Update, May 10 2022: Just a little over a week after this article was published, Apple officially confirmed it was retiring its iconic music player brand. The iPod Touch 7th gen is the final iPod ever, and will only be available to buy until stock lasts.
Original articles continues below
Way before the iPhone, Apple produced another handheld that transformed an industry. The original iPod was launched in 2001 and it, along with iTunes, turned the music industry on its head.
The click wheel. The huge library of tracks at your fingertips. The iconic ads. Everyone knows what an iPod is, but there hasn’t been a new generation since 2019’s 7th gen iPod Touch, which itself was the first new iPod since 2015.
In the two years plus since the last version of the iPod, we’ve heard nothing from Apple about its portable music player line - although it has kept its hand in the audio game with the introduction of the AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, AirPods 3 and HomePod Mini during the intervening period.
Visit the Apple website though, and any trace of the iPod appears, at first viewing, to have been completely erased.
Where's the iPod gone?
Head to the Apple site (opens in new tab) and take a look at the main navigation now (go on, I'll wait) and you'll see that there's no obvious category under which iPod falls.
I figured 'AirPods' could be an option, seeing as there's a musical connection there, but clicking it gave me a sub menu that only showed the firm’s headphones selection, plus Apple Music.
I wasn't giving up that easily though. TV & Home could be a left-field place to house iPod, but again clicking through drew another blank. Apple TV and HomePod Mini are the only hardware on offer here.
There is an 'Accessories' option, but there's still no sign of the iPod here. I end up clicking through all the menu options, but none get me any closer to the iPod. There's not even a passing mention of Apple's famed music player in the main 'Store'.
I'm left thinking Apple's probably quietly removed the iPod Touch from sale - it's a classic move the Cupertino, California-based firm loves to do, usually just after a launch event where older generations of products are silently retired without mention.
The iPhone XR was quietly retired after the iPhone 13 launch, and I wouldn't be surprised if iPhone 11 is met with a similar fate post-iPhone 14 announcement.
But back to the iPod. I wanted to be thorough so I took to the search bar and typed 'iPod', fully expecting to be rebuffed once again. The thing is, I wasn't.
I see you iPod
There it was, the iPod Touch product page. Sitting there, waiting, wishing for a visit. It just wants to be noticed. And notice I did.
Click through and yes, you get the full product page for the iPod Touch, the price (it starts at $199 / £199 / AU$299 for the 32GB model in case you were wondering) and there’s even the option to buy it.
The iPod Touch is in stock on the Apple website and you can purchase it right now. Apple is just not making it easy to find.
But who wants to buy a 2019 iPod Touch almost three years after it was released? The answer is - probably - hardly anyone.
What does the iPod Touch give you?
The iPod Touch rocks that retro-Apple chic, with the curvier design of the iPhone 6 (albeit in a slimmer frame) married to the 4-inch, 640 x 1136 display we last saw on the original iPhone SE in 2016. There's even a home button (although no Touch ID).
Powering the 7th gen iPod Touch is Apple's A10 Fusion chip, which debuted in 2016's iPhone 7 series. Remember, this iPod launched in 2019. Not that it needs the same power as today's iPhones as it doesn't have a SIM card, and no cellular connectivity option. It's Wi-Fi for life here.
Still, if you are on Wi-Fi, you can make FaceTime calls, send texts via iMessage, monitor screen time and download most applications from the App Store.
You also get an 8MP rear camera, 1.2MP FaceTime front snapper, the choice between 32GB, 128GB or 256GB of storage, six color options and a headphone jack. In the box you'll even find a pair of wired Apple EarPods. I did say this was retro Apple.
While the technology inside this 2019 device is anything but cutting-edge, when it comes to the operating system, there's a pleasant surprise - the iPod Touch runs iOS 15 (version 15.4.1, to be exact) - the latest generation of Apple's operating system.
It originally ran iOS 12.3 when it was first released, but it has since witnessed upgrades to each major iteration of the software - keeping the media player up-to-date with the latest features and security updates.
How long can it last?
There's potentially still some life left in the current generation iPod Touch too, especially considering the longevity of its predecessor, the iPod Touch sixth generation.
The latter launched on iOS 8.4 and its final update brought it up to iOS 12.5.5. That's four years of major iOS updates, giving the 6th gen iPod a pretty impressive lifespan. Based on that run, the seventh generation iPod Touch should have at least another year of software updates coming its way, including iOS 16, which should be released in late 2022.
2022 may be the final major software update for the iPod Touch, which gives Apple something to think about in 2023. Does it continue forcing software upgrades onto a device with seriously dated tech that will likely struggle to run future releases; retire the iPod line forever; or launch an audacious eighth generation?
It's tricky to know right now, but all possibilities are seemingly on the table. Still, there's hardly any chatter online with regard to an eighth generation of the portable music player, which suggests that perhaps Apple is done and dusted with the iconic line. Watch this space.
I contacted Apple for a comment and will update this article if a response comes in.
Correction, May 3 2022: a previous version of this article stated the iPod Touch 7th gen had a Touch ID fingerprint scanner. The iPod Touch 7th gen does not have a Touch ID scanner.