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The new iPod touch is brilliant



On Tuesday, Apple launched a new version of the iPod touch, the first refresh of the device in four years. 

At first, one might scoff at the device’s modest features and lack of progress. It looks the same, it has the same screen size, and the same cameras. It doesn’t even have Face ID or a fingerprint scanner. Heck, the iPod touch’s design hasn’t even changed much compared to the 2012 version

But on second look, the iPod touch may actually be a great choice for someone who wants to dive into Apple’s ecosystem of services without spending a lot of money. 

I’ve personally felt the sting of Apple’s ever-increasing smartphone prices. To have an iOS-based comparison point while reviewing Android smartphones, I’ve had to buy iPhones over the years, my last purchase being the obnoxiously expensive iPhone X. And since the camera has lately been one of the biggest smartphone selling points, I’ll likely have to continue buying iPhones, much to the detriment of my wallet. 

An iOS 12 device for $199

But what if you already have a smartphone — say, a decent Android that has all the latest bells and whistles and didn’t cost you a kidney — and just want an iOS device to play iOS games, listen to music or perhaps subscribe to iOS services like Apple News+ or the upcoming Apple Arcade? In that case, the iPod touch fits the bill, and if you don’t mind carrying two devices, it might even become your everyday companion for all things Apple. 

Note the Group FaceTime support, pictured on the right.

Note the Group FaceTime support, pictured on the right.

The iPod touch is very cheap for Apple’s standards, starting at $199. The cheapest iPhone you can get — the iPhone 7 which has the same A10 Fusion chip — starts at $449. The iPod touch is cheap enough to be an impulse buy, something an Android user might get to see what the grass is like on the other side. 

So what do you get for the price? The iPod touch is, simply put, an iPhone without the phone. You won’t be able to make regular calls with it, but if you’re frequently connected to Wi-Fi, you’ll probably be able to use it for FaceTime calls as you would an iPhone (yes, Group FaceTime will work as well). 

You also get support for Apple’s latest mobile platform, iOS 12, as well as augmented reality, something the previous iPod touch couldn’t do. 

It has a headphone jack!

But there are other advantages of the iPod touch that you may not immediately realize (or have, perhaps, forgotten about). At 6.1mm and 3.10 ounces, the iPod touch is amazingly thin and light. For comparison, that’s 1.6mm thinner than the iPhone XS, and less than half its weight, which is 6.24 ounces. Second, unlike newer iPhones, the iPod touch still has a 3.5mm headphone jack. I’ve pined for the loss of this once-ubiquitous connector many times, and in 2019, I still think it’s tremendously useful. If you have wireless headphones, no problem: The iPod touch supports Bluetooth 4.1. 

Your brand new iPhone XS can't do this.

Your brand new iPhone XS can’t do this.

The iPod was originally all about music, but the iPod touch is equally a gaming console as it is a music player. At this price point, it’s a pretty great way to let your kids play iOS games without giving them a thousand-dollar iPhone to accidentally break during a heated session of Rayman Jungle Run

While the cheapest iPod touch is arguably the best version because of its low price, there’s a case to be made for the 256GB variant as well. Yes, it’s double the price at $399, but try finding an iPhone with that much memory for less than $749 (hint: you can’t, because it doesn’t exist). If you have a large music collection and need a capable audio player, the 256GB iPod touch is certainly not a horrible option. 

Side note: As an upgrade over the previous iPod touch, the new one is only good if you’re interesting in playing games. As a music player, it’s more or less the same thing. 

The long and the short of this: Apple gadgets aren’t cheap. Never were, probably never will be. But some of their biggest advantages aren’t in the hardware but the software, as well as Apple’s ever-growing ecosystem of services, which is about to get stronger than ever this year. The iPod touch’s low price, coupled with the inclusion of the still quite capable A10 chip, makes it the perfect device for someone who doesn’t care about the Android vs. iOS debate, and just want a good gaming console and/or a music player. 

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