Why the iPod Touch Was Better Than the iPhone

It was smaller, thinner, and much cheaper.

  • Apple has discontinued the iPad touch after almost 15 years. 
  • For a long time, the touch was the only way for many people to access apps and multitouch pocket computing.
  • The iPod touch has been supplanted by the iPad and older iPhones. 
iPod touches seventh generation in multiple colors

Apple

The iPod touch has finally slipped into oblivion, and with it an entire era of music and gadgets

The iPod touch began as a cheaper, slimmer version of the iPhone for people who didn’t need, or want to pay for, the iPhone’s cellular connection. It became a great way for kids to use apps and for restaurants to give to waiters. For many, including this author, it was a first step into truly mobile computing. Now, it has been supplanted by iPads and by hand-me-down iPhones. But in many ways, the iPod touch was better than all of these. 

“I remember when the iPod touch first came out. I didn't understand why anyone would want one. After all, the iPhone had just been released and it seemed like the better option. After all, it was a phone too, so why would you want an iPod touch? But there were actually quite a few advantages to not having a cellular connection,” iPod touch fan and tech CEO Krishna Rungta told Lifewire via email. “For one thing, the iPod touch was also much cheaper than the iPhone. In addition, the iPod touch was smaller and more portable than the iPhone.”

Smaller and Better

iPod touch with Home button

Apple

The iPod touch launched in the fall of 2007, a few months after the first iPhone went on sale. It took several years for the iPhone to roll out to the rest of the world, and in the meantime, the iPod touch proved a way in to the growing world of apps.

The main differences between the iPhone and the iPad touch, apart from the lack of cellular data, were the size (the iPod was way thinner and lighter), a much worse camera, and no GPS. But it ran all the same apps. In the same way that people today get by just fine with Wi-Fi-only iPads, so we got along with the non-cellular iPod. 

And it was the size and the simplicity that made the little iPod so appealing. 

I didn’t buy an iPhone until the iPhone 5, because until then, there were no pre-pay plans with cellular data where I lived. Until then, I used and absolutely loved the iPod touch. It didn’t hurt that it was cheap enough to replace if you smashed it, which is something that could totally happen on the way home if you used an iPod touch to DJ an all-night party and the partygoers thanked the DJ with endless gin and tonics. As a totally random, made-up example of course. 

And people loved them. 

Yes, we also called it iTouch. That was a thing for a while. 

Pushed Out

iPod touch devices stacked in multiple colors

Apple

Eventually, the reasons to buy the touch went away. Restaurants either switched to using Android phones for their staff to take orders or used the iPad mini. And one of the best uses for iPods touch—giving them to kids to play games and use app—was taken over by old iPhones. Apple’s devices last for years and years, so with a new battery (or not—all the better to run out by bedtime), they’re perfect as Wi-Fi-only devices. 

Really, though, it’s the iPad that is the spiritual successor to the iPod touch. It starts at $329, it can do everything you need, and—even better—you can opt to pay extra for cellular. It might seem odd that a tablet computer is the best alternative to an iPod, because it’s not really a great pocket music player. But the iPod Touch was an iPod in name only. Once the click wheel disappeared, replaced by a less-capable music app, the iPod was dead. 

For one thing, the iPod touch was also much cheaper than the iPhone. In addition, the iPod touch was smaller and more portable than the iPhone.

“It shouldn’t be a real surprise: the iPod touch was last updated almost three years ago, though even then it was to bump the internals, not to make any significant design changes,” writes veteran Apple journalist Dan Moren on his personal Six Colors blog. “As useful as the iPod touch has been to provide an iOS device without the need for an iPhone’s cellular plan, the iPad seems to certainly have supplanted it in that department.”

The iPod touch remains on sale until Apple has sold all remaining stock, so you might be able to pick one up, but maybe don’t bother. The iPod touch really was fantastic, but it offers nothing that your iPhone doesn’t (other than its thinness) and is older and slower. Its time is now over, and that’s just fine.

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