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iPod Touch (5th Generation)
What's hot: Excellent 4" Retina display, much faster than previous model, lovely design, great ecosystem of software, media and accessories.
What's not: As ever, iPhone envy: the iPod Touch 5G is a generation behind the iPhone 5's CPU/GPU. Expensive.
Reviewed October 12, 2012 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
Editor's note, July 2015: read and watch our 6th Generation iPod Touch Review. It replaces this model.
The iPod Touch, now in its fifth generation hardly needs an introduction. This is a 4" iPhone substitute that does everything except make cellular calls (VoIP calls with Skype and FaceTime are a go). With the fifth generation iPod Touch you get the iPhone 5's 1136 x 640 Retina display married to the iPhone 4S' internals. That's not a bad combo, but as ever, the iPod Touch is always a generation behind the latest iPhone when it comes to CPU and GPU.
The latest iPod Touch ships with Apple's new EarPods, a Lightning USB cable and a lanyard in matching color that affixes to the new pop-up lanyard mount. It's available in 32 and 64 gig capacities and is priced at $299 and $399. Gone is the 16 gig $199 option, and that's a shame since the iPod Touch is now a pricey purchase.
Design and Ergonomics
The iPod Touch sports a new and attractive unibody aluminum design that's available in five colors plus Product Red for a total of six. You can go with stately black or grab the neon-satiny pink like we did. The front face is white with the signature single belly-button below the display. The iPod Touch has always been a very thin device and this one is no exception at 0.24". It weighs just 3.1 ounces yet it doesn't feel cheap. It does disappear easily in a pocket, and that's a good thing for a product that still functions as an excellent portable music player (and much more). Though I liked the mirrored look of the fourth gen iPod Touch, the fifth gen so far seems more immune to scratches, the bane of the fourth gen.
Why didn't Apple offer a 5" iPod Touch this time around? Consumers might just eat it up. Big screens are very trendy, and we don't think it's because Apple avoids trends it didn't create. I suspect the 7" iPad Mini will bridge the gap between the 4" iPod Touch and the 10" iPad, and Apple refuses to take the Samsung route and create products in 1" increments. And as ever, the latest iPod Touch remains very pocketable.
The newest iPod has the usual minimalist set of controls: the center button on the front face that brings you home, volume controls, the new Lightning port on the bottom for USB and charging connections and a headphone jack on the bottom. Like the iPhone 5, the iPod Touch uses the smaller Lightning connector, and it's much easier to plug in since it's smaller and there's no 'this side up', but it means you'll need to buy Apple's 30 pin to Lightning adapter to use older accessories like chargers and some speakers. I say 'some' speakers because the adapter provides analog but not digital out, and some speakers use a digital connection to effect playback and other controls on the iPod.
Performance and iOS 6 Features
The iPod Touch runs on an 800MHz dual core Apple A5 CPU with a dual core CPU, just like the iPhone 4S and it benchmarks similarly. If you're upgrading from the now long in the tooth single core fourth gen, you'll really appreciate the speed increase when gaming: it's very noticeable! CPU performance is doubled and graphics performance is nearly 4X vs. the outgoing model. Watch our video review to see some challenging games: the 5th gen does a good job with smooth frames rates and stable performance.
iPod Touch 5th gen:637
iPhone 5: 1643
iPhone 4S (iOS 6): 657
The iPod Touch runs iOS 6 and that means you get Siri for voice interactions, iMessages, the notification center, DND (do not disturb settings for audio) and, for better or worse, Apple's Maps rather than Google's. Since the iPod Touch lacks a GPS and does WiFi triangulation for location, we're not sure how much you'll care about mapping. There are a few differences between the iPhone 5 and the fifth generation iPod Touch in terms of software: obviously there are no cellular network settings and the battery status is available only as an icon but not as a percentage (who knows why).
The iPhone 5 and iPod Touch 5G.