Battery life hasn’t been compromised in the upgrades the iPod touch has received. Apple claims 40 hours of audio and seven of video, which isn’t an unrealistic claim, but gaming is still very much a huge drain. A two hour game of Civilization Revolution took us from about 80 per cent to around 20. Not that we could tell exactly, because the iPod touch doesn’t get the iPhone’s percentage indicator – you’re stuck with just the battery icon.
One area of improvement that iPod sceptics might not expect is the sound quality. Like the iPhone 4 before it, the fourth generation iPod touch is a noticeable improvement on the previous version of the device. There’s an added fullness to the bass, and a crispness to the mid-range and high-end as well as a more natural sense of space.
There’s not enough improvement to warrant an upgrade from an older device, but it’s one criticism fewer to lay against the iPod touch. A Sony X-Series Walkman or Samsung YP-R1 are both better options if you want a touchscreen player for listening to music, but those players don’t have an App Store, don’t have a Retina Display to make web browsing and video playback such a pleasure, and don’t have the inexplicable “I want one” appeal of an iPod touch.
Pricing is also still a potential issue for the iPod touch. The £189 8GB model should really be the same-priced 16GB entry-level unit, and the £329 asked for the 64GB unit is a significant outlay. Fortunately, the 32GB iPod touch, at £249, strikes a nice balance between capacity and price which, while almost certainly engineered to be so by Apple, makes it an attractive proposition – you are getting a lot for your money.
What makes the iPod touch still such a brilliant device, four generations in, is that it still remains utterly peerless. No rival device does everything the iPod touch does and, more importantly, despite being something of a jack of all trades the iPod touch is far from a master of none. The App Store has an almost ridiculously comprehensive library of applications at this point, and while the games aren’t necessarily of PSP or Nintendo DS quality, there are more than a few gems to be found.
The addition on the iPhone 4’s A4 processor and Retina Display, alongside 720p video recording, FaceTime support and the lacklustre Game Center bring the iPod touch up to par with its call-making alternative. We’d like to see cheaper pricing, especially a more attractive entry-level model, but if you can afford it an iPod touch remains the best device in a category of one.