What Is the Difference Between a First, Second & Third Generation iPod Touch?

By Andrew Aarons

You could forgive consumer for being a little confused when the iPod touch fourth generation hit stores in September 2010. Only four years had passed since the release of the first generation iPod touch, and picking out the minor evolutionary changes between iPhone generations was getting trickier. The changes between the first three generations are slight, but worth noting if you want to understand how Apple has arrived at the 4th generation iPod touch.

First Generation

The iPod Touch was Apple's first touch-screen mp3 player. Apple sold the first-generation touch in 8, 16 and 32GB versions, which hold 1750, 3500 and 7000 songs, respectively. The first generation was 4.3 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide and just 0.31 inches thick. The next two generations are marginally thicker, at 0.33 inches. The first generation set the standard for the display, too -- both the subsequent generations have the same 3.5-inch screen with 420 by 320 pixel resolution. This iPod has wireless network capabilities and a battery with enough charge for about 22 hours of music playback. The first generation iPod touch is compatible with iTunes 7.6.

Second Generation

Apple simply built on the first generation iPod touch when working toward the second generation touch. Most of the physical specifications are identical, except that the second generation is a little thicker -- by 0.02 of an inch -- and a fraction lighter. This version of the touch came in the same three sizes as the first generation (8, 16 and 32GB). The more notable changes are inside the device. The second generation was the first to include the Nike + iPod feature built-in, a feature that connects to a special Bluetooth card in your running shoe to track your exercise through the iPod. The second generation also has TV-out, with 480p and 576p component output. Apple improved the battery life in the second generation touch too, which can play for up to 36 hours on a full charge. The second generation touch is compatible with iTunes 8.

Third Generation

The third generation iPod touch is physically identical to the second generation, but Apple changed the size options, selling the third generation only in 32 and 64GB formats. The larger flash drives mark one major change. Apple also added Bluetooth 2.1 support into the device in addition to the Nike + iPod, which means the third generation touch can connect with Bluetooth devices without using a special attachment. The video output features are the same as the second generation model and battery life decreases a bit with the third generation, down from 36 hours to 30 hours.

International Devices

The first generation iPod touch had 17 pre-programmed languages and keyboard support for just as many. As the iPod touch evolved, Apple expanded its languages, which gives some indication of the international appeal of the touch and the wide reach of the company. By the third generation, the touch had 33 languages built in, with full keyboard and dictionary support, including a handwriting function for Chinese characters.