On Wednesday, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced that it's refreshing its aging iPod Touch. This refresh had previously been rumored in the press, and although the launch is about a day later than expected, it seems the rumors were correct.
Although it's not surprising that Apple went ahead and finally updated the iPod Touch, particularly as the older model was well beyond outdated, it is pleasantly surprising just how large the improvements are in the new iPod Touches.
Without further ado, let's take a closer look at this new iPod Touch.
Same externals, but hugely improved internals
The externals of the new iPod Touch are largely unchanged, aside for some new color options and the removal of the wrist strap that came with the older models. The internals, though, see substantial improvements across the board.
The aging Apple A5 gets an upgrade to Apple's 64-bit A8 processor, representing a three-generation leap in processor technology. CPU and graphics performance goes up substantially (Apple claims a ten-fold boost in graphics performance), and the chip's much-improved image signal processor is surely a key part of the substantially improved camera functionality -- such as the inclusion of burst mode and slow-motion, for example -- that Apple claims in its press release.
To go along with the processor upgrade, Apple has reportedly bumped up the memory from 512MB of slower LPDDR2 to 1GB of faster LPDDR3.
In addition to camera functionality upgrades, Apple also upgraded the rear-facing camera from a 5 megapixel sensor to an 8 megapixel sensor, allowing for higher-resolution photos.
Next on the list is connectivity. The old iPod Touch offered just 802.11b/g/n connectivity, while the newer iPod Touch comes with the much-faster 802.11b/g/n/ac, according to AnandTech.
How much is Apple charging?
Apple is offering the new iPods at the same price points that it did the previous generation ones. The 16GB model for $199, 32GB for $249, and 64GB for $299. Apple is also adding a higher-end, 128GB variant for $100 more.
The value proposition of the prior generation iPod Touches has been fairly poor for quite some time as a result of the severely dated hardware. However, the new iPod Touches appear to have excellent hardware, run the latest iOS (and should be well equipped to run many future iOS iterations), and should have no trouble running the current catalog of apps on the app store.
For the first time in a while, I'm a big fan of the value proposition offered by the current iPod Touch lineup.
What does this mean for Apple's business and stock?
It is well-known that the iPod business has been a shrinking one for Apple. I'd imagine that the major driver of that is simply the fact that the iPhone, which is a more versatile device, has made the iPod Touch obsolete for many buyers.
However, I continue to believe that there is still a market for the iPod Touch and the fact that Apple waited so long to update the design probably didn't do the company's iPod sales any favors.
Although the new models won't change the fact that iPhones have replaced iPods for many, the new iPod Touch models could still drive an uptick in sales over the next several quarters as users of older iPods upgrade to newer models.
This iPod Touch is probably going to be here for a while
It seems likely that this updated iPod Touch will be Apple's iPod Touch offering for several years to come. The device's specifications are quite robust and should remain a viable iOS device for the next two to three years.