New iPod touch vs. iPhone 5s: Apple's latest iPod packs surprising power

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited July 2015
Apple surprised on Wednesday by including its latest-generation A8 processor in the latest iPod touch -- a decision that makes it a formidable and highly affordable opponent to the company's mid-range iPhone 5s.




Of course, for many users, the lack of cellular data connectivity on the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-only iPod touch will be a dealbreaker. But as public Wi-Fi becomes more ubiquitous in major cities, and with a plethora of apps available on iOS for making calls (including FaceTime Audio) and sending traditional messages (including iMessages), the new iPod touch may in fact be a better choice for some consumers.

Here's how the two devices stack up against each other.

CPU and storage




In terms of hardware, the new iPod touch is actually more powerful than the iPhone 5s --?a device that, just one year ago, was Apple's flagship handset.

Most notably, the iPod touch features an A8 processor in all models at all price points. That means that users can get the 64-bit chip, with support for Metal-optimized games, as well as the M8 step tracking motion coprocessor, for just $199.

Compare that to the iPhone 5s, which is available starting at $549 contract-free, with an identical 16 gigabytes of storage. At that price, it features an older, slower A7 chip, as well as the M7 motion coprocessor, which does not track flights climbed.

In fact, a user could buy the maxed-out, 128-gigabyte iPod touch for $399, and still save $150. The iPod touch also comes in sizes of 32 and 64 gigabytes. The iPhone 5s, meanwhile, maxes out at 32 gigabytes for $599.

With a contract subsidy, the iPhone 5s pricing is slightly more palatable, at $99 for 16 gigabytes and $149 for 32 gigabytes. But it still can't match the value of the new iPod touch.

The verdict: If playing games and running the latest apps is your priority, the iPod touch is clearly a better value and more powerful device.

Camera shootout

iPhone


Both the iPod touch and the iPhone 5s feature an 8-megapixel iSight camera, though there are some differences. The iPod touch has a slightly smaller maximum aperture of f/2.4, compared to f/2.2 on the iPhone 5s.

The iPhone 5s, meanwhile, features a True Tone flash module that produces more true-to-life images in darker settings. Apple's documentation makes no mention of the flash on the iPod touch, but in images it appears to be a standard white camera flash.

The iPhone 5s also features a sapphire crystal lens cover that prevents its camera from scratches, while the iPod touch does not have the same scratch-resistant coating.

The iPhone 5s also has auto image stabilization, which the iPod touch lacks. And automatic high dynamic range appears to be limited to the forward facing FaceTime camera on the iPod touch, while the iPhone 5s has that feature on both the FaceTime and iSight cameras.

One area where the iPod touch does beat the iPhone 5s is in resolution for panoramic images --?Apple advertises that the new iPod touch can take panoramas up to 43 megapixels, while the iPhone 5s cannot.

Beyond that, the cameras are largely the same, specification wise, including burst mode photos, a hybrid infrared filter, and 120-frames-per-second slow-motion video capabilities.

The verdict: It's close, and most users likely won't notice the difference between shots from both devices. But for camera enthusiasts, we're going to have to give the edge to the iPhone 5s.

Wireless connectivity




The new iPod touch has been updated with support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi, bringing it in line with the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. That's an improvement over the iPhone 5s, which maxes out at 802.11n Wi-Fi.

Interestingly, the 2015 iPod touch also includes Bluetooth 4.1, which would make it Apple's first product to include support for the specification. This year's latest Macs, and last year's iPhone and iPad updates, featured Bluetooth 4.0 support, as does the 2013 iPhone 5s.

The iPod touch still lacks GPS, however. Location data is available when connected over Wi-Fi, but such methods may not be reliable on the go.

The iPhone 5s, of course, has a dedicated GPS chip, allowing it to pinpoint a user's exact location.

Finally, the iPhone 5s also has a dedicated high-speed LTE chip for cellular connectivity. When paired with a mobile data plan, users can access the Internet from virtually anywhere, while an iPod touch user must find an open Wi-Fi network.

It should also be noted that both the iPhone 5s and the iPod touch lack NFC capabilities, which means there is no support for Apple Pay. Apple's tap-to-pay service remains exclusive to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch.

The verdict: This one is really going to depend on your personal needs. If you live in a town with plenty of free Wi-Fi, you might be able to get by on an iPod touch, but most users on the go will simply need the connectivity of an iPhone 5s. If you're planning to use the device mostly at home, faster 802.11ac on the iPod touch is a great benefit. It's a toss-up.

Touch ID and Apple Watch support

Touch ID


Aside from cellular connectivity, these are the areas where the new iPod touch is most lacking. Simply put, you cannot connect an Apple Watch to the new iPod touch, while the iPhone 5s supports the new wearable device right out of the box.

The iPhone 5s also has Apple's secure fingerprint sensor embedded into its home button, but the new iPod touch was not outfitted with Touch ID. Touch ID makes a handset more secure on the go, but is less powerful than in the iPhone 6 series, which allows Apple Pay.

But Apple Watch owners who pair their device with an iPhone 5s (or an iPhone 5 or 5c) gain support for Apple Pay. No such support is available for the iPod touch.

iPod touch users can still secure their device's lockscreen with a passcode, however.

The verdict: The iPhone 5s is the clear winner for customers who want Touch ID or Apple Watch (with Apple Pay) support.

Design and colors




The iPhone 5s is available in three colors: space gray, silver, and gold.

The new iPod touch also comes in those same three colors, but adds three more options: blue, pink, and (product)RED.

And even though it packs in a faster A8 processor, the iPod touch is still thinner and lighter than the iPhone 5s. While the iPhone 5s is 0.3-inch thick, the iPod touch is just 0.24-inch thick. And the iPod touch's svelte 3.1-ounce weight undercuts the 3.95-ounce size of the iPhone 5s.

Both the 2015 iPod touch and the iPhone 5s feature a 4-inch Retina display, with a 1,136-by-640-pixel panel packing in 326 pixels per inch.

The verdict: Thinner, lighter, and available in more color options, the 2015 iPod touch beats the iPhone 5s.

Battery life




Achieving that thinness comes at a cost, however, as the iPhone 5s has a greater advertised battery life than the iPod touch.

Apple says the iPhone 5s offers up to 10 hours of Internet usage on Wi-Fi. Video playback is also rated at up to 10 hours, while audio playback is up to 40 hours.

The iPod touch, meanwhile, has a rated video playback time of up to 8 hours. Music playback time is said to be identical, however, at up to 40 hours.

Both devices charge through Apple's proprietary Lightning connector.

The verdict: The thicker iPhone 5s offers more uptime than the iPod touch, giving it the nod in this category.

Conclusion

For most users, the choice between an iPhone 5s and an iPod touch will be a no-brainer: Being always connected is one of the key reasons anyone owns a smartphone.

But if you're in a position where you're considering getting an iPod touch over an iPhone 5s, and the connectivity limitations of the iPod touch are not a deterrent for you, Apple's new media player is an extremely compelling, affordably priced device.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    dugbugdugbug Posts: 279member
    can you pair a watch to it I wonder

    edit never mind I see in the 5s section it says you can't pair one to the touch.
  • Reply 2 of 65
    sog35sog35 Posts: 12,367member

    Buy an iPod touch and a flip phone prepaid

  • Reply 3 of 65
    Is it just me or is the is a terrible article?
  • Reply 4 of 65
    I hope they kept the 1.4GHz clock on the Typhoon cores. I'm really considering getting one either way.
  • Reply 5 of 65
    mr omr o Posts: 984member

    It is amazing how Apple turned the tables overnight, isn't it? They just made the iPod a compelling product again.

     

    I do love the champhered edges and the all aluminium back of the iPod. From own experience I can tell you that the protruding lens does protect the lens sufficiently. So, the lack of a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal lens is not an issue. Settle for the 32GB or 64GB option if you are looking for a great resell value on eBay.

    ZXWolf
  • Reply 6 of 65
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,049member
    It is, IMHO, not just about a decision between an iPod Touch and an iPhone. I definitely consider one as a second device. A music player I can leave in the car, a device I can take to the beach, a device I can use on e.g. trips to countries where I can't get a usable SIM-card as a tourist or business visitor anyhow (like the US), a device I can leave on my Zeppelin speaker, without worrying about visitors seeing my notifications etc.

    Yep, that is a luxury option, but one I could justify. It might even spare me a memory upgrade of $100 or $200 on the next iPhone.
  • Reply 7 of 65
    kpluckkpluck Posts: 500member

    The Touch also will not have a GPS chip. What speed does the A8 run in the Touch? What about the speed of the A7 in 5s?

     

    -kpluck

  • Reply 8 of 65
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,187member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TechProd1gy View Post



    Is it just me or is the is a terrible article?

    Certainly odd. This is the equivalent of an article in a car magazine criticizing a car for not having the payload capacity of a pick up truck.

     

    Two different products for different use cases. If the new Touch had a cellular capability, it'd be a phone. Imagine that.

    ZXWolf
  • Reply 9 of 65
    kpluck wrote: »
    The Touch also will not have a GPS chip. What speed does the A8 run in the Touch? What about the speed of the A7 in 5s?

    -kpluck

    1.3GHz in the 5S
    And apparently 1.1GHz in the Touch.

    400
  • Reply 10 of 65
    multimediamultimedia Posts: 858member
    dugbug wrote: »
    can you pair a watch to it I wonder

    edit never mind I see in the 5s section it says you can't pair one to the touch.
    YET. I believe watchOS 2 ?WATCHes will be allowed to pair with any iOS 9 device in October. I have no basis to believe this other than how such capability will radically expand the market for ?WATCHes. So it seems like an engineering/marketing no brainer to me. Look for the ?WATCH app to be included in all iOS 9 installations across all iOS 9 qualified devices.
  • Reply 11 of 65
    Another downside to using it to substitute for an iPhone is that you can't hold it up to your ear and have a typical conversation (over FaceTime Audio for example); your only options appear to be speakerphone / earbuds / Bluetooth headset.
  • Reply 12 of 65
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,694member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    Buy an iPod touch and a flip phone prepaid


     

    That isn't an equivalent to an iPhone, in any way, shape, or form. Sounds like a massive hassle. 

  • Reply 13 of 65
    schlackschlack Posts: 593member
    i have hotspot enabled on my AT&T phone w/ 15GB rollover data...so it's more like 20GB on any given month. could see having these for kids...and allowing them to pull data from my phone while out and about...without wifi access....although plenty of cars are coming with wifi built in these days.
  • Reply 14 of 65
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,166member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    Buy an iPod touch and a flip phone prepaid




    I'd love to do that, if anyone made a flip phone that was worth buying.  For a while in 2007/8 I was hoping that Apple would make an iPhone Jr, without third party apps, and restricted to feature phone basic, but with data tethering, with an iPod Touch for the heavier stuff.  Still kinda want that, since no other manufacturer seems capable of making a feature phone I have any interest in buying.

  • Reply 15 of 65
    The new iPod looks great as a development device.
  • Reply 16 of 65
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 2,770member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dugbug View Post



    can you pair a watch to it I wonder ... edit never mind I see in the 5s section it says you can't pair one to the touch.

     

    I don't see any reason why the iPod Touch can't be paired to an ?Watch, or use ?Pay for that matter. The iPhone 5 can pair to an ?Watch, yet, it neither possess a Touch ID, nor an NFC chip. From what I've been able to discern, it's the A5 chip in the 4S and iPod Touch that limits them from it. Likewise, there's no reason not to offer it on the iPad platform, and eventually the Mac -- including ?Pay to allow online purchases through those devices, even if they can't make POS purchases. Maybe this is why the iPod Touch didn't get the Touch ID upgrade, since it will encourage purchase of the ?Watch.

     

    However, I don't think it's a priority for Apple right now. They first need to get Watch 2.0 rolled out, and stable on the 6 or possibly 7 iPhone models they will have by this Fall. And they need to meet current demand for the watch before expanding the potential pool of customers. And ?Pay needs to be accepted by more retailers, before it makes sense to expand it to a lot of devices which can't even make in store purchases -- I have no idea how many online merchants accept ?Pay besides Target, which is a big one. 

  • Reply 17 of 65
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    mac_128 wrote: »
    I don't see any reason why the iPod Touch can't be paired to an ?Watch, or use ?Pay for that matter. The iPhone 5 can pair to an ?Watch, yet, it neither possess a Touch ID, nor an NFC chip. From what I've been able to discern, it's the A5 chip in the 4S and iPod Touch that limits them from it. Likewise, there's no reason not to offer it on the iPad platform, and eventually the Mac -- including ?Pay to allow online purchases through those devices, even if they can't make POS purchases. Maybe this is why the iPod Touch didn't get the Touch ID upgrade, since it will encourage purchase of the ?Watch.

    However, I don't think it's a priority for Apple right now. They first need to get Watch 2.0 rolled out, and stable on the 6 or possibly 7 iPhone models they will have by this Fall. And they need to meet current demand for the watch before expanding the potential pool of customers. And ?Pay needs to be accepted by more retailers, before it makes sense to expand it to a lot of devices which can't even make in store purchases -- I have no idea how many online merchants accept ?Pay besides Target, which is a big one. 

    I wonder how well it will work to pair the Watch to a device that doesn't have GPS.
  • Reply 18 of 65
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    Apple is going to sell a ton of these iPod Touches! Nobody was expecting the A8 upgrade. It's clocked slightly lower than an iPhone 6 A8, but that's to be expected, and the iPod Touch A8 is still very powerful. This thing just blows away the previous model, which used an A5 chip. Has there ever been a bigger performance upgrade for a low end Apple device? Jumping from A5 to A8 just like that?

     

    All of the people buying and ordering these new iPod Touches today can safely be confident that their iPod Touches will last for years to come, supporting many more major OS updates and releases.

     

    And I do believe that there is a sizable market of people that have use for a device like the iPod Touch. Free WIFI is springing up everywhere now in many cities. Not everybody needs or wants an expensive cell phone contract, and many kids do not need cell phones, but they sure would like something like an iPod Touch.

     

    WIFI devices like the iPod Touch, which also happens to be insanely powerful, easily blowing away any Android device for games, because of the vastly superior iOS ecosystem, makes this iPod Touch a no brainer for many people. Just wait and see. There will be a definite and significant uptick in iPod Touch sales again, compared to recent years. 

     

    I think that Apple hit it out of the ballpark with this update.

  • Reply 19 of 65
    dugbug wrote: »
    can you pair a watch to it I wonder

    edit never mind I see in the 5s section it says you can't pair one to the touch.

    I'll bet paring the ?watch is not far off and is one of the goals of updating the iPod Touch.

    All it needs is its own Apps to ?watch and HealthKit.
  • Reply 20 of 65
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 1,294member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TechProd1gy View Post



    Is it just me or is the is a terrible article?

    It's not you. I don't see the point in trying to compare a phone to an mp3 player. 

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