Apple's 5th Gen iPod touch has landed, and it marks quite a departure for the touchscreen media player. What once was described as a phoneless-iPhone has evolved into a device with a distinct focus of its own, building on the gaming prowess of its predecessor and adding in a capable digital camera to this latest generation. The first batch of new iPod touch units are winging their way to preorder customers, but one has already landed on the SlashGear test bench, so read on for some first impressions.
While the last iPod touch, though running at Retina resolution, had a less impressive display than its iPhone 4S counterpart, Apple hasn't made the same mistake this time around. We'll have to wait for the inevitable teardowns to be sure, but to our eyes the new iPod touch uses the same panel as the iPhone 5, and benefits from it hugely.
It's dressed in a more distinctive case than before, at a casual glance directly related to the iPhone 5, but unlikely to be mistaken for it. The brushed anodized aluminum is tactile and sturdy, and that - combined with the length of the PMP - emphasizes the thinness: it's now just 6.1mm thick and, at 88g, 11-percent lighter than the model it replaces. There's some beveling to the bezel, but only on the front, which should cut down on the scuffs and scratches we saw on the iPhone 5.
Inside there's Apple's dualcore A5 chipset, with up to twice the processing power and up to seven times the graphical abilities. It's certainly enough to keep iOS 6 moving slickly, though will show its particular worth when it comes to gaming and multimedia apps; we'll be testing those out for our full review. You also get Siri, Apple Maps, the new Facebook integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.
The other big change to this generation is the camera, at 5-megapixels not quite up to the 8-megapixel sensor in the iPhone 5, but certainly the most ambitious of an iPod touch to-date. Already we can see point-and-shoots losing ground to this capable backside-illuminated sensor, benefiting from easy navigation with the touchscreen, the addition of face-detection, panorama mode, and native HDR capture. Apple doesn't bundle iPhoto, but it's an affordable $4.99 purchase.
Apple is keeping the 4th-gen iPod touch on sale alongside its new 5th-gen model (the older example will be cheaper, with 16GB and 32GB models, while the 5th-gen will be available in 32GB and 64GB versions) and so we'll be seeing how they hold up against each other as well as how they compare to the rest of the portable music options out there. That will have to wait for the full SlashGear review, so until then, enjoy our hands-on gallery and video.