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What are the differences between the iPod touch 2nd Gen and the iPhone 3G?
Please note that all of the devices mentioned in this Q&A have been discontinued. The iPod touch 2nd Gen was replaced by the iPod touch 3rd Gen on September 9, 2009 and the iPhone 3G was discontinued on June 7, 2010.
In basic terms, the iPod touch 2nd Gen effectively can be thought of an iPhone 3G with much of the same iPod and handheld computing functionality but without the "phone", mobile phone networking (3G/EDGE), GPS-A support, and integrated camera.
On first glance, the iPod touch 2nd Gen even looks about the same as the iPhone 3G.
However, turn the iPod touch 2nd Gen and iPhone 3G around and the external material differences become obvious. The iPod touch 2nd Gen has a chromed steel rear case with an oval shaped plastic "window" for the wi-fi antenna (802.11b/g) and the iPhone 3G models use either black or white plastic for the rear case which allows wi-fi and 3G/EDGE signals to penetrate the housing.
Both the iPod touch 2nd Gen and iPhone 3G have external volume buttons on the left hand side of the device. The iPhone 3G has an integrated speaker and microphone whereas the the iPod touch 2nd Gen has an integrated speaker and supports an external microphone via the Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic (and some third-party products as well).
Although the size differences are rather inconsequential, the iPod touch 2nd Gen is slightly shorter (0.2 inches), thinner (0.15 inches), and lighter (0.65 ounces) than the iPhone 3G.
As the designs are quite different, there is little reason to mistake the iPod touch 2nd Gen and the iPhone 3G for one another. However, it is easy to mistake either for another iPod touch or iPhone, and consequently, it is helpful to know the model number printed in small type on the back of each device for identification purposes.
Feature & Storage Differences
Both the iPod touch 2nd Gen and iPhone 3G have a "multi-touch" sensitive 3.5" display with 320x480 resolution, an accelerometer that allows the device to "know" whether it is being held in portrait or landscape mode and switch automatically, and an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness. The iPhone 3G has two "proximity sensors" as well that automatically turns the display off when it is held to the face for a phone call.
The iPod touch 2nd Gen offers either 8, 16, or 32 GB of storage whereas the iPhone 3G is available with 8 GB or 16 GB. Interestingly, Apple estimates 24 hours of music playback and 7 hours of video for the iPhone 3G and 36 hours of music playback but only 6 hours of video playback for the iPod touch 2nd Gen.
The iPod touch 2nd Gen was introduced with new "shake to shuffle" support -- where shaking the device gently will select another song at random -- a new "Genius" feature that dynamically creates playlists based on "songs that go great together", and integrated support for Nike + iPod. The iPhone 3G was updated in software to support the "Genius" feature, but it does not support "shake to shuffle" or have integrated Nike + iPod support.
Software & iOS Support Differences
Thankfully, Apple discontinued the frustrating practice of attempting to differentiate the iPod touch from the iPhone with software, and as a result, all iPod touch 2nd Gen models shipped with support for all applications that run on the iPhone 3G -- with the exception of those dependent on hardware the iPod touch 2nd Gen doesn't provide (the "phone", 3G/EDGE, GPS module, or camera). Additionally, Apple's "App Store" via iTunes provides easy access to thousands of useful (and useless) applications that are compatible with both devices.
Both devices are capable of running iPhone OS 3.0, which added cut, copy, and paste, as well as "more than 100" other features, and both partially support iOS 4. Versions of the operating system after iOS 4.2, however, are not supported by either.
For your convenience, the primary differences between the iPod touch 2nd Gen and the iPhone 3G are summarized below:
iPod touch 2nd Gen
|Primary Functionality:||Music Playback
Wi-Fi & 3G/EDGE
|Data Networks:||Wi-Fi||EDGE (2nd Gen), 3G & Wi-Fi|
|Storage Size:||8, 16, 32 GB||8, 16 GB|
|Talk Time (3G):||N/A||5 Hours|
|Talk Time (2nd Gen):||N/A||10 Hours|
|Battery Life (Music):||36 Hours||24 Hours|
|Battery Life (Video):||6 Hours||7 Hours|
|Shake to Shuffle:||Yes||No|
|Nike + iPod Support:||Yes||No|
|Back Exterior Finish:||Chrome||Black or White Plastic|
|Max iOS Support:||4.2||4.2|
|Dimensions (Inches):||4.3 x 2.4 x 0.33||4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48|
|Weight (Ounces):||4.05 oz. (115 g)||4.7 oz. (133 g)|
|Intro. Price:||US$229, US$299, US$399§||US$199, US$299†|
* The iPod touch 2nd Gen has a built-in Broadcom BCM4325 "Bluetooth" chip that provides the Nike + iPod Sport Kit support. It does not otherwise support Bluetooth connectivity.
** The iPod touch 2nd Gen does not have an internal microphone, but it supports the external Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic and some third-party products.
§ The 8 GB iPod touch 2nd Gen is offered for US$229, the 16 GB is US$299, and the 32 GB is US$399.
† These prices require a two-year contract in the US. Some time "in the future", AT&T will allow one to purchase an iPhone 3G without a two-year contract for US$599 and US$699 for the 8 GB and 16 GB configurations, respectively, but these "probably still would be locked to the carrier".