You know the story by now. For many, the iPod touch is the iPhone without the phone and GPS features, no cellular voice calls, no texting and no EDGE or 3G wireless service. The remaining features that the two have in common (or lack) is often how the iPod touch is judged. In the case of the fourth generation (4G) iPod touch, available in 8GB (£189), 32 GB (£249), and 64GB (£329) capacities, the two come closer to feature parity than ever before. (Even more so this time around as all three iPod touch models have the same features, unlike with the previous generation of touches.) This, for many people, makes for a compelling iPod. It does for us as well.

Similarities and differences

Thin as the iPhone 4 is, the 4G iPod touch is thinner still, two sandwiched 4G iPod touches come very close to the thickness of the iPhone 4. It’s also a little less wide and lighter than the third generation iPod touch that preceded it. Its edges are also more angled. This angling is sharp enough that owners of iPhones and previous iPod touches will have to train themselves to search for the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons near the back edge of the iPod rather than the side and top, respectively.

Unlike previous iPod touches, the 4G iPod touch lacks the small black plastic patch on the back’s top left corner that covered the WiFi antenna. That corner now holds the iPod’s built-in omnidirectional microphone and its high definition rear-facing camera (like the iPhone 4, the 4G iPod touch also has a standard definition front-facing camera).

Thanks to the built-in microphone, you have a way to control the iPod touch handsfree. Press and hold on the Home button until the Voice Control screen appears and tell the iPod what you’d like it to play using the same voice commands you’d use with an iPhone. Voice Control works only for playing music, however. You can’t use it to initiate a FaceTime call (more on FaceTime later in the review).

Apple iPod touch

In addition, the 4G iPod touch has a dedicated speaker port, which you find just to the left of the dock connector port at the bottom of the iPod. The second and third generation iPod touches also had a speaker, but sound emanated generally from inside the iPod rather than from a dedicated port. Whether it’s the quality of the speaker component inside the iPod or the existence of the port, the 4G iPod touch’s speaker is much brighter than previous touches’. This is welcome as the previous touches’ speakers managed to be tinny and muffled at the same time. The speaker on the current iPod touch doesn’t have the quality of the iPhone 4’s speaker, but it’s a definite improvement over the previous models.