Low End Mac’s Guide to iPod touches

In June 2007, we got the first iPhone. Three months later, we got the first iPod touch, which was essentially an iPhone with the phone, camera, Bluetooth, and wireless data capabilities removed. We’ve come a long way since then.

1G iPod touch

iPod touch

The first iPod touch was a bit smaller than the iPhone. Both are 2.4″ wide, but the Touch is 0.2″ shorter and 0.15″ thinner, and it’s also 0.6 ounce lighter. Unlike the original iPhone, which only reached 16 GB, there was a 32 GB version of the iPod touch.

Both devices have the same Samsung ARM CPU running at 412 MHz, PowerVR MBX Lite graphics, and 128 MB of system memory. The iPod touch shipped with iPhone OS 1.1 and supports up to version 3.1.3. It supports 802.11g WiFi.

The 320 x 480 pixel display supports 18-bit color, just like early iPhones.

The 8 GB version sold for $299, 16 GB at $399, and 32 GB at $499. Like the Model T, you could get it in any color you wanted, so long as you wanted black.

2G iPod touch

2nd generation iPod touch

One year later, after updating the iPhone to support 3G service, Apple introduced the second generation iPod touch. It shipped with iPhone OS 2.1.1 and supports up to iOS 4.2.1.

For the first time, the iPod was more powerful than an iPhone, with the 2G Touch running its processor at 532 MHz while the iPhone 3G still ran at the same 412 MHz speed as the original iPhone. Dimensions of the 1G and 2G iPod touch are almost identical, although the 2G is 0.15 ounce lighter.

This was the first iPod touch with Bluetooth, supporting the version 2.1 + EDR specification.

Initial prices were $229 with 8 GB storage, $299 with 16 GB, and $399 with 32 GB, a substantial reduction over the 2007 model.

3G iPod touch3G iPod touch

Another September, another iPod touch. The 3G iPod touch arrived in September 2009 and boosted performance by running its processor at 600 MHz. System memory was doubled from 128 MB to 256 MB, and the 8 GB and 16 GB models were phased out and a 64 GB version added.

The 3G model initially shipped with iPhone OS 3.1 and supports up to iOS 5.1.1. Although the iPhone 3GS has a 24-bit display, the 3G iPod touch retains the 18-bit screen of earlier models.

Once again, size and weight are virtually identical for this model and its predecessor.

In terms of power, the iPhone 3GS and 3G iPod touch are identical. the 3GS scores 150 on Geekbench, and the 3G iPod touch should match that score.

Prices at release were $299 for 32 GB, $399 for 64 GB.

4G iPod touch

4G iPod touch

And in September 2010, the 4G iPod touch arrived, bringing back the 8 GB entry-level configuration and resurrecting a 16 GB option in September 2012. A bit thinner than previous models at 0.28″, the 4G Touch was also the lightest to date at 3.56 oz.

The 4G shipped with iOS 4.1 and supports to iOS 6.1.6. This was the first iPod touch not to support Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Like the iPhone 4, it runs a 1.0 GHz processor at 800 MHz, and the Geekbench scores for both are almost identical – 207 for the iPhone 4, 209 for the 4G Touch.

The 4G Touch supports 802.11n WiFi, but only in the 2.4 GHz spectrum.

This was the first iPod touch with a camera. In fact it has a 0.7 MP rear camera and one 0.3 MP (VGA quality) on the back. The rear camera supports 720p video at 30 fps, the front camera 480p at 30 fps, and still photos from either are not of sufficient quality for photographic printing, although they are fine for use on the Internet.

Using frame rate control, the 18-bit screen can emulate a 24-bit display. It was also the first iPod touch with a Retina Display.

Original prices were $229 for 8 GB, $299 for 32 GB, and $399 for 64 GB. When the 16 GB model arrived two years later, it retailed at $199. This was the first iPod touch to come in white.

5G iPod touch

5G iPod touch

Apple ended its pattern of updating the iPod touch annually and waited until September 2012 to introduced the 5G iPod touch. Like the iPhone 4S introduced in 2011, the 5G Touch runs a dual-core processor at 800 MHz with 512 MB of system memory, almost doubling performance of the previous model. (The iPhone 4S has a multicore Geekbench score of 404, the 5G Touch 409.)

Of course, with two years between models, the 5G iPod touch lagged far behind the iPhone 5 in terms of performance, with the then-current iPhone scoring 1270 on Geekbench. For the first time, an iPod touch was much less powerful than its contemporary iPhone model.

The 5G Touch gained the larger 4″ 1136 x 640 pixel display of the iPhone 5, as well as a larger footprint than previous Touches. The iPhone 5 and 5G iPod touch have an almost identical footprint, although the Touch is 0.06″ thinner and 0.85 ounce lighter.

The 5G was the first iPod touch with a 5 MP rear camera (not present in the 16 GB model) and support 1080p video at 30 fps. The 1.2 MP FaceTime camera supports 720p video at 30 fps and is of sufficient resolution to produce a decent 4″ x 6″ photographic print.

Like the iPhone 5, the 5G iPod touch uses Apple’s Lightning connector instead of the older 30-pin dock connector. It was the first iPod touch to support 802.11n in the 5 GHz spectrum. It was also the first to support Bluetooth 4.0.

The 5G shipped with iOS 6 and is the oldest iPod touch to support iOS 9.

The 16 GB version, the only version with no rear iSight camera, initially retailed at $199, with 32 GB priced at $299 and 64 GB at $399.

6G iPod touch

6G iPod touchThree years later, the 6G iPod touch arrived, retaining the 1326 x 640 screen of the 5G iPod touch but powered by Apple’s 64-bit A8 processor coupled with 1 GB of system memory – the same setup used in the 2014 iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, although at a slightly slower 1.1 GHz speed.

In terms of processing power, the 6G iPod touch – the first 64-bit iPod touch – took a huge leap forward from a Geekbench score of 409 for the 5G to 2417 – nearly six times the horsepower! That nearly matches the iPhone 5S.

The 6G Touch includes an 8 MP iSight camera with 1080p HD video at 30 fps, 120 fps slow motion at 720p, video stabilization, burst mode, time lapse, and high resolution panoramas. The 1.2 MP FaceTime HD camera suports 720p video, burst mode, and improved face detection. The cameras automatically choose when to use HDR.

The 6G iPod touch comes in five colors – space gray, silver, gold, blue, and pink – plus PRODUCT(RED). It ships with iOS 9 and is the first iPod touch not to support OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or 10.7 Lion.

This is the first iPod touch to support 802.11ac WiFi as well as Bluetooth 4.1.

The 6G Touch matches the size and weight of the 5G model. Prices are $199 for 16 GB, $249 for 32 GB, $299 for 64 GB, and $399 for an Apple exclusive 128 GB.

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