Audio

Good for kids and audiophiles

PHOTO: APPLE

Is there still a need for a dedicated Wi-Fi-only music player, when smartphones are now being commonly used as music devices? Apple, which recently refreshed its iPod touch music player, thinks so.

The sixth-generation iPod touch looks exactly like its predecessor from 2012, except it no longer sports the pop-up catch for a wrist strap. And so, no wrist strap is included too.

The main upgrades are in the innards. It now comes with an Apple A8 processor and am M8 motion co-processor - the same processors found in iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Both the rear and front cameras have been upgraded to match the megapixel count of the ones found in the iPhone 6. However, the iPod touch's rear camera has a maximum aperture of f/2.4 compared to the iPhone 6's larger f/2.2.

It comes in the familiar colour options of space grey, silver, pink, red and blue, plus a new gold finish which replaces the yellow option.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $278 (16GB), $348 (32GB), $398 (64GB), $588 (128GB, available only on Apple Online Store)

    OPERATING SYSTEM: iOS 8.4

    PROCESSOR: Apple A8 chip with 64-bit architecture, M8 motion coprocessor

    DISPLAY: 4-inch (1,136 x 640 pixels)

    CAMERA: 8-megapixel rear camera f/2.4, 1.2-megapixel front camera f/2.2

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 88g

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The device has the same four-inch display, 6.1mm thickness and 88g weight of its predecessor. It is still great to hold with its aluminium shell. But having used my iPhone 6 Plus for nearly a year, the iPod touch now feels pitifully small.

It lacks the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and Global Positioning System (GPS).

Not having GPS is, I feel, a lost opportunity, as this compact device would have allowed fitness apps to track runs and bike rides.

Despite having the same A8 processor, the new iPod touch is slower than the iPhone 6. In the Geekbench 3 benchmark tests, the iPod touch scored 1,383 (single-core) and 2,442 (multi-core), while the iPhone 6 scored 1,625 (single-core) and 2,921 (multi-core).

However, it took the iPod touch around the same time (about 9sec) as the iPhone 6 to load the Infinity Blade III game. Playing high-performance games, such as Infinity Blade III and Implosion, is also smooth and lag-free.

Autofocusing (AF) of the iPod touch's camera is quick for a music player, and lags behind the iPhone 6 Plus by only 0.5sec in dim conditions. AF is almost instant in bright sunlight.

The pictures taken by the camera pack great details, but colours seem slightly washed out and images lack the sharpness of my iPhone 6 Plus. Still, the iPod touch is a nice camera for its size.

In our battery life test, in which a 720p video is looped at full brightness and full volume with Wi-Fi on, the iPod touch lasted 4hr 45min. By comparison, the iPhone 6 clocked 6hr 55min.

So who might find a use for the iPod touch?

If you already have an iPhone, you might want to wait for the next one which is expected to be announced tomorrow.

But if you are, say, an app developer, the iPod touch (2015) is the cheapest new iOS device (from only $278) you can buy for testing.

Parents who want to get a cheap iOS device for their kids to play the numerous games and education apps on the iTunes store should look at the iPod touch. It is not going to break the bank. Better this than that iPad.

Even if you are none of the above, an iPod touch is going to save your smartphone plenty of battery life when you listen to music with this device during daily commutes or long-haul flights.

  • Verdict: For those who need a dedicated music player, the Apple iPod touch (2015) is a sleek gadget with a good camera, as well as being an affordable entry-level iOS device.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Good for kids and audiophiles'. Print Edition | Subscribe