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Apple iPod Touch review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £249
inc VAT

With upgrades to its power and display quality, the iPod Touch is still the most versatile media player around

Apple’s iPod Touch media player has reached its 5th incarnation, with more power and a wider range of features than ever before. One of the first things we noticed was the Touch’s new, slimmer design. It looks great and makes for an easier fit into jeans pockets.

There’s also the new proprietary Lightning connector, which is smaller and less fiddly to use than the previous version – as you can you plug in the connector either way around. It does mean you’ll need an adaptor to use old 30-pin iPod docks – and these currently cost an eye-watering £25 from Apple.

iPod Touch

Connecting the Touch to a wireless network is optional; you can still just connect it to a PC without requiring an internet connection, but if you don’t connect to Wi-Fi during initial setup, you’ll have to wait until later to set up some of its internet-dependent features, such as its connection to Apple’s iCloud and the Find my iPod Touch service, which can help you locate a misplaced iPod on a map or have it play a sound to help you work out which pocket you left it in. The service also includes anti-theft features such as screen locking, remote wiping and the ability to display a message for anyone who might find your missing device.

We’ve already taken a close look at iOS 6 and all its features. As the iPod Touch doesn’t have built-in GPS capabilities, the poor quality of Apple’s new Maps won’t have as big an impact on its users as it has on iPhone users. The Touch’s Apple A5 processor provides plenty of power to run all the apps that have made the iPod Touch as much a tool for gaming and productivity as it is for music and video.

Apple has finally changed the atrocious earbuds that came with previous editions of its products for a new design that looks like a cross between a bud and ear-canal style earphone. Nothing is actually inserted into your ear canal, but the sound is instead focussed in that direction by a speaker in a moulded plastic housing.

Audio quality isn’t too bad by the standards of free bundled headphones, although their heavy bass emphasis makes for a muddy and muffle listening experience at lower volumes. At around two-thirds volume, our music sounded pretty good, we couldn’t hear the sound of our office and the earphones didn’t leak, although we still found the bass a little uncomfortable. Approaching full volume, the tinny sound from our earphones began to irritate our colleagues and the bass because almost unbearable.

Apple iPod Touch

Although they’re an improvement on the last version, but we still strongly encourage you to replace the iPod headphones with a decent pair as soon as possible. Our current reasonably-priced recommendation are the Soundmagic E10 earbuds. Their flat, balanced sound is a great test of the raw quality of any device’s audio hardware. Apple’s choice of audio processor has come a long way since the bass distortion issues suffered by earlier models of iPod. The Touch uses the same Cirrus Logic audio hardware as the latest iPhone.

It’s really hard to find a digital audio device that doesn’t sound good these days and the iPod certainly doesn’t suffer from any problems in terms of quality. It’s a little bassier than the sound produced by our reference USB audio devices and by Cowon’s media players, which use Wolfson DACs, but the audio quality is nonetheless excellent and the slight bassiness is more likely to win the Touch fans than lose them.

The Apple iPod Touch is not bound to a specific computer, so you can copy music from several computers to one MP3 player. However, you can bypass using iTunes completely, as iCloud synchronises all of your purchases to all of your iOS devices via iTunes in the Cloud. You can also subscribe to iTunes Match for £22 a year, which scans your home library and makes all of your music available in the cloud for use on all of your devices.

While it’s easier to get content on to your iPod, there’s still comparatively limited file format support. It has native support for MP3, AAC audio, as well as the uncompressed WAV, lossless ALAC and proprietary Audible audiobook formats. Some third-party apps are available for those who feel the need to play other formats, such as FLAC. When it comes to video, you’re also limited to Apple’s preferred formats: MPEG4, H.264 and M-JPEG, but it’ll happily play videos encoded at 1080p. Although these limitations will irritate some, you’re not short on options for playing high quality audio and video.

In terms of the visual experience, video quality is better than ever before thanks to the 4in, 16:9 1,136×640 Retina display. Contrast on the small screen is excellent, even in the darkest of video clips, while skin tones and scenery are natural and beautifully coloured. We prefer watching films on larger screens, but the quality of the display will definitely keep you entertained on longer journeys. There’s still no support for video playlists, though, unless you want to invest in a third-party app.

Apple iPod Touch

The iPod Touch produces surprisingly high quality video and photos, thanks to the five megapixel camera built into the rear of the player. A second, 1.2 megapixel camera is built into the front, so you can use Apple’s FaceTime video chat and take pictures of yourself making amusing duckface expressions.

Photo quality isn’t particularly remarkable, although it’s certainly an improvement on your average mobile phone snap. Our videos really did look good, with a surprising amount of detail and accurate colour even under difficult light conditions, although we noticed a fair bit of motion blur.

Apple iPod Touch

It’s easy to get your snaps and videos off the device, too, as – unlike audio files stored on the iPod – they’re stored in a directory that you can simply browse to using your computer’s file manager. Of course, they’re also synchronised to iCloud, appearing on any iOS, Mac OSX or Windows device connected to the same cloud account.

We’re used to seeing a massive battery life from Apple’s portable devices. The Touch has exceeded even the previous generation’s battery life in our audio playback test, lasting for 54 hours and 36 minutes. That’s over three days of continuous music, while in our video test, the new Touch lasted for almost eight hours.

This is undoubtedly the best device of its kind, and that’s before you consider the huge range of high-quality games available for it through the App Store. Essentially, what you get here is an iPhone 5 – complete with excellent web browsing, an email client and access to the App Store – only without the ability to make phone calls.

The 32GB version is available for £249, while the 64GB version costs £329. Unless you need to carry around truly massive amounts of media, the 32GB version is probably the better bet, winning our Best Buy award.


Headphone Rating***
AwardBest Buy


Formatted capacity32MB
Storage mediumflash memory
Battery and charge optionsLi-ion, USB


Device has screen?Yes
Viewable size4 in
Native resolution1,136×640
Memory card supportnone
FM Radiono
Audio record optionsmicrophone
Video record optionscamera
Supplied withheadphones, USB adapter

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback)54h 37m
Tested battery life (Video playback)7h 51m
500MB transfer time35s
Audio MP3 playbackYes
Audio WMA playbackNo
Audio WMA-DRM playbackNo
Audio AAC playbackYes
Audio Protected AAC playbackYes
Audio OGG playbackNo
Audio WAV playbackYes
Audio Audible playbackYes
Image BMP supportYes
Image JPEG supportYes
Image TIFF supportYes
Video MPEG-4 AVI playbackNo
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playbackYes
Video WMV playbackNo
Video MPEG-1 playbackNo
Video MPEG-2 playbackNo
Video MPEG-2 VOB playbackNo
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD supportYes
Video H.264 supportYes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio supportYes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio supportYes
Download compatibilityiTunes

Buying Information

Price per MB778.1p
Warrantyone year RTB

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