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The iPod Touch 4th Generation, I am not a fan of this one

iPod Touch 4th Generation... a step right off the curb into a warm steamy pile

The Touch model iPod has now been made for 4 years. A new version is released each September.

I'm writing this at the top of the page, but I want you to read the entirety. When you finish the read, you come away with the unmistakable impression that Apple created a faulty product and imbued it with advertising that leads you to the false impression that it's engineered to be durable. IT ISN'T

Initially Apple wouldn't help people that had shattered their front glass. Then they began to allow people to buy a new replacement for $99 plus tax.

Then in early February 2011, I got a call from a client in Sebastopol. She had gone into the local Apple store in the Santa Rosa Plaza with Touch 4th Gen that had a shattered front glass. Like most attractive girls walking into a nerd environment..... she began cupcaking the "genius" (again really a sales person.... given presumed authority on a subject by title). He went out of his way to get her a new one for free. When I heard the story, I was pleased and shocked... because this is the exact reason the girls I date never get a traffic ticket and I get their share.

Move forward a week and I told the story to a guy, David Kearns. They appear to be giving free replacements to everybody! Here is our exchange. He mentioned that he liked the camera on the Touch. I'm a well regarded photographer and I use Canon gear. The metering and flash fill on the Elph Power Shot destroys the Apple camera. If I want to take a shot to keep the memory, I don't use an inferior camera and bring a separate Canon point and shoot with me.


i hear you, i just really like the camera (on the Touch). should have probably just gotten an iphone, i have att, but not ready for upgrade (ie special price) and didn't want to get locked into a data plan. wi-fi is adequate for my needs.

On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 1:43 PM, Frank wrote:

The cameras on these things isn't good enough to save a memory on.

Get a Canon S95 and carry it separately.... that's what i do and I go to.... over night dance parties and festivals continually

On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 1:55 PM, DAVE KEARNS wrote:

too many gizmos as it is, I have a good camera for real pictures, but thanks for the advice. The ipod was really handy on a just-completed x-country road trip, snapshot quality ok, video pretty decent for my needs. the info on your site is great, wish I'd seen it a month ago....


FYI...they gave me a free brand new questions asked.....

I think it is all literal and figurative 'damage control', they know they made a way-too-fragile device, and there is still plenty of inventory.... Thanks again for the info.

On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 10:52 AM, Frank wrote:
I heard they also did this with a woman at the SR plaza store.

So I'll pass this on.


One of the problems Apple has faced with the iPod product line has been "feature overlap". By the time the Nano 5th Gen came out, that Nano was feature packed and a small device. The Nano 5th Gen was capable of playing music, podcasts, videos, movies, and TV shows. The Nano 5th Gen even has an FM radio (with a radio Tivo function) and a camera capable of taking still digital photos and shooting video. The Nan 5th Gen lacks the WiFi capability of the Touch and it won't do quite all the Touch will, but the feature creep in the Nano line was pretty long.

The Nano iPods and the Touch iPods both rely on NAND flash memory chips to maintain their memory state for their files and OS. The Nano was developed to be an active/sports user model for someone that would be too stressful with the traditional "Classic" or hard drive based model. Those two models are entirely solid state.

Okay, you're Apple.... and the subordinate model to the Touch, the Nano already has a camera in it. And the iPhone has had a camera in it from day one. What do you do to "reset" the Touch feature set, that will push down the Nano again and elevate the Touch? The answer is to move the iPhone's (and soon iPad 2nd Gen's) camera and the FaceTime application to it.

The Touch 4th Gen has two cameras in it. One is at the center-top-front and the other is at the top-left-back on the iPod.

The Touch 4th Gen is slightly thinner than the 3rd gen. But the device is as fragile as a saltine cracker so everyone puts them in a thick big heavy case... you know the famous Otter Box things to protect its overly frail display.

The two cameras are there to be used for FaceTime....
A feature presented in Apple ads over and over is FaceTime. The ability to "video call".... and what a name to present back to a FaceBook aged audience. If you were an iMac, MacBook or a late iBook user, you would already be familiar with iChat AV (audio visual) and it's basically the same thing re-branded with a hip "FaceBook" style name. iChat grew out of AOL's instant messaging. It was actually the Mac client to use AOL IM. Later Apple added other functionality by building iChat with support for open source technology for XMPP or Jabber messaging. After that they added support to build it out to a Mac to Mac video capable calling technology. Again both sides of the call had to be using a Mac.

Okay... in order to use FaceTime.... on an iPod Touch.. officially, in an Apple blessed way....

a) both sides of the conversation have to be using an iPod Touch 4th or an iPhone 4, or soon a Mac or an iPad.
b) both sides of the conversation have to be connected to the internet using a WiFi connection while using FaceTime, it doesn't officially work on the ATT data network (you can jailbreak a phone to use the ATT data network) so with an iPhone 4 or iPad 3G you would still have to be near a WiFi hot spot
c) both parties to the conversation have to like the way they look enough at *that* moment to want to be seen

Now that you know what it requires.... you realize it is almost *never* used... ever... I don't know one iPod Touch 4th Gen or i4 owner personally that has ever put those three things together and used FaceTime. Even when the three things, (2 Touch/i4's + WiFi + looking good) are at hand you never think about using them to make a FaceTime call.

Although Apple limits FaceTime to Wi-Fi only by having the app route the data to the WiFi connection, you can use FaceTime on an i4 or iPad 3G through the 3G network connection. To do this you have to jailbreak the phone/iPad and put on it one of three apps.. commercial apps bought through Cydia Store. Those apps are FaceBreak, 3G Unrestrictor or My3G which patch the FaceTime data connection from the WiFi connection to the 3G network baseband connection.

FaceTime generates about 3 megabytes of data in an average minute that has to be transferred. If you are using the 3G connection out *and* you are on one of the new "limited data plans", you would go through the $15/200MB plan in an hour

So one of the most "emotionally engaging" selling points for the Touch is never really used. Let's move onto the display....

the Retina Display and the "Engineered Glass"

Let's get some distressing news, out of the way.

*do* replace the smashed front screens on iPod Touch 4th Gen models. The replacement/repair takes about 90 minutes and is unnecessarily expensive because Apple chose to glue the upper glass and digitizer and LCD all together as a single part. The repair for the Touch 4G is made more even complex because LCD and the digitizer connect to different sides of its logic board. This requires the entire device to be taken apart, entirely. In the past the connections for those two parts were easily at hand *and* because they were discrete parts, far cheaper to replace.

Apple advertises the Glass on the i4, and by implication the iPod Touch 4th Gen, as "the same type of glass used in the windshields of helicopters and high-speed trains". Both of those applications aren't the same as what an iPod Touch is used for. But it certainly makes it sound like important glass!

If a helicopter falls out of the sky, or a train de-rails.. we expect the glass to break... and it does. What we want helicopter and train windshield glass to do is break apart immediately and into small pieces, so it doesn't create un-necessary injury to occupants of the helicopter or train. And we want the glass to break and blow away immediately under modest stress. Remember the real criteria for a windshield are that it exhibit strength under wind pressure against it, that it be light and that it break apart fast and small.

On the Touch the broken glass turns into small glass pieces like what you see when car door window glass gets broken... tiny small tempered glass bits. In the Touch 2nd and 3rd Gen, the upper glass could be cracked, but the screen and digitizer would still work. The cracked screen held together and you could effectively use the iPod for months. That is far less true with Touch 4th Gen.

The Retina Display introduces some problems. The display has 4 times more resolution than the 2nd and 3rd Gen Touch. In order to make it operate correctly Apple had to make the digitizer line up over the LCD perfectly, on a pixel for pixel basis. If they weren't lined up perfectly then the instance of you getting the "D" instead of the "S" would be much greater than it is already.

To make the digitizer (which interprets finger movement) line up perfectly over the LCD so mistakes are minimized, Apple had the Upper Glass (the part your finger touches), the digitizer (the part that interprets finger movement on the upper glass) and LCD screen (which displays the color information you interact with... apps/icons) all glued together.

Because those parts have to all be replaced together, the "screen repair" is much more expensive.

Let's discuss why you might *need* the "Retina Display". The answer is short, you don't need it. The resolution of that LCD is higher than your eye can perceive. That's how the name was thought up. "This LCD display has a greater resolution than the human eye's retina can discern or perceive." Hence 'Retina Display'. If your eye can't even pick up that subtlety and the one in the 3rd Gen was fine, you have now stepped into an obvious realm where you are getting a "feature" and paying for it that can't be genuinely discerned as useful.

So the Retina Display, adds initial cost for a feature that's necessity is doubtful and its full value can't be used. As I've mentioned it drove the parts and replacement costs for repairs up mightily.

The Touch 4th Gen is the Touch I can finally say that Apple has produced which I have no affection for.

If I were spending money... if I were shopping for something like the iPod Touch I would try to find a 3rd Gen. Read this article and you can typically buy a new 3rd gen from Apple for about 30% off.

If you can wait until September 2012 for the iPod Touch 5th Generation.... I am sure Apple will have better engineering in it and repairs will become affordable again.

Call 707-544-4400


email me at with questions or to set up a repair.


Monday through Friday from 10am to 7pm, and Saturday & Sunday noon to 6pm.

I'm in Sonoma County... Northern California wine country,

    Frank Walburg
    Service Court
    Santa Rosa, Ca 95403-3139

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