The Camera

The iPod Touch ships with not one, but two integrated cameras for the first time in its life. There’s a VGA camera up front and a 960 x 720 (0.7MP) camera on the back. The rear camera is a significant reduction from the 5MP sensor that ships with the iPhone 4.

Apple advertises the rear facing camera as being able to record 720p video, however that’s not exactly true. Photos are shot at 960 x 720 but video is shot at 1280 x 720. Apple appears to be using a 960 x 720 sensor to cut costs, but upscaling video to 1280 x 720. Apple’s scaler seems pretty good, the bigger problem is the sensitivity of the image sensor.

Comparing videos shot on the new iPod Touch vs. the iPhone 4 the Touch just looks more dim (see the stills below taken from videos shot at the exact same time).

iPhone 4

iPod Touch

The camera sensor on the new Touch just isn’t as sensitive as what’s on the iPhone 4, which makes sense as the 4 shipped with a very expensive sensor.

Video quality is actually quite good provided there’s sufficient light. The new iPod Touch is definitely an acceptable video camera for use in well lit situations.

As a still camera, the iPod Touch is ok for web use, once again provided that you’re shooting in well lit situations. It just doesn’t compare to what Apple used in the iPhone 4.

Compared to lesser smartphone cameras the sensor isn’t bad if you can get over the resolution. Images captured by the iPod Touch rivaled those of the Epic 4G I just reviewed, but only at lower resolutions. I put together a comparison gallery to help illustrate what I'm talking about:

The new iPod lacks an LED flash. Combine that with the less sensitive imaging sensor and low light photography is basically out of the question. Even shots taken indoors with room lighting can appear grainy.

White balance continues to be an issue for Apple’s cameras. The slam ball pictured below should be yellow like the shot from the Epic 4G, not green as captured by the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch.

iPhone 4

iPod Touch (2010)

Samsung Epic 4G

The Retina Display A Not-so-Perfect FaceTime Device


View All Comments

  • gbrayut - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    I very much appreciated the objective audio quality review and comparison with Zune HD. Most Apple product reviews are very subjective, so having a hardware level perspective with benchmark numbers is a breath of fresh air.

    Keep up the great work!
  • kmmatney - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    Bye - Don't let the door hit you on your way out. Reply
  • SadTouchLover - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    What a tool. I read the first paragraph of your "novel" and just stopped. This was exactly the kind of review that you claim to enjoy from AT. They blew the whistle on a consumer product that was being hailed as much more than it actually is. Again, you are a tool.

    "I only like a website that reviews obscure, third party RAM modules and boutique GPU manufacturers." Good riddance you loser.
  • tipoo - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    The previous Touch was far from the best sounding device (try a Sony Walkman), does this statement mean that the new one has substantially better SQ? Reply
  • watzupken - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    I suppose the reviewer did a great job of pointing out the shortcomings of the product. At the end of the day, I think it is still a decent product and improvement over its past gen iPod Touch. Apple is also not likely to make this a better alternative over their iPads by giving it a good screen, and more memory. Although the iPad has a bigger screen, the iPod Touch is still capable of cannibalizing the sales of iPad, especially when it is much cheaper. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    I'd be really interested to see some web benchmarks on this device. We know it uses the Apple A4 chip, but, like the iPhone 4, we don't know the clock speed. Comparing benchmarks may give us an estimate.

    Also note that the iFixit teardown shows that it uses half the RAM the iPhone 4 uses, I'd like to see how that impacts it.
  • tipoo - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    I must be losing my sanity, all of those things were on the front page. Nevermind this here bumbling idiot! Reply
  • anactoraaron - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Yet there is no direct link to this "gagdets" section of the website... a minor oversight... Reply
  • El_Capitan - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Frequent reader, first time poster.

    Usually posting a comment for an Apple product usually incurs a wrath from Apple fanboys, but it just distills to me their ignorance and distain of constructive criticism. I've had an Apple Classic from way back in the day, a Video iPod from 5 years ago, and gave my girlfriend an iPod Touch version 3 a year ago, so I'm not an Apple hater. I also used Macbooks on occasion, but am primarily a PC/Laptop/Server builder/user.

    I've been waiting a while now to update my Video iPod, but haven't decided on what I want. I played with my gf's iPod Touch, and it's nice with all the apps, but then there's the Zune and it's OLED display. Granted, what I'd be using it for is listening to music, watching videos, playing games, and browsing the web when connected to wi-fi, but I have my Blackberry Bold 9800 that can handle all the functions of an iPod Touch minus the touch features and apps, while my Nintendo DSi has a great selection of games. While my Video iPod can still play music and videos, it's not as great for videos.

    For my choices:
    1. Watching videos - Zune HD or PSP Go or iPod Touch
    2. Playing games - Nintendo DSi, PSP Go, or iPod Touch
    3. Listening to music - iPod Touch, Zune HD
    4. Browsing the web - iPod Touch

    Now, while the iPod Touch does all those things, the only thing holding me back is that the display isn't the best. There's fun to be had with all their apps, but there's funner games to be played elsewhere.

    I would have definitely gone in to buy an iPod Touch 4, but they're still lagging behind on the display. Instead, it looks to me that they want to cash in on just upgrading the aesthetic appeal, and hope that being a 4th gen gets people to upgrade, and not the reality of what the real benefits are.

    I was close to purchasing a Zune HD, but so far am faring well with my trio of Blackberry Bold 9800, Video iPod, and Nintendo DSi. I guess with the letdown on the iPod Touch 4, I'll still be waiting until something better comes along.
  • gbrayut - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    I purchased a 32GB Zune HD and absolutely love it for playing music or watching videos (mostly podcasts). The form factor is about half the size of an iPhone or iPod touch, which makes it easier to use when jogging or working out, and it retails for about $50 cheaper than the iPod touch.

    It definitely has its short comings: the mobile browser is pretty bad, doesn't have very many apps, and no wifi updates for podcasts when outside your home network (suppose to be fixed in Windows Phone 7 and next gen Zune HD). Also while it has the potential to be a great gaming platform using XNA there just aren't a lot of developers working on games right now (again hopefully will change with Windows Phone 7 release).

    I would highly recommend Zune HD as a Personal Media Player, but don't buy one hoping for a good web browser or a ton of games. I do however look forward to the next Zune release and will evaluate Windows Phone 7 when it comes out.

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