The original iPod was one of Steve Job’s crazy ideas meant to turn around the ailing company he was kicked out of. When he’d left Apple it was a juggernaut in personal computing, but the people who took over from him did not understand the philosophy that made Apple successful in the first place.
There was plenty of skepticism when Apple decided to go into the music business, but clearly it paid off big time. While Apple is all about the iPhone and its various subscription services these days, the iPod put it on the map as an innovative consumer electronics giant. The idea of storing thousands of songs in your pocket and linking it to an online digital music store essentially saved the record industry and showed how a modern media industry could work.
Still, now we have iPads and iPhones, and the rest of the world has Android. Does the iPod still have a place? Believe it or not, a 7th-generation iPod Touch was released in 2019. Clearly Apple thinks there’s still a market for this device, but is there a reason for you to buy one?
What’s an iPod Today Anyway?
The only iPod you can buy new today is the iPod Touch. In essence its an iPhone without the cellular bit. You can’t make calls, but if you connect it to a WiFi hotspot the iPod Touch can pretty much do anything an iPhone can. Of course, it doesn’t have the specifications of a new iPhone, but it does have some surprisingly spry hardware in the form of the A10 fusion system-on-a-chip. The screen is much smaller and not as detailed either. But wait, it does get better!
A Beautiful Walled Garden
Just like the other devices sold by Apple, the iPod Touch gets you into its curated, walled garden of apps and services. While Apple hardware is generally nice, its operating system and online services are what really make it worth the price of entry.
If you want to use Apple Music, Apple TV+, or Apple Arcade this is the entry level to get in the door. The $199 model comes with 32GB of storage space, which is more than enough to store a handful of premium apps and quite a lot of music. If you’re already deeply invested in Android, but want to try life in Apple’s garden, an iPod Touch makes a lot of sense.
The Kids Are Alright
If you don’t give your kid a smart device of their own at a pretty early age, you might be holding them back from an introduction to modern technology they’ll need later in life. Then again, the internet is a scary place and without a bit of chaperoning your little ones could run into adult content or worse.
iOS has some pretty great parental control features, so giving junior their own iPod Touch is no issue if you set it up right. It’s “my first smartphone”, but that doesn’t mean adults should ignore it. It’s still a powerful piece of entertainment kit.
A Great Games Machine
Mobile devices are actually pretty good gaming machines, but thanks to the overall business model of this market the games themselves tend to be less than great. With a focus on free-to-play nickel-and-dime games, it can be a real Wild West out there. While the Apple App Store isn’t immune to this, iOS has a much larger share of exclusive, premium games. You’d be surprised how well the iPod Touch 7th generation can act as a gaming machine, with the A10 chip it packs. Combine that with the fact that iOS 13 has native support for gamepads, and you have a corker of gaming machine.
Best of all, Apple’s $5 Apple Arcade service offers a huge library of premium download-once games with no in-app purchases. That, combined with this inexpensive iDevice, is a recipe for a good time.
The Classic iPhone Form Factor
Since Steve’s passing, iPhones have been copying the Android flagships and growing bigger with each iteration. Apple must have been pretty surprised when people started pining for the classic iPhone form factor, but when they released the iPhone SE it was a huge hit. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the SE line is dead, but the iPod Touch still offers what’s essentially the shape of the old iPhone. Perfect for one-handed use and for people with small hands.
In the Hot Spot
Just because the iPod Touch is limited to WiFi, that doesn’t mean you have to keep it at home. Most hotels and restaurants have WiFi now and just about any smartphone can act as a portable WiFi hotspot. So the iPod Touch could be great on car trips with in-car WiFi sharing or on a plane. It’s a cheap additional screen that can still share in the internet that’s locally available.
The Price is Right
The final reason is perhaps the most obvious one. The iPod Touch 7th generation tablet-thingy is by far the cheapest way to get a modern iOS device. You can’t enjoy the wealth of App Store apps for less anywhere else in a mobile form factor. That makes it a great primary device for someone you can’t afford to buy the full iPhone for, or simply someone who should not have one yet. You could buy a cheap Android tablet or phone to do things like play Netflix or entertain the kids with games, but none of them are in the same universe quality-wise as the iPod at this price. So, far from being a product with no purpose, it turns out that the 7th-generation iPod Touch still has a pretty cozy place in the Apple family.