10 Things That Make the iPhone and iPod touch Different

6th Gen. iPod touch

Apple Inc.

The iPhone and iPod touch are closely related — and not just because they look alike. Both devices run the same operating system and thus have the same key features: FaceTime video conferencing, support for Siri, iCloud, and iMessage, for example. But despite sharing many software features, the two devices are very different. You can see that by looking at them, of course, but the differences go much deeper than just the surface level.

We compare the iPhone X series (including the X and XS), iPhone 8 series, and the sixth-generation iPod touch. We've omitted the iPhone XR budget-minded model.

Screen: 4 Inches vs.5.8 Inches

iPhone X
Apple Inc.

The biggest obvious difference is the size of their screens. The iPod touch uses the same 4-inch screen that's been used since the iPhone 5, while the other models are pushing things forward in terms of size, resolution, and color gamut, leading to bigger, brighter, more beautiful images.​

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: 4 inches, at 1136 by 640 pixels resolution
  • iPhone 8: 4.7 inches, at 1334 by 750 pixels
  • iPhone 8 Plus: 5.5 inches, at 1920 by 1080 pixels
  • iPhone X: 5.8 inches, at 2436 by 1125 pixels
  • iPhone XS: 5.8 inches, at 2436 by 1125 pixels
  • iPhone XS Max: 6.5 inches, at 2688 by 1242 pixels

Camera: Resolution and Features

woman taking selfie

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The camera is one of the most important aspects of any mobile device these days. The iPhone offers hands-down the best option.

Back Camera — Still Photos

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: 8 megapixel, panoramic (43 megapixel), burst mode
  • iPhone 8: 12 megapixel, panoramic (63 megapixel), burst mode, Live Photos, image stabilization
  • iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS: 12 megapixel, telephoto and wide-angle lenses, panoramic (63 megapixel), burst mode, Portrait Mode and Lighting, Live Photos, image stabilization

Back Camera — Video

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: 1080p HD at 30 frames/second, 120 frames/second slo-mo, 3X zoom
  • iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, and XS: 4K HD at 24, 30, and 60 frames/second, 120 or 240 frames/second slo-mo at 1080p HD, 6X zoom, image stabilization, take photos while recording video 

Front Camera

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: 1.2 megapixels, 720p HD video, burst mode 
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus: 7 megapixels, 1080p HD video, flash, Live Photos, burst mode 
  • iPhone X and XS: 7 megapixels, 1080p HD video, Portrait Mode and Lighting, flash, Live Photos, burst mode

Storage Capacity: 128 GB vs. 256 GB

RAM

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If you've got a ton of music, lots of apps, or like to shoot a lot of hi-res photos and video, having as much storage as you can get is essential. The touch tops out at 128 GB of storage, while all of the iPhone models offer double that amount.

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: 32 GB, 128 GB
  • iPhone 8: 64 GB, 256 GB
  • iPhone 8 Plus: 64 GB, 256 GB
  • iPhone X:​ 64 GB, 256 GB
  • iPhone XS: 64 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB

Processor: A8 vs. A11

A11 Processor
 Apple Inc.

Processing horsepower doesn't matter in quite the same way on mobile devices as it does on desktop and laptop computers. Still, having newer, more powerful chips is always better. The iPod touch uses the 32-bit A8 chip, which is now several generations old. The iPhones, on the other hand, use the latest chip, which can process data in 64-bit chunks, double what the touch can handle.

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: Apple A8, 32-bit
  • iPhone 8: Apple A11 Bionic, 64-bit
  • iPhone 8 Plus: Apple A11 Bionic, 64-bit 
  • iPhone X: Apple A11 Bionic, 64-bit 
  • iPhone XS: Apple A12 Bionic, 64-bit

4G LTE vs. Wi-Fi

woman on cell phone looking at bill
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The iPod touch can only access the Internet when there's an available Wi-Fi network. Not only does the iPhone connect to Wi-Fi, but it also can get online anywhere there's phone service thanks to its 4G LTE cellular data connection

And though cellular data plans offer the iPhone more features and flexibility, it also costs more: iPhone users have to pay monthly service fees to their phone companies while iPod touch users don't have to pay any service fees.

Face ID and Touch ID

Face ID on iPhone

Apple Inc.

You can, and should, secure all of these devices using a passcode. Only the iPhone offers added layers of security, though. The iPhone 8 series sports the Touch ID fingerprint scanner built into the Home button, while the iPhone X debuted the advanced facial recognition system called Face ID.

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: N/A
  • iPhone 8: Touch ID
  • iPhone 8 Plus: Touch ID
  • iPhone X, XS: Face ID

Apple Pay

Remove Credit Card from Apple Pay with iCloud

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Apple Pay lets you buy things wirelessly, without ever taking your credit or debit card out of your pocket. But only if you have an iPhone. The iPod touch doesn't include the Near-Field Communication chip, or the Touch ID or Face ID features, required to use Apple Pay, so this tool is an iPhone-only option.

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: No
  • iPhone 8: Yes
  • iPhone 8 Plus: Yes 
  • iPhone X, XS: Yes

Water- and Dust-Proofing

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Mobile devices are bound to encounter some mishaps from time to time, especially being dropped or getting wet. The iPod touch doesn't have much protection against the environment, other than whatever protection an add-on case might offer. The iPhone, on the other hand, is water- and dust-resistant to the IP67 standard, meaning the chances of those damaging elements getting inside your phone—even if you drop it in the water—are low.

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: No
  • iPhone 8: Rated IP67
  • iPhone 8 Plus: Rated IP67
  • iPhone X: Rated IP67

The iPhone XS is rated at IP68, which means it can survive immersion in up to 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

Battery Life

plugging in low battery phone
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All of the iPhone models have larger batteries than the iPod touch, and thus they deliver longer life. If you're on the go a lot and have to wait a long time between recharges, having a bigger battery is a big deal.

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch
    • Music: 40 hours
    • Video: 8 hours
  • iPhone 8
    • Music: 40 hours
    • Video: 13 hours
  • iPhone 8 Plus
    • Music: 60 hours
    • Video: 14 hours 
  • iPhone X
    • ​Music: 60 hours
    • Video: 13 hours
  • iPhone XS
    • Music: 60 hours (65 hours for the XS Max)
    • Video: 14 hours (15 hours for the XS Max)

Cost

Making a purchase at the Apple Store
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Perhaps not surprisingly, the iPod touch costs less than any current iPhone model—a lot less. An iPhone X costs $999 and up, while even the cheapest iPhone 8 costs $400 more than the most expensive iPod touch. And that's before you even factor in the monthly costs for phone and data service on an iPhone, which the touch doesn't require. You definitely get a lot with an iPhone, but compared to an iPod touch, you pay a lot, too.

Upfront Cost

  • 6th Gen. iPod touch: US$199-$299
  • iPhone 8: $699-$849
  • iPhone 8 Plus: $799-$949
  • iPhone X: $999-$1,149
  • iPhone XS: $999-$1,449

Monthly Cost$1,449

With the iPhone XS, Apple introduced a trade-in program unrelated to your carrier's pricing and trade-in program. If you've got a working Apple device in good condition, you can trade it in for a discount off a new iPhone. For example, a good-condition iPhone X will get you a credit of $500 off a 256 GB iPhone XS Max, which otherwise retails for $1,249 directly from Apple.