iPod touch 5th generation review

By , Oct 11, 2012

I never planned on purchasing a new iPod touch, but the impulse bug got me. I bought one last year for testing purposes. But despite that justification, I still had buyers remorse soon afterwards. That’s how bad the iPod touch 4th generation was. It lacked power, had a terrible screen, and the design was, well, disgusting.

But when Apple showed off the new iPod touch hardware last month, my interest was piqued. Still reeling, though, from the 4th generation product, I kept myself from getting too excited about it.

Unfortunately (thankfully?) I struggle to control myself when it comes to Apple product purchases. But that lack of control allowed me to witness first hand a marvelous turnaround to the iPod touch line. Yes, the iPod touch 5th generation shares little with the previous generation hardware, and that’s a good thing.

Indeed, the new iPod touch is — wow — it’s actually good. I mean, it’s really good. If you haven’t yet seen it in person, you owe it to yourself to check out this review…

Video review

Build quality

The build quality on the the iPod touch is awesome. It’s the first iPod touch to actually closely resemble its iPhone counterpart of the same generation. You’ll notice me reiterate that throughout this review.

Unlike its predecessor, this version features a flat back that won’t rock when you have it laying on a table. It also ditches the shiny back surface that easily scratches, for the same anodized aluminum one on the iPhone 5.

With every previous iPod touch, the screen was an obvious downgrade when compared to that generation’s iPhone. With the 5th generation iPod touch, however, that is no longer the case. While it’s been confirmed that the screen build isn’t exactly the same as on the iPhone, the quality differences between the two are virtually indistinguishable.

Then there are the small touches like the machined lip outlining the device’s bezel, and the Loop on the back side that allows you to connect a lanyard for a more camera-like appearance and function.

The only downside that I see as far as build quality goes, is that the camera lens sticks out beyond the body of the device. And even then, it only protrudes 0.44 mm, so it will still rest flat on a table with no visible rock. You’re less likely to complain about that when you consider how incredibly thin the new iPod touch is. The iPhone 5 was already crazy thin, and this is much thinner than that. It’s so thin, that Apple was forced to make the camera lens protrude to make it fit in the case. I’m not trying to skirt around it — it’s an obvious design compromise that some won’t like — I’m just saying that many will take the thinness in exchange for the slightly extended lens.

Hardware

I won’t bore you with hardware numbers that have been posted numerous times elsewhere, but I will tell you this: the iPod touch 5th generation is the first iPod touch that I’ve felt could adequately handle anything thrown at it.

All previous touch devices have been underpowered and lacked necessary RAM, but this one has an A5 processor and 512MB of RAM. This device is on par with the iPhone 4S (benchmark), and our Geekbench benchmark backs that up.

This means you’ll be able to run newer games, multitask, and surf the web faster than in times past. It’s the first time I haven’t become infuriated with the iPod touch because of its blatant hardware inferiority.

Software

The software is the same iOS 6 that we’ve all grown accustomed to. The main glaring flaw here is Apple maps, but you knew that already.

I also noticed, and this is a hardware issue as well, that these is no more Auto-Brightness setting in the Settings app. On closer examination, it appears that Apple removed the ambient light sensor from this year’s iPod touch. I know that Apple reportedly had problems incorporating the ALS in the first white iPhone 4, causing numerous delays to that product. Perhaps the thinness of this device, coupled with the white face on all of the color models prompted Apple to forgo the feature.

It’s also worth noting that this is the first iPod touch to feature Siri support — I’m sure that many will deem that worth the upgrade alone. Check out my standalone iOS 6 review for more details on the software.

Practicality

With a camera that’s on par with the iPhone 4S, and a 720p front-facing camera, this is the first touch that takes photos and video seriously. And for the first time on a touch, you have hardware that allows you to legitimately use FaceTime, and play hardware taxing games without slowing things down to a crawl.

Apple, wisely, only produced 32GB and 64GB versions of the new iPod touch. This gives you plenty of space for music, games, photos, and video. Keep in mind that the touch is not a phone, and its generally used exclusively as an entertainment device. Thus, the minimum 32GB of space is well-warranted.

The added Loop — the aforementioned pop up nub for the lanyard — makes the touch even more point-and-shoot camera-esque. I see the touch, for the very first time, serving as a legitimate camera replacement for many users.

Verdict

I wholeheartedly recommend the new iPod touch. It’s a very unassuming device, especially when looking at it resting in its retail packaging. It’s easy to think that this generation’s offering would be just as poor as previous ones from a build quality and usability standpoint, but that’s just not the case.

This is a first for the touch on many levels. It’s the first time it receives legitimately decent camera hardware. It’s the first time that its build quality compares closely with the iPhone of its generation. It’s the first time that the screen is a pleasure to stare at. No longer is the iPod touch an afterthought embarrassment as I believe it’s been in previous generations.

If you’ve been sitting on the fence regarding the new touch, then get off that fence, and head down to your nearest Apple store and pick one up. You won’t be disappointed.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/macmixing Dom Esposito

    Great review, Jeff.

  • mervynraj

    how great wud it be if iphone 5 was thin as ipod touch5…!

    • Christian Auldridge

      probably couldnt fit phone servcie in their :D

  • Andrew Weissman

    Excellent review! I am definitely going to replace my current iPod Touch with this one! (Mainly for the camera and the screen)

    Question: After using it for a little while, did you notice if the aluminum back or sides suffers from “scuffgate” similar to the iPhone 5?

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      No, but then again, I usually treat my devices fairly delicate.

      • Andrew Weissman

        Okay. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/crosehi Chris Rose

    Great review. I just don’t know why I would need one when I have an iPhone 5…

    • Dan

      You don’t. iPod is for someone who doesn’t have an iPhone/smartphone imo. I sold mine when I got a smartphone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000603361739 Osama Muhammed

      in case u find your iphone 5 is useless, im here for help :P

    • maurid

      Then you don’t need one. Easy as pie.

    • linda

      u dont have to write that if u dont want it he said put ur opinion uif u like the 6th or 7th he didnt say do u want it cuz u have an iphone 5 or do u dont want it cuz u have an iphone 5 im not trying to be mean but just saying

      • http://twitter.com/AnaVLeon51512 Ana V.Leon

        were just saying that because HE has an Iphone 5 and an Ipod 5 (durrdudurr)

    • http://twitter.com/AnaVLeon51512 Ana V.Leon

      ikr thats what i commented on the video thier practically the same so he’s just wasting like $300 extra dollars:/ (maybe he has adrenaline to buying stuff and spending extra money :/ :)

  • Moses

    Does its battery lasts the same than the 4th generation?

    • Christian Auldridge

      The old ipod touch 4g claimed 40hrs audio 7hrs video while the new one claims 40hrs audio 8hrs video.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1657474342 Proinsias Matthews

    Hey Jeff, I completely know this is NOT the place to be posting questions unrelated to the iPod Touch you’ve just reviewed (great review btw) but can anyone tell me what dictionary is used in iOS? I mean the origin of their definitions when you hold a word and select ‘define’. I’m not just curious but I need it for citation and like their definition best but don’t think I’ll get away with writing iPhone 4 iOS Dictionary in my bibliography. :)
    Thanks

    • marco1993

      i think apple get the words and the meaning from wolfram but they have design ed the system so they have just named it Dictionary on the OS but i think you could get away with saying you’ve used the inbuilt Dictionary functionality on the iOS

  • braiden

    How fast is siri’s response ? i really like the design on it …. kind wish they would just completly box it like the iphone just because the design the ipods have are like made to fall out of the hands of its users

    • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

      Siri probably isn’t as good as on the iPhone. I have the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3 and I tried using Siri on both while on the same Wi-Fi back to back and the iPhone always responded faster and understood what I said better. With the iPod touch being the least powerful out of the 3 I would assume it would be the worst. That was just my experience though. You would have to try it yourself and see how you like it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1348717379 Jenei Arnold

        My brother had Siri on his JB-en iPhone 4,and it performed very well,not as fast as my 4S,but pretty close.So I assumee iTouch 5G will perform on par with 4S/5.

      • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

        Would make the most sense since the iPod Touch 5G basically is an iPhone 4S without the phone part. Not bad at all.

      • Christian Auldridge

        its like a 4s/5 mix. lol An iphone 4ss

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002136300838 Michael Hulet

        Siri requests on all devices are sent to the same servers… It’s just the A5X took more time processing what you wanted than the A6. By that rationale, the A5 in the 5th Generation iPod Touch should be just about as fast as your iPad 3, but not as fast as your iPhone 5

      • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

        Yeah I understand that and that’s exactly why I think the iPod wouldn’t do as well as an iPad 3 because an iPad 3 has an A5X chip while the iPod Touch only has the A5 used in the iPhone 4S. Unless its a better modified A5 just for this new iPod?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002136300838 Michael Hulet

        Technically the A5X is an A5 with a quad-core GPU. Otherwise, there’s no change, so the iPod Touch and the iPad 3 should be on par with each other. And I think it’s the same A5 that’s in the iPhone 4S & iPad 2, so it should be just as fast

      • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

        Ah well that’s that then lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Cannan/100000630162509 Steven Cannan

    Ok so Samsung made a s3 mini apple should make this iPod touch a phone!!! Who agrees?

    • http://twitter.com/_YoKolorMeBadd Breaon.

      makes no sense since there’s an iphone :/

    • http://twitter.com/Rel0adedHead Tom García

      An iPod, a phone, and an internet device.. Are you getting it?

    • Dan

      O_o ?

    • Kurt

      i think what you should say is…”Samsung has large screen devices and now a tiny 4 inch device :) …(see what i did there?-i want a larger iphone) …Apple should make larger devices too”

      that would make more sense

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Cannan/100000630162509 Steven Cannan

      Ya it was late sorry lol that does sound really dumb

    • Peter Young

      totally agree!
      but i guess it’s called the iPhone!

  • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

    Jeff what do you mean by saying the screen was bad? The iPod Touch has always had the same screen as their iPhone counterparts. The iPod Touch 4th gen even had a Retina Display just like the iPhone 4 and 4S.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      exactly! he just trashed the 4g for no reason

      • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

        When you compare the iPhone and the iPod touch side by side, you can see clearly that the iPod touch is inferior, regardless of the Retina display. The viewing angle, and the saturation is extremely worse on the iPod touch 4g and below.

      • http://twitter.com/IvnPersie Ivan polanco

        How much memory ram is there on this ipod

      • iHamzaDev

        512MB Ram, just like with the iPhone 4S, it also has the A5 chip.

      • http://twitter.com/IvnPersie Ivan polanco

        Oh sweet thanx @ihamzadev

      • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

        Hmm never really noticed that but that doesn’t really make the iPod Touch screens terrible lol. They are the best screens any music player has ever had.

      • Kurt

        its true, the ipod touch and iphone have different screens. yes they are both retina but the colors and the view angles are worse, (i don’t believe it’s extremely worse, but definitely worse) there have been many side by side comparisons when the ipod 4g came out.

      • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

        Yeah I compared yesterday and its true lol. But still it’s not like people are disgusted by the iPod touch screen XD

      • Kurt

        True dat yo

      • Dan

        I agree with you there, I found the display on the iTouch 4G was obviously inferior to iPhone 4/4S

      • Christian Auldridge

        Dude he trashed the ipod tocuh 4g for a very good reason the screen did not have IPS or or oleophic coating like iphone 4 and 4s so its less quality screen

      • http://twitter.com/AnaVLeon51512 Ana V.Leon

        ikr they have the same screen the 5th Ipod just has a larger screen i mean seriously, i honestly thought the Ipod 4 was great i used to have one but someone stole it, now im saving up to buy an Ipod 5

    • http://twitter.com/randomprice Sol Estravís

      the iPod touch 4 doesn’t use IPS technology, which makes the viewing angles worse. It isn’t “horrible” anyway, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.

  • Carlos

    i want a camera comparison between iPhone 5 n iPod 5G

  • http://twitter.com/IvnPersie Ivan polanco

    Great review Jeff… Hey do u know how much memory ram is on this Itouch?

    • http://twitter.com/IvnPersie Ivan polanco

      Mybe…

    • Christian Auldridge

      its 512 MB

  • NinjaCEO

    This is what the iPhone 5 hardware design should have been. I like it very much.

    • Kurt

      looks a cyclops on the front…but the back is nice

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    nice device but i was given a free 64gig ipod touch 4g thats works just fine for all my music… i have the 4s and ipad 3 for everything else

    • Christian Auldridge

      yea its still a great device it amazes me how people say holy crap the ipods awespme! Then the next gen comes out and their like- Its not very good and the screen sucks! :P

  • http://twitter.com/gwsws2b Guess Who

    Just a heads up: the display *assembly* is cheaper on the iPod touch 5th gen than the iPhone 5, but the actual panel is identical, which is why it looks so damn good.

  • http://twitter.com/HragYessaian Hrag Jerayr Yessaian

    your camera shots are amazing

  • Kurt

    i wish they would have changed the front a bit. especially because the black just looks like the ipod i had back in 2007. the back looks cool though. i wish the line up for the touches were the nano. the nano looks like a lumia. i’m into the sharp corners. feels fresh and modern

  • http://twitter.com/Dynomite232 Nino 0raham

    sou talked with pod2g and u dont think there will be a jailbreak Sebastian Page

  • http://twitter.com/MarcPhilippeB Marc Baumann

    Whats that loop for on the backside for? It looks terrible!

    • Rajbir Dhadda

      Its for point and shoot in case you drop the ipod it will save it cause the loop go around your wrist and mostly girls like this feature

  • seyss

    why didnt you do a review like that for the iPhone 5?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ba-Tongxue/100003554938315 Ba Tongxue

    The iPod touch is awesome!
    However…
    Is it just me that keeps looking forward to a new gen of iPod classic with flash memory?
    I just love that clickwheel so much

  • maurid

    I think I’m gonna get one! I have a Nexus and I LOVE Android, but it sure would be nice to enjoy the best of both worlds.

  • maurid

    Hey, what is that thing on the lower left back? That thing that kinda goes up…

    • Christian Auldridge

      That is the new ipod tocuh loop you can oush it back in to get it flush with the device.

  • http://twitter.com/flipandolo Xavier

    Nothing about sound quality reproduction on a mp3 player? I find it really odd that all this review focuses on camera, processor and other factors but none about what i think is most important.

    • Kat

      well maybe you should go look for something else. just because you don’t find this important doesn’t mean we all don’t. I personally loved the review. Don’t bag on it. not everyone finds the same things important.

    • Royal Rillo

      It’s a lot better man, or it might be the ear phones but it is noticeably better in my opinion especially with the voice. It’s like your hearing the raw product without before quality loss. This also depends where you are downloading from tho but I haven’t downloaded anything from iTunes and the music quality is by far the best I’ve heard from absolutely ANY mp3 before.

  • http://twitter.com/flipandolo Xavier

    When swooning over the new colour scheme and screen resolution in your forthcoming review; please don’t forget to mention sound quality. That’s always been Apple’s weakest point so it would be nice to see if they’ve made any progress here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eightan101 Jonathan Manuel

    which you guys prefer iphone5? or new ipod + decent smartphone(andriod maybe)?

  • Reilly Crawford

    Since we’re mostly on the subject of the screen, is 5g under one year warranty for screen cracks?

    • Christian Auldridge

      not from apple but, man i am getting mine from walmart where i can get a 3 year any damage warranty for 28 bucks while the ipod itself is only 284 and comes with a free acessory kit. Its agreat deal gusy buy it from there.

  • JMoneyHotty

    i must ask what are the problems with the ipod touch 5, because i am trying to make a choice between the 5th and the 4th, i just want to know what to get

  • Allyson

    I have to say, I have had the 1st Gen for many years now and haven’t been interested in the newer versions of the iPod until this one. I haven’t wanted one this bad ever since i was looking into my first iPod lol. And i am in luck, the one i have now is starting to give on me (the hold button isn’t working as efficient like it was before, i have to click it multiple times for it to blacken out) so maybe i can either earn my way up to it with money or ask for one for christmas :)

  • Allyson

    I have to say, I haven’t wanted a new iPod touch ever since i got the 1st generation. But, generation 5, you have intrigued me. I love how they have gone back to the flat design and has a larger screen, but the only thing i am weary about is the knob. Who knows, that might be a thing that i will forever love on it :)

    Good (well, not good, more like bittersweet) thing the one i have is currently starting to give out and go to its final hurrahs and time to end the sweet journey. Maybe then I can claim this new beaut

  • http://www.facebook.com/khristopher.kindred Khristopher Kindred

    Is there a problem with the apps not being updated to fit the new screen?

    • Christian Auldridge

      many apps havnt been updated yea but also many have

  • http://twitter.com/DucoHD Duco™

    I want one, I’m irritating myself more and more when using the iPod 4G. The device starts to lagg when doing multitasking and it can’t even handle some if the slighty higher graphics games. But $300, phew…

  • Becky

    Ive seen the fifth gen iPod in stores but no cases for them. Is that because the iPhone cases are supposed to fit them? And how is the music library and sound quality??

  • jizza

    can you download apps like whatsapp?

  • linda

    how much is it for the ipod touch 5th gen 32 gb?

  • linda

    i pick the 6th gen cuz u can clip it and use it as a watch its the same as the 7th gen u have the same apps the difference is for the 7th u get the earphones, lighting charger and its bigger but i peffer the 6th gen:) peace out homies

  • Jimmy Mackey

    I skipped the 4th Gen iPod thankfully, as it seems from your description. I have an iPod 3G and it is time to upgrade. I like that the iPod 5G is even closer to the iPhone without the cost because I went back to Android. This way I can have the
    best of both worlds, and Siri! My DISH coworker has the new iPod which got me thinking about getting a new one. The increased processing power on the 5G model would be great for when I use my DISH Remote Access App for watching TV too. It’s sweet because I have my shows recorded on my DVR and use my DISH Sling Adapter to send the shows to my iPod so I can watch whenever I want to, like when I take the light rail to work.

  • http://twitter.com/AnaVLeon51512 Ana V.Leon

    why would u buy an ipod touch if u already have an iphone 5 their practically the same its just that the iphone has well, phone. It’s just basically wasting $300 for nothing but over all it was a pretty good review and now im saving up to buy the Ipod 5th generation.By the way im only 11.

  • maddie

    Great Review! Do you know where else you could buy one besides online?

  • Trenton Lacy

    I have an iPod 5 and an iPhone 4S. This iPhone 4S is still faster than the new iPod. But the new iPod had a better screen. It’s just a teeny bit slower than the iPhone 4S. It’s faster than the iPhone 4. A lot faster. Lol

  • sadie

    Anyone selling a ipod touch generation 5

  • Sierra

    Do you have to pay monthly?

  • James Burke

    I just received one for christmas, and except for the incredibly juvenile color choices, it really is something else. The size, camera, and functionality, are all really incredible. Pink, Bright Baby Blue, Neon Yellow, & Fire Engine Red? The store was sold out of Slate Gray & Black. I wonder why? I got a baby blue one, and just wish they sold more colors. I mean, wouldn’t a darker blue, probably sell more? The size, functionability, and titanium service are really cool looking. If it came in more adult colors, I’d be more eager to show off this metal service, and less tempted to keep it my pocket, and inside the case. Wow the wrist strap matches! That is off course sarcasm …

  • daoud

    can you get whats app and bbm
    on ipod 5th gen