Inside, the new iPod touch is a mix of components from the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. It gets the iPhone 4S's A5 processor, but makes do with the same 5-megapixel rear-facing camera as the two-year-old iPhone 4.
On the outside, Apple has done away with the scratch-prone polished aluminium back, and has instead rolled out a range of colourful brushed metal cases and the Loop lanyard accessory.
Available in 32GB or 64GB versions - with the fourth generation still on sale at 8 and 16GB - the new touch costs £249 and £329 respectively.
iPod touch fifth generation: Design and Feel
In design terms the new iPod touch is all new. The screen (more on which later) has been increased from 3.5in to 4in and has the same widescreen ratio as the iPhone 5, so it's the perfect display for watching films on.
Below the screen is the standard iOS Home button, and above sits a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera that can also shoot 720p HD video. Around the top and left side edges it's business as usual, with the power/ screen lock and volume buttons respectively.
On the bottom edge, though, Apple has introduced the new Lightning connector, first seen on the iPhone 5, along with ther 3.5mm headphone jack and a redesigned speaker.
That Lightning port is far smaller than the decade-old 30-pin dock connector Apple used to use on its iOS devices, and helps to make this touch the thinnest and lightest ever at 6.1mm and just 88 grames.
Around the back - and the sides, for that matter - is the new brushed aluminium case, which looks to be far much scratch-resistant than the iPod touches of old and comes in a range of five bright colours.
As with all Apple products these days, the new iPod touch is cool-to-the-touch and feels as well made as a Swiss watch.
The screen sits slightly proud of the aluminium rear - the edge of which is machined to create a super-shiny finish, and the same is true of the lock and volume buttons, too.
The rear case will hopefully shrug off scratches and dents better than previous models, but be warned: our iPod touch already has a few tiny chips along one edge of the metal after just a short time in our bag.
Around the back, there is the same 5-megapixel camera last seen in the iPhone 4, next to a mic and LED flash. There's also an ugly black plastic insert in the upper-right corner to act as an antenna, and the bottom left corner is home to a pop-out tethering point to attach the included Loop wrist lanyard.
Half rubber, half felt, the Loop is the same colour as the back of whichever iPod touch you buy - in our case bright pink, thanks Apple - and, well, it's not something we can ever see ourselves using.
But, if you're going to use the touch as a camera, then wrapping the Loop around your wrist might have its benefits.
Thankfully, the Loop tethering point pops in and out, and when in it's barely noticeable - although on that point, we should add that the camera does stand proud of the rear case by about a millimeter, suggesting that making the next touch any thinner is unlikely.
iPod touch fifth generation: Display
As we said above, Apple has given the new touch the same 4in Retina display as the iPhone 5, this means a gorgeous HD screen with accurate colours, a very wide viewing angle and the company's new in-cell technology, which removes a layer of glass.
This process makes the screen - and device overall - thinner, but also brings your finger closer to the pixels; it really feels like you're pushing them around yourself, rather than issue commands via a touch panel.
With both the iPhone 5 and new iPod touch we found that half brightness for the screen was perfect for most of the time, and rarely needed to increase it - although when we did we found a screen that is readable, even in bright sunlight.
The screen is as responsive as you would expect, and flicking through the user interface doesn't seem to tax the A5 processor at all, even if it is down on power - and RAM, at 512MB compared to the iPhone 5's 1GB.
As with the iPhone 5, the extra half inch of screen space on the iPod touch is nice to have, and by only increasing the height and not the width, Apple has ensured that the device is easily controlled in one hand, and that typing in portrait is exactly the same as it always has been.
iPod touch fifth generation: Operating System and Performance
We've already looked extensively at iOS in our iPhone 5 review and our dedicated review of the operating system itself, so there isn't much more to say on this matter.
We really like iOS 6 here at IBTimes Towers, but admit that it is starting to show its age, with a notification system that could do with another overhaul.
Notifications that appear at the top of the screen often block icons and buttons from the app we were using - it might only be for a few seconds, but we'd prefer it if the whole screen shuffled down, or was squashed down by a few pixels, to stop anything being covered up.
We want to be able to delete stock Apple apps, too. The weather and stocks apps are fine, but if we want to use more powerful apps for those purposes then why won't Apple let us delete the originals?
And why, oh why, can't Newsstand be put into a folder? You know, with all of our other reading apps?
Otherwise, iOS 6 here with the iPod touch is business as usual, with Siri now on the touch for the first time, and with added extras so he can do provide sports results, find local businesses and launch applications.
Head over to our in-depth review on iOS 6 for a more detailed breakdown of the operating system.
As for performance, the new touch gets the A5 processor last seen in the iPhone 4, along with 512MB of RAM. Sure, it's a whole generation (or two, if you count the iPad 3's A5X chip) behind the iPhone 5 and has half the RAM, but for most tasks the average user would struggle to notice the difference.
Only when doing intense 3D gaming or panning around the map of some satellite navigation apps does the iPod touch start to lose ground to its bigger brother.
The touch can be had with either 32 or 64GB of storage - compared to 16/32/64 in the iPhone 5 - and the previous generation iPod remains on sale with 16 and 32GB.
Appel claims battery life to be 40 hours of audio and eight hours of video for the new touch, and we're inclined to agree. We've used our touch for the best part of two days, with combined web browsing, photo taking, downloading and listening to music, so we'd say two days of heavy use it perfectly possible, with double that for average use.
iPod touch fifth generation: Cameras
As we said above, the iPod touch gets the same 5-megapixel camera as the iPhone 4 and a 1.9mp 'Facetime' camera on the front for video calls.
We would like to have seen either the 8-mp shooter of the iPhone 5 but, thanks to an improved lens and processing, for everyday use the camera Apple has used is absolutely fine.
As with other iOS 6 devices the touch can take panoramic photos, where you hold the device in portrait and move it from left to right, while the camera snaps away and stitches all of the photos together into one super-wide image, great for landscapes.
It's now more difficult than ever to say if iOS or Android is better, but the camera application of each highlight major differences - iOS offers nothing more than control over the flash, a HDR effect, and Panorama - whereas Android serves up a huge range of filters, options, settings and ways to make your photos unique.
We know what Apple is doing here - it's appealing to the lowest common denominator and offering a camera app that 'Just Works' without any messing around with settings.
Fine, but Android can do that too, and offers settings for those who know what they are doing and want to experiment; it seems that Apple is letting 3rd party app developers come up with the goods, instead of investing time in making its own great camera app.
iPod touch fifth generation: EarPods
The white headphones Apple bundles with its iPhones and iPods may well be iconic - remember those old iPod TV adverts? - but when it came to sound quality they left much to be desired.
Weak bass, a generic fit that was uncomfy after time and chronic sound leak that meant whatever you listened to could be heard by everyone nearby added up to a poor pair of headphones.
Apple realised this, and has introduced the EarPods. Bundled with the iPhone 5 and new range of iPods (they also sell for £25 on their own), the EarPods are shaped to fit more comfortably in your ears and offer better sound.
The unique shape is designed to fit more snugly and to direct the sound more accurately into your ear, resulting in improved sound and less leaking.
In testing we found these claims to be mostly true; the EarPods are more comfortable than the old Apple headphones, although of course your mileage may vary - just because we found them to fit better doesn't mean they will be a perfect fit for everyone.
As for the sound they produce, there is definitely more bass - but not to the extent that it becomes overwhelming - and the wide range of music we tested the EarPods with sounded warmer and rounded than the tinny and abrasive sound of the old headphones.
Strangely, the EarPods bundled with the new iPod touch and nano do not have any buttons or a mic, as the ones with the iPhone 5 do.
We can understand them not having a mic, but why Apple has chosen to not include the play/pause and volume buttons is baffling; the touch has volume buttons on its side, but to play or pause you must fish the iPod out of your pocket, double-press the Home button then tap the on screen music controls.
Life is a little easier with the nano as it has a play/pause button integrated with its side-mounted volume controls, but how hard would it have been to include the same pair of EarPods with every iOS device? The new shuffle even has to make do with the old headphones Annoying.
There's no doubt that Apple has improved its bundled headphones, but they are still by no means a great product and, while they are acceptable when included with the phone, we wouldn't recommend buying them for £25.
iPod nano fifth generation: Verdict
This is possibly the biggest step forward for the iPod touch in its five-year existence, bringing the device more in-line than ever with the iPhone and added that much-needed splash of colour that so far has eluded the touch.
As with the iPhone 5, we're not sure how scratch resistant the aluminium back will be - we expect it'll pick up marks quite easily - but other than that small cosmetic issue and the slightly dated feeling iOS has, there's nothing bad to say about the new touch.
With the iPad mini expected next week, we can't help but wonder how the two products will fit on Apple's shelves together; if the iPad mini starts at around £220 as expected, and the iPod touch (at least the 4in model) stays at £249, we can see cannibalisation of sales, with the small iPad stealing the iPod's thunder.
For now though, the iPod touch is fantastic. It's design is excellent - very thin and light, while still feeling like it's worth the £300 price tag - and the software is still some of the best out there, even with it's small problems.
- Design and Build Quality: 9/10
- Display: 9/10
- Software: 8/10
- Performance: 8/10
- Overall: 9/10
- Excellent design and quality
- Very good screen
- Software still good, but could do with a major update next year
- Aluminium may scratch easily
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