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iPhone 4's 5MP Camera Won't Fit in Current iPod Touch Design


iPod touch (left) and iPhone 4 camera (right)

After we heard today's rumors claiming that the next iPod touch might be getting the iPhone 4's 5-megapixel camera, we asked iFixit's Kyle Wiens if that would even be possible given the sizes of the parts involved. iFixit offers repair guides (iPhone 4 guide) and parts for Apple products and has made a name for itself by posting detailed product teardowns.

This issue of camera size is one we've seen before. The iPod nano, for example, contains a video-only camera but is unable to take still photos. Steve Jobs explained the reason to the The New York Times:

I also asked him why the Nano can record video, but can't snap still photos. That reason, he said, is technical: the sensors you need to record video are extremely thin these days -- thin enough to fit into the wafer-thin Nano. But the ones with enough resolution for stills, especially with autofocus (like the sensor in the iPhone), are much too thick to cram into a player thats only 0.2 inches thick.

Wiens reports on the relative sizes of the hardware in question:

- iPhone 4 5MP (back) camera: 6.5mm
- iPhone 4 FaceTime (front) camera: 2.5mm
- iPod touch width (at edges): 6mm

The iPod touch dimensions don't include the casing and display, so actual usable space is smaller than the 6mm shown. This shows that the iPhone 4's back camera can not fit in the iPod touch, though the front FaceTime camera could. It's possible that Apple might "square off" the iPod touch design like the iPhone 4, but even so, Wiens still isn't sure that it would be possible in the current dimensions. That would mean Apple would have to make the iPod touch thicker as well as "squaring off" the design to accommodate the 5MP camera.

Given the early iPod touch parts and Apple's push for FaceTime, it seems likely that the next iPod touch will have a front-facing FaceTime camera, but the same high quality 5MP iPhone 4 camera seems less likely.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6