iPod Touch review (7th-gen): do you still need an iPod in 2020?

The iPod Touch returns for one last hurrah

iPod Touch review 7th gen
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

With few changes from the 6th-gen model, the 7th-gen iPod Touch doesn't have much going for it – but it is compact, inexpensive, and capable of running the latest iOS software.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Slips easily into your pocket

  • +

    Still a decent music player

  • +

    Won't cost you much at all

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Tiny screen and big bezels

  • -

    No cellular connectivity

  • -

    Apps feel rather cramped

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In this iPod Touch review, all your burning questions will be answered including:

Is the iPod Touch still worth having if you don't have an iPhone but do want to take your tunes and apps around with you? Can you cope with yet another gadget taking up space in your bag or pocket? Is the iPod Touch still perfect for the kids? We've been testing out the 7th-gen model to find out.

Just when everyone thought the iPod Touch was finally dead and buried, Apple goes and brings out a brand new model. But do you really still need one in the age of the smartphone? The changes are slight over the 6th-gen iPod Touch that appeared in 2015 – it's basically the same chassis, with a bump in processor and performance, but that isn't the only thing to consider.

A new 7th-gen iPod Touch will set you back £199 (with 32GB of storage), £299 (with 128GB of storage), and £399 (with 256GB of storage). By comparison, a 256GB iPhone XR is £899... so we're talking about a big price difference. Your colour options are pink, silver, grey, gold, blue and red.

And the iPod Touch runs iOS 12 too, just like the latest iPhones, and it'll get the iOS 13 update later this year as well. That means on a software level you can do just about anything you can do on the iPhones, except making calls and using cellular data.

iPod Touch 7th-gen: set up and design

iPod Touch review 7th gen

(Image credit: Future)

Setting up iOS is a breeze these days, with or without iTunes, and if you've already got an iPhone up and running then the iPod Touch can automatically grab your Apple login details and settings from it. There's no Touch ID here though, or Face ID, so it's passcodes every time – something which feels painfully old-fashioned.

Talking about out-dated tech, the 4-inch screen feels tiny by modern standards. Even with the relatively thick bezels, it's a small device that you'll barely notice in a pocket, and which is easily operated with one hand. Apps feel squashed and too small, but on the plus side it's the perfect size for runners to wear strapped to an arm.

The tech might be old, but the Apple build quality and polish is still in evidence here – it's still an aesthetically appealing device, especially with those different colour choices. Another nod to the past is worth mentioning: the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can carry on using your existing wired headphones if you want to.

That Apple hasn't given the iPod Touch an iPad Pro-style makeover, with thin bezels and Face ID, is telling – it means that this could well be the last incarnation we see of the iPod, or that Apple is keen to keep the price as low as possible, or both. That lack of change isn't going to help sales though.

iPod Touch 7th-gen: features and performance

iPod Touch review 7th gen

(Image credit: Future)

Did we all really use to get by with phones this size? The screen on the 4-inch, 1,136 x 640 pixel display is fine, it's just so... well... small. From checking email to watching movies to flicking through menus, you're going to find yourself wishing that there was more screen real estate available here.

It's actually not bad for music, which is what the iPod Touch is primarily for anyway. Apple Music, Spotify and similar apps work fine here, without many on-screen controls to clutter up the interface. The 7th generation of this device continues its strong traditions as a music player, and you have the usual support for standards like AirPlay and Chromecast (in compatible apps) too.

The biggest and indeed only real upgrade over the 6th-gen iPod Touch is the introduction of the A10 Fusion processor (first seen in the iPhonev 7). It's still capable of running apps very quickly indeed – we didn't notice any slowdown or lag when using apps or playing games, and it even means you can do some cool augmented reality tricks with the device's camera.

As for battery life, Apple says you can expect 8 hours of video playback and 40 hours of music playback. After an hour of Netflix watching, we found the battery drained from 100 percent down to 81 percent – so Apple is perhaps being a bit ambitious there (we did have the brightness and volume cranked up, to be fair).

iPod Touch 7th-gen: verdict

iPod Touch review 7th gen

(Image credit: Future)

The 7th-gen iPod Touch is fine. It's fast, it's well-built, it's very affordable, and it comes in a range of neat-looking colours. Who is it for though? Who is going to spend several hundreds of pounds on this rather than an iPhone or an iPad?

The iPod Touch has two key characteristics – a low price and a small size. That makes it perfect for kids (and iOS has some decent parental controls built into it), and for running and cycling enthusiasts who want something lightweight to take out with them. Add in the 3.5mm audio jack, which is another reason to pick this up for your music listening, and you can see how the device would suit some people.

It still serves its purpose as a music player. We could imagine people picking up an iPod Touch to control a Sonos system, or to stream Spotify to some wireless speakers, or to keep on top of their smart home devices. You could see it as an iPhone accessory in some ways, and of course with the latest iOS software it plays very nicely with every other bit of hardware Apple makes (including the HomePod).

All that said, the dated design, reliance on Wi-Fi, and small screen is likely to put a lot of people off – not to mention the fact that you've probably already got something in your pocket that can do everything the iPod Touch 7th-gen can do and more. We're glad Apple is keeping the iPod Touch around, we just wish this was a bigger upgrade.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.