This is it, iPod fans, the upgrade you’ve been waiting for. After four long years, Apple is refreshing its iPod touch with—get excited—a slightly less-old processor.
The new touch—which was rumor back before Apple’s streaming event in March, when analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecasted a new iPod touch arriving this year—will be powered by Apple’s A10 Fusion chip, support Group FaceTime and augmented reality, and starts at $200. It’ll also come in a new 256GB option, and Apple’s release not-so-casually mentions all the incremental upgrades makes it a solid choice for its upcoming Apple Arcade service. That said, you’re still stuck with a 4-inch display, and it won’t support Touch ID and Face ID—although the spec sheet reveals you do get a friendly little headphone jack. No dice on those USB-C rumors though.
While the iPod touch is much cheaper than a full-fledged phone—at most it’ll set you back $400 for the 256GB version—it still raises a few questions for Apple. Like, why not just make a cheaper phone? And, in 2019, who is this really for?
The obvious answer: children. Its appeal is as a cheap standalone video and mobile gaming device that you can over to a small child without worrying that every drop, spill, or accident becomes a thousand-dollar penalty. Weary parents get a few hours of quiet, while Apple effectively gets a gateway drug for younger users.
Still, in 2019 it’s sort of difficult to find a compelling reason for anyone with a functioning smartphone to get onboard with the touch. Even when it comes to kids, all you’re really getting is the illusion of greater parental control. Wifi exists, and the only thing really separating an iPod touch from say, an iPhone 7, is its inability to connect to data networks between destinations. You might just end up with a horde of tiny wifi zombies who can still get up to plenty of mischief once they find an internet connection.
To be fair, back in the day, getting an iPod touch for Christmas is what finally convinced my broke college self to shell out for a smartphone. Ostensibly, it could be a cheap way to lure Android users into Apple’s clutches via Arcade, News+, and Apple Music, or as some sort of coffee-table remote control device. But again... why not just get an iPad or, you know, a smartphone?
So, Apple, hear me out: Just bring back a music-only iPod with a good old click wheel.