I wanted to upgrade the software to iOS 5 through iTunes but I've never been able to get past iOS 4.2.1 so I waited for a year to see if Apple release another update yet.

I purchased the iPod touch 3rd Generation 8GB 2.5 years ago as I saw in Apple press release that Apple was releasing a new iPods model lineup. My local authorized store did advertised it as 3rd Generation 8GB. The part number was MC086ID/A, yet the seller assured me that it indeed was a 3rd Generation, because the 2nd Generation 8GB had MB part number. As I recalled, the 3rd Gen iPods may receive upgrade up to iOS 5.1.1.

I live 3 hours away from an Apple authorized reseller and there are no Apple Retail stores in my country. Is it possible that iOS 5.1.1 can't be received without authorized support in some countries?

  • If you enter the serial number for your iPod touch into Apple's look up tool, does it really say 2nd generation or 4th generation for your 8 GB touch? support.apple.com/manuals/#
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 13:54

6 Answers 6


I will attempt to straighten all this out. Apple has a nice tool to enter a serial number into a web site and it will look up what model you have for you.

You can even paste your serial number after the # sign above rather than pasting it into the search field. This is generally all you need to determine which generation of device you are being sold or have been sold.

The simple answer for OS levels for a specific device is to trust iTunes to always update a device if it is capable of a newer OS than it detects: If you connect your iPod touch to iTunes on a Mac or PC and click on the "Check for Update" button, and it does not indicate that there is a new iOS update for your iPod touch, then your iPod touch is already running the most recent version of iOS that it can run. Thus, it cannot run iOS 5.1.

I own a 4th Generation 8GB iPod touch, model MC540LL, and it does indeed run iOS 5.1.1. So it is not true that there is no 8GB iPod touch that can run iOS 5.1.1.

It appears from MrDaniel's link to everymac.com that the 8GB iPod touch owned by @Harriz_shiddiq does not run anything higher than iOS 4.2.1. Here is further evidence:

According to the complete history of model releases of the iPod touch, there is no such thing as a 3rd Generation iPod touch in the 8GB size. The 3rd Generation of the iPod touch only exists in 32GB and 64GB sizes. You can see for yourself in the internet archive's way back machine by examining the treatment of the model comparisons at the bottom of this page. The tech specs make you choose between identically sized models (visually identical externally) to see the specs for the 8GB model for sale or the 32/64 GB model for sale. The latter ones allow for headphones with remotes - the former ones do not. As far as I can tell, this also is a nice way to tell apart 3rd gen and later iPod touch as they can all use headphones with Apple remotes. All 2nd generation devices can not.

The downloadable free app MacTracker provides a database of comprehensive specifications of all the iPod touch models along with their chronological release history. From using this app, I've found the following information.

  • September 2007: iPod touch 1st Generation in 8GB and 16GB sizes (iOS 3.1.3 maximum)
  • February 2008: iPod touch 1st Generation in 32GB (iOS 3.1.3 maximum)
  • September 2008: iPod touch 2nd Generation (MB model designation) in 16GB and 32GB (iOS 4.2.1 maximum)
  • September 2009: iPod touch 3rd Generation in 32GB and 64GB (iOS 5.1.1 or latest)
  • September 2009: iPod touch 2nd Generation (MC model designation) in 8GB (iOS 4.2.1 maximum)
  • September 2010: iPod touch 4th Generation in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB (iOS 5.1.1 or latest)
  • October 2011: iPod touch 4th Generation in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB in white color (iOS 5.1.1 or latest)

I cannot find Apple model number MC086ID/A, reported by Harriz_shiddiq, within the MacTracker database. MacTracker reports that there were two Apple model numbers for the 2nd Generation 8GB iPod touch: MB528LL/A, released September 2008, and MC086LL/A, released in September 2009.

  • Thanks to @Dio Nugroho for encouraging me to re-check my dates and model numbers. I made errors which I hope I have fixed.
    – user9290
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 6:01
  • Thanks to @Gu4c4r4ch4 for doing more research and explaining a couple of plot twists.
    – user9290
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 6:09

MrDaniel above is quite right but I have something more to tell you.

  • The part number you mentioned above belongs to Indonesia region. All MC086ID iPods are definitely a 2nd Geneneration iPod. MC iPods are produced as the latest batch of 2nd Gen iPod touch, while the MB models were the earlier batch. Hence, iPod touch 8GB MC models should be classified as a 2nd Generation iPod (limited update to iOS 4.1.2) because it has model number of A1288.

  • Besides, in the link given by MrDaniel above, Apple advertised the 32GB & 64GB models are 50% faster than the previous model, which is the 2nd Generation models in this case. These newer models were also shipped with different earphone while the 8GB models were shipped similarly as the previous models. This means that Apple itself effectively classified the 8GB MC models as the previous model a.k.a 2nd Gen model.

Finally, I might sound dissapointing but the answer to your first question is that you might have been misled because the seller was not aware of the discrepancy.

For your second question, you should go to the same store, not for an update installation, but to hold them responsible for their informing you incorrectly (either on purpose or by mistake). You could ask for a discount for purchasing a new iPod touch 4G as compensation.

  • From my own research, @dOom_bah is correct.
    – user9290
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 21:20

The chronological release of iPod touch from MacTracker posted by Wheat Williams seems to contain some contradictory information. From the data of wikipedia and http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1353, here's what I found :

September 2007: iPod touch 1st Generation in 8GB and 16GB sizes (iOS 3.1.3 maximum)
February 2008: iPod touch 1st Generation in 32GB (iOS 3.1.3 maximum)
September 2008: iPod touch 2nd Generation MB model in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB (iOS 4.2.1 maximum)
September 2009: iPod touch 3rd Generation in 32GB and 64GB (iOS 5.1.1 maximum)
September 2009: iPod touch 2nd Generation MC model in 8GB (iOS 4.2.1 maximum)
September 2010: iPod touch 4th Generation in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB (iOS 5.1.1 or latest)
October 2011: iPod touch 4th Generation in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB in white color (iOS 5.1.1 or latest)

iPod touch 3rd Gen itself were released in 32GB and 64GB capacity (with the same price of the 2nd Gen 16GB and 32GB) in September 2009 along with the another re-introduced 8GB iPod touch 2nd Gen (with lower price than the 2008-release of 2nd Gen 8GB)

@BadBoyz31, I've seen the video of the September 2009 release and indeed, Steve Jobs said that iPod touch 3G would be released only in 32 and 64 GB models. The 8GB models would only be re-released with a lower price, hence, logical deduction would classified the 8GB models to be re-released as a 2G model. So Badboyz31, you should've deducted that the 8GB MC models are 2G iPods/

Indeed, I must admit that many people would find that the 8GB 3rd Gen iPod to be quite a deal since Apple lowered its price in addition to a "confusion" as a result of blurry apple press release, misinformed stores, and a tight release date.

However, an iPod touch 2G MB models at that time were about 20-40% cheaper which offering the same capabilities as a iPod touch 2G MC model. Many people were interested to own the MC model because they think that the MC model would have received upgrades compared to the 2nd Gen MB model. However, ethically speaking, as an Authorized store, I think its mandatory to explain the difference between the 2G MC iPods and the 3G iPods.

Had they not give you what you were asking for, you have the rights to demand discount (75% would be fair considering your trouble), for a 4G iPods (I agreed with dOom_bah for this matter)

  • Yes, you are right, I made some mistakes. I hope I have corrected them in my answer.
    – user9290
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 6:02

I'll have to disagree with MrDaniel. iPod touch 3rd Gen has iOS 5.1 support, well that's actually their last. You should first consult http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod_touch and http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1353 and you'll see what I meant.

Paul Schiller himself had presented in September 2009 Special event (you could search the youtube) that iPod 3G will be released ONLY in 32GB and 64GB models. In his presentation, he put the 8GB model aside while explaining that 32GB and 64GB models will be having better performance and gaming support.

What about the 8GB models ?

  • It was meant to be re-released along with the new 3G iPods but with a lower price of US$199 at that time (it was $229 before). He said that Apple would lower the price of the previously released iPod touch 8GB. That's all. He never stated that 8GB models would be received performance upgrade which its siblings received.

Hence, there's no reason to take this matter with your local store unless you were sure that you were misinformed to believe that the 8GB MC model was totally similar to the 32&64GB models.


The iPod touch 3G 8GB (also known as iPod touch 2G 8GB MC model) cant run iOS 5.

According to everymac's specs the iPod touch 3rd Generation 8GB can only go to iOS 4.2.

Although they originally were sold as a single lineup with 8 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage, this 8 GB model effectively is the same as the 8 GB configuration of the iPod touch 2nd Generation and does not fully support iOS 4.

Lastly iTunes knows best, if you try to update the iPod touch with the latest version of iTunes and it fails to find any new updates your device, it is already up to date to its most current OS version.

  • This seems contradicted here by Apple. Which iOS 5 software features does my iPod touch support support.apple.com/kb/HT4962 Is 3G something other than the late 2009 model that Apple refers to as iPod touch (3rd generation)? support.apple.com/kb/HT1353#iPod_touch_late2009
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 12:08
  • 1
    I would say iTunes knows best if the op has the latest version of iTunes installed and it's not giving them the option to upgrade to iOS 5, then the device is not compatible with it.
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 16:45
  • 2
    The problem seems to be that no 8 GB iPod is considered 3G. So either this is about a 4th generation iPod that should take 5.0 or a 2nd generation iPod only able to run 4.x. If you substitute "magical unicorn" for 3rd gen 8GB iPod touch, perhaps things would be clearer. Even they don't run iOS 5.
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 18:35

First look into Trying to get things clear with iPod touch 3rd Gen 8GB MC model.

I think the guy there also looking for the same answer as you do.

But I'd better answer it myself :

  • The most important thing is to identify whether you have the right iPod or not. See the back of your iPod for some fine texts. You should find a A1288 or A1318 there. A1288 means that your iPod is an iPod 2G (4.1.2 max) while A1318 means an iPod 3G (5.1.1 max)

  • Make sure to register your product's serial number to Apple website so you may get the idea of which iPod you're having.

  • I'm sorry to tell you that if you purchased that iPod during 09/2009 - 07/2010, you'll most likely to be misled to buy a re-released iPod touch 2G 8GB. Many stores did not heed apple support page and the press release, and probably the Steve Jobs' September 2009 presentation in order to get accurate information.

  • If you carefully paid attention to the presentation, you may see that Apple put the 8GB away from the remaining 32GB & 64GB iPods, claiming it to be 50% faster and OpenGL support. Here you can see that, the only change given to the 8GB model was a lower price but the 32GB and 64GB models got better hardware and internal capacity.

    I assumed you purchased the iPod from an Authorized reseller in Indonesia then it might be late-informed/misinformed during that time. Nevertheless, you should only try for a compensation (even a free new iPod) if the seller there said that the 8GB MC model was the same, except in terms of capacity, with the 32GB and 64GB iPods.

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