Battery Life

Apple rates the new iPod Touch at 7 hours of battery life playing video and 40 hours of audio, this is down from 10 hours on the iPhone 4 (the 4 is still rated at 40 hours of audio playback). I’m still working on battery life tests but I’ll update this section once the results are in :)

Update: At 50% brightness and volume set to 50% I measured 8 hours and 10 minutes of video playback battery life on the iPod Touch. 

Final Words

I was extremely curious about the new iPod Touch simply because of the pretty big leap Apple made with the iPhone 4. I suspect many of you may have had the same questions - whether the new iPod Touch really could be a contractless iPhone 4. While the new Touch is a nice iPod, it’s not an iPhone 4.

The size and dimensions of the new Touch are wonderful. This is one aspect of the iPhone 4 that I don’t miss. I long for the day when we’ll see all smartphones this thin and light.

For what could ultimately be a great FaceTime platform, I am very disappointed that Apple dropped the ball with some obvious shortcomings. Not shipping earbuds with a mic is very unfortunate, and the external speaker is too quiet for a comfortable FaceTime conversation. The rear facing mic worked in my experience but it seems like an odd place to put it.

The new Touch is pricey. In fact, Apple’s entire updated iPod lineup struck me as more expensive than they should be. At $229 for an 8GB player, it actually costs you more up front to get into an iPod Touch than it does to get you into an iPhone 4. If all you need is an MP3 player, you’ll want to look elsewhere. The appeal of the iPod Touch is really the App Store. So if that matters to you, the price is easier to swallow but still noticeably higher than I’d like.

The pricing guarantees Apple is going to continue to have incredible quarters going forward. Apple found sneaky ways to reduce the total BOM (bill of materials) cost on the new iPod Touch. A cheaper chassis compared to the iPhone 4, no GPS, less DRAM on package (256MB vs. 512MB), a cheaper screen and a worse imaging sensor. Granted the iPod Touch is significantly less expensive than the iPhone 4, particularly if you take into account the AT&T contract you need for the latter. At least the new iPod Touch was on par with the iPhone 4 as an MP3 player, which is important given this is an iPod.

The bottom line is that the new iPod Touch is not an iPhone 4 without the phone, it’s more like an updated iPod Touch - maybe even an iPod Touch 3.5. It’s not bad but it's not great either. You have to set your expectations accordingly.

Good Audio Playback Quality, no GPS
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  • trip1ex - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Don't get where the too expensive analysis comes from. It comes across as off the cuff rather than some research/tested conclusion.

    It comes out of nowhere.

    The iPhone 4 is a $600+ device. Apple surely had to cut corners in order to get to the $229 pricepoint. Remember last gen the $229 pricepoint didn't even equate to a then-current gen Touch. And so cut corners they did. You seem to know this and yet.....

    .... it feels too expensive? IT sounds like the marketing of cellphone companies is working on you. Hey this new smartphone is only $200.

    Anyway if it is too expensive then show us (outside of the normal Apple profit margin that is.)
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    Are there any similar devices that give you similar capacity right off the bat without further add-ons?

    Like Touch Screen 3" or higher PMP?

    Creative Zen X-FI 2 32GB?
    Cowon S9 32GB
    Microsoft Zune HD 32GB
    Sony Walkman X Series 32GB
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    So what device offers the same functionality as the iPod Touch with the same level of capacity?

    vs the iPod Touch 32GB (4G)

    Microsoft Zune HD 32GB
    Cowon S9 32GB
    Creative Zen X-Fi 2 32GB
    Sony Walkman X Series 32GB
    Samsung P3 32GB

    There aren't that many options I think in this class of device.
    Reply
  • quickbunnie - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Agreed.

    Apple always gave me the impression that they didn't cut corners - instead they increased the price. This device feels like it cut corners.

    My breaking point was the screen. Resolution is nice, but I can't handle the horrid contrast ratio. Especially after using a few OLED phones.

    I also was hoping for an "industrial" design a la iphone 4.

    I actually went ahead and bought an iPhone 4 with no contract ($699). They gave me an unactivated microSIM card. I was able to use most of the iPhone without any activation whatsoever, but to use facetime I had to activate the SIM. I did so as a prepaid gophone SIM for free (albeit I had to use a different IMEI, and my balance was $0), and this opened up facetime options. I keep it on airplane mode to save batteries - it seems that to use facetime a SIM must be installed, even though its not used (taking the sim out disables facetime).

    This is a very expensive option. For me, I wanted an upgraded iPod and a new camera. I don't have a camera, so using one with GPS for geotagging and HD video recording options with a decent quality sensor made up the price difference. Had I already had a camera, I would not have paid this much for it.
    Reply
  • quickbunnie - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Oh, and something to note: WiFI and bluetooth are both still accessible while in airplane mode. Reply
  • reticulate - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    This is an interesting point - I'm not sure if it reflects the wider consumer environment, but Apple effectively upsold you the iPhone 4 by making the Touch not quite good enough for what you want.

    Don't think of it as 'cut corners' as much as a very specifically engineered part of the lineup.
    Reply
  • reticulate - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    From this review and others I've seen about the interwebs, it's becoming clear Apple designed this to be within a very specific profit margin envelope. You can tell by the lower quality screen, case manufacture and somewhat reduced internal specs that this was designed very carefully to replicate some of the halo qualities of the iPhone while costing a whole bunch less to manufacture. It cleverly prevents cannibalising iPhone sales while also being the most desirable iPod in the lineup by virtue of the iOS ecosystem.

    Not that this isn't par for the course with Apple these days. Say what you want about them, but they sure know how to make a profit.
    Reply
  • reticulate - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Re-reading this I should point out I'm not a fanboy, but I do get what they're trying to do here. It's way cheaper for them to make while having enough iPhone-like qualities to sell a ton. Consumers will eat this up, and if they're first-timers on iOS might end up buying an iPhone down the track. Those of us who want an iPhone 4-like device will end up buying an iPhone 4, so either way Apple wins.

    Clever and infuriating, but mostly clever.
    Reply
  • truk007 - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    You've helped me make my decision not to buy the 4th gen iPod. I was hoping for a little better video and still photo quality, as well as GPS.

    I guess I'll have to wait for the 5th gen. I guess this also means the next gen iPads will be sporting a camera as well. That would be nice.
    Reply
  • Mike1111 - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Well, my problem with all this disappointment is that the iPod touch is still by far the best PMP with near smartphone-like qualities out there. And I think that the new iPod touch is a clear improvement over the last generation. So I can understand why most of the review scores are so high. If there's nothing better out there and it's actually a pretty good device then it has to get almost automatically a 8 or 9 out of 10.

    But it's just not as close to the iPhone 4 as many people (IMHO unrealistically) have hoped. It just wouldn't make sense for Apple to basically sell a GSM-less iPhone 4 for $299 instead of $699. There's simply no reason to. The new iPod touch is still attractive enough as it is and the small competition that is out there may be cheaper but is worse in almost every other area.

    I also think that much of the frustration about the device is US specific. People really want an iPhone 4 but hate AT&T and they had high hopes that the new iPod touch would get them (almost) there. In other countries where you can get the iPhone 4 on a every carrier and also contract- and netlock-free, people are just not that emotionally invested in the new iPod touch as their "savior".

    One last thing: Anand, are you sure that ALL new iPod touches have only 256MB RAM? Because the 8GB version was always "special" in some way and I haven't seen a teardown or analysis of a 32GB or 64GB version yet.
    Reply

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