iFixit Tears Down the iPod Touch: Here's What It Found

Apple unveiled the latest generation of its iPod Touch last week, and the new device already is impressing reviewers with its new front- and rear-facing cameras, super-slim design, and iPhone-like Retina display. The folks over at iFixit, however, aren't content with simply reading reviews: they've already pulled, poked, and prodded the new iPod Touch to get a look at its insides. Here's a look at what they found when they managed to disassemble Apple's new device.

It needs to be noted that all the images below come gratis of the dedicated team of tear-down experts at iFixit.

(Click on any of the images below to enlarge)

Front- and Rear-Facing Cameras

One of the most-hyped features in the new iPod Touch is the addition of front- and rear-facing cameras. Like the front-facing camera on the iPhone 4, the one added to the iPod Touch is there for use with Facetime, Apple's new video-conferencing app. If you're thinking that using Facetime on the iPod Touch might be inferior to using it on the iPhone 4, iFixit's findings should reassure you.

After opening up the iPod Touch, iFixit found that the iPod Touch's front-facing camera looks just like the camera on the iPhone 4, though it's slightly thinner. Both cameras share the same VGA resolution.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the iPod Touch's rear camera, which is notably less powerful than the 5-megapixel shooter found on the iPhone 4. Both cameras can capture video at 720p, but the iPod Touch cannot capture still images that are as high-res as the iPhone 4. Our reviewer noted that the iPod Touch's camera captured images at 720 by 960 pixels, while the iPhone 4's rear camera captured images at 1936 by 2592 pixels. According to his calculations, that put the resolution of the iPod Touch's camera at less than 1 megapixel -- and according to iFixit, he's right.

iFixit puts the resolution of the iPod Touch's rear camera at "about .7 megapixels," noting that "it's likely Apple had to sacrifice still photo resolution in order to squeeze the camera into the Touch's slim package." The iPod Touch's camera also lacks auto-focus. While iFixit was able to disconnect the rear camera, they note that your chances of installing the iPhone 4's rear camera in the Touch are not good, saying it would take some "extreme hackery."

Retina Display

Like the iPhone 4, the new iPod Touch boasts a Retina display, which boasts a resolution of 640 by 960 pixels, which iFixit notes is four times the total pixels in the previous iPod Touch display, which offered a 320 by 480 resolution. The only noticeable difference when the Touch is turned off is that the Retina display (on the bottom of this image) looks black, compared to the grayish color of the earlier iPod Touch.

After opening the iPod Touch, iFixit found that the device's front glass and LCD panel are "permanently fused together," just as they are on the iPhone 4. This means that dust will be unable to get below the glass, but also that any repairs are going to cost you a lot more.

While the iPhone 4's Retina display uses a technology called In-Plane Switching, or IPS, which is designed to enhance colors and improve viewing angles, it has been rumored that the iPod Touch lacks IPS. From what iFixit found, that could very well be true. This image shows how the same screen looks different on the iPhone 4 (top) and the iPod Touch (bottom) when viewed at an extreme angle.

High-Powered Battery

At the iPod launch event last week, Apple touted the Touch's improved battery life, claiming that you can get more than 40 hours out of it. iFixit found that the batter listed a capacity of 3.44 Watt-hours, but says that, unfortunately, it's still not easy to remove.

High-Powered Chips

Apple also is touting the more powerful chips used in the new iPod Touch and, after digging through the device, the folks at iFixit got a good look at the chip. The Touch features the same A4 processor that you'll find in the iPad and the iPhone 4. What was most noticeable about the A4 processor, though, was the marking that iFixit found. "The key marking of interest on the A4 processor package is K4X2G643GE. This is identical to the marking found on the iPad processor, but different from the iPhone 4 processor. The iPad has 256 MB RAM, while the iPhone 4 features 512 MB. Unfortunately, this means that like the iPad, the new iPod Touch includes only 256 MB of RAM," iFixit concludes.

Conclusions

If your one hope was that the iPod Touch would be an easy device to repair, well, you're mostly out of luck. While iFixit found the device relatively easy to open, it only earns a 4 out of 10 on iFixit's reparability scale. If you pick up one of these new devices, then, you'll want to make sure to take good care of it.

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