Review: The New iPod touch Is a Winner

Black ipod touch

I can’t remember the last time I reviewed an iPod. (Searching this site, the last time I wrote about a new model that I bought was in 2010, when I got a new iPod nano.) But I still like the concept of the iPod. I don’t always need a phone, and, given that the iPod touch has wifi, I can do almost everything I do with my iPhone, at least when I’m at home.

I recently wrote about how I like the iPod shuffle, and, last year, lamented the end of the iPod classic, after praising the iPod classic a year earlier. I also wrote, one year and one day ago, an elegy for the iPod for Macworld, discussing the end of the line.

But the end hasn’t come yet. Apple proved it recently by updating the iPod touch, and refreshing the iPod nano and shuffle with new colors. While I wouldn’t buy the current iPod nano – it’s just not compelling, and its software is archaic – I did buy a new iPod touch. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a surprisingly good upgrade.

You can read the tech specs, but here they are in a nutshell: it’s faster than the previous generation iPod touch, it’s got more RAM, and it’s got a better camera. It comes in six colors (five sold everywhere, plus a Product (RED) model sold only by Apple), and it comes with four levels of storage (16, 32, 64, or 128 GB; the latter only sold by Apple).

I bought a space gray model with 32 GB, because I don’t need much storage for my use, but that 128 GB model gets it pretty close to an iPod classic (the last model of which had 160 GB). Compared to the previous model, the new iPod touch feels a tad heavier, though the tech specs say it’s the same (unless the specs I found for the 5th generation model are wrong; I already sold my 5th generation model, so couldn’t compare the two). And it’s the same thickness (or thinness); I’d love to have an iPhone this thin.

So why buy an iPod touch, when I have an iPhone and an iPad? My use case is different from that of most people: I need a device I can use for testing, on which I can install beta software. The 5th generation iPod touch lagged a lot with the iOS 9 betas, and the new model is really fast; faster than my iPhone 5s. But beyond that, I plan to use the iPod touch as an Apple Music device. With all the problems caused by the iCloud Music Library, I won’t trust my iPhone, or my main iTunes library, to use this service. Having an iPod touch makes it easy to use Apple Music at home, in conjunction with a library on my MacBook Pro.

You may want an iPod touch for a child, who is too young to have a phone, or even as a bedside device for listening to music, audiobooks, or more. Rather than worry about using your iPhone, you can just connect the iPod touch to a speaker – or even to a Bluetooth or AirPlay speaker – and have music easily. Or you may want one in the living room, to use as a remote for an Apple TV, or to stream Apple Music to an Apple TV, which doesn’t yet support it. It’s also got a pretty good 8 MP camera; you might want to get one for a child who can use it as a first camera, as well as play games on it.

Granted, the iPod touch won’t replace an iPhone. But it can serve a lot of purposes. Heck, you might use an Android phone, and still want to be able to access iOS apps, Apple Music, and more. If you’re using it for Apple Music, you don’t need much storage. I wouldn’t recommend getting the 16 GB model; that’s a bit slim if you plan to add some storage-hungry games, or take a lot of photos. But get the 32 GB version, like I did. It’s not for everyone, but at $249, or £199, it’s a good price for a solid device.