Photo by Apple
Apple has announced an update to the iPod touch, the runt of the iOS device family, replacing the previous model’s A8 chip with an A10 Fusion chip and adding a 256 GB configuration for $399. The company claims that the A10 chip provides up to twice the overall performance and up to three times the graphics performance, which combine to enable Group FaceTime and enhanced AR experiences. The new model is available online immediately and will be in stores next week.
There isn’t much else to say—as far as I can tell, everything else stays the same, including the $199 and $299 prices for the 32 GB and 128 GB configurations. The dimensions remain 4.86 by 2.31 by 0.24 inches (123.4 by 58.6 by 6.1 mm), and it sports a 4-inch diagonal screen, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime HD camera. In terms of connectivity, it still supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1, along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
Frustratingly, the iPod touch could be a much more interesting device. With such svelte dimensions and a 3.1-ounce (88-gram) weight, it’s far more pocketable than any current iPhone, and its $200–$400 price point is affordable. So, two thoughts:
- What if Apple added the necessary chips and antennas to turn the existing iPod touch into an iPhone? It would undoubtedly add some to the weight and possibly the thickness, and increase the price by maybe $150, but a less expensive iPhone in the iPod touch form factor would be compelling to a lot of people turned off by the size and cost of today’s iPhones.
- Barring a full iPhone, what if Apple gave the iPod touch just a cellular data modem, as can be added to iPads now? That would likely increase the price by $130 and would require a monthly fee for cell service, but in return, users would gain Internet access anywhere there was a cellular signal. Such an iPod touch wouldn’t support phone calls, of course, but for many people, notably kids, voice and video access through FaceTime, Skype, and the like would be more than sufficient.
Apple never mentions the iPod touch in its earnings calls or breaks out sales numbers, and I never hear it talked about. It has gotten to the point where we mostly say “iPhone and iPad” when talking about iOS devices since it’s awkward to include the iPod touch and unnecessary if few people have one.
So it seems safe to assume that the iPod touch sells in sufficient quantities for Apple to keep updating it occasionally, but not enough that it’s worth investing much development effort. Perhaps some cellular connectivity would turn the iPod touch into more of a profit center.