Don’t Mourn The iPod Classic Because The 128GB iPod touch Is Incoming

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This morning, a report surfaced that the next iPhone would come with 64GB of storage for the first time ever. It’s looking pretty solid.

At the same time, rumors have been bubbling up for the last couple weeks that Apple would soon be discontinuing the venerable iPod Classic… and today’s move to axe the iPod Clickwheel Games section of the iTunes Store certainly seems to confirm as much.

That’s a bummer. Okay, sure, iTunes Match and iCloud take some of the hurt out… but what if you want to carry your whole music collection around with you without having to sign up for a data plan? For customers like that, the death of the only 120+ gigabyte iPod is a bitter pill to swallow.

Don’t worry. A new 128GB iPod touch is almost definitely coming.

It’s actually easy math: if Apple is going to release a 64GB iPhone 4, then they’ll release a 128GB iPod touch.

First, there’s the convention: iPod touches have always shipped with twice the NAND Flash memory of the iPhone 4.

This convention is informed, however, by how much physical room there is in the device itself. In the iPhone 4, space is at a premium even at significantly more thickness than the iPod touch: modems, antennas and all the other guts that get stuffed into an iPhone so that it can make calls and suck up 3G mean that there’s only space inside for one module of NAND flash.

Up until now, Apple has been using Toshiba’s 32GB NAND Flash Modules in both the 32GB iPhone 4 and 64GB iPod touch. These are actually old chips, though, and back in 2009, Toshiba managed to double the storage they could fit on a single module to 64GB.

If Apple releases a 64GB iPhone, they’re using one of these modules. But here’s the thing: in the iPod touch, there’s room for two Toshiba NAND Flash modules. That means Apple can now max it out at 128GB.

Back in 2009, I said this about the possibility of a 128GB iPod touch:

128GB of storage is a magic number for the iPod touch: 128GB means I can finally get rid of my 160GB iPod Classic and cram my iTunes library onto a Touch without worrying about juggling albums around like some sort of Walkman-wielding, early eighties troglodyte. For me, the whole point of living in music’s digital age is that there shouldn’t be a problem walking around with sixty two days worth of music crammed into my front pocket.

Even though I never anticipated the rise of the iCloud, 128GB is still a magic number for the iPod touch, because unless it’s on WiFi, it can’t take advantage of iTunes Match. When you’re out with the iPod touch, you’re limited to what you synced to your device manually.

(And before you pipe up in the comments: no, Apple’s not going to put 3G in the iPod touch. See, as it turns out, once you cram all the guts of a 3G cellular modem into an iPod touch, you end up with a substantially thicker device… in fact, one exactly as thick as an iPhone 4. The only way to mitigate this is to go the iPad route and make the device bigger in height and width to keep it thin. )

So there you have it. If the reports of the iPhone 4S boasting 64GB of storage pan out — and they certainly seem pretty solid — it’s a lock that the iPod touch will be available with a 128GB capacity. It’ll be pricy, doubtlessly replacing the existing $399 64GB iPod touch, but it should fit all but the biggest iTunes collections, and finally replace the iPod Classic for pretty much everyone.

And if your music collection is over 128GB? Well, what do you know: in June last year, Toshiba announced new 32nm 128GB NAND Modules perfect for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. We may just see a 256GB touch in 2012.