Apple’s fifth-generation iPod touch, which debuted alongside the iPhone 5 during the September 12 keynote, is on sale now, first reviews are great and already the wizards at iFixit have done what they do best: they tore apart the device to peek under the hood and analyze its innards.

Unlike the iPhone 5 that runs the latest A6 chip with 1GB of RAM, Apple’s ultra-thin (just 6.1mm) media player packs in the Apple-designed A5 processor with 512MB of Hynix-supplied RAM. The same silicon also powers the iPad 2 (the iPad 3 runs a souped up variant labeled the A5X). Perhaps unexpectedly, the new iPod touch has a weaker home button than that on the iPhone 5…

Other tidbits include NAND flash from Toshiba, meaning Apple passed on Samsung and turned to other suppliers for both the iPod touch’s storage and on-chip RAM. Note that Apple’s been distancing itself from Samsung on the display front as well, although the South Korean conglomerate continues to build Apple’s in-house designed processors at its facility in Austin, Texas.

Broadcom supplies the BCM 5976 touchscreen controller and Texas Instruments won a touchscreen system-on-a-chip contract (the 27AZ5R1 module). WiFi module is provided by Murata (the 339S0171) and the three-axis gyroscope is from STMicroelectronics (the AGD32229ESGEK module).

The impossibly thin iPod touch is quite a marvel of engineering.

As for the display, even though the iPod touch packs in all of the display technologies Apple uses for the iPhone 5, the manufacturing process is being described as cheaper.

When comparing the Touch to the iPhone 5 display assembly, it’s apparent that this is a much simpler, cheaper design, despite Apple claiming the two have very similar functionality.

The fourth-generation iPod touch’s display was of a noticeable lower quality compared to the iPhone 4/4S, especially when viewed at an angle.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the iPhone 5’s and iPod touch’s profile.

The iPod touch, pictured on the left, is jut 6.1mm thin versus the iPhone 5 (right) that is 7.6mm deep.

The backside iSight camera on the new iPod touch is essentially a rehashed version of the five-megapixel module found on the previous-generation model, capable of shooting 1080p video at 30 frames per second.

As for repairability, the new iPod touch scores 3 out of 10 (versus 7 out of 10 for the iPhone 5), largely due to hard-to-manage ribbon cables on the logic board and absence of external screws.

In case you thought that a quick zap with the heat gun and a gentle pry is all it would take to get into the Touch, think again! There are several clips and adhesive holding this iPod together.

The disassembly also found the volume buttons, microphone, LED flash and power button all connected through the same ribbon cable, which easily peels from the rear case.

The shift to a single ribbon cable is more cost-effective for the manufacturer, but unfortunately it has a negative impact on repairability. Cables connected to the logic board run over the top and connect on the bottom, making it difficult to remove the board or disconnect the cables.

iFixit notes that even though repair is not impossible, “it’s certainly going to be difficult and expensive if one component breaks”. The teardown experts were also surprised to find a weaker home button compared to the iPhone 5, largely stemming from a rubber-membrane design.

In our recent iPhone 5 teardown, we praised Apple for redesigning a stronger home button. We were somewhat disappointed with the weaker, rubber-membrane design of the iPod Touch’s home button.

I think the new iPod touch is a marvel of engineering and the best media player there is. I’d say that a weaker home button, cheaper display assembly (though image quality is on par with the iPhone 5) and low repairability score  are all necessary trade-offs due to its impossibly thin design, ones that not many people will notice anyway.

For more, check out Jeff’s unboxing video and another one depicting the iPhone 5 versus iPod touch boot test. Also, stay tuned for his review, coming up later today.

Do you think the new iPod touch is worth the asking price of $299/$399 for the 32/64GB model?

  • Lnds500

    “backside iSight camera on the new iPod touch is essentially a rehashed version of the five-megapixel module found on the previous-generation model” I guess you meant it’s a rehash from the new iPad

    EDIT: sorry, meant the new iPad

  • ignar

    Where is the link to the iFixit article?

  • Under the picture of the iPod touch and the iPhone 5, I noticed an spelling error. “Jut” just pointing it out. 🙂

  • What about the front camera? I take it it’s still the crappy VGA version, since no one seems to say anything about it and Apple’s website says nothing about it.

    • From Apple’s website: “FaceTime HD camera with 1.2MP photos and HD video (720p) up to 30 frames per second”

  • shadyside4fyr

    CHEAP GREEDY BASTARDS!!!!!!! They need some serious competition in this market.

    • I think you dont understand the article. Its cheaper compared to iPhone 5 and not cheap for its price. Do you want an $800 and $300 device to be exactly alike. If you think so you are greedy and cheap

  • now give me more dislikes because in my opinion I think Apple is in danger without Steve Jobs ” God Please his soul”
    and now not only software problems, but also hardware glitches, and weakness.
    Please at least don’t do that with the future products, thus iPad mini is almost here…

    • iHamzaDev

      While I agree with you that there may be problems, but what company DOESN’T have problems? Steve Jobs was a great CEO and his legacy will forever remain at Apple, but I’m sure he was prepared for all that was coming to him, as far as the disease, so I’m sure he took action to make sure the new leadership after him knew what do to, how to do it, etc.

      • well, I hope what are you saying is the fact, but this isn’t the way Apple behavior before, the company had a lot of problems before Jobs, but he was the reactor who keep it a live, I’m afraid Apple is sinking with out the man…

  • iHamzaDev

    From my perspective, it’s not a bad upgrade at all. Sure there are things that could have been better improved such as the home button, but over all, I think it’s is a great upgrade from the previous A4 powered iPod Touch.

    And the fact that Apple is offering the iPod Touch 5 in several different colors is what will have people sold to get it.

  • If it breaks, you aren’t going to repar it at home anyways…-_-

  • אסף סופר

    The iPod touch doesnt need an A6 proseccor beacuse he doesnt need to be connected to the cellphone,3g or gps.
    The proseccor use mostly for the games

  • Rodney Coleman

    Pretty lame.. cheap parts but gonna cost isheeps a grip lol

    • GNexusPhone5

      so many tardroids these days on idownloadblog

    • XD funny thing is other companies use even cheaper materials. I don’t see any other mp3 players with anodized aluminum or a retina display glass screens around. Please stfu.

  • shadyside4fyr

    What! Doesn’t need the A6 and u say it is used mostly for games. Are gaming computers supposed to have weaker processors. (Scratching head in confusion)

  • Buttnugget

    So no dice with the purported iPad mini announcement invites then eh!?

  • i dont need one.. but i want one..

  • Anton

    I have a question: compared to the iPod Touch 3G, is the quality of the components still better?

  • Benchmark Apps

    The iPod Touch 5th Generation is a great device with a beautiful design.
    It might not have the best of materials like the iPhone 5, but it is still a stunning device.