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3259005340_6dfd05d8de_m.jpgApple’s third-generation iPod Touch and iPhone 3G and 3GS are the leading contenders in the Wi-Fi media players and smartphones market. These popular devices are not only about playing music and games, making phone calls, and running applications, they’re about elegant style, ease of use, and speed.

When you compare and contrast the iPhone and iPod Touch, there is little difference between the outside design features of the two, and though under their hood they both share similar robust features, there are some significant differences that you should consider in deciding which one to purchase.

compare and contrast iPhone and iPod touch

Compare and Contrast: iPhone and iPod Touch Have Similar Features

Both the iPhone and iPod Touch have the following features in common:

“¢ Both share Apple’s 3.0 operating system which features touch technology; cut, copy and pasting; landscape keyboard typing, spotlight search features, and Wi-Fi access, which makes them essentially a computer in the palm of your hand. Touch and accelerometer technology by the way provides for smooth and easy navigation on the devices, enabling users to zoom in and out on images and webpages, and use titling and other hand movements to play games and other similar applications.


compare and contrast iPhone and iPod touch

“¢ Both include the following default applications: Safari web browser; Calendar, Internet Mail, Address Book; YouTube video player, Calculator, Notes, Photo Browser, Stocks reporting, Weather reporting; Clock, GPS Maps, Voice Memo, Nike + iPod exercise tracking support, and an iPod music player app.

“¢ You can sync both devices to Apple’s iTunes software (for both Mac and Windows PC) to add and remove songs, videos, photos, and other data files. The entire process is fairly automatic, and with an Apple MobileMe account you can sync information to the devices wirelessly.

“¢ The iTunes App Store features 5,000+ applications specifically designed mostly by third party developers to run on both devices.

“¢ Both devices feature voice-control technology to navigate music playback with spoken commands. This is done on the devices themselves or through the remote mic on the earphones that come with the devices. (Note: only the 32GB and 64GB models of iPod Touch come with voice control.)

The iPod Touch

The third generation iPod Touch comes in three models: 8GB ($199), 32GB ($299), and 64GB ($399). These models can hold from 1,750 to 14,000 songs, 10,000 to 90,000 photos, and up to 30 hours music and 6 hours of video playback time. However, these stats depend a lot on how you use the device and what other data files you have stored on them. Plus, in my average use of both both the iPod Touch and the iPhone 3G, the battery usage isn’t that great. So get accustomed to daily charging.

compare contrast iPhone iPod touch

No Phone

Of course, the iPod Touch models do not come with a phone or instant messaging. However, there are several third party apps like AIM that enable users to use instant messaging on the touch. And there are a few hacks, such as one that involves using Skype,  for making phone calls on the touch. Though of course you still need a Wi-Fi connection and a remote microphone on say the earphone cord to make the calls.

WiFi But No 3G

The iPod Touch does not require an AT&T phone or WiFi contract to use it, which saves you well over $700 per year. As with the iPhone, the iPod Touch has built-in WiFi capability but it does not have what’s called 3G access, which only comes with the iPhone 3G and 3GS. So basically, if the places you travel to and frequent have WiFi servers, you should be okay with Internet access on the device. For instance, McDonald’s now provides free Wi-Fi connections, as do many colleges and universities. With 3G capability, however, you pretty much have connections to the Internet nearly everywhere AT&T provide the services.

No Camera or Video Cam

The iPod Touch also lacks a camera and video recorder. This has been a huge criticism of the device, and many critics think that a digital camera should have been included with the third generation touch. More than likely the fourth gen will finally get this feature.

iPhone 3G and 3GS

The latest version of the iPhone comes in two models: the iPhone 3G 8GB (from $99), 16GB (from $199) and the 32GB (from $299) The price variances are also based on a required two-year wireless service contract with AT&T, starting at $69.99 per month. AT&T subsidizes the iPhone, which attributes to its lower cost than the iPod Touch. You can purchase an iPhone without an AT&T service contract, but it will cost you between $499 and $699. See rate plans. You will also want to check the availability of AT&T services in your area for the terms of 3G service, signal strength, bandwidth speeds, and phone rates.

ipod touch vs iphone

Phone and Instant Messaging

Of course the iPhone does include a full service phone and AT&T instant messaging. Rates for messaging are $5 per month for 200 messages, $15 per month for 1500 messages, or $20 per month for unlimited SMS messages. There’s also higher cost family packages. But again, as stated above, there are applications for the iPhone that do instant messaging for free, such as IM+Lite.

The voice technology of the iPhone 3GS also extends to voice dialing so that you can make voice commands to call someone in your list of contacts or to dial a specific number.

Wi-Fi, 3G, and EDGE Connectivity

With the AT&T service plan, each of the iPhone models comes with wireless Internet and network connections. So in places where you get free or paid Wi-Fi connections, your iPhone is automatically connected. If however you are in a location with no Wi-Fi or free Wi-Fi, you can connect to the Internet through AT&T”˜s 3G and EDGE wireless connection services. The 3G connection is about is even faster than traditional Wi-Fi connection speeds, while the EDGE connection is slow as a turtle.

Camera and Video Recorder

Both the iPhone 3G and 3GS include a digital camera. The 3G has a 2 megapixel sensor while the 3GS modal has 3 megapixels, plus autofocusing and photo geotagging, which keeps track of the locations where you shot images using the iPhone”˜s camera. iPhone 3GS also includes built-in video recording, for a clear 30 frames per second capturing.

ipod touch vs iphone

The 3G iPhone does not include a video recorder; however, there are a few third party applications, such as Qik that Nancy listed in her article The Top 7 Apple iPhone Complaints & Some Simple Solutions Top 7 Apple iPhone Complaints & Simple Solutions Top 7 Apple iPhone Complaints & Simple Solutions Read More , that can be used on the 3G model that provide reasonable video recording capabilities.

Though I can’t vouch for it personally, the iPhone 3GS also has greater performance whereby applications open faster and there’s increased Internet speed. The 3GS also comes with a Compass which “re-orients maps to match the direction you’re facing.”

Advantages and Disadvantages

Perhaps the number one factor in determining which device you should purchase is price. The extra $360-$700 AT&T service fee may be the best reason for not getting the iPhone. If you don’t make many mobile phone calls, the iPod Touch makes for a great mini computer and media player without the monthly service costs of a smartphone.

However, if you’re already paying for a mobile phone service plan, the extra $30 or more a month for 3G access on the iPhone can be very convenient, for it means that in most cities throughout the country you will have Internet access nearly everywhere you go. With the built-in Maps app, 3G networking provides good, but not full fledged, GPS mapping for when you need driving or walking directions.

The additional camera and video recorder may also be worth the extra costs of the iPhone because it means carrying around one or two less devices in order to grab candid camera and video shots. The imaging features on the iPhone also connect with hundreds of additional applications that can’t of course be used with iPod Touch. There are applications, such as the Best Camera App, that really enhance the image making capabilities of the iPhone which Jackson previously showcased in his article The Best Free Alternatives To Top Commercial iPhone Photography Apps The Best Free Alternatives To Top Commercial iPhone Photography Apps The Best Free Alternatives To Top Commercial iPhone Photography Apps Read More .

What’s Your Feedback?

So MUO readers and existing iPhone and iPod Touch users, what suggestions do you have for those considering purchasing one of these devices? Are you a former iPod Touch user who upgraded to the iPhone? Why? Are you an iPhone user who regrets your purchase? Give us your feedback.

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  1. Ashwin Manoj
    April 1, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I have an iPod Touch But i would love to get an iPhone

  2. Sarah
    February 20, 2010 at 8:24 am

    I am trying to decide between the ipod touch (64), ipod nano (i have a 16G), and waiting for the ipad. Yes i know this is not apples to apples (well in a way), but i am trying to evaluate what one device to get that provides the most. I am not too worried about the size of the device, just portability. I want to store lots of music. I read alot, so the ipad is interesting and probably the biggest thing is that I really don't want to buy something else next year. Any ideas?

  3. Jeanne
    February 19, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I received the 64GB iPod touch last October and really don't go anywhere without it! My cell phone has internet, but yes it runs the battery down fast. The touch has become such a constant that my 6 year old grandaughter asks for it when we are out and about. It's really like carrying around a mini computer.

  4. Mack
    February 12, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I like having a iPod and a phone. This way, if I run down my iPod battery playing Bejewelled, I still have a phone.

    • kyith
      February 12, 2010 at 11:27 pm

      i also did this option. i find that going on 3G your battery runs out fast, if you carry 2 devices, you forgo convenience but at least you can use your ipod touch as a pda and not worry about not being able to make calls when battery is flat

  5. John
    February 12, 2010 at 11:24 am

    What if you want an iPhone without the service? Can you buy an iPhone and then break the contract?

    iTouch to me isn't worth the money without a built in mic and camera.

    • Bakari
      February 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      John, you can purchase an iphone without a contract, but it will cost you like $500+. If you buy and break the contract, I’m not sure what will happen? Constant credit harassment? Like I said, I think the touch will eventually include mic and camera, but then Apple will simply charge more for it. The camera is convenient, though, for quick shots when you don’t have your regular camera with you.

    • Colter
      February 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      You could Probably get an older, used iPhone for really cheap. That's what I have, bought it from my cousin because his two year contract was up and he upgraded to the 3gs, and I bought his 2g iPhone.

  6. Matt
    February 12, 2010 at 7:03 am

    I'm curious if AT&T will release the same 3G service for the iPod as they will have for Apple's new iPad. This could give the iPod another plus feature!

  7. Bakari
    February 11, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Plat, thanks for that. You‘re right, when I was writing the article, I hesitated about using the word, “hack.” It definitely has negative connotations. Maybe I should write article about what hacking means. Problem is, I don’t really hack anything. Too lazy. Thanks again for your feedback.

  8. Plat
    February 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    You might be "scaring" folks with the word hack in using Skype with the iTouch. No hack involved, just download the Skype app and buy a microphone. As long as you have access to a WiFi network it is just that simple. Hacks would come into play with using apps like Backgrounder and Insomnia to extend the telephone possibilities.

  9. Bakari
    February 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    So Robert, which one do you think you’ll purchase?

    • Robert M
      February 12, 2010 at 8:15 am

      Most likely iTouch. I have to admit that it's a huge bummer that no camera is included.

      • Francis
        February 18, 2010 at 10:32 am

        I've got a phone with a camera that's bluetooth capable. I'll just take the picture on the phone and transfer it if possible.

  10. Robert M
    February 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    ROFL guys, did you read my mind today? I was wondering about this today. Amazing. You and Lifehacker have a way of being so timely.


    • bob
      February 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

      Haha, me too. I'd love to get the Iphone, but there's no way i'm tying myself into a long contract on what are over here(in Ireland) extortionate price plans. The other option is to get it on 'pay as you go', but then the price is €500 to 629.

      Then i see a refurb 16GB touch that's going for €170 and i'm mighty tempted. But if that's going to then be my ipod replacement then I'm going to want more than 16gb.

      LOL, never easy.

  11. Coolio G
    February 11, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Neither. They both suck. Go to and research NON-iPODs!

    And, Android OS, Blackberry OS, WinMo, and even *snickers* Symbian on ANY phone can kick the k-rap out of an iPhone.

    • Ralph
      February 20, 2010 at 10:00 am