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How does the original iPad compare to the iPod touch 3rd Generation and the iPhone 4 that were available when the iPad was introduced?
Please note that the original iPad and the iPod touch 3rd Generation have been discontinued. Apple continues to sell a version of the iPhone 4. This Q&A can be quite useful to anyone considering these models on the used market.
At first glance, it is obvious that the iPad is larger than the iPod touch 3rd Generation and the iPhone 4 models available at the time the iPad was released, but beyond the size differences there are a number of feature and technical differences between the devices that merit closer evaluation. There are different contractual requirements as well.
It also is worth noting that there have been several iPhone and iPod touch models, and this Q&A compares the iPad to the iPhone 4 (GSM) and 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the 3rd Generation iPod touch, hereafter referred to simply as the iPhone 4 and the iPod touch 3rd Gen, respectively.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Wi-Fi Only iPad - Front, Back, & Side)
The iPhone 4 and iPod touch 3rd Gen both have a 3.5" display, but the iPod touch display has a resolution of 320x480 (163 ppi) whereas the iPhone 4 has a much higher resolution 960x640 (326 ppi) "retina" display. The iPad has a physically larger 9.7" 1024x768 display but it is lower density (132 ppi). The iPod touch and iPad have black frames around the display whereas the iPhone 4 has a a chemically hardened "aluminosilcate" glass front over both the display and either a white or black frame.
The iPhone 4 and iPad both have "oleophobic" (oil repellent) coatings, the iPhone 4 front and back, whereas the iPod touch does not.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 4 - Left, iPod touch 3rd Gen - Right)
Externally, the front of all three effectively are the display, but the housing design and back material differences are notable. The iPad uses a matte aluminum case (models equipped with 3G have a plastic area on the top rear for the 3G antenna), the iPod touch 3rd Gen has a "mirror" reflective chromed steel rear case with an oval shaped plastic "window" for the wi-fi antenna, and the iPhone 4 has a stainless steel "band" that holds a chemically hardened white or black glass back that matches its front in material as well.
Although these particular models are not difficult to differentiate from one another based on design, it is particularly easy to mistake any of these devices with an earlier or later one from the same series.
The Original iPad (Wi-Fi Only) and Original iPad (Wi-Fi/3G) are model numbers A1219 and A1337, respectively. The 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Generation are model number A1318 and the iPhone 4 (GSM) is model number A1332.
These models can be differentiated by other identifiers as well, such as the order number, which can be located by selecting the Settings app and pressing General > About and scrolling down to what is specified as "Model" within the iOS.
iOS Support & Software Differences
The iPhone 4 and iPod touch 3rd Gen both run iOS 4 -- note that the 8 GB configuration of the iPod touch 3rd Gen does not support all features of iOS 4 -- but the original iPad shipped initially iOS 3.2 with iOS 4 support promised later.
The iPhone 4 is capable of running iOS 6, whereas the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen and the original iPad are not supported running versions of the iOS beyond iOS 5.1.1.
All three devices support wireless keyboards via Bluetooth 2.1+EDR or the Apple keyboard dock accessory, although naturally, with the physically larger display, the iPad is better suited for composing full documents (and spreadsheets and presentations as well).
It also is worth mentioning that a version of iWork -- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote -- was exclusively available for the iPad and a version of iMovie was exclusively available for the iPhone 4 (iWork cannot run on the iPhone 4 and iMovie could not run on the iPad at the time it was initially released). These applications cannot run on the iPod touch 3rd Gen either.
The iPhone 4 has dual cameras -- a 5 megapixel HD video/still camera (720p at 30 FPS) with a "backside illuminated sensor," a 5X digital zoom, and an LED flash on the rear and a VGA quality video/still camera on the front designed for video conferencing over a Wi-Fi network with Apple's included "FaceTime" application. The iPod touch 3rd Gen and original iPad models, however, do not have cameras at all.
All three have accelerometers that allow each to "know" whether it is being held in portrait or landscape mode and switch automatically and an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness. All also have Wi-Fi -- 802.11b/g and the 2.4 GHz frequency of 802.11n for the iPhone 4 and full 802.11b/g/n for the iPad and 802.11b/g for the third generation iPod touch (the hardware is capable of 802.11n, but it is unsupported in software).
Otherwise, features are quite different between the three devices. The iPhone 4 has "phone" capability, mobile phone networking (3G/EDGE), GPS-A support, , a digital compass, a three-axis gyroscope, and voice control functionality. The 3rd Gen iPod touch has voice control but lacks the remaining features (phone, 3G, GPS-A, cameras, digital compass, and gyroscope). The original iPad models likewise do not have mobile phone voice capability, voice control, cameras, or a gyroscope, but all do include a digital compass. High-end iPad models (US$629-US$829) have 3G networking and A-GPS as well.
Internally, the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the 3rd Gen iPod touch use a Samsung ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 800 MHz, the iPad models have 16, 32, or 64 GB of storage and use a custom ARM-based 1 GHz "Apple A4" system-on-a-chip, and the iPhone 4 has 16 GB or 32 GB of storage and uses a 1 GHz Apple A4 processor like the iPad, as well.
Upfront pricing for the 3rd Gen iPod touch and iPad have no contractual strings attached. As of the date last updated, wireless plans for iPad models equipped with 3G connectivity were available without a contract for US$15/month with a 200 MB data transfer limit and US$25/month with a 2 GB of data limit via AT&T Wireless in the US, although plans have subsequently changed. The iPhone 4, on the other hand, required a two-year contract with AT&T Wireless in the US at a minimum cost of US$54.99/month. iPhone 4 contractual requirements also have changed since the device first was released.
For your convenience, the primary differences between the iPad, 3rd Gen iPod touch and the iPhone 4 are summarized below:
iPod touch 3
iPhone 4 GSM
|Primary Functionality:||Fullscreen Web
3G & GPS*
Wi-Fi & 3G/EDGE
Dual Video Cameras
Basic Video Editing
|Display Size:||9.7" (1024x768)||3.5" (320x480)||3.5" (960x640)|
|Display PPI:||132 ppi||163 ppi||326 ppi|
|Oleophobic Coating:||Front||None||Front & Back|
|Housing Material:||Glass & Aluminum||Glass & Steel||Glass & Steel|
|Processor Speed:||1 GHz||800 MHz||N/A|
|Data Networks:||2G/3G* & Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||2G/3G & Wi-Fi|
|Storage Size:||16, 32, 64 GB||32, 64 GB||16, 32 GB|
|Talk Time (3G):||N/A||N/A||7 Hours|
|Talk Time (2G):||N/A||N/A||14 Hours|
|Music Runtime:||10 Hours**||30 Hours||40 Hours|
|Video Runtime:||10 Hours**||6 Hours||10 Hours|
|Video Recording:||No||No||720p & VGA|
|Shake to Shuffle:||No||Yes||Yes|
|Nike + iPod:||No||Yes||Yes|
|Original iOS:||iPhone OS 3.2||iPhone OS 3.1.1||iOS 4.0|
|Maximum iOS:||iOS 5.1.1||iOS 5.1.1†*||iOS 6.x|
|Dimensions (In):||9.56 x 7.47 x 0.5||4.3 x 2.4 x 0.33||4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37|
|Weight:||1.5 or 1.6 lbs||4.05 oz. (115 g)||4.8 oz. (137 g)|
|Original Price:||US$499-US$829††||US$199-US$399†††||US$199, US$299§|
* Only high-end iPad models (US$629-US$829) have 2G/3G networking and A-GPS.
** Apple doesn't break out individual tasks for the battery life of the iPad. For more info, see "What is the battery life of the iPad in 'real-world' tests? Can you replace the battery?"
† The 3rd Gen iPod touch does not have an internal microphone, but it supports the external Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic and some third-party products. The Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic are standard with the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations.
†* The 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen support a maximum of iOS 5.1.1.
†† The iPad with 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of storage and Wi-Fi were US$499, US$599, and US$699, respectively. Configured with the same capacity, but 3G and A-GPS in addition to Wi-Fi cost US$629, US$729, and US$829.
††† The 8 GB iPod touch (3rd Gen) is offered for US$199, the 32 GB is US$299, and the 64 GB is US$399.
§These prices are advertised only for "qualified" AT&T Wireless customers. For "non-qualified" customers or those "who wish to buy iPhone as a gift," the price of these devices with a new two-year agreement is US$599 or US$699.
Ultimately, the iPod touch 3rd Gen is best suited for those who want a handheld computer capable of playing music, displaying photos and videos, surfing the web, and playing games.
The iPhone 4 also is a handheld computer capable of doing everything the iPod touch is capable of doing and then some with phone, mobile data connectivity, GPS, dual camera functionality, and more -- and has a truly beautiful display -- but it also often is tied to an expensive monthly plan.
The iPad is larger and is best suited for those who need portable -- but not handheld -- mobile Internet use, media playback, a digital book reader, as well as basic productivity applications and a full-size keyboard "dock". Only you can decide which device -- or devices -- are best for you.