Apple’s new iPod touch takes a step back: No light sensor

After raving about my new iPod touch last week, I’ve continued to happily use the device; until this weekend, that is. I actually thought my iPod touch(s aapl) was broken, in fact. Turns out that the device is just fine and functioning as it should. The problem is that I expected certain features from the old iPod touch to still be in this new model and there’s one — a key one, in my opinion — that’s actually a downgrade from the fourth-gen iPod touch. There’s no ambient light sensor in Apple’s new iPod touch.

I found this out the hard way. Typically, I keep my device brightness at low levels while indoors but still use auto-brightness, mainly to save on battery life. So when I went for the mail this past Saturday while reading an article on the new iPod, the screen quickly became unreadable when I stepped outside. I figured I either didn’t have the auto-brightness setting on or it wasn’t working — actually, that was my first thought: The sensor was broken. Unfortunately, since I couldn’t read the screen, it was impossible to even find the Settings icon.

After getting the mail and coming back inside, I went into the Settings and noticed this: No auto-brightness setting, just a manual slider.

iPod touch 5th generation brightness

I knew Apple wouldn’t have moved the setting in iOS 6; in fact, the setting is there on my iPad. So I quickly turned to Apple’s iPod touch product page and looked under the Sensors. There’s no mention of an ambient light sensor.

iPod touch sensors

Just to check my sanity, since I owned a fourth-generation iPod touch, I checked the official Apple specifications for my old device. Sure enough, the ambient light sensor is mentioned there and of course, it’s part of the iPhone and iPad line.

I’m disappointed in Apple’s decision to omit this sensor in the new iPod touch, to say the least. The company may have saved some space and a little bit of money by leaving the ambient light sensor out, but this can degrade the experience. Perhaps I’m just too picky and whining about nothing here, so I’d love to hear your thoughts: How important is that sensor and the automatic brightness for the way you use your mobile devices?