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Camera compromise makes Apple's new 16GB iPod Touch a mixed bag

CNET's Donald Bell looks at the value proposition of Apple's latest 16GB iPod Touch -- and doesn't like what he sees.

Donald Bell Senior Editor / How To
Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.
Donald Bell
2 min read

iPod Touch 16GB
Hey kid, I hope you don't like taking photos. Apple

If your kid's been begging for an iPod Touch, I've got some bad news. Apple has quietly discontinued the most affordable entry point into the world of iOS, the $199 16GB 4th-generation iPod Touch, an update of the 2011 model with a 3.5-inch screen. It's just as well since little Junior would have suffered some peer humiliation for not sporting one of the latest, greatest 5th-gen iPod models -- clearly distinguished by their bigger screens and candy-colored aluminum casing. Those models start at $299 for 32GB, or $399 for double the storage.

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Until now, anyway. Apple has conceded a new 16GB model of its iPod Touch, available now for $229. This latest entry-level option looks and behaves exactly like the rest of its 5th-generation kin, except that the rear camera has been removed and your only color option is black (with the bare aluminum backside). Also gone is the loop hand strap -- presumably, since you won't be using this as a handy point-and-shoot camera.

Those subtractions notwithstanding, the new iPod model does introduce several improvements not previously available in a 16GB configuration. You get the latest dual-core A5 processor, the larger 4-inch Retina display, Siri-compatibility, and the inclusion of Apple's Lightning Connector in lieu of the classic 30-pin port, which has now disappeared on all iProducts, save a handful of legacy models (iPod Classic and iPad 2, we're looking at you).

And in Apple's defense, you can still take all the self-portrait photos, videos, and Facetime chats you want with the iPod's front-facing camera. If you can live without the 5 megapixel camera and 1080p video recording found on the $299 32GB iPod Touch model, then why not save the money?

OK, even I have a hard time saying that with a straight face. With only $70 separating the drab, one-eyed 16GB iPod Touch from the colorful 32GB model, choosing the lesser of the two is not only cheap, but foolish. Doubling the storage capacity alone is worth the extra $70; the camera and the 1080p video recorder merely sweeten the deal.

It's your classic movie theater soda dilemma. You just want a small soda, but the larger options are a much better value. Even if you buy the small one on principle or to save money, you then have to walk around publicly as the sucker who overpayed for a thimble of sugar water.

So, would I personally recommend buying Apple's 16GB iPod Touch? Not a chance. The extra $70 to buy the 32GB model with the rear camera is money well spent. And even then, you might be foolish not to spend another $30 ($329 total) for an iPad Mini.

But that's just my two cents. Feel free to add yours in the comments section and stay tuned for a full, in-depth review from CNET.