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iPod touch Q&A - Updated July 11, 2016

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What are all the differences between the iPod touch 5th Generation (A1421/A1509) and the iPod touch 6th Generation (A1574)?

With even a fairly detailed inspection of any of the discontinued iPod touch 5th Generation models -- whether the colorful 16 GB or 32 GB and 64 GB configurations or the "low end" 16 GB configuration only in black and silver -- and the iPod touch 6th Generation -- it would be easy to mistake them for one another.

iPod touch 5th Gen and 6th Gen
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPod touch 5th Gen - Left, iPod touch 6th Gen - Right)

A detail-oriented individual would notice that the lower left hand corner "pop out nub" to attach a wrist strap -- which Apple formally refers to as the iPod touch loop -- on the iPod touch 5th Gen models (left) is absent on the current iPod touch 6th Gen line (right).

iPod touch 5th Gen and 6th Gen (Back)
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPod touch 5th Gen - Left, iPod touch 6th Gen - Right)

However, given that the iPod touch loop also is absent on the "low end" 16 GB configuration of the iPod touch 5th Gen (which additionally lacks a rear camera), it still is easy to mix up these lines and more detailed evaluation is helpful. Furthermore, interior differences are the most important and definitely merit a proper comparison.

External Differences

The iPod touch 5th Gen and iPod touch 6th Gen models look quite similar. Both lines have a 4" (diagonal) widescreen "Retina" display with a 1136x640 native resolution, a bottom mounted "Lightning" port, and use anodized aluminum "unibody" cases of the same dimensions with the same gently rounded edges.

There are three different iPod touch 5th Gen lines -- the original 32 GB and 64 GB configurations released in 2012, the "low end" 16 GB configuration introduced in 2013, and the final entry-level 16 GB configuration introduced in 2014.

iPod touch 5th Gen Colors
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPod touch 5th Gen Color Options, 2012)

The final entry-level 16 GB and original 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 5th Gen were available in six different colors -- gray (originally a dark gray "slate" and medium toned gunmetal "space gray" starting September 10, 2013), silver, pink, yellow, blue, and red. The gray option has a black front whereas all other colors -- silver, pink, yellow, blue, and red -- have white fronts.

The low-end 16 GB iPod touch 5th Gen (A1509) only was offered in silver, but it has a black front rather than a white one like the other models in silver (and lacks the option of the iPod touch loop). It also has cheaper black plastic volume control and on/off buttons rather than aluminum ones like the higher-end iPod touch 5th Gen configurations.

iPod touch 6th Gen Color Options
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPod touch 6th Gen Color Options, 2015)

The iPod touch 6th Generation models also are available in six colors -- including silver, "space gray" and red options -- but dropped the yellow, pink, and blue options in favor of a gold color, brighter "hot pink" and darker royal blue.

Camera Differences

The final entry-level 16 GB and original 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 5th Gen as well as all iPod touch 6th Generation models have two cameras -- a front-mounted 720p "FaceTime HD" camera that takes 1.2 megapixel photos and a rear 1080p "iSight" camera. This "iSight" camera also provides autofocus, backside illumination, a hybrid HR filter, a five-element lens, and an LED flash as well as Panorama and HDR support.

However, the iSight camera on the final entry-level 16 GB and original 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPod touch 5th Gen is 5 megapixels, whereas it is 8 megapixels on the iPod touch 6th Gen.

The low-end 16 GB iPod touch 5th Gen (A1509) has the front-mounted 720p "FaceTime HD" camera, but it does not have a rear camera at all.

Identification Differences

Although the iPod touch 5th Gen and iPod touch 6th Gen models can be visually differentiated when side-by-side by the presence or absence of the iPod touch loop and/or rear camera, the most certain way to externally identify the iPod touch 5th Gen and 6th Gen models is by the Model Number in small type on the back of each device toward the bottom.

The 16 GB and 32 GB and 64 GB iPod touch 5th Gen models with a rear camera and an iPod touch loop share model number A1421, and the low end 16 GB iPod touch 5th Gen without a rear camera and without an iPod touch loop is model number A1509.

The iPod touch 6th Gen models with a rear camera but without an iPod touch loop, are model number A1574.

Everyi.com's Ultimate iLookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app for iOS 5 or later, Android, and Kindle Fire -- also can identify these iPod models by 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). For example, the 128 GB configuration of the iPod touch 6th Gen in gold is MKWM2LL/A.

Both the site and EveryMac app additionally can identify these devices by their Serial Numbers, as well.

Internal Differences

Internally, the iPod touch 6th Gen is a massive upgrade to the iPod touch 5th Gen that it replaced. Both lines provide the same 40 hours of music playback and 8 hours of video playback, but otherwise have little in common internally.

The iPod touch 5th Gen models have a dual-core A5 processor and 512 MB of RAM as well as support for 802.11a/b/g/n (including both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies of 802.11n) and Bluetooth 4. Storage options are 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB.

The iPod touch 6th Gen models, on the other hand, have a much faster dual-core 64-bit A8 processor as well as an M8 motion coprocessor and 1 GB of RAM. They also support faster 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. Storage options are 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB, as well as a larger capacity 128 GB option.

iOS Support & Software Differences

The iPod touch 5th Gen models are fully supported by iOS 6, iOS 7, and iOS 8 and iOS 9, but not supported by iOS 10 at all. The iPod touch 6th Gen models, on the other hand, are fully supported by iOS 8, iOS 9, and iOS 10.

Also note that if an iPod touch has been upgraded to a newer version of the iOS, it is not possible to "downgrade" it to an earlier version without resorting to jailbreaking or other hacks.

Although the iPod touch 5th Gen and iPod touch 6th Gen models do not require a "host" computer for synchronization of music and other files, if you desire to do so, note that the iPod touch 5th Gen models require a Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or newer or a PC running Windows XP SP3 or newer. The iPod touch 6th Gen models, on the other hand, only support OS X 10.7.5 (Lion) or newer or Windows 7 or newer.

Comparison Chart

For your convenience, the primary differences between the iPod touch 5th Gen and the iPod touch 6th Gen are summarized below:

  iPod touch 5th Gen
iPod touch 5th Gen
(2012, 2013, 2014)
iPod touch 6th Gen
iPod touch 6th Gen
(2015)
Processor Type: Apple A5 Apple A8
Motion Coprocessor: None M8
RAM: 512 MB 1 GB
Storage: 16, 32, 64 GB 16, 32, 64, 128 GB
Cameras: 720p (1.2 MP)
None/1080p (5 MP)*
720p (1.2 MP)
1080p (8 MP)
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth: 4 4.1
Earliest iOS: iOS 6 iOS 8.4
Latest iOS: iOS 9 iOS 10
Mac Support: Mac OS X 10.6.8+ OS X 10.7.5+
Windows Support: Windows XP SP3+ Windows 7+
Color Options: Gray, Silver, Pink, Yellow, Blue, Red Gray, Silver, Gold, Hot Pink, Blue, Red
Wrist Strap: Yes** No
Model Number: A1421/A1509 A1574
Original Price (US): US$229, US$299, US$399† US$199, US$249, US$299, US$399

* The 16 GB and 32 GB and 64 GB configurations (A1421) of the iPod touch 5th Gen have two cameras. The 16 GB configuration (A1509) has the front-mounted 720p "FaceTime HD" camera, but it does not have a rear camera at all.

**The low end 16 GB configuration (A1509) does not have an iPod touch loop.

† The 16 GB configuration that lacks the iSight camera was US$229. The 32 GB and 64 GB configurations were originally US$299 and US$399, respectively. The final entry-level 16 GB (A1421) configuration was US$199, US$249, and US$299, respectively.

Should I buy an iPod touch 5th Gen or 6th Gen?

Ultimately, most users should buy an iPod touch 6th Gen. It is vastly faster -- more than 200% faster overall and provides more than 1000% faster graphics performance -- and still provides current iOS support. It also has faster Wi-Fi, a better rear camera, and the option of more storage.

However, the iPod touch 5th Gen has the same beautiful display and remains worth consideration, particularly given discount prices on the used market. However, as the iPod touch 5th Gen does not support versions of the iOS after iOS 9, support for current apps will start to wane in time.

iPod touch Purchase Options

There are many places to buy a new or used iPod touch. However, buying from a quality company with extensive iPod knowledge -- and after sales support -- will provide the best experience and save you money and time, too.

In the US, site sponsor PowerMax has a good selection of new and used iPod touch models for sale free of sales tax.

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.


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