Apple iPod touch (Gen 4) First-Look Review

by Reads (65,560)

The fourth-generation iPod touch is the latest version of Apple’s handheld computer with added features, such as the speedy A4 processor, front and rear cameras, FaceTime video chat, iOS 4.1, and a high resolution Retina display.

It is currently available starting at $230 for a version with 8 GB of storage, $300 for the 32 GB version, and $400 for the 64 GB one.

I’ve only had this device a few days, not time enough to for me to fully test it out. I’ll follow this preliminary review up with a full review in the coming days.


The new iPod touch is beautifully designed, as all Apple products are, with sleek lines and modern details. Unlike the iPhone 4, it isn’t at all boxy. It is remarkably thin and light, with strongly tapered edges. If you use the device “naked” you may not even remember it’s in your pocket — it really is that small.

With smartphones, they sometimes seem quite light… and then you notice that the battery is still in the box, so you are immediately disappointed with a light phone that almost instantly becomes a heavy “brick” in your pocket.. That isn’t the case here; the iPod touch is sealed so it comes fully assembled with the battery inside and it weighs just a few ounces.

Apple iPod touchThe build quality is excellent, as you would expect from Apple. There is no creaking, bending, or flexing of any kind.

The new Retina display on the iPod touch is absolutely gorgeous. I haven’t had the opportunity to see it side-by-side with a new iPhone 4 yet, so it’s hard to make direct comparisons. I can say that it is vastly superior to my old iPod touch. It is extremely sharp and clear, and much more readable outside in bright sunlight.

My photos look better than ever before, and video does too — amazingly sharp and clear. If you have an older iPod touch, you’ll see a huge difference in the display — the new Retina technology represents a great improvement.

This improvement isn’t really all that surprising, considering the screen resolution has gone from 320×480 to 640×960, but the display size hasn’t changed — it’s still 3.5 inches.

The iPod touch doesn’t have a physical keyboard, instead relying on a virtual keyboard for text entry.

Apple iPod touchIt works well, but of course I have long experience with the old iPod touch so there’s nothing new for me here. I can say that typing is easier with the new model because it is fast enough to make the built-in word completion utility a pleasure to use instead of a pain.

Other Buttons & Controls
The front of the device seems to be all screen, because it is all black. This differs from my original first-generation model, which has a display that appears lighter when it is off, like a calculator. The Home button is centered below the screen.

A low-res camera for use with the FaceTime video-conferencing app is centered over the top of the display, while the main image/video camera is on the top left corner of the the back of the device.

The power button is on the top right, the volume controls are on the upper left side of the device, and the headphone jack and charge/sync port are on the bottom edge.

The external speaker is just to the left of the charge/sync port. It works fairly well, with nice volume, but of course the sound isn’t nearly as good as what you get listening with headphones. For games and sharing a new tune with your friends it’s plenty good enough, but you won’t want to use it all the time.

Since there aren’t yet any cases available for the new iPod touch, I am using an old Proporta dual skin silicone case to protect my new device. It works tolerably well, but it is just a bit too big. That makes it easy to see that the new touch is just a little smaller in all dimensions, most notably width and thickness.

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