The iPod Touch Has A Mystery!

Update: There is a follow-up post, if you just want to cut to the chase.

Those of you who think an iPod Touch is simply an iPhone stripped of several hardware features are, I believe, wrong.

This morning I went to Apple Store Soho to do a test of the iPod Touch. Previously, I did a test post here from an iPhone. I wanted to see if I could also do so from the iPod Touch.

You see, I’m strange that way. While most people will simply assume there would be no difference, I like to see for myself.

And, oh boy, there was a very big and very stark difference between using the iPhone and the iPod Touch! And yes, I was very, very surprised!

I wound up trying four different iPod Touch units. 8GB and 16GB.

Overall, it took a lot longer for Safari on an iPod Touch to build the WordPress web interface post page I am now using at my desktop.

By each attempt:

1) I got into this web interface. But the page build wasn’t completed, according to the Safari progress bar (which, for those who don’t know, is a blue fill indicator in the URL address field of the browser; when a page is fully built, the blue disappears). However, I was impatient and decided to go ahead. It was dreadful! In the Headline field, I wanted to tap Test Post From iPod Touch. I got so far as typing T-e-s-t — which took close to a minute! I hit T and the enlarged keyboard T popped up and stayed there! WTF? I couldn’t get it to pop back down. So I then hit E (lower case). It didn’t do a thing. I hit E again. Nothing! I hit S. Still nothing. Suddenly, the page build completed and I wound up with something like Teesstt in the Headline field. OK, my fault for not waiting (but honestly, it was taking like three frikkin minutes to complete the page build!). I cleaned up the Headline field text. Then I selected the Body text field and began to type. I got as far as one letter when Safari went POOF! and I was back at the iPod Touch Home Screen. OK. This didn’t really bother me much. I figured this was a demo unit and the memory had been mucked about by prior use and Safari needed to dump everything to get clean. Fine. I tried again … but the build time for this web interface page was so damned slow, I gave up. I went to another iPod Touch.

2) I waited for the page build to complete this time. I was good to go. But something was still wrong. There was a lag after I tapped a letter. Instead of the large letter popping up and then disappearing right quick, there was like a one-second lag! WTF?! When I selected the Body field, Safari again went POOF! This was Not Good!

3) Was an exact repeat of #2!

I got fed up and went to an iPhone. I figured, if all of this repeats on the iPhone, then what’s probably going on has to do with changes done on the WordPress side, because I hadn’t had any problems like that with my previous iPhone test post.

Guess what?

I had no problems whatsoever from an iPhone. None! Everything worked just as it did for the original test post! The page built significantly faster than on the iPod Touch. And there was absolutely no lag in using the keyboard!

OK, this got me really frustrated (I’d like to use a different word there!).

I went to another iPod Touch, the fourth frikkin one!, to try again.

4) Again, the page built v-e-r-y slowly. I waited. And, as you can see from the post before this one, I succeeded. But still, there was a significant lag with the keyboard!

So what exactly is going on here?

I can think of three possibilities:

1) The iPod Touch has a slower processor than the iPhone

2) The iPod Touch has less RAM than the iPhone

3) Safari is somehow different on the iPod Touch than it is on the iPhone

I have no idea which of these things might be true. I’ve looked at web teardowns of the iPhone and the iPod Touch. There are different markings on key chips. Could that be significant?

This was all very disappointing to me personally. After reading up on the iPod Touch for the past several days, I was thinking that perhaps I should get one and forgo the additional benefits of the iPhone. After all, wasn’t it “simply an iPhone stripped of several hardware features?”

I don’t think so!

I think someone needs to replicate the benchmarking done here on an iPhone.

I think the iPod Touch is a different beast.

If any of you can solve this mystery, leave a Comment!

Update: There is a follow-up post.

Explore posts in the same categories: Tech - Apple

15 Comments on “The iPod Touch Has A Mystery!”

  1. Tom Says:

    I’m curious if the iPhone was on the in-store Wi-Fi network or Edge. All the one’s I’ve seen in the store are on Edge. With large numbers of devices on the same Wi-Fi I would expect slow response times. I’ve found that public Wi-Fi’s can be slower than edge on the iPhone and have resorted to not switching to Wi-Fi most times.

  2. Robert B. Says:

    You didn’t ask a sales clerk? Could it be that the iPhone was using an Edge connection? You can find a lot of web traffic on an Apple store’s wi-fi network. It’s a shame you didn’t ask one of the “geniuses”. They’d likely give you a quick answer. I’m skeptical of the explanation choices you gave.

  3. mikecane Says:

    No, I didn’t check to see if it was EDGE or WiFi on the iPhone.

    Tell me this, however: Have either of you experienced the kind of keyboard lag I’ve described with WiFi? I don’t see how WiFi can explain that.

  4. J Appleseed Says:

    Hi Mike,

    Yes, bringing this to the attention of one of the geniuses may have been a good idea, just to see what their response would have been – it would have made your story a better one, with ‘official’ Apple comment (thru their ‘Genius Bar’ employees.

    Also, I’d love to know which firmware versions were on the iPod Touch and the. From time to time I have experiences sites on my iPhone which work in the same way you described for the iPod Touch. I actually have both devices but I generally don’t surf too much on the iPod Touch because I have an iPhone.

    Anyway I HAVE seen the same behavior, but I’ve noticed that 1.1.4 firmware seems to be the best yet, one site in particular that I’ve visited often with previous firmware versions would always be slow. It is still a bit slow with the latest firmware but the performance on that site (www.smh.com,au) is better – I actually blame the site more than I blame Safari.

    So – perhaps the iPod Touch units you were using in store hadn’t been upgraded in some time. Perhaps also consumers had tried jailbreaking it – you only need to go to Zibri’s http://www.ziphone.org site to see that people have been unlocking iPhones in Apple stores, and ways to jailbreak the iPod Touch have existed in the past (with Zibri finally figuring out how to jailbreak iPod Touch units with 1.1.4, too!)

    So, please go back to the Apple store, find out what firmware was in use, and maybe try again. But then yeah, buy an iPhone instead. Easier and better.

    Cheers

    JA

  5. KenC Says:

    Try the network speed test, the next time you’re in the store, at the following website:

    http://www.iphonenetworktest.com/

    Also, check the Safari cache. Clear it on both devices and then re-run the test.

  6. mikecane Says:

    I went to Settings->Safari and only saw options to clear History and Cookies. I wonder if I should have tried scrolling down?

    Thanks for that link. I can tap it right from the Touch when I try it again.

  7. hughvic Says:

    I appreciate this post and string as a straightforward caveat. I’m fixing to buy an iPhone, and was stymied by the arrival of the Touch, which complicates my purchasing decision of course. So I’ll proceed with caution, and will keep an eye on your pathfinding. Thanks.

  8. Jason Etheridge Says:

    I just left a comment using the link that you used above using my iPod touch, and didn’t encounter any of the problems you describe. The WordPress page loaded immediately and completely, and there was no lag in entering the comment text.

    While it’s not impossible that there’s a limitation in processor speed or RAM, it’s more likely to be the other way around, unless they deliberately targeted a processor that was cheaper and slower. Given there’s no other evidence or suggestion of this, I’d like to see some confirmation from other users replicating your experiment. I’d put my money on swamped wifi, as others have suggested.

    (Yes, the next option after “Clear History” and “Clear Cookies” is “Clear Cache”.)

  9. raminf Says:

    Apple doesn’t publish any detailed specs, but…

    Presumed Touch specs: http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2007/09/11/quick-comparison-n800-v-ipod-touch

    Presumed iPhone CPU: http://www.engadget.com/2007/07/01/iphone-processor-found-620mhz-arm/

    If these are to be believed, the Touch has a 400 MHz CPU vs. 620 MHz for the iPhone. That might explain rendering speed, but not why Safari on Touch would barf but not on the iPhone. They are supposed to be from the same codebase.

    One reason why the WordPress interface is crapping out might be the giant-ass MCE ‘pseudo-word-processing’ control that WordPress insists on using. It’s around 300K and sucks down a lot of other stuff. If you find a way to turn it off and go to a regular text-box, that might help.

    To run a clean test, you might want to try doing a hard reset on each of them. Hold down the ‘sleep/wake’ button (along the top) and the ‘Home’ button together for about ten seconds. The screen should go black until an Apple logo appears. If the red slider appears, that’s for a soft reset. Try it again with both buttons simultaneously pressed for the duration. That should get rid of any cruft left in memory from previous uses.


  10. Can you really count the store demos as accurate tests? Those things have to be used about 237,345,938,380 times a day, isn’t it possible that that much use slowed down its internet?

  11. mikecane Says:

    Everyone check out the latest post about this to see how I dealt with various issues, Safari-wise and WiFi-wise:

    https://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/03/16/more-on-that-ipod-touch-mystery/

  12. Martin Says:

    Raminf. I’m pretty sure the iPod and the iPhone have the same CPU and both are downclocked to around 400mhz. I believe the iPhone may have had it’s CPU speed tweaked up a bit in a recent update but not by a great deal. I believe it was only to about 412 – 420mhz.

  13. dnialcdlo Says:

    I have ‘borrowed’ my son’s iTouch to check out his browsing history (as any good mother would do) and he has no safari icon. When checking the settings area, there is a place to clear history but not check the history. I know he jailbroke (jailbreaked?) this thing. Does that have anything to do with it? How can I find out where he’s going on the internet? Thanks for your help in advance!

    • mat Says:

      as any good mother would do? really?
      everyone has a right to their own privacy and freedom on the internet, and as any action in explaining how to check history would result in you breaching this right (presumably punishing him if you found something) then morally i cant do it.
      also im assuming he doesnt know that you ‘borrowed’ his phone or checking through his history, so did you ever think about what he might think if he found out?
      If you want to know whats influencing your son then talk to him. communication is better than secrecy for BOTH sides.

  14. steve Says:

    mat, you sir, are an idiot. when kids are under 18 they are the resposibility of their parents. its their parents right to monitor for the saftey and health (mental) of the goings on.


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