iPod touch 3rd Gen vs iPod touch 4th Gen

Apple's hotly anticipated event covered a wide range of new products and, as we predicted here at Pocket-lint, not only did Steve Jobs take to the stage wearing his black crew neck and New Balance footwear combo, but Apple also announced an updated version of the iPod touch.

But, is it worthy of your hand-earned cash? And if you've already got an iPod touch, is it worth upgrading? Read on to find out.


Battery

3rd gen
30hrs audio, 6hrs video

4th gen
40hrs audio, 7hrs video

It may not seem like a big change here, but think about it for a moment and a whole 10 hours of audio playback or an extra 60 minutes of video time is actually pretty significant. If you're using the iPod touch both as a gaming device, a media player and, as we'll see, a camera as well, it's an excellent addition.

CPU

3rd gen
833MHz ARM A8

4th gen
Apple A4 Chip

The upgrade to the Apple A4 system-on-a-chip solution on the iPod touch is the first big clue as to the core of what this media player refresh is all about. The CPU portion is another ARM A8 that should make it up to 1GHz clock speed, provided it's not been limited, of course. On its own it might not make all the difference in the world but considering the 3rd gen is underclocked to 600MHz, it's a bigger step than it looks.

Storage

3rd gen
8GB/32GB/64GB

4th gen
8GB/32GB/64GB

Storage-wise, you're looking at the same creature. Both line-ups are available in the three sizes from 8-64GB, depending on how much money you have to burn. Given both a thinner chassis and the fact that the catalogue-sized iPod classic is still out there, it's really of no surprise that it wasn't bumped up.

Memory

3rd gen
256MB

4th gen
512MB?

Apple has never been one for talking RAM specs, so we'll have to have a guess here until the teardowns hit the web. However, given that the 4th gen touch has got the A4 chip and was seen running some seriously impressive stuff at the keynote, we're willing to bet there's the same 512MB payload as you'd find in the iPhone 4.

Display

3rd gen
320x480, 3.5” LCD

4th gen
960x640px, LED backlit

Possibly the most important upgrade between the the two models is the addition of the Retina Display as seen first, once again, on the iPhone 4. We know that the jump from 163ppi to 326ppi is pretty damn astonishing and it's the kind of category that's going to make all the difference if you're a heavy video user. Throw in the lower power drain and the IPS for a better viewing angle and it becomes the place where the 3rd gen owners will turn green with envy if they don't make the switch.

Connectivity

3rd gen
Wi-Fi b/g, USB 2.0, Bluetooth

4th gen
Wi-Fi b/g/n, USB 2.0, Bluetooth

Not a lot of difference at first glance here but there is one letter that's a welcome addition. Yes, the iPod touch 4th generation model now has the further reaching and faster n-wireless standard. Very nice for a bit of browsing at home - unless you already have an iPad that is.

Graphics

3rd gen
PowerVR SGX 535

4th gen
PowerVR SGX 535

Both generations have the same GPU inside, so you'll get decent gaming power on either the old or new model - a sigh of relief for those looking to keep up with the apps on the 3rd gen. One could argue that the integration of the graphics unit on the Apple A4 in the 4th gen is going to be more efficient and a little tighter but, essentially, you'll get a similar performance.

Form

3rd gen
110 x 61 x 8.4mm, 115g

4th gen
110 x 59 x 7.2mm, 101g

It's become a matter of shaving slivers of metal off this thing each and every time now, largely because it's really thin already. This time the 4th gen is even thinner, of course. The bezel has been cut down on the width as well, but the big stat is probably the drop in weight. It's not drastic but it makes the 3rd gen look a little out of shape

Imaging

3rd gen
Nothing

4th gen
Front & rear facing camera

Well, not much you can say here in the defence of not upgrading to the 4th gen iPod touch. Two cameras - one to take pictures with and one to FaceTime video call over Wi-Fi with - or, er, none.

The rear facing camera is not much of a stills operator though. While you can use it record a very impressive 720p HD video at 30fps, the stills only come in at 960x640 which is equivalent to 0.6 megapixels. You're probably best off extracting the shots from video in post production. The front facing glasswear is up to VGA levels for both FaceTime chats and single snaps.

Conclusion

Well, there's no two ways about it, there's barely even one - the iPod touch 4th generation is just much, much better than the 3rd generation unit. Despite still being a decent device in its own right, it just looks like an old duffer next to the younger model. The 4G is thinner, lighter, more powerful, it has a far, far better screen and it's now become a camera and camcorder as well. Just stop reading and start saving your money. Sorry but that's just a year in technology for you.

What are your thoughts on the iPod touch 4th generation? Is there anything it's still missing for your tastes? Let us know in the comments below.