Apple iPod touch (6th-generation): Early impressions

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Gizmag takes an initial look at Apple's latest iPod touch(Credit: Will Shanklin/Gizmag)

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Yesterday Apple released a new iPod touch – the first since 2012 – and we have one of them in-house. Read on for our early impressions.

Reviewing an iPod touch in 2015 is a strange proposition. Most people already have smartphones, often with a better camera and bigger screen than you'll find on the new Touch, so there isn't a dire need for a device that's basically a mid-ranged iPhone minus the phone part.

But if you have young children who aren't ready to own a phone, or maybe if you have an Android phone but want to play the occasional iOS game or try out Apple Music, then the iPod touch is one of your best bets (in addition to an iPad mini).

Looking at the new iPod touch from that perspective, it fits the bill just fine.

We've grown used to smartphones with 5-inch and larger screens, so, at first glance, the new iPod touch looks teeny-weeny (it has the same 4-inch display found on the iPhones 5, 5s and 5c). We suppose that's yet another way that it can be a good fit for little hands.

It's an incredibly light device – 32 percent lighter than the iPhone 6 (and the same weight as the 5th-generation iPod touch). With no cellular radio to worry about, Apple has always managed to make the iPod touch a light/thin showcase piece. Its build also often serves as a preview for the next-generation iPhone, so perhaps we can look forward to a device that feels this insanely feathery in the iPhone 7.

There's no Touch ID, which both looks and feels strange to us. Apple hasn't released a non-Touch ID iOS device since late 2013, so this is clearly a step backwards. It's also a stark reminder that the iPod touch is Apple's lowest-priority mobile device.

We confirmed, via the GeekBench app, that the new Touch has 1 GB of RAM, and its Apple A8 system-on-a-chip is clocked at 1.13 GHz (that's about 19 percent slower than the iPhone 6's clock speed, using the same processor):

The Touch doesn't feel slow at all though; it's plenty zippy for everything we've thrown at it so far. And an A8-running iPod touch is an enormous step forward from the Apple A5 chip found in its predecessor (the A5 was a 2011 chip, already a year and a half old when the last Touch released).

We'll have more on camera quality and battery life in our full review, but the early pics we've snapped have looked about like we'd expect: good, but trailing noticeably behind the best 2014-15 smartphone cameras. Expect iPhone 5/5c types of shots (and with identical specs, this could potentially be the same camera found in those two).

You probably don't need an iPod touch in 2015, but if you're a parent or another person who does find the need, then the 6th-generation model looks like a solid upgrade. It's a significant downgrade from the latest iPhones, but that's always been the case with the Touch. For a Wi-Fi only portable media player, it does what it needs to do – no more, no less.

The new 6th-generation iPod touch is available now, starting at US$200.

Product page: Apple

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