Who is the new iPod Touch for?

iPod Touch, huh, who is it good for -- absolutely more people than you'd think.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
3 min read
Angela Lang/CNET

Who still uses an iPod in the golden age of the iPhone ? It's a question that crossed the mind of more than a few people when Apple announced a new 2019 iPod Touch a few weeks back. But yes, there are still several situations where the new iPod makes perfect sense, like as a kid's mobile  gaming  system (especially once Apple Arcade is out) or for hospitals to track medical records and translate different languages or in retail and food service as a mobile register.

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Who still uses an iPod?

There are actually a number of businesses that use the iPod Touch in numerous ways. Pretty much every employee at an Apple Store has an iPod Touch inside a special bar code/credit card swipe case to ring up your items. Keeping the new iPod the exact same size as the previous one makes it easier for Apple employees to swap out devices without the need of replacing those special mobile register cases.

Apple did something similar when it updated the iPad Mini in March and the Mac Mini last year. These are three recent examples of Apple focusing on convenience and cost savings for a product update.


The new iPod Touch held by a nine-year old.

Angela Lang/CNET

Another target audience for a new iPod Touch is kids. Before hand-me-down iPhones and iPads were a thing, many parents gave their kids an iPod as a less expensive and less connected option.

This is going to be especially pertinent now that Apple has introduced Apple Arcade. If you gave your kid a new iPod Touch for $199 and an Apple Arcade subscription (let's say it's $5 a month, but that's just an educated guess since we still don't know the pricing) you'd have a solid gaming experience with access to 100 games -- and one that's a lot cheaper than a $299 Nintendo Switch  where a single flagship game can cost $50 to $60.

For younger kids, an iPod Touch seems like it would be easier to hold than the much larger Switch. It's also worth mentioning that Apple Arcade games don't include in-game purchases, so your credit card is protected too. Phew.

No iTunes, no problem

With Apple finally starting to back away from iTunes, it raises even more iPod existential questions. But I have a secret: I downloaded Spotify onto the iPod Touch. Even though at first it felt wrong, it was actually a delight to use. The tiny iPod was more manageable to bring along on a workout or carry on the train than my iPhone XS Max . The iPod Touch lacks a cellular antenna, which meant I could only stream music when I was on Wi-Fi. Other times I had to use Spotify Premium to download songs before a journey through a Wi-Fi-free zone.


On both your computer and mobile device, Apple Music will be your one-stop shop for songs. Unless you prefer Spotify, which also works.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The iPod is a device out of its time

Overall, it's weird trying to use the iPod Touch like my iPhone XS Max. Maybe it's because of the smaller screen, which better focuses my attention, but I rarely used it when I was bored to aimlessly scroll on Instagram or watch YouTube videos. In fact, when I used the iPod at home my activities were more purposeful instead of the distracted meandering I normally do on my iPhone. However, I can't guarantee that substituting an iPod Touch for your iPhone will make you less obsessed with being on your phone.

Despite its niche target audience, the iPod Touch is still a solid device, but I'd recommend really thinking about how you'd use it before you buy one.

The new iPod Touch looks just like the old one and it's kind of nice

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