Apple iPod Touch (2012) - A sleeker, Speedier Touch

12/18/2012 9:17:28 AM

Touch of color

The iPod touch is available in six colors, including black, gray, pink, yellow, and blue.

It’s cheerful, colorful and versatile, and though it technically has competition, Apple’s iPod touch still stands alone. More like a smartphone without the phone than an MP3 player, it brings more than 700,000 iOS apps along with iTunes, iBooks, and the rest of the Apple ecosystem to folks who don’t want to pay full iPhone freight. This year’s touch is faster, with a much better screen, a new camera, better earphones, and a new body design to die for but five-star product comes at a three-star price. There’s nothing like it that’s quite as good, but the entry level $299 price (for 32GB of storage space) is much more costly for all the people who want to use it for light gaming, Web browsing, and music.

Physical design and Wi-Fi

The new iPhone touch is one of the most elegant devices I’ve ever handled. Measuring an amazing 0.24 inch thick and weighting only 3.1 ounces, it’s almost two-dimensional and weightless. Its increased 4.86-inch length lets it accommodate a super-sharp 4-inch, 1,136 by 640 screen, but its width is the same as that of previous touches (2.31 inches). The new display is just like the iPhone 5’s, and noticeably brighter than the previous touch’s screen. Even the aluminum casing, available in blue, pink, red, yellow, gray, or black, looks better. On the bottom you’ll find an extremely tinny sounding speaker, the 3.5mm headphone jack, and Apple’s new Lighting connector, which isn’t natively compatible with existing accessories without $29 adapter.

In the box you get a pair of Apple’s vastly improved EarPods, and a color coordinated wrist strap that attaches to a pop-out button on the back panel of the player. The idea for the loop is to make the touch feel like a point-and-shoot digital camera, thanks to the 5-megapixel shooter that’s been added to the back. The strap gets in the way when you’re holding the touch in both hands to play games, though.

One major improvement here is enhanced wireless performance, which is especially important in a Wi-Fi-only device. Like the iPhone 5, the touch supports 802.11n Wi-Fi on the 5GHz band we got double the download speeds we’ve seen with 2.4GHz.

Performance and apps

Built around the iPhone 4S’s dual-core 800MHz A5 processor, the touch turns in solid performance similar to that phone’s though the iPhone 5 smokes it. I couldn’t find any apps, even super high-end games, that wouldn’t run here, and those graphics heavy apps run much more smoothly than on the previous touch.

The touch runs Apple’s iOS 6, which includes the aforementioned Wi-Fi improvements, wireless syncing, and AirPlay mirroring of your touch’s display to an Apple TV, and also iMessage, Siri, Passbook, and the new Apple Maps. The older iPod touch will get most of these features (except for Siri) if you update to iOS 6. Apple’s array of third-party apps remains spectacular, but the apps themselves are getting huge probably one reason Apple won’t offer a new iPod touch smaller than 32GB. (There’s no card slot for expansion here: Built-in storage is all you get.)

Battery life was a bit disappointing: The touch lasted 4 hours, 55 minutes of video playback with the screen at full brightness and Wi-Fi on.

Camera and multimedia

The 5-megapixel rear camera is one of the touch’s flagship features, but I’m lukewarm on the entire concept. Yes, it’s much better than the previous iPod touch camera, but it’s still just a decent smartphone camera. The 5-megapixel main camera and 1.2-megapixel front camera take sharp shots outdoors with plenty of light, but sharpness and focus suffer in low light. I also saw some serious problems with the autofocus locking in when the flash was needed.

In terms of video recording, we captured 1080p video with the main camera and 720p with the front camera, each at 30 frames per second (fps) outdoor. But in moderate indoor lighting, that dropped to 27fps on the main camera and 24fps on the front camera with focus problems.

Apple iPod touch (2012)

Remember that you can get a good, basic 14.1-megapixel camera with optical zoom for about $100 nowadays; if the touch costs $199 rather than $299, I wouldn’t be complaining. The rear camera here is a “nice to have” feature, but I don’t see it as a core part of the iPod touch experience. The front camera, on the other hand, works with FaceTime, turning the iPod touch into a terrific video phone when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Music and video playback are as high quality as always; sound it still quite bright, if a little weak on bass. The touch still sync with iTunes (although now it can do so wirelessly) and still plays any MP3 or AAC music or MPEG-4 video file, whether purchased from Apple or downloaded from elsewhere. The touch also plays Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV, but not FLAC or OGG, files; and the array of streaming video apps on iOS is unmatched.


There are a few Android-based music players out there, but none of them can touch the touch. The device’s true competition might be $200 7-inch tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 7, which offer top-notch Web browsing, e-reading, and gaming experiences on a larger screen for $100 less than the touch although neither will slip into a pocket.

As a music player, the $299 touch is overkill. Teens who wants to play Talking Tomcat, Fruit Ninja, and Temple Run can stick with the $199 entry level iPod touch and if you already have need a good camera, buy an entry level point and shoot and save some cash. But if you were intending to use your touch to store and play a lot of music or videos, spring for the new model. Once you’re looking at 32GB of storage the difference between the two devices drops to $50, and the bigger screen, lighter body, and even the camera make a real difference in the experience.


Price: $/299 (32GB) - $399 (64GB)

Rating: 8/10

Pros: Terrific design and build. Slim and light. Beautiful screen. Tremendous number  of apps. Bundled EarPods are m uch improved.

Cons: Experience. Not natively compatible with earlier models’ sccessories.


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