For a while, Apple has been selling two generations of iPod touch side by side: the 16GB and 32GB, 3.5-inch, Retina display fourth-generation versions and the 32GB and 64GB, 4-inch, Retina fifth-generation models. That confusion finally ended when Apple recently introduced a 4-inch 16GB iPod touch and in the process killed off the older fourth-generation for good.
Did I say the confusion ended? Well, sort of. In most ways, the $229 16GB fifth-generation iPod touch is identical to the 32- and 64GB fifth-generation models released in October 2012. It has the same 4-inch Retina display, the same dual-core A5 processor, the same front-facing FaceTime HD camera (with its 1.2-megapixel photos and 720p video capabilities), the same bundled Lightning cable and remote-less EarPods, and the same dimensions. The 16GB model is in fact notable only for what it lacks: It offers no rear-facing iSight camera, no strap post (and therefore no strap), and no choice in colors (this model comes only with a black face and silver back).
Given that it has no new or improved capabilities over its higher-capacity siblings, your buying choice is nicely narrowed down to just a few factors: Money, storage space, and what you want from an iPod touch's camera.
The money portion of the equation is simple enough. This iPod is $70 less than the next model. If your iPod budget doesn't run to $300 but you still want a (very capable) iPod touch, this is the one you'll get.
How much capacity you need depends on how you intend to use a device like this. If you plan to stream--rather than store--a lot of media and aren't the kind of serious gamer who hopes to load countless storage-sucking diversions on your iOS device, the 16GB it offers may meet your needs perfectly. If you're more of an "I want a lot of media and apps with me all the time" person, you'd be better served by the 32- or 64GB model.
And then there's the lack of a rear-facing camera. The front-facing camera is great for FaceTime and "selfies," but the presence of just that single camera is going to put a serious dent in your Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook lives. We increasingly share videos and images over social networking services, and that requires a camera that allows you to frame your subjects. For the most part, a front-facing camera doesn't allow that--unless you're the kind of person who shares pictures and videos of yourself almost exclusively.
And that introduces the dilemma of the 16GB iPod touch as a gift, particularly for younger people. Its price makes it a natural. But, for many, the inability to use that gift for a favorite social activity means it won't be nearly as welcome as the higher-priced iPod touches. While this is hardly a "buyer beware" caveat, those considering this iPod as a gift will want to be aware of just how much the recipient uses social media.
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