Apple’s 5th generation iPod touch is an improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way. It has a bigger, higher quality display, a faster processor, and more storage. The rear camera has also been updated with Flash and auto-focus.
If there’s an obvious downside, it’s that the new iPod touch has a starting price of $299, which is $100 more than the starting price for its predecessor.
But it turns out there’s also one thing the 4th gen iPod touch has that the new model is missing: an ambient light sensor.
GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel found this out the hard way when he walked outside with his iPod touch and realized he couldn’t see anything on the screen.
That’s because he was used to using the automatic brightness settings on his old iPod touch to automatically detect ambient lighting conditions and change the screen brightness appropriately. Since the new iPod touch doesn’t have a light sensor, there’s no automatic brightness option.
Apple exec Phil Schiller has reportedly told a customer that there simply wasn’t room in the new iPod touch for the light sensor, because the device is too thin.
Of course, another way to phrase that would be that Apple made a conscious decision to leave out the sensor in an effort to shave every millimeter possible off the size of the iPod touch. The end result is a device that’s 20 percent thinner than the iPhone 5. But I suspect some folks would have been just as happy with an iPod touch that’s only 15 percent thinner than the latest iPhone.