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How does the original iPad compare to the iPod touch and iPhone that were available when the iPad was introduced?
Please note that this Q&A compares the original iPad to the iPod touch 3rd Generation and iPhone 3GS, which were the current models when the iPad first was introduced. However, it still can be quite useful for one considering any of these devices on the used market.
At first glance, it is obvious that the iPad is larger than the iPod touch and iPhone, but beyond the size differences there are a number of feature and technical differences that merit closer evaluation. There were significantly 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 original iPad to the iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (3rd Gen/Late 2009), which were current when the original iPad was introduced. Note that the iPod touch (3rd Gen/Late 2009) is the third generation of the iPod touch line, but it does not have 3G wireless capability.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPad - Front, Back, & Side)
The iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (3rd Gen), both have a 3.5" 320x480 (163 ppi) display and the iPad has a 9.7" 1024x768 (132 ppi) display. The iPhone 3GS and iPad have "oleophobic" (oil repellent) coatings as well. The iPad has a "lock" to hold the device in one orientation or another too.
The front of all three effectively are the display, but the 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/Late 2009) has a chromed steel rear case with an oval shaped plastic "window" for the wi-fi antenna, and the iPhone 3GS models use either black or white plastic for the rear case which allows data and voice signals to penetrate the housing.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Left - iPod touch 3rd Gen, Center & Right - iPhone 3GS)
As the original iPad is obviously much larger, the iPod touch has a chrome metal back, and the iPhone 3GS has a plastic back, there is little reason to mistake these three devices for one another.
However, it can be quite challenging to differentiate these devices from other iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone models, and consequently, it is helpful to know the model number in small type on the back of each for identification purposes.
The 8 GB iPod touch 3rd Gen -- which essentially is the same as the iPod touch 2nd Gen -- is model number A1288, the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen are model number A1318, the iPhone 3GS is model number A1303 and the China-only iPhone 3GS that does not have wi-fi is model number A1325.
Assuming that the device will boot, it may be even easier to identify one by order number with Everyi.com's Ultimate iLookup feature or the EveryMac app. Apple refers to the order number as "Model" in software. To find the "Model" select the "Settings" app and then click General > About > and scroll down until the field is visible.
Internally, the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch (3rd Gen) and the iPhone 3GS use a Samsung ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 800 MHz (but the iPhone 3GS is "downclocked" to 600 MHz to conserve battery life) and the iPad models use a custom ARM-based 1 GHz "Apple A4" system-on-a-chip. Internal storage for the iPod touch (3rd Gen) is 8 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB, 16 GB or 32 GB for the iPhone 3GS, and 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB for the iPad.
All 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 for the iPhone 3GS and third generation iPod touch (hardware capable of 802.11n, but unsupported in software), and 802.11a/b/g/n for the iPad line. All support Bluetooth 2.1+EDR too.
Features are quite different between the three devices. The iPhone 3GS has "phone" capability, mobile phone networking (3G/EDGE), GPS-A support, an integrated still/video camera, a digital compass, and voice control functionality. The iPod touch (3rd Gen/Late 2009) has voice control but lacks the remaining features (phone, 3G, GPS-A, camera, and digital compass).
iPad models likewise do not have mobile phone voice capability, voice control, or a camera, but all do include a digital compass. High-end iPad models (US$629-US$829) have 3G networking and A-GPS.
iOS Support & Software Differences
As originally shipped, the original iPad, iPod touch (3rd Gen), and iPhone 3GS all ran a version of iPhone OS 3.0 (subsequently renamed iOS).
The original iPad can support a maximum of iOS 5.1.1, the iPod touch (3rd Gen) with 8 GB of storage can run a maximum of iOS 4.2 (but some features, like multitasking, are not supported), the iPod touch (3rd Gen) with 32 GB or 64 GB of storage can run a maximum of iOS 5.1.1, and the iPhone 3GS can support a maximum of iOS 6.x.
The majority of applications written for the iPhone or iPod touch will run on the iPad. The iPad originally shipped with e-reader software (iBooks) and optional additional productivity software (a version of the iWork applications) in addition to the option of an external keyboard dock accessory (for US$69) that makes it easier to compose full documents on the iPad (and spreadsheets and presentations as well).
Upfront pricing for the iPod touch (3rd Gen) and iPad had no contractual strings attached. For iPad models equipped with 3G connectivity, 3G data plans originally were available without a contract for US$14.99/month with a 250 MB data transfer limit and US$29.99/month for unlimited use via AT&T Wireless in the US. Also in the US, the iPhone 3GS required a two-year contract with AT&T Wireless at a minimum cost of US$69.99/month.
For your convenience, the primary differences between the iPad, iPod touch (3rd Gen) and the iPhone 3GS are summarized below:
|Primary Functionality:||Fullscreen Web
3G & GPS*
Wi-Fi & 3G/EDGE
Still & Video Camera
|Display Size:||9.7" (1024x768)||3.5" (320x480)||3.5" (320x480)|
|Processor Speed:||1 GHz||800 MHz||600 MHz|
|Data Networks:||2G/3G* & Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||2G/3G & Wi-Fi|
|Storage Size:||16, 32, 64 GB||8, 32, 64 GB||16, 32 GB|
|Talk Time (3G):||N/A||N/A||5 Hours|
|Talk Time (2G):||N/A||N/A||12 Hours|
|Music Runtime:||Forthcoming||30 Hours||30 Hours|
|Video Runtime:||Forthcoming||6 Hours||10 Hours|
|Shake to Shuffle:||No||Yes||Yes|
|Nike + iPod:||No||Yes||Yes|
|Back Exterior:||Matte Aluminum||Chrome Steel||Black/White Plastic|
|Dimensions (In):||9.56 x 7.47 x 0.5||4.3 x 2.4 x 0.33||4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48|
|Weight:||1.5 or 1.6 lbs||4.05 oz. (115 g)||4.8 oz. (135 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.
** The iPod touch (3rd Gen) 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 iPad with 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of storage and Wi-Fi is US$499, US$599, and US$699, respectively. Configured with the same capacity, but 3G and A-GPS in addition to Wi-Fi costs 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 new AT&T Wireless customers. For non-qualified customers, the price with a new two-year agreement was US$599 or US$699.
Ultimately, the iPod touch 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 also is a handheld computer capable of doing everything the iPod touch is capable of doing and includes a phone, mobile data connectivity, GPS, and camera functionality, but 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.