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7 things to buy instead of the new iPod Touch

Apple's device isn't the only MP3-playing-portable-game device in town.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
3 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple updated the iPod Touch for the first time in years by adding Apple's A10 Fusion chip and a new 256GB model. The new chip allows for Group FaceTime calls, better gameplay and the ability to run augmented reality apps. The 32GB model costs $199, the 128GB model costs $299 and the new 256GB model costs $399.

But as an iPhone without the phone, does the iPod Touch still have a place in the world? It still plays music -- be it MP3s or on streaming apps like Apple Music and Spotify -- but so does your phone. You can watch videos from iTunes, Netflix or YouTube and play a long list of great games -- but on a tiny 4-inch screen. 

So yes: The iPod Touch remains a capable all-around portable media player, especially for kids who aren't ready for a phone (and parents who aren't ready for another wireless subscription bill). But it's not the only game in town: There are plenty of suitable substitutions for your portable music-and-game-playing needs. Let's have a look.

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I would call the SanDisk Clip Jam a no-frills MP3 player, but I count FM radio as a frill. This cheap, tiny MP3 player doesn't do Bluetooth or Wi-Fi but plays music you copy over from your Mac or PC, and its microSD slot lets you expand upon the 8GB of internal storage. It's roughly the size of Apple's discontinued iPod Shuffle but, unlike the Shuffle, it has a screen so you can see what's playing.

Read SanDisk Clip Jam review.

Another small player that resembles the old iPod Shuffle, the Mighty Vibe plays Spotify playlists and podcasts for phone- and data-free listening. For Spotify Premium subscribers only.

Read Mighty Vibe review.

This unlocked Android phone delivers a huge 5.7-inch display, 32GB of internal storage (with a microSD slot to add more) and dual cameras. You can run most of the same apps on the Moto G7 Play as you can on the iPod Touch, and you can pop in a SIM for a fully working cellphone. At its list price of $200, it costs the same as the 32GB iPod Touch, but it's currently selling for a bit less -- and that's without a wireless contract.

Sony invented the idea of the portable music player, and it is still making Walkmans. The Sony Walkman NW-A45 has a roomy 3.1-inch touchscreen, 16GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot to expand your music library. And unlike the iPod Touch, it has a built-in FM tuner.

CNET Reviews called the Astell & Kern AK Jr one of the best high-res players for the money for its classic design with class-leading sound. The standard version has been discontinued, but a limited-edition version is still being sold. You get the same luxurious aluminum-and-glass construction and hi-resolution sound with the bonus of 20 preloaded tracks from K-Pop super group Super Junior. SJ 4 life!

If you don't need to keep your music in your pocket, you can ditch the iPod Touch and size up to an iPad for only $50 more. The 32GB iPad carries a list price of $330 but is nearly always available at $249 at Walmart and elsewhere. What you lose in portability you gain in functionality with its roomy 9.7-inch Retina display. It has the same A10 chip as the new iPod Touch for group FaceTiming and AR apps.

Read iPad review.

If you (or your kid) will use the iPod Touch as more of a portable gaming system and less as a portable music player, you can move up from the iPod Touch to an iPad or you take another step and move to a Nintendo Switch. It pulls double duty not just as a portable game device and music player but as a portable game device and living-room gaming system. At $300, it costs as much as the midrange iPod Touch model -- but has all those great exclusive Nintendo games you can't play anywhere else.

Read Nintendo Switch review.