5 Key Ways the 5th & 6th Gen. iPod nano Are Different

Decide which one is best for you with this information

You can tell just by looking at them that the 6th generation iPod nano is a major change from its predecessor, the 5th generation iPod nano. The 6th gen. model is a small square with no buttons on its face that's about the size of a matchbook. On the other hand, the 5th gen. nano is a more-traditional iPod nano shape: tall and thin, with a screen on top and a Clickwheel controller beneath it.

Apple discontinued the iPod Nano on July 27, 2017.

Just looking at the two models doesn't really reveal what makes them different other than their shape. And you need to understand those differences if you want to make sure you buy the right model. This article explains the 5 major differences between the two models to help you decide which is right for you.

The 7th Gen. iPod nano replaced both the 5th and 6th Gen. models and delivers all sorts of major improvements. If you're thinking about buying a nano, check that model out.

Size and Weight: 6th Is Smaller

iPod Nano 5

 Lubyanka / Wikimedia Commons

With the two models being so different in shape, it's no surprise that they're different in terms of weight and size. Here's how those differences stack up:


  • 6th generation nano: 1.48" tall x 1.61" wide x 0.74" thick
  • 5th generation nano: 3.6" tall x 1.5" wide x 0.24" thick


  • 6th generation nano: 0.74 ounces
  • 5th generation nano: 1.28 ounces

Smaller and lighter may not necessarily be better, though. The 6th gen. iPod nano is great if you want to wear it during exercise, but its small size can make it easier to loose. The 5th gen. nano may be easier to hold and to keep track of.

Screen Size: 5th Is Bigger

Apple iPod nano 16GB 6th Generation
Apple iPod nano 16GB 6th Generation.


Since the body shapes of the two models are different, the screens are different sizes, too. While the 5th generation iPod nano has both the screen and Clickwheel on its front, the 6th generation nano is all screen.

Screen size (measured diagonally)

  • 6th generation nano: 1.54"
  • 5th generation nano: 2.2"

For most users, the difference in screen sizes probably won't be a significant issue. Most iPod nano users need the screen to navigate menus and see what music is playing, not view photos or videos. For those basic uses, both screen sizes are usually equally good.

Clickwheel vs. Touchscreen

iPod Clickwheel

Wikimedia commons

The 5th generation iPod nano is controlled using the Clickwheel on the face of the device. With it, you can raise and lower volume, play/pause, and move back and forth through songs without looking at the nano. This makes using the nano while exercising easier. It's fairly easy to use one-handed, too.

The 6th generation nano does not have a Clickwheel. Instead, it offers a multitouch screen as the main way of controlling the nano, similar to the screen on the iPhone or iPod touch. This means that you need to look at the screen every time you want to change a song or move from music to listening to the radio or other features. This may be fine for some users; others will find it unacceptably awkward.

Video Playback: 5th Generation Only

iPod nano playing video

Apple Inc.

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation iPod nanos can all play videos. None of them have very big screens, so most people probably don't play a lot of video on them, but they can be good for a short clip (or for watching videos recorded on the nano. More on that in the next section).

The 6th generation iPod nano, on the other hand, can't play video at all. This probably isn't much of a factor this is for most people, but if you want your nano to have the widest set of possible features, the 5th gen. model is superior in this instance.

Video Camera: 5th Generation Only

Video on iPod Nano 5
Video on iPod Nano 5.


The 5th generation iPod nano sports a camera that can record video at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames/second. That's definitely not an HD video, and the nano won't replace digital video cameras or the cameras built into smartphones since those offer better quality, but it's a nice bonus feature to have in your music player.

The 6th generation iPod nano removes the video camera so you can't record or playback video on it. This may not matter to you, but it's worth knowing when you buy.

Was this page helpful?