Five Differences Between 5th and 6th Generation iPod Nano

Decide Which One Is Best for You

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

But just looking at the two models doesn't really reveal what makes them different other than shape. And you need to understand those differences if you want to make sure you buy the right model.

This list explains the 5 major differences between the two models to help you decide which is right for you.

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Size and Weight: 6th Is Smaller

iPod Nano 5
iPod Nano 5. Lubyanka/Wikimedia Commons

With the two models being so different in shape, it's clear that they'll be different in terms of weight and dimension. Here's how those differences stack up:

Dimensions (in inches)

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

Weight (in ounces)

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

Smaller and lighter may not necessarily be better, though. The 6th gen. model is great if you want to wear it during exercise, but otherwise, the 5th gen. may be easier to hold and harder to lose.

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Screen Size: 5th Is Bigger

Apple iPod nano 16GB 6th Generation
Apple iPod nano 16GB 6th Generation. Photo from Amazon

If the body shapes are different, the screens are going to be different sizes, too. While the 5th generation model had both the screen and clickwheel on its face, the 6th generation nano is all screen.

Screen size (in inches)

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


For most users, this probably isn't a huge difference. Most nano users need the screen to navigate menus and see what music is playing. That works equally well on both screen sizes.

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Clickwheel vs. Touchscreen

iPod Clickwheel
image credit: Wikipedia

The 5th generation 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 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 and move from music to listening to the radio, etc. This may be fine for some users; others will find it unacceptably awkward.

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Video Playback: 5th Only

iPod nano playing video
image credit: Apple Inc.

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation 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. The 6th generation nano, on the other hand, can't play video at all. I'm not sure how much of a factor this is for most people, but if you want your nano to have the most possible features, the 5th gen. model is superior in this instance.

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Video Camera: 5th Only

Video on iPod Nano 5. Photo from Amazon

The 5th generation nano sports a camera that can record 640 x 480 video at 30 frames/second. These aren't HD videos, 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 removes the video camera so you can't record or play back video on it. This may not matter to you, but it's worth knowing.

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Reviews and Buying

Now that you know what the differences between the two models are, check out the reviews and then comparison shop to find the best prices on the nano you prefer.


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