The fourth incarnation of the iPod Touch is an interesting upgrade, since it’s the first one to include cameras. It comes with a 1MP back camera with 720p video recording, and a VGA front camera. Other changes over its predecessor include the usage of the A4 CPU at 1 Ghz, 802.11n (2.4 GHz only), a 3-axis gyroscope, and a microphone. The 4th Gen is significantly thinner and lighter than its predecessors, measuring at 0.28 inc thickness and just 101 grams. The battery life has seen an upgrade too, measuring at about 40 hours of audio and 7 hours of video. Last but not least is its all new Retina Display, with an uncanny 960×640 resolution and 24bit color.
The negative points on this version of the iPod Touch is the inclusion of only 256 MB of RAM, compared to the iPhone 4’s and iPad 2’s 512 MB. This might have a future impact where some apps, or OS versions don’t work with 256 MB of RAM. The other point is that pressing the volume controls is very difficult because they’re placed slanted on the side (a common design trick in order to make the device feel thinner than it is). Without a case the device simply slips from my fingers when I try to press the volume buttons (because I have to hold it unnaturally to reach them with my left hand).
Regarding the new camera support, I found the back 1 MP camera to be many times worse than the front VGA one. Sure, it’s got more resolution, but there is a lot (and I mean, a lot) of noise, and with very limited latitude and low light support. The VGA front cam instead, can see much better in the dark (and it’s able to keep up its 30 fps in most conditions), has no noticeable noise, and it’s only hindered by its lower resolution. FaceTime in particularly worked really well for the few times I tried it. Skype video chat on the other hand is eating battery life like a cake: 21 minutes of video chat with my mother ate up 40% of battery (wifi, low screen brightness). On the upside, my mother, a non-technical person, noted the following: “Is this a new camera you got there? It’s like watching you on TV (tech translation: she meant a smooth 30 fps)! And your skin looks so clean! (tech translation: she meant a noise-free image)”.
I bought iMovie v2, and it works well on the Touch 4G, although I personally found the third party ReelDirector app to be a more powerful video editor than iMovie.
The device we received came with iOS 4.1. We successfully upgrade it to 4.3 without an issue. No scientific benchmarks, but the device is visibly faster than both my older 1st Gen and 2nd Gen iPod Touches. Scrolling is smoother, loading of apps too.
With iOS 4.x some new, very well received, features appear: a form of multitasking, folders for app categories, AirPlay support, and of course, FaceTime. One feature that doesn’t seem to have gain much traction by users is the Game Center though.
Overall, I find the iPod Touch 4th Gen to be the best small-personal media player device out there. It’s modern, fast, elegant, with a slew of apps in our disposal, and pretty cheap. However, it could definitely be better: a larger display, HD webcam, 3 MP back camera with flash, an additional phone-style speaker for audio chats via VoIP. iOS-wise, I’d love to see the ability for apps to exchange files between them (e.g. exporting WAV audio from one app, to load it on an effects audio app, to then load it on an song arrangement app etc.), and universal OBEX support. But really, this device is close to perfection.
FTC 16 CFR Part 255 Disclaimer
The device was sent to OSNews for free, and to keep, in return for the unbiased review, and a citation to Geeks.com. Geeks.com, or Apple, had no influence or involvement in the article’s findings and opinions.