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iPods & MP3 players Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Apple iPod touch (3rd generation) review

£149 inc VAT (8GB)

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The late 2009 update to the Apple iPod touch is puzzling, to say the least. But the iPod touch remains a great portable computing device.

The late 2009 update to the Apple iPod touch is puzzling, to say the least. But the iPod touch remains a great portable computing device.

The launch of the original Apple iPod touch in late 2007, in the aftermath of a summer of sheer Apple iPhone frenzy, was anticlimactic. The new device was hobbled by its hardware (no speaker or volume controls) and its software (Apple originally omitted Notes, Mail, Stocks, Maps, and Weather). It was, quite simply, Not An iPhone.

In the two intervening years, though, that afterthought of a product has become a powerhouse, with hardware and software improvements turning it into the match of the iPhone in every way except the fact that it's not a phone.

It turns out that 20 million people wanted an iPhone without the phone, compared to the 30 million who wanted the Apple iPhone itself.

The iPod touch is now as big a hit as the iPhone. It appeals to people who don't want to commit to 18 pricey months of mobile phone bills. With the addition in 2008 of the App Store and the vastly improved second-generation iPod touch hardware, the iPod touch became a versatile device that acts like a remote control, a game machine - you name it.

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Just after the iPod touch's second birthday, Apple has announced an update to the product line that's a bit perplexing. From the outside, these new iPod touch models are identical to the second-generation models from 2008. Despite numerous rumours (and some supporting photographic evidence) to suggest that the iPod touch might be receiving a version of the iPhone's onboard-camera hardware, these new iPod touch models still lack a camera. (Sorry, Boy Scouts, there's also no compass or GPS.)

Now, it's not fair to ding Apple for failing to live up to rumours, but we do think it's fair to suggest that it's high time that the iPod touch include a camera, given the robust camera support within the Apple iPhone OS, and given that there's now a video camera on the latest iPod nanos. It's too bad that these new models can't capture a quick snapshot and take advantage of all those great apps that support the iPhone's built-in camera.

We're a little less upset by the lack of a built-in microphone, since you can get one on a set of headphones, or a GPS receiver, since the iPhone 3G and 3GS take advantage of the position of nearby mobile towers to quickly acquire a GPS location-and accessing mobile towers is most definitely not part of the iPod touch's purview. Still, as the iPod touch evolves, it would be nice to see it gain more of the iPhone's hardware features, since many apps are written with specific support for those features.

On the inside, the two top-of-the-line models (a £229 model offering 32GB of storage space and a £299 model with 64GB of storage) are quite different from their predecessors. With new, faster processors and graphics chips, the late-2009-vintage iPod touches have gained the same speed boost that the iPhone did when it leaped from 3G to 3GS.

Like the 3GS, the new high-end iPod touch models offer support for Voice Control, a feature that lets you hold down the button on your headphones and command your iPod to play songs from a particular artist, playlist, or album. They also support hardware encryption, meaning it's much faster to erase your iPod and make its contents unrecoverable, because all the device has to do is erase its decryption key, rather than every single byte in its storage.

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(The £149 8GB iPod touch model, on the other hand, is just the equivalent of the iPhone 3G-a collection of year-old technology that's been kept around to be sold at a bargain price.)

In almost every one of our tests, the faster iPod touch was within a few percentage points of the iPhone 3GS, and undeniably faster than any previous iPhone OS model. The iPod touch started up in an iPhone OS-record 16.3 seconds, a test iPod touches have always excelled at since they don't need to ready themselves to connect to a cellular network.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>


Apple iPod touch (late 2009) Expert Verdict »

Apple iPod Touch 32GB 3rd Generation reviews verified by Reevoo

Apple iPod Touch 32GB 3rd GenerationScores 8.9 out of 10 based on 219 reviews
Mac computer with USB 2.0 port, Mac OS X v10.4.11 or later, iTunes 9 or later, PC with USB 2.0 port Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later, iTunes 9 or later
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Functionally, the new iPod touch models are identical to the second-generation models we reviewed last year, especially when updated to version 3.1 of the iPhone OS. What we said then still goes: the iPod touch is a terrific media player and portable computing device that doesn’t require any of the commitments or ongoing costs of the iPhone. The new high-end models add the blazing speed of the iPhone 3GS, making them even better for games. If you’re in the market for a game machine, video player, portable internet device, and music player all in one - and if you don’t want to pay O2 every month - you can’t do better than the iPod touch.

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    Apple's new 32GB iPod touch very nearly lives up to the dream of the phone-less iPhone.

  • Apple iPod touch (4th generation) review

    Apple iPod touch (4th generation)

    Apple's iPod touch has had a radical makeover, with the fourth-generation Touch coming in the wake of the widely praised iPhone 4 and offering some of the same features. It is Apple's best iPod to date and can be considered a triple threat: a gaming console, multimedia player and internet device.

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    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.

  • Apple iPod touch (2nd generation) review

    Apple iPod touch (2nd generation)

    With the second version of the iPod touch Apple takes another step to close the gap between iPod and iPhone, adding two useful features: external volume controls and an internal speaker

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