vol 8, issue 7

Teardown: iPod Touch 16GB

15 July 2013
By Paul Dempsey
Share |
iPod Touch 16GB

Inside Apple’s new entry-level player

iPod Touch 16GB in black or white

Unusually for Apple, the latest iPod Touch is a cost-down focused design

Apple has slipped out a lower-cost version of its media player.

Up until the last couple of weeks, Apple has been quiet. The seven months between its last product announcement and June's debuts for iOS7 and iRadio is its longest gap between launches in some time.

The only thing that broke the silence – notwithstanding some separate rows about tax and online privacy – was a 16GB shrink for the fifth generation of the iPod Touch, slipped on to the Apple website relatively unannounced in late May.

Cost-down focused design additions out of Apple are relatively rare (as opposed to the ongoing 'revs' of existing products). Still, it is more typical for the company to add a separate product line (such as the iPod Shuffle) or to discount earlier generation models on introducing a new one (such as the iPhone).

Cost-cutting features for the consumer

This 16GB Touch joins existing 32GB and 64GB models. Apart from the lower memory capacity, the most immediate feature change is that the newcomer has no rear-mounted camera. The 5MP iSight has gone and there is now just a front-mounted 1.2MP FaceTime camera with 720p maximum resolution.

There's been something of a debate here to the extent that while users expect pretty good camera functionality from an iPhone, they do not expect the same of a Touch, seeing it more as a straightforward media player. This design decision shows Apple trending towards the same view, even if only for now at the entry level.

Otherwise, many of the features in the Touch are consistent. The device retains a 4in retina display with fused LCD and glass, and the main silicon components surrounding Apple's ARM-based dual core A5 chip have been carried over.

US pricing for the 16GB Touch is $229 (£147), against $299 and $399 for the 32GB and 64GB versions respectively. Apple is still pretty confident of the very high margins it can secure against progressive upgrades in comparatively commoditised memory.

Key suppliers include Toshiba'(NAND Flash), Murata (Wi-Fi module), Broadcom (touchscreen controller) and STMicroelectronics (gyro/accelerometer).

The battery carries over from the existing versions, giving a typical 40-hour life for music and an eight-hour life for video.

Subtle component changes

The iFixit teardown team subjected the new device to its scrutiny, and noticed a few wrinkles.

There is now simply a gap on the logic board where the bigger versions have the higher-resolution iSight camera. However, with a little more real estate to play with, the Apple design team has moved the microphone from the back of the iPod to the top, adjacent to the power button.

This incremental design has then seen Apple swap in a new ribbon cable for the power and volume buttons. That's a fairly typical kind of change where main components are being carried over.

Also, Apple has opted not to stamp out the plastic for a wrist/touch loop that features on other editions. This looks like a combination of cost control – but it's unlikely to be that much. Rather, it reflects how Apple will sometimes consciously constrain the features and functionality on cheaper models.

The review

The overall design is both slightly slimmer and about 0.06 ounces lighter than its predecessors.

One of the enduring takeaways from the iFixit teardown though is how Apple designs its products to be reassuringly difficult to repair.

As ever, you have to literally melt away the adhesive holding the front panel and rear case together (iFixit has its own proprietary tool available for the more daring). More adhesive is encountered elsewhere and there is a tendency to use clips rather than external screws, just to make things that bit more challenging.

"Many components are soldered together, requiring either a very difficult or very expensive repair if any one part breaks," iFixit notes. "Cables connected to the logic board run over the top and connect on the bottom, making it difficult to remove the board or disconnect the cables."

Consistent with most other Apple products they have analysed, iFixit gives the iPod Touch 16GB edition just three out of ten for repairability.

Share |

Key Components : iPod Touch 16GB

Component, Supplier, Description/Part No

Apps processor: Apple A5 (also includes 512MB of Mobile DDR2 RAM)

Flash memory: Toshiba 16GB THGBX2G7B2JLA01

Wi-Fi module: Murata 339S0171

Power management: Apple/Dialog 3381064

Touchscreen controller: Broadcom BCM5976

Gyroscope: STMicroelectronics Three-axis AGD3/2229/E5GEK

Audio codec: Apple 338S1116

Audio codec: Cirrus Logic 338S1077 

Key to graphic

1 Front/glass/display

2 Rear housing

3 Main logic/control boards

4 Battery

5 Microphone board


6 Touchscreen controller


7 NAND flash

Toshiba 8 Apps processor


9 Gyroscope

ST Microelectronics

10Audio codec


11Wi-Fi module


12Power management


Related forum discussions
forum comment To start a discussion topic about this article, please log in or register.    

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Design Delivery Leader, Palace of Westminster Restoration & Renewal (R&R) - Engineering Lead

    House of Commons
    • City of Westminster, London (Greater)
    • Circa £65,000 (There may be more for an exceptional candidate)

    You will lead on a number of engineering infrastructure and associated workstreams under direction from the Deputy Director

    • Recruiter: House of Commons

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Engineer, Network Equipment

    Energy Networks Association
    • Westminster
    • £49-58k per annum, dependent on experience

    Manage issues and working groups relating to all types of equipment and assets used on the UK Transmission and Distribution Networks.

    • Recruiter: Energy Networks Association

    Apply for this job

  • Programme Manager, Network Resilience

    Energy Networks Association
    • Westminster
    • Competitive salary, dependent on experience

    Co-ordinate the network resilience, emergency planning and the Single Electricity Number (SEN) work in the ENA Engineering team.

    • Recruiter: Energy Networks Association

    Apply for this job

  • Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Smart Building Solutions

    Premium job

    ETH Zurich
    • Zurich, Canton of Zürich (CH)

    The successful candidate is expected to develop a strong and visible research programme in the area of control and diagnostics of building systems

    • Recruiter: ETH Zurich

    Apply for this job

  • Process Controls Leader

    Premium job

    Phillips 66
    • Humber Refinery, South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire DN40 3DW
    • £60k - 75k plus extensive Compensation and benefits package, dependent upon experience

    Experienced Process Control Leader providing leadership and technical support for Oil Refinery. Extensive Compensation and benefits package.

    • Recruiter: Phillips 66

    Apply for this job

  • Regional Technical Support Manager

    Premium job

    • Warwick, Warwickshire

    You will be required to lead the regional Customer Services strategy and resources to maximise Customer satisfaction.

    • Recruiter: Siemens

    Apply for this job

  • Digital Forensic Specialist (Audio)

    Met Police
    • London
    • Circa £37,305 plus £3,406 location allowance

    You’ll contribute to a wide range of research and development activities.

    • Recruiter: Met Police

    Apply for this job

  • Marine Engineering Technician (Electrical)

    Port of London Authority
    • Gravesend, Kent
    • £34,318 per annum (inclusive of allowances)

    The successful candidate will be responsible for undertaking maintenance of machinery and hull systems in a fleet of small commercial craft

    • Recruiter: Port of London Authority

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Systems Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • Weymouth, England, Dorset / Frimley, England, Surrey
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to be involved in designing, developing, and delivering cutting edge combat systems for the world's most advanced military submarines? BAE Systems is recruiting Principal Systems Engineers

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Communications Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Hampshire, Portsmouth
    • Negotiable

    Communications Engineer Would you like to play a key role supporting the UK's Maritime Communications Infrastructure? We currently have a vacancy for a Communications Engineer at our site in Portsmouth. As a Communications Engineer, you will be carrying o

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶


Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T