When writing about the multimedia capabilities of the iPhone this summer, we called it "the iPod that's really a phone". You could say that the iPod touch is the iPhone that's really an iPod. See also: Second-gen iPod touch review and 32GB iPod touch review.
As Apple iPhone fans who don't want to sign up for a new phone, we were hoping the Apple iPod touch would be the perfect compromise. Based on its specs (Wi-Fi, mobile Safari, the multitouch interface, and twice the Apple iPhone's storage capacity at 16GB), it sure looks like it would be. But after testing the 16GB iPod touch we've encountered a number of hardware and software issues and it looks like Apple still has some work to do.
Don't get us wrong, the Apple iPod touch is an amazing piece of technology. Mobile Safari is the best portable web browser around, Cover Flow works great on a device with limited storage capacity, and the new Apple iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store is extremely slick for a first generation product. But we've run into a screen anomaly that makes dark movies scenes difficult to watch, software bugs that halt music playback when browsing pages in Safari, and an issue that harms sound quality on many in-ear headphones.
If Apple can work out most of those kinks, it will have produced the first portable video player we'd actually want to own. Until it does, wed recommend taking a wait-and-see approach with the Apple iPod touch.
The iPhone slims down
Run down a list of the Apple iPhone's features, and you'll find that almost everything has made it over to the Apple iPod touch. The Apple iPod touch is available in both 8GB and 16GB capacities (unlike the Apple iPhone, which is only 8GB in the UK). It's substantially thinner than Apple's iPhone, but it's got the same 802.11b/g wireless support. It also features a 3.5in multitouch screen with 480x320-pixel resolution. The single button on the Apple iPod touch's face brings up the main menu, and a small button on top turns the device on and off.
The only missing bits of hardware from the Apple iPod touch are the phone (plus the mic and speakers that go with it), the camera, and the physical volume buttons and locking switch on the side. The non-standard headset jack that prevents you from plugging most headphones directly into the Apple iPhone is gone as well - your normal headphones will fit just fine.
The Apple iPod touch works just like the Apple iPhone, too. We've spent plenty of time dissecting how that device works, so we won't dig deeply into it here. The tap, scroll, and pinch gestures that make the Apple iPhone a joy to use work just as well on the Apple iPod touch.