It’s been nearly four years since we last had a new iPod touch and two years since we said goodbye to the iPod nano and fun little iPod Shuffle.

In 2015 Apple also launched Apple Music and its growth in the intervening period – Billboard reported 56 million subscribers last December – suggests that people want an iPod less than they ever did. After all, surely the key point of an iPod is that it can store all the music you own?

But the fact Apple is launching a new version proves one thing – the iPod touch is still selling. If it wasn’t, we know from past form that Apple would have no issues about ending the 18 year career of the iPod name.

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The audience is probably two-fold – kids who aren’t allowed to have a phone yet and older adults who have a lot of music that they’ve ripped from CDs or bought on the iTunes Store.  

We know of at least a couple of people who have worked hard to acquire large-capacity iPod Classic players from eBay recently. And yes, they’re people who don’t want to stream and also who cannot – or don’t want to – use a high-capacity iPhone for whatever reason due to contract costs, not wanting a smartphone, needing to use an Android phone or a myriad of other reasons.

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You’ve got to respect those who still want to carry their music around with them – we all wanted to do that at one point. While the flash-based iPod touch (and, indeed, the iPhone) was originally a smaller capacity player than you’d get from the larger, traditional hard drive iPods, that hasn’t been the case for some time.

This time around, there’s also an increased storage capacity for those who do require extra capacity. From 32 and 128GB capacities for the previous version (after a revision in 2017), there’s now a 256GB version, too, which is what we’ve got here. Remarkably, it’s about 100GB bigger than the largest iPod Classic ever; that clocked in at 160GB before its demise nearly half-a-decade ago.

Design

  • Traditional home button design
  • iPhone colours available

Once again what you’ve got here is an iPhone lite with a small display and no cellular connection but with options for high capacity. The casing and design is the same as the previous generation with a 123 x 59mm footprint, 88g weight and 6mm thickness. It is svelte compared to the phones that many of us are using nowadays.

As you’d expect, the Home button is the preferred user interface (though there’s no Touch ID) rather than Face ID and gestures as seen on the iPhone X, XS and XR series of iPhone.

Colours have been a key aspect of the iPod range for a little while, but they’re more reflective of iPhone colours these days with silver, gold and space grey available in addition to pink, blue (pictured) and red.

Specs and display

  • Based on the iPhone 7 platform
  • Same display as the iPhone 5 and SE
  • 8 megapixel camera

The platform of this iPod is based around the A10 Fusion chipset from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Those phones are now the cheapest iPhones (officially) available, so it makes sense that it would be based around that – after all, the hardware is less than three years old. It’s also the processor that powers the current generation of the standard iPad (2018). The new touch has double the RAM of the previous generation at 2GB.

The display is the same as the previous generation – a 4-inch 1,136×640 display at 326ppi. It’s also the same retina display we had in the iPhone 5 and iPhone SE.

The size could be another factor in people choosing an iPod touch over an iPhone – there’s no current, officially available iPhone with a small screen.

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There’s a rear 8 megapixel camera which is capable of HDR photos and 1080p recording but not 4K, while the front-facing camera is a mere 1.2 megapixel.

Don’t expect the same high-end specs you’d get in a more expensive smartphone. Understandable, given the price of the new touch.

Software and accessories

  • Latest iOS updates
  • But some key iPhone-centric elements missing
  • Can be used with AirPods

Software-wise, the iPod touch keeps apace with the standard iOS update cycle – it ships with iOS 12.3.1. That new software combined with the updated hardware means the new iPod touch can cope with some of the higher-end iPhone apps such as ones based on ARKit and it even has the recently-introduced Group FaceTime, too. However, using many apps – increasingly designed for bigger displays - seems a little cramped on the iPod touch’s diminutive display.

However, there are some aspects of the iPhone experience missing. You can’t pair an iPod touch with an Apple Watch as there’s no Apple Watch app. As we mentioned there’s no Touch ID while GPS is also missing as is NFC for Apple Pay. There’s also no ambient sensor for auto brightness.

The device ships with Apple’s EarPods wired headphones but is compatible with any Bluetooth headphones as well as Apple’s own AirPods. Yes, there’s a headphone jack too, meaning you can use any wired 3.5mm headphones.

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Verdict

For those still wanting a high capacity, small device that isn't an iPhone, the iPod touch offers a compelling device for under $200/£200. But is this the last-ever iPod? We'd say so, but only time will tell on that one. 

We've certainly come a long way since the 5GB original and we'll go a long way over the next four years, too - will even hardened streaming deniers be converted in a few more years?