IPod Touch?
December 7, 2012 1:14 AM   Subscribe

Does it make sense to get an Ipod Touch because I can't afford an IPhone?

I really would like to get an Iphone. However, it would be a bit expensive for me right now. I already have an android phone bought a couple years ago, that I don't like- not user-friendly, does not pick up wifi often, screen too small, camera not good, etc.

I was thinking I could get an Ipod touch which is much cheaper than the iphone and keep using my other cell phone for calls. I do have wifi in my apartment, but I live in a country (China) where wifi is not as readily available nor as reliable as it is in the States (you can get wifi in coffee shops etc but it's not that common in other places unless you are paying for it. It can also be spotty).

I really like the Itouch though and would use it for various applications such as chinese-english dictionary (offline), skype and other instant messenger services to contact folks at home, camera function, and useful apps good helping me organize time/life. I could also use it when I go back to the U.S. to contact people in China through the instant messaging services.

I am just wondering if there is something I am missing here, and if buying the touch doesn't make sense at all....or if I should just be saving up for an iphone.

My knowledge about technology is pretty basic so feel free to assume I don't already know whatever info you want to share :)
posted by bearette to Technology (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I had an iPod touch for a few years before I got my iPhone. I used it a lot. Yes having the phone's data plan and anywhere access is even better. But when I was in Europe a few months ago and a SIM card just didn't pan out, and wifi access was pretty poor, I still used it offline a lot If you want one, get one. It's up yo you.
posted by ergo at 1:27 AM on December 7, 2012

Just as a point, you know you can get an unlocked iPhone 4 for the same price as a new iPod Touch these days (or at least you can when I look at US pricing.) That's what I would do.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:28 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Darling Bri, I would definitely be fine with an Iphone 4 except that looking on amazon it seems it's still much more than the ipod touch. There's also a big difference in price in China. Do you remember where you saw these prices?
posted by bearette at 1:33 AM on December 7, 2012

I have an iTouch and a dumbphone. It works pretty well for me in the US, especially since I spend most of the day in a university area where there's always wifi. I'm not sure how it would work out if I didn't have easy wifi access. Here's what I most use it for, in no particular order:

1. E-mail: I check it as soon as I wake up, and this way, I don't need to open my computer before I leave for work. Or I will check it occasionally when lying in bed and reading.

2. Todos and shopping lists: There are dedicated apps for this, or you can use the simple Notes app.

3. Yelp: I can bookmark places and the app saves the bookmarks offline, which is very useful when wandering the city. This may be less relevant in China, though. I no longer use Groupon, but when I did, it saved me the trouble of printing out coupons when I wanted to redeem them.

4. Maps: I generally look up directions in advance and leave it so it's available later without wifi. In dense cities, I'll duck into a Starbucks to find directions in a pinch.

5. EBooks: The screen is small, but it doesn't bother me too much. I mainly read on public transit or waiting rooms.

6. I try to restrict some social media browsing like Facebook and Twitter to the iPod, since it's a less comfortable than the computer, and therefore wastes less time!

7. Music (obviously).

I have an old model without the camera or mic. If it did, I can think of many other uses... mainly as a primary camera, since the photo quality is not bad at all.
posted by redlines at 1:44 AM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

Bearette, I did a search on Ebay.com for iPhone 4 unlocked and looked at the Buy It Now prices.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:49 AM on December 7, 2012

I've owned a Touch for several years and love it. I recently upgraded to the latest that has two cameras...great. As for a phone I just have a cheap ($25) Nokia. This arrangement works well for me.
posted by rmmcclay at 1:59 AM on December 7, 2012

Oh, I forgot -- I also use the calendar a lot, especially when rushing between meetings.
posted by redlines at 2:04 AM on December 7, 2012

I bought my iPod touch in anticipation of a summer job in Seattle. I figured "there will be many Starbucks, so I'll not get lost if I can connect to free wifi."
This was in 2009. Fast forward to now, where I have an actual smartphone (a low end prepaid droid), I'm still using this iTouch for web surfing. In fact, I'm using it right now to type this!

If I were you, I would be sure to get something with a retina screen. I'm not sure if any gen iTouches have that or not, but I sure wish I had that on this thing.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:29 AM on December 7, 2012

as a long time iPhone user who switched to Android and back before, I would recommend to look at newer, much cheaper Android options too.

I had a Galaxy Ace before which had the same issues that you describe, but went to a HTC One S after my iPhone 4s got stolen.
Android has come a long way in the last years, and I have to say that my HTC compares quite favorably to an iPhone.
posted by ts;dr at 3:40 AM on December 7, 2012

I use my cellphone for about three texts and one two minute phone call a month, and maybe some maps if I'm lost while out and about like once every three months. I have an ipod touch for all the games and doohickeys and music and whatever else. It's a good arrangement for me, because I use Ting for my phone and only get charged when I actually use it.

But I have to say that my refurbished LG Optimus S Android phone is pretty rad. If I wasn't much more used to the ios interface, and if I wasn't a gamer (because my ipod is essentially a gameboy replacement,) and if I didn't have a shocking amount of music I for some reason feel the need to keep in one place, I would use just my cellphone and be happy about it. So basically, look into the newer Android phones if you can. If your phone usage style is like mine - basically nonexistent - then having both devices makes more financial sense. But if you're actually using your phone as a phone more often, then check out the newer non-iphone options available. The markup for the brand is enormous, and the benefits are more a matter of habit than actual ease of use of the device.
posted by Mizu at 4:38 AM on December 7, 2012

I have a Touch and a dumbphone, too. I use the Touch a lot for free text messaging, music and web surfing as well as gaming. If those experiences are too much of a hassle on your older Android, you might find the Touch is an upgrade.

As a data point, when a relative got a newer model Android phone, he gifted his Touch to someone else. He was able to find the same apps he liked and it had a GPS function the Touch lacked.
posted by dragonplayer at 5:13 AM on December 7, 2012

I have an Android phone with no contract, the 4th generation iPod touch, and a first generation iPad, and I use them all, sometimes at the same time.

If you want it and you can afford it, you'll find a way to use it. (For me, this is just what Apple does to my brain.)
posted by girlmightlive at 5:30 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to add that if you have contacts in the US, you can always check the pricing on different unlocked phones or Touches there and have someone send it to you as a personal gift package. I don't know about China, but I know a lot of people who buy tech goods for their family in Russia and ship it to them becuase even with shipping factored in, it's cheaper to purchase in the US.

Hell, if you don't have contacts in the US already, I'm sure someone on MF would help if it turned out to be financially better for you.
posted by WeekendJen at 5:41 AM on December 7, 2012

Second all the remarks here, particularly redlines. The only other consideration I can offer is how important is Siri to you? The unlocked iPhone 4 would not have it or:

• Maps flyover
• Turn-by-turn navigation
• FaceTime on 3G
• Hearing aid support

Also, the 5 has MUCH better support for reading as it has a larger, Retina screen. Not sure whether the iPhone 4 has Retina or not. I just had to make precisely this decision in the U.S. and I went with the iPod Touch 5 even though we have an iPod Touch 2 in the fleet. These are wonderful devices to pass on to others, especially young people.
posted by Mertonian at 6:13 AM on December 7, 2012

I bought an iPod touch last year when I needed a new mp3 player. I have a work-issued Blackberry so I have no need for an iPhone. I love it and am glad I have it. Also, I like being able to play around with it while lazing about on the couch, which works well since I often turn off my Blackberry after work hours.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:44 AM on December 7, 2012

I have an iPod Touch and a dumbphone. When I was using it in a situation where I had wireless access around 95% of the time, it was great. I really felt like I was sticking it to the man by not having to pay for a data plan. :) I had the phone for urgent communication when I didn't have wifi, which was almost never. I wished sometimes that I would have had internet in a few places where I was without it (often stores and restaurants) but that's become less and less common, and it was mostly a matter of just having to wait a few hours to post something to FB or look something up on IMDB.

I'm now using the same setup in a situation where I am often without wifi. Specifically, I'm getting around by walking and city bus a lot, so I am spending a lot of time on the street, in buses, and waiting at bus stops, all without WiFi. It sucks. Just having the ability to look up bus schedules at the bus stop would probably be worth the cost of a data plan for me, not to mention being able to load maps en route. (Also, the WiFi-based location is usually pretty good, but not as good as GPS. It often puts me a block away from my actual location, or doesn't work at all. No idea how good the WiFi location would be in China.)
posted by BrashTech at 6:48 AM on December 7, 2012

The iPhone 4 will have turn-by-turn navigation, just not spoken turn-by-turn navigation provided by Siri. If you do want spoken turn-by-turn navigation on your iPhone 4, you can use a third-party app like Waze. With Apple's Maps app on an iPhone 4, you can manually swipe through each step in the navigation. But if you don't swipe, the app will automatically cycle through each turn as you reach it. You just won't hear Siri tell you what to do.
posted by emelenjr at 7:44 AM on December 7, 2012

I got an iPod Touch before I got a smartphone, and I used it a lot. You can do a lot of stuff offline, and there's always wifi at home. But, now that I've got a smartphone, I hardly use it at all anymore - the main advantage is while travelling, when I need to conserve my phone's battery life. And I guarantee you, the moments when you need connectivity - for maps, to tweet or email, etc. - will be the times when there is no wifi in sight. But, you can always download maps to memory, screenshot important emails, etc.

If your main uses for it will be offline, and you've already got a smartphone to use 3g if you need it, I say go for it. I wouldn't cancel the data on your phone, though, if that's what you were planning to do.
posted by Gordafarin at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2012

I have an iPod touch and a simple cell phone. The iPod touch works great. Only downsides to it in relation to the iPhone are not having Internet service everywhere (though I can get that on my phone, it is just very basic, but it has allowed me to check my email in 'emergency' situations) and as a specific subset of that issue, I can't use the google maps app when I am stuck in the middle of nowhere (or merely someplace without wifi) to find my way home.
posted by thesnowyslaps at 11:45 AM on December 7, 2012

I love my iPod Touch. I use it with an LG Android phone. The phone uses up battery quickly, so I only use it for GPS/phone/camera sort of things and use the iTouch for pretty much everything else.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:11 PM on December 7, 2012

Another way to use the ipod touch requires some advanced planning. Before leaving one's computer print a pdf of something... (the bus schedule, an email, driving directions, etc.). Save this pdf to your drop box account. Use the drop box app on the ipod to favorite the document. Any "favorited" document will be saved to the ipod.
posted by oceano at 12:37 PM on December 7, 2012

Ooh, if you are studying Chinese you HAVE to have an iTouch (or iphone, and probably a good android phone would work as well). I used to study Chinese and got an iTouch for the dictionary. It seriously revolutionizes the study of Chinese - no more looking up words in the dictionary by stroke number or radical or what have you, which just totally blows. With the touch you can just draw in the characters to look them up (though be aware that the searches sometimes seem to care about stroke order). It is so, so worth it just for that reason alone.
posted by imalaowai at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also have an iPod touch and a dumbphone. I find that more and more apps assume you have internet access, and with my home wifi's unreliability, the Touch is little better than a music player and game device. It's starting to get really irritating. If you have wifi access, the Touch is great. If not, then it's a headache.
posted by Liesl at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, ipod touches are amazing. Get one.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:14 PM on December 7, 2012

I have an old model without the camera or mic. If it did, I can think of many other uses... mainly as a primary camera, since the photo quality is not bad at all.
posted by redlines at 10:44 PM on December 6 [4 favorites +] [!]

I wouldn't be that complimentary about the camera, unless they've upgraded it in recent models - my retina itouch's camera is pretty average. It was one of the first ones with retina though so it's a few years old.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:42 PM on December 7, 2012

Another happy iTouch and dumb phone user here. Lots of local access to free wifi makes it cheap and convenient.
posted by PussKillian at 6:42 PM on December 7, 2012

I've had the iPod touch 4th generation for 2 years and use it every day. When Verizon offered the iPhone 4S for $70, I got one. Although it's great to be able to get online without wifi, I still use my iPod at home. It's much lighter weight than the phone.
posted by Linnee at 7:45 PM on December 7, 2012

Response by poster: thanks all! I got the IPod touch!
posted by bearette at 8:21 PM on December 7, 2012

If I lived in a country with a sane mobile operator market, I'd have an iPhone. I live in the US, and have a dumbphone and an iPod touch.

I like the touch (4th gen) a lot, and am very tempted by the 5th-gen because the camera is finally no longer shit -- it's basically the one from the iPhone 4. (I wouldn't get the 4th-gen now, even though it's still being sold: it's a false economy.)

I will say that using it on the go and relying on wifi can be painful: even in London, a lot of the hotspots are paywalled or run by mobile operators, so it's hard to latch onto a network. Proper GPS also makes a difference for mapping and walking navigation.

If there's some way for you to get a hand-me-down iPhone 4 and some kind of pay-as-you-go plan, that might sort things out for you pretty well, but if you're okay with the compromises, the touch may do you fine.
posted by holgate at 9:17 PM on December 7, 2012

I recently discovered an app called Talkatone which claims to provide free telephone/text services for iPod users.

This doesn't work in China, unfortunately. I mentioned it because you said that you would be returning to the US in the near future and the app might prove useful then.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:30 AM on December 8, 2012

I'm late looking into this thread, as I'm only now wondering about whether to get the iPod Touch 5th Gen.

But I thought it would be worth adding that, at least in the UK, it is quite feasible to buy a "personal hotspot" device to give you wi-fi access where and when you need it.

A pay-as-you-go one would easily cover me for the few occasions when I want to use wi-fi only devices someplace where I don't have wi-fi access.
posted by philipy at 5:10 PM on January 17, 2013

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