Blog Post

First impressions of Apple’s new iPod touch: Superb

After coming clean and admitting that I’d be flirting with an iPod touch, even though I’m in a serious relationship with Android(s goog) phones, I’ve been looking forward to the new Apple(s aapl) device. I ordered a 32 GB Black and Slate model as soon as Apple began selling them on Sept. 14 and it arrived a few hours ago. I’ve already have enough playtime to form some solid impressions; plus I owned both the prior iPod touch model and an iPhone 4S in the past, so I have a good frame of reference.

In no particular order, here are my initial thoughts on Apple’s fifth-generation iPod touch

  • The display is stellar. Apple’s new technique of integrating the touch sensor with the display brings the content even higher to the screen surface. More than ever before, it appears that the icons are simply painted on the screen; they’re that good. Of course, if you’ve seen the new iPhone 5, you know what I mean as it uses the exact same screen. The display doesn’t have a blue hue like my Samsung devices do.

IPod touch display

  • I’m starting to wonder if the Retina Display pixel density is overdone on a device this small. Hear me out for a second: I just said the screen was nice and it is. But with 326 pixels per inch crammed into a 4-inch display I’m finding text on most web sites is too small to read without zooming. On some sites, you simply have to zoom and I don’t find that to be true on my high-resolution Android devices. I’m zooming far more on the iPod touch than I am on Android phones but I don’t feel I’m losing any clarity or quality by comparison. Just a thought…. personal preferences are part of that observation, although if you go to Apple’s own web page for the iPod touch, there’s simply no way to read most of the text without zooming.
  • I’ve never held a device this thin that is made so well. It’s a quarter-inch thin with rounded corners and built like a high-precision device. I actually like the in-hand feel better than the thicker iPod touch that preceded this one. Why? Corners on the old one dug into my hand after prolonged use. This one is much more comfortable to hold.
  • The camera is as good as the old iPhone 4 and nearly as good as the iPhone 4S sensor from what I can see. I’ll be looking deeper into this over time, but I can say that I’d have no problem carrying this device as my only camera if I had to. Are there better cameras on other devices? Sure, but this one will suffice for most people. I also tried a FaceTime call with my wife using the new 720p front camera. She says she didn’t see any difference from prior calls.
  • With Apple’s A5 chip and 512 MB of memory, performance on this iPod touch is impressive. For all intents and purposes, it performs no differently than the iPhone 4S I recently sold. That’s a good thing.
  • Having Siri in the iPod touch is super. I don’t use Siri extensively save for one main function: Creating reminders. Granted with out a mobile broadband connection, Siri is rendered useless. But I’m nearly always around a Wi-Fi connection so it’s nice to take advantage of Siri as needed. Plus the Reminders sync with my OS X devices, of course.
  • The retractable button for the included loop is nice, but I don’t think I’ll use it. Hard to say this early of course and it’s nice to have the option.
  • Apple’s new Lightning adapter is ridiculously tiny; far smaller and thinner than the micro USB ports that most mobile devices use today. It’s quite an engineering feat.
    iPod touch Lightning port
  • I can’t say that I hear a major difference with the new included earpods. Perhaps the sound is a little louder and richer since the speakers are angled differently. They do fit well and I don’t think they’ll fall out of my ears, even when running, which is a typical use case for me. I do wish Apple would standardize its headphones so that they all have inline volume controls and a microphone; these do not.
    iPod touch earbuds
  • Of course, there’s no GPS radio in the iPod touch; that’s still reserved for the iPhone. But Apple’s new Maps had no problem pinpointing my location via Wi-Fi. I don’t plan on using this device for navigation purposes, however, so I can’t say more about Maps other than they look nice.
  • I’m concerned about the aluminum casing. Yes, it helps keep the device thin and light — it’s amazingly light — but I don’t want the black backing to get scratched or chipped. There aren’t any issues with the case right now, however, I suspect I’ll need a case which is a shame: It will make the super thin and light iPod touch a little thicker and heavier.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the new iPod touch so far and I anticipate most others that buy one will feel the same. There isn’t much not to like: Apple has put together an iPod that’s extremely comparable to it’s latest iPhone, minus the GPS and cellular connectivity. Plus, there’s no monthly service fee, which is why I decided to sell my iPhone 4S; I don’t have the need for two phone accounts.

Instead, I’ll use VoIP software and Wi-Fi as needed to supplement my Android phone usage while being able to monitor what’s going on in the world of iOS. And I’ll do so on a very impressive piece of hardware because this iPod touch is an oustanding little device. Some may balk at the $299 starting price and I understand that. But after using the new iPod touch and realizing that it nearly gives the iPhone 5 experience for less money and no recurring fees, I think it’s worth every dollar I spent.

18 Responses to “First impressions of Apple’s new iPod touch: Superb”

  1. David Daugherty

    Want a case that still keeps it small and light? I’m sure you’ve heard about Zagg’s protectors. They just started shipping the Extreme shields for the iPhone5 which is supposed to protect from screen breakage.

    I have no affiliation with them, I just slap their products on every gadget I get.

  2. I just got mine yesterday, decided to go with the red one and my impression is that the whole “one hand usability” isnt there anymore. Try reaching the back button without sliding it up or using the other hand all the time. I think that the cord that came with it should compensate for that. Weird to say at least. Also i find it to light when compared to the older ones in terms of gameplay. Try running the temple run on this one..
    Everything else is better.

    • Kevin C. Tofel

      Hard to say in less than a day of use, but so far I don’t see any dramatic decreases due to usage or in idle. I’ll follow up on in a few days and let you know.

  3. The Commons

    “Apple’s new Lightning adapter is ridiculously tiny; far smaller and thinner than the micro USB ports that most mobile devices use today.”

    I’m holding a micro USB plug and Lightning plug, and then my phones with a micro USB port and Lightning port, and honestly, I’m not seeing how one is “far smaller and thinner” than the other. They look roughly the same to me.

  4. Samir Shah

    “Some may balk at the $299 starting price and I understand that. But after using the new iPod touch and realizing that it nearly gives the iPhone 5 experience for less money and no recurring fees, I think it’s worth every dollar I spent.”

    Very true.

  5. I love the irony of complaining about the screen resolution being overkill when you still have to zoom to read; GigaOM’s web programmers disable the zoom feature which means your only hope to read this very page on a mobile device is if you have the high resolution screen!

    • Kevin C. Tofel

      Dan, I’m interested in hearing more details about the zooming issue with our site. I’m not aware of one and I can zoom in or out on the site via iOS or Android without a problem. I’m happy to forward info to our devs though…. thanks!

      • Know-It-All Nelda

        Thanks for soliciting this feedback. I’m unable to zoom using an iPhone 5. That’s been a pet peeve of mine for sites that “optimize” for mobile. Typically you lose the ability to zoom making them less than optimal.

  6. Laughing_Boy48

    But wait. NOBODY uses mp3 players anymore because they don’t have phones built into them. The iPod Touch is going up against nothing in a rapidly shrinking market. Normally, Wall Street would say that the company that owns a market wins, except for Apple. Wall Street says that Apple is winning a market that nobody cares about, so they’re making a mistake by staying in it.

    • Like Kevin, I have an Android phone with StraightTalk at $45 p/mo and an iPod Touch. I use them both routinely and for many of the same purposes including media and internet consumption, email, weather, ebooks. Plus I use the iPod for VOIP. I enjoy having a foot in both camps and am productive using each platform regularly on a daily basis. So while the market for dedicated MP3 players might be shrinking, the iPod Touch is definitely more than that. If I lived in a place with more ubiquitous WiFi I could easily see a scenario where it would replace the need for the StraightTalk month to month service.