A Not-so-Perfect FaceTime Device

The new Touch obviously supports FaceTime. With no cellular modem are no phone or messaging apps on the iPod Touch, but you do get a dedicated FaceTime app. Starting with iOS 4.1 you can now associate an email address with FaceTime so iPhone 4 owners can call iPod Touch owners.

Calling an iPhone 4 user via FaceTime can happen via cellphone number or email address. The FaceTime connection happens entirely over IP so it doesn’t matter that the iPod Touch lacks a cellular modem. FaceTime appears to work the same on the Touch as it does on the iPhone. There appear to be slight differences in quality but I’m unclear as to why that is.

The FaceTime app uses your synced contacts, it keeps a log of your recent FaceTime sessions and even has a favorites pages. The favorites didn’t work as expected. I could add favorites but tapping on the names didn’t do anything, I’d have to hit the blue arrow and manually select a phone number or email address to FaceTime.

When I first wrote about FaceTime I called it a great way to keep in touch with people who are close to you. The only problem was that, at least back then, it required both ends of the call to have iPhone 4s. The new iPod Touch makes FaceTime a bit more accessible.

Both parties can get the iPod Touch, or if you want to FaceTime with someone who has an iPhone 4 you no longer have to buy one yourself - an iPod Touch will suffice.

The mic, to the right of the rear camera

There are issues with Apple's implementation of Facetime on the iPod Touch however. The only mic on the device is on the back of the phone, next to the rear camera - on the other side of where you'll be speaking. Thankfully this proved to be a non-issue in my office but I can see it being a problem in a more crowded/noisey environment. With the mic on the back you also can't FaceTime with the iPod Touch laying on a desk (not that you'd want to). But you do need to hold onto it or at least use something to prop it up with. The iPod Touch worked wonderfully with my Luxa2 H1-Touch:

The major issue I had was with the external speaker volume. I noted a 12dB difference in sound pressure between the iPhone 4's speakerphone and what you get with the iPod Touch while playing music, with voice alone the gap peaks at around 20dB. The iPod Touch's external speaker just isn't loud enough for FaceTime in my opinion. If you're in a very quiet room it's not a problem, but have a computer or two running and it's uncomfortably quiet.

Unfortunately, if you want to use a headset you may find Apple's bundled earbuds aren't perfect - they don't include a microphone. You still have to rely on the rear facing mic on the iPod touch. It works, but it's not ideal.

Apple will sell you a set of earbuds + mic for $30 if you'd like, they work perfectly on the new Touch.

The Camera Good Audio Playback Quality, no GPS


View All Comments

  • descendency - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Wow. Nice to see someone admit it instead of darting around the clearly inferior device. Lots of people are just giving this ultra high review scores for no good reason.

    Is it a good device? Sure. Is it an iPhone 4 minus the phone like the original iPod touch was to the iPhone at the time? Nope. not even close.

    I'm kind of saddened by a lack of GPS, higher quality screen, more ram (which will impact it down the road in what you can and can't buy out of the marketplace), higher resolution camera, and speaker.

    It really seems like a lower quality device than what could have been produced, which is something I never used to see Apple do. I knew they produced expensive stuff, but I always felt it was top notch. This seems . . . less so.

    I was really really hoping the iPod Touch 2 would look like an iPhone 4. If it did, I would have probably bought one.
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    You do not understand Apple economics. If you thought Apple has never made low quality devices, you clearly have been absent these past 5 years when the iPhone came out.

    When the iPhone came out, it was gimped from the very start. It didn't have copy and paste, no flash support, no memory expansion, no multitasking. Hell, it didn't even have 3G! But it knew it had other selling points (an actual UI, shocking!) and a top-notch touchscreen.

    This allows them to make minimal upgrades every year to the system (now with 3G! ZOMG!), which makes the sheep buy it every single damn year.

    Apple makes products to make their previous generation look bad. But also, they make other current products to make OTHER current products in their lineup to look even better and to give them room for the future so they can make a product that makes your current phone look like a POS.

    The Shuffle doesn't have a screen, but the NANO does! ZOMG lets spend 100 bucks more!

    The Nano got stripped of its bigger screen, video capability, video camera, calendars and games. Why? To make the iPod Touch look good! And hey, the iTouch's got a front facing camera, a faster processor and a crisper screen! Everybody wins right?

    And the iPod Touch is a gimped version of the iPhone 4 yada yada yada.

    So when you are buying a Shuffle, that means you are saving up for the Nano ($100 more and I get a screen!). When you buy the Nano, you will be saving up for the Touch (only $50 more, right?), and when you buy the Touch, you will be saving up for the iPhone 4. And when you have the iPhone 4, you will be saving up for the iPhone 5.
  • Golgatha - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    [q]The Nano got stripped of its bigger screen, video capability, video camera, calendars and games. Why? To make the iPod Touch look good! And hey, the iTouch's got a front facing camera, a faster processor and a crisper screen! Everybody wins right?[/q]

    Wow, I like my 3G and 4G Nanos my wife and I have, but the new Nano definitely does look gimped.
  • Watwatwat - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Inferior to what? A smart phone that costs twice as much when unsubsidized? When subsidized you pay a massive amount more in total anyways, so the comparison is flawed. Appales to apples is unsubsidized cost vs unsubsidized cost. Whats the itouch vs an zune or such. Not vs an iphone.

    I don'tcare if apple produces expensive stuff? Youd care if the touch cost twice as much thats for sure, you wouldn't buy it, even apple can go too far with price. This isn't the mac book air, its already having that higher end market served by the iphone itself. This is the iphone nano or such.

    Comparing it to the iphone to cast it in a bad light is stupid. If you are going to do such a stupid thing, use the ipones unsubsidized price of 500 or 600 dollars to make it fair, then you really understand whats going on. Apples selling an "iphone" touch for less than half the price, so yes, something is not going to be as nice. But don't pretend the haters would spend 600 dollars on an ipod touch.

    Otherwise its mindless bashing.
  • bmurthy - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    I think the comparison is completely fair. Your point only makes sense, if you buy the iphone not to use with AT&T and pay the full price. Why would you?

    I actually think the review is an excellent reality check for people before they put the money down, considering how many people I know that are seriously considering using ipod touch a secondary device to a simpler phone.
  • gkbeer - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    it's sad that it doesn't have all the specs of an iPhone4, it's still a lot better than the previous gen Touch. Reply
  • o0hobart0o - Saturday, September 11, 2010 - link

    First of all, this device is basically the same as an iphone 4 except the cellular service and gps. It may lack a little in memory, but that won't account for much honestly. I think everyone is mad and wants to diss this new ipod touch because, yes, it does come very close to having all the same features. Same high res screen, same high def camera with high def video recording, facetime. All these things were the main reason everyone went out to buy the iphone 4. So it is simple enough to see that everyone is just mad that apple has come out with another device that pretty much does all those things for way cheaper. So cheer up iphone 4 users, apple has been doing this for the last 10 years at least...you aren't the first ones. Reply
  • dmeader - Sunday, September 12, 2010 - link

    Did you read the article? it is not the same as the iphone 4.

    It's the same general shape and formfactor as the iphone. It shares some of the same capabilities. BUT.... NOT the same screen, NOT the same camera, NOT the same memory. Please stop with the endless Apple fanboy defense strategy against anyone who criticizes anything they make.
  • xpose2000 - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    Great job with this review, definitely makes me not as excited about upgrading my 2nd gen itouch. The speaker is my most disappointing thing to read. I was hoping it would sound more like current gen cell phone speakers.

    I can deal with the rest of the shortcomings, I basically just wanted a camera, mic, faster processor, and wireless N. I got all those things.

    I'd still say its the best option out there and will probably still get it.
  • Watwatwat - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    yea but look at the iphones unsubsidized price.
    500 dollars, or 600 dollars.
    the itouch starts at 2xx dollars.
    this article was poorly written to cast to ipod touch in a negative light based on apples to oranges comparison.

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