When Apple releases the iPod touch 5th generation or iPod touch 5G later this year – as tradition suggests it will – how does the company go about improving an already stellar media player-cum portable internet and gaming device?
We gave the iPod touch 4th generation 4.5 stars last year, since it brought many of the iPhone 4's features to the market at a lower cost.
In recent years, the annual September iPod announcements have been preceded by a new iPhone, which has tended to give a clue as to what the new iPod touch will bring – the Retina Display and A4 processor last year, for example.
With the iPhone 5 (or will it be an iPhone 4S?) not expected to arrive until September, it looks like we may see both the iPhone and iPod touch updated at the same time, to coincide with the iOS 5 release date.
Now 2010 saw the whole iPod range updated, except for the iPod classic, which is now nearly two years old.
Its key selling point remains its 160GB capacity, but in other areas it's stood still while its siblings have surged forward – it still has a traditional hard drive where the iPod touch has flash memory, for example, and lacks a touch screen, which even the £131 iPod nano boasts.
It seems unlikely the iPod classic will make it into the line-up of 2011 iPods, especially if Apple ups the capacity of the new iPod touch. Which brings us nicely onto our wishlist for the iPod touch 5th gen…
1. Capacity, capacity, capacity
The iPod touch already comes in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB models, but in capacity terms, it's still a way behind the iPod classic, which gives you a whopping 160GB. We expect the entry-level iPod touch 5 to get a capacity bump to at least 16GB. At the top end, we hope Apple gives us at least a 128GB model. An even higher option would be nice, too…
2. Cheaper models
Although the entry-level iPod touch isn't prohibitively expensive at under £200, the 32GB and 64GB models cost £254 and £336 respectively – hardly what you'd call cheap. Sure, a lot of that cost's down to the high price of the solid-state flash storage the iPod touch uses, but with memory costs coming down all the time, we really hope to see the prices slashed, especially at the top end.
3. A5 processor
The 2011 iPod touch will, in all likelihood, have an A5 processor, just like the iPad 2. Although the 4th gen iPod touch is hardly sluggish, a new, faster chip will make it fly along, and be a big boost to gamers.
4. Better stills camera
The iPhone 4's 5-megapixel camera, while not amazing, takes reasonable stills (see below). Not so the current iPod touch with its paltry 0.69 megapixels. While this is probably a lot to do with the cost and physical size of the camera itself, we'd like to see at least some improvement to the camera in the new iPod touch. Oh, and a variable-focus lens would be nice, too.
Ever noticed how smeary the iPod touch screen gets? That's because it doesn't have the fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on it that the iPhone 3GS and 4 do. It may seem like a minor complaint, but we get pretty sick of constantly having to clean the screen on our 4th gen iPod touch.
6. A scratch-proof back
Unless you keep your iPod touch wrapped in cotton wool, the shiny metal back invariably gets scratched up very quickly. So for the iPod touch 2011, let's have the back made of something a little more suited to the purpose it's designed for – a tougher, more scratch-resistant metal.
7. 3G for data only
If you want a pocket-sized device with internet access wherever you are, your options at the moment are to buy an iPhone, or carry round a MiFi to get your iPod touch online. But rumour has it that the touch screen iPod will offer a 3G option for data, much like the iPad. This would make it arguably the perfect portable internet device. Do we like this idea? You bet we do – no more shelling out for all those minutes in an iPhone contract that go to waste every month.
OK, this one's extremely unlikely, but that doesn't make it any less desirable. For a start, let's have support for OGG, FLAC audio, plus XVID and AVI video. Yes, you can convert them, or play these various formats in dedicated apps, such as AVPlayer (read Tap!'s review of the HD version here), but why make us jump through hoops? Anyway, back in the real world…
9. Include a remote again
Apple quietly stopped including earphones with a remote with the 4th gen iPod touch. Sneaky. OK, so if you want good-quality audio, you're not going to use the Apple earphones, but this is Apple's premium iPod – they shouldn't be skimping on the headphones! Bring back the in-wire clicker remote, we say.
10. White model
The iPhone comes in black and white editions. So does the iPad 2. So it's probably a reasonable assumption that there will be a white iPod touch 5th generation as well. We're not the only ones, it seems.