made of one part glass, and the all-metal back panel.
The rear panel is still a smudge inviting chrome finish (you cant imagine how many times we had to wipe it clean for this photoshoot), but it also seems to scratch quite easily. But the thickness has shrunk down immensely. We thought the iPhone 4 and 3GS were thin, but the new iPod touch looks like a toothpick in comparison. Some might think it’s a bit too slim, but we think it’ll be just the right fit for most people. The thin-ness was welcomed by many a person that we showed the new iPod to.
As usual, the hardware buttons come in the form of the single home key on the front, a power/sleep/lock key that’s on the top-right (like the iPhones), and two volume keys on the left.
The sleep button is a bit more buried in the housing than it’s iPhone counterpart though, so some users might have a little trouble finding it when using the device. There’s also now a small camera lens in the upper corner of the back of the iPod touch, with a VGA camera hiding behind the glass on the front panel, towards the top center.
There’s the 3.5mm headphone audio jack at the bottom, along with the iPod proprietary port, and loudspeaker. The opening is tapered so you actually leave a bit of your headphone connector and iPod Connector exposed when it’s plugged in, ever so slightly.
While we like the new iPod Touch’s design overall, there’s nothing major present that makes it more lust worthy than previous generations, from a design point-of-view.
The 2010 iPod Touch has Apple’s A4 CPU on the inside, which is the same processor used to power the iPhone 4, Apple TV and iPad. But unlike the iPhone 4, there’s only 256MB of ram on the 2010 iPod Touch, which is the same as the iPad and iPhone 3GS, but much less than the 512MB of ram on the iPhone 4.
There’s the 3.5-inch LED-Backlit capacitive touchscreen which Apple now calls a “Retina Display”. This means it has the same 960 x 640 resolution and 326 ppi pixel density as the iPhone 4, but unfortunately does not have the IPS panel of the iPhone 4. As a result, if you put the 2010 iPod Touch and iPhone 4 together side-by-side, you’ll notice that there are noticeable differences in the blacks, brightness and color contrast at certain angles. For one thing, the iPod Touch’s display was a lot darker than the iPhone 4′s screen. It’s still a heck of a lot better than the iPhone 3GS and previous iterations though. IPS, which Apple has used for everything from the iMac to iPad to iPhone 4 provides a much greater viewing range than a standard display.
The pixel density though, is gorgeous.
Apart from that you’ve got WiFi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. Obviously, there’s no cell radio, so you cant make phone calls (Duh).
There’s no GPS on the iPod Touch though, which we found quite puzzling. We just do not understand Apple’s reluctance to add a GPS chip here. The App Store is filled with tons of navigation software, and the iPod touch could very easily replace a GPS Navigation device like Tomtom or Garmin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, which seems like a missed opportunity for Apple. The Maps App onboard tries to use your Wifi to find out approximately where you are.
People have been waiting for the iPod Touch lineup to get camera functionality, and that’s finally happened with the 2010 Touches. The camera on the touch isnt the same as the one on the iPhone 4 though. That being said, it’s still capable of 720p video (but only at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720 or 0.92 Megapixels) and pictures at 960 x 720 (0.69 Megapixels). That is lower resolution than any iPhone, even including the first original model. Not cool.
So obviously this is not the same lens or sensor as the iPhone 4, and Apple has stated that this was more of a consideration of size, instead of cost. If they had used the IP4′s sensor, the iPod Touch 4′s casing would have been considerably larger. (I‘m not entirely sure if I can call it iPod Touch 4, but let’s go with too, shall we?)
Even more unfortunate, is that the camera is fixed-focus. No auto-focus here at all. Tapping on a part of the screen only alters the white balance and exposure. And, ofcourse, there’s no flash either. On the front there’s a VGA camera (again similar to that of the iPhone 4) but again, fixed-focus.
It’s quite unfortunate, since we would have liked to have seen a higher quality camera on the 2010 iPod Touch. Even something as low as 3 Megapixels would have been acceptable. Even the iPhone 3GS takes better shots than this one. Quick shots that dont require focus will be okay, but if you want to grab any detailed pictures that need proper focus, the touch will definitely not be a good stand-in, at all.
Some camera image samples from the 2010 iPod Touch 4′s camera can be found below:
When it comes to video though, the 720p performance of the iPod touch is suprisingly decent. The device has no problem capturing smooth HD video. Video samples below (click fullscreen to view them in better resolution):
The Sound Quality:
We borrowed a friends previous generation iPod Touch, and we’re happy to say that the sound on the 2010 iPod touch does sound a bit better than previous models. However, that being said, it’s not big enough of a difference that you’d want to give up your previous gen touch models. Playback was solid, and we didnt really ‘want’ for any more quality.
However if you’re using the loudspeaker for music, you might want to reconsider it. The sound is incredibly tiny, which isnt surprising considering the size of the housing. But even though it’s in the same spot as the iPhone speaker, the volume and quality of audio that comes out of the iPod touch, is nowhere near the same vicinity as the iPhone 4.
If you’ve used an iPhone with iOS 4, or an iPad, there’d be little surprises for you here. The Touch performs just like an other iOS4 device, although admittedly everything is quite a bit faster in the performance department, just like the iPhone 4. There’s also Game Center included now. Games don’t ever lag, and performance is quite smooth on the 2010. Moving around the OS was quick, and Multitasking worked flawlessly.
The 2010 iPod Touch also comes with FaceTime, which uses your Email Address (that’s assigned to your Apple iTunes Account), as your identity. Only other iOS devices on newer than v4.1 (and now OSX macs) can make a FaceTime call with you though. The application worked effortless, and the quality was quite great. We did experience a couple freeze-ups and breaks on our strong WiFi connection though, but it was a rare occurrence. Audio was loud and clear through our Headphones, like on the IP4. Unfortunately, since the iPod Touch doesnt have a Sim Card slot and hence isnt 3G capable, you’re limited to using FaceTime only when you’re indoors, or in range of a fast enough internet wifi connection. Another problem too, is that the only mic on the iPod Touch, is on the back panel, which is on the other side of where you’ll be speaking. This wasnt an issue in my room, but it might be a problem in a noisy or crowded environment.
The Web Browsing, Email and other iOS experiences on the device, are exactly the same as the iPhone, which is definitely a good thing. There might be slight minor differences here and there, like how the iPod Touch has a Music app, instead of the iPod app on the iPhone.
The Battery Life:
Apple says that the new iPod Touch has about 7 hours of battery life playing video and 40 hours of audio, which is down from the massive 10 hours of video and 40 hours of audio playback on the iPhone 4. In our tests, we set the iPod Touch to play video which managed about 4 hours 40 mins with Wifi on in the background, and screen on full brightness. Audio-wise, the battery life seemed to be close, at around 30-ish hours, but we were unable to test purely audio time properly. I’d imagine the iPod touch would be able to get 40 hours of the stated battery life for Audio, with no Wifi, and the screen being turned off (or locked).
There isnt really a whole lot to say about the 2010 iPod Touch, that hasnt already been said. It’s a media player, that does more than just play media at this point. Some might even think of it as a great alternative to a Tablet or Netbook, since it has almost all of the features of the iPad, for example, but in a more portable form. The iPod Touch has evolved into a sort of mini-computer-plus-video-camera-plus-gaming-console device with great media consuming capabilities, and a massive ecosystem of apps that extend the utility of the device ten fold.
If you’re already carrying around a smartphone that can handle the above functions, then there’s really no point to the iPod Touch. But for those of you with outdated smartphones, or phones that arnt quite smart, the iPod touch can make a very complimentary companion to your phone.
Dont get us wrong though. The lack of GPS, is still a missed oppurtunity. And the low quality camera is quite, well, terrible.
But the appeal of the 2010 iPod Touch, lies in the addition of it’s HD video capabilities, the new Retina Display and the much faster A4 processor. If you’re looking for purely an MP3 Player, you might want to look elsewhere. The iPod Nano or Shuffle perhaps?
In our opinion, the iPod Touch has evolved from a device that would be nice to have, to one that can very nicely compliment a non-smartphone owner. While it’s definitely not an iPhone-4-without-a-phone, it is recommendable, though admittedly a bit pricey.
The 2010 iPod Touch 4 is current available at a price of Indian Rs.15,400 for the 8GB, Rs.19,900 for the 32GB, and Rs.25,900 for the 64GB. Worth noting that this is a lot more than the price in the USA and Europe though. More details on Apple India’s Product Page.
Here is a quick video overview of our review. Just to give you a better idea: