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What are all the differences between the iPod touch 3rd Generation (A1318) and the 2010, 2011, and 2012 iPod touch 4th Generation (A1367)?
Please note that all iPod touch devices mentioned in this Q&A have been discontinued. However, this Q&A has been updated with current iOS support details and it can be quite helpful for anyone buying or selling an iPod touch 3rd Gen or iPod touch 4th Gen on the used market.
One glancing casually at any iPod touch 4th Generation model -- whether from 2010, 2011, or 2012 -- might mistake it for an iPod touch 3rd Generation model, but upon closer inspection there are many quickly apparent differences.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPod touch 3rd Gen - Left, 4th Gen - Right)
iPod touch 4th Gen Differences
However, before delving into the specific differences between the iPod touch 3rd Gen and 4th Gen, it is worthwhile to evaluate the modest differences between the three iPod touch 4th Gen lines. In a nutshell, the 2010, 2011, and 2012 iPod touch 4th Gen models effectively are identical except for color and capacity.
The 2010 and 2011 models both shipped with 8 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of storage, but the 2011 models were offered in white as well as black and were unveiled with a lower introductory price of US$199.
The 2012 models also were offered in black and white, but with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage (and lower prices per gigabyte), but more limited operating system support for "tethering" to a Mac.
Although Everyi.com's Ultimate iLookup feature can uniquely identify these iPod lines by the last four characters of their Serial Numbers, all three are subsequently referenced simply as the 4th Generation for the purpose of this Q&A.
The first most noticeable difference between the iPod touch 3rd Gen and 4th Gen -- at least if the devices are side-by-side -- is that both lines have a multi-touch capable 3.5" display, but the 4th Gen devices have a much higher-resolution 960x640 (326 ppi) "Retina" display compared to a 320x480 (163 ppi) display in the model replaced.
Second, one likely would notice that the iPod touch 4th Gen has two cameras -- a front-mounted camera designed to be used for video conferencing in conjunction with Apple's provided "FaceTime" software over a Wi-Fi network (it takes VGA quality photos and video up to 30 FPS) and a rear-mounted camera which supports HD video recording (720p up to 30 FPS with audio), and can take 960x720 still photos (roughly 0.7 megapixels). The iPod touch 3rd Gen, by contrast, has no cameras at all.
Although the front and rear cameras and the higher resolution display are a giveaway for the iPod touch 4th Gen models when side-by-side with an iPod touch 3rd Gen, subsequent iPod touch models have cameras, as well, and the iPod touch 2nd Gen and 3rd Gen models are more challenging to differentiate.
Consequently, the most certain way to externally identify the iPod touch 4th Gen and 3rd Gen models -- as well as all other iPod models -- is by the Model Number in small type on the back of each device toward the bottom.
Specifically, the iPod touch 4th Gen is model number A1367 and the iPod touch 3rd Gen is model number A1318. The iPod touch 2nd Gen -- as well as the 8 GB iPod touch from 2009 that was released alongside the iPod touch 3rd Gen -- is model number A1288.
Everyi.com's Ultimate iLookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app for iOS 5 or later and Android -- also can identify these iPod models by EMC Number and Order Number (launch the Settings app and then select General > About and finally scroll down to what is referred to as "Model" in the iOS).
Both the site and EveryMac app additionally can identify these devices by the last three or four characters of their Serial Numbers as well (the last three characters for devices with eleven character serial numbers and the last four characters for devices with twelve character serial numbers).
Battery Life Differences
Maximum battery life for the iPod touch 3rd Gen models officially is 30 hours for music playback whereas it is 40 hours for the iPod touch 4th Gen models. For video playback, the 3rd Gen models officially provide six hours of runtime and the 4th Gen provide seven.
Technical & Feature Differences
Both lines have an accelerometer, an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness, built-in support for Wi-Fi (albeit 802.11b/g for the 3rd Gen and 802.11b/g and the 2.4 GHz frequency of 802.11n for the 4th Gen), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, "shake to shuffle" support, and integrated Nike support. The 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen and all iPod touch 4th Gen models also have "Voice Control" navigation capability and a "VoiceOver" screen reader.
However, the 4th Gen model adds the aforementioned FaceTime video conferencing capability and likewise has an integrated speaker and microphone which also makes Skype/VOIP calls without a headset a viable option (at least in a quiet room). The iPod touch 4th Gen has a 3-axis gyroscope for additional gaming options, too.
The 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen have an 800 MHz Samsung ARM processor and 256 MB of RAM, and the iPod touch 4th Gen models, regardless of capacity, have a variable clockspeed Apple A4 processor running in the 700 MHz to 800 MHz range and 256 MB of RAM.
As a more minor point of differentiation, the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen shipped with a pair of "Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic" and the iPod touch 4th Gen models only shipped with standard earbuds (but support both).
iOS Support Differences
The 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen are fully supported running iOS 5.1.1, but are not supported running subsequent versions of the iOS (The 8 GB iPod touch from 2009 that was released alongside the iPod touch 3rd Gen, model number A1288, only is supported running iOS 4.2 maximum).
The iPod touch 4th Gen models, regardless of capacity, run iOS 6.1.3, but they are not fully supported. Most notably, the iPod touch 4th Gen models do not support Maps, Siri, Panorama, and FaceTime over cellular. They are not supported by iOS 7 or subsequent versions of the iOS at all.
For your convenience, the primary differences between the iPod touch 3rd Gen and the iPod touch 4th Gen are summarized below:
iPod touch 3rd Gen
(32/64 GB, Late 2009)
iPod touch 4th Gen
(2010, 2011, 2012)
|Display:||320x480 (163 ppi)||960x640 (326 ppi)|
|Cameras:||None||VGA (30 FPS)
720p (30 FPS, 0.7 MP)
|Processor Speed:||800 MHz||700-800 MHz|
|Processor Type:||Samsung ARM||Apple A4|
|RAM:||256 MB||256 MB|
|Storage Size:||32, 64 GB||8, 16, 32, 64 GB|
|Song Capacity:||7k, 14k||1.75k, 3.5k, 7k, 14k*|
|Photo Capacity:||40k, 90k||10k, 20k, 40k, 90k*|
|Video Capacity:||40, 80 Hours||10, 20, 40, 80 Hours*|
|Battery Life (Music):||30 Hours||40 Hours|
|Battery Life (Video):||6 Hours||7 Hours|
|Shake to Shuffle:||Yes||Yes|
|Nike + iPod Support:||Yes||Yes|
|iOS 5 Support:||Complete||Complete|
|iOS 6 Support:||No||Partial|
|iOS 7 & Later Support:||No||No|
|Dimensions (Inches):||4.3 x 2.4 x 0.33||4.4 x 2.3 x 0.28|
|Weight (Ounces):||4.05 oz. (115 g)||3.56 oz. (101 g)|
|Price (As Introduced):||US$199, US$299, US$399§||US$229, US$299, US$399§|
* Apple stopped providing an official estimate of song, photo and video capacity for the iPod touch 4th Gen models, but as they have the same amount of storage as their predecessors the theoretical maximum capacities should be quite similar.
† The iPod touch 3rd Gen models support an external microphone via the Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic (and some third-party products as well). They do not have an internal microphone.
†† The 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen support Voice Control navigation and the VoiceOver screen reader.
§ The 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 3rd Gen sold for US$299 and US$399, respectively. The 2010 iPod touch 4th Gen models -- with 8 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage -- originally sold for US$229, US$299, and US$399, respectively. The 2011 iPod touch 4th Gen models, with the same capacity, sold for US$199, US$299, and US$399. Finally, the 2012 iPod touch 4th Gen models -- with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage -- sold for US$199 and US$249.
Should I buy an iPod touch 3rd Gen or 4th Gen?
Ultimately, given the better display, cameras, and additional iOS support provided by the iPod touch 4th Gen, only those on tight budgets may wish to instead consider a 3rd Gen model.
For most users, the iPod touch 4th Gen is the better choice. Although it does not support iOS 7, it still has plenty of life left for a frugal user with modest app requirements. Both devices are available at bargain prices on the used market.
To dynamically compare any iPod touch model to all other iPod, iPhone, and iPad models -- new and old alike -- please see Everyi.com's Ultimate iComparison feature.