The History of the iPod Nano

Picture of every iPod nano to date

 Apple, Inc.

The iPod nano wasn't the first smaller-sized iPod Apple introduced after the runaway success of the classic iPod lineup — that was the iPod mini. However, after two generations of the mini, the nano replaced it and never looked back.

The iPod nano is the iPod of choice for people who want a balance of small size, lightweight, and great features. While the original nano was simply a music player, later models added a wealth of terrific features, including an FM radio, a video camera, integration with the Nike+ exercise platform, podcast support, and a photo viewer.

Apple discontinued the iPod Nano on July 27, 2017.

iPod nano (1st Generation)

1st gen. ipod nano

Apple Inc.

The device that started it all: The first-generation iPod nano replaced the iPod mini as the low-cost, relatively low-capacity, smaller, entry-level model. It's a small, thin iPod with a small color screen and a USB connector.

The first-generation iPod nano featured rounded corners, as opposed to the slightly sharper corners of the second-generation models. Headphone and dock connector ports are both located at the bottom of the nano. It uses a click wheel to scroll through menus and control music playback.

The iPod nano was released in September 2005 (2GB and 4GB models) through February 2006 (1GB model). It was discontinued in September 2006.

Screen Lawsuit

Some nanos initially included a screen that was prone to scratching; some also cracked. Many users reported the screen becoming unreadable due to scratches.

Apple said that 0.1 percent of nanos sported the defective screens. The company replaced cracked screens and provided cases to protect the screens.

Some nano owners filed a class-action suit against Apple, which the company eventually settled. Nano owners who participated in the suit received between $15 and $25 in most cases.

Specifications

The iPod nano featured the following specifications:

Capacity

The iPod nano used solid-state flash memory at four different size points:

  • 1GB (about 240 songs)
  • 2GB (about 500 songs)
  • 4GB (about 1,000 songs)

Screen

The device's screen measured at 1.5 diagonal inches with a resolution of 176 by 132 pixels at 65,000 colors.

Battery

The device lasted 14 hours on a single charge.

Colors

You could buy the iPod nano in either black or white.

Supported Media Formats

Early-generation devices supported several different image and audio formats, including:

Form Factor

The iPod nano used Apple's then-standard Dock Connector port. The device weighed in at a mere 1.5 ounces, with dimensions of 1.6 inches by 3.5 inches by 0.27 inches.

System Requirements

The device worked with Mac OS X 10.3.4 or newer, or Windows 2000 or newer, computers.

Price (in U.S. dollars)

Apple priced the iPod nano at different tiers depending on the storage space:

  • 1GB: $149
  • 2GB: $199
  • 4GB: $249

iPod nano (2nd Generation)

2nd gen iPod nano

Apple Inc.

The second-generation iPod nano arrived on the scene just a year after its predecessor, bringing with it improvements to its size, color range, and port configuration. It was released in September 2006 and discontinued in September 2007.

The second-generation nano offered corners that are slightly sharper than the rounded corners used in the first-generation model. These models are also slightly smaller than the first generation. Headphone and dock-connector ports both now appear at the bottom of the iPod.

In response to the scratching problems that plagued some first-generation models, the second-generation nano included a scratch-resistant casing. Like its predecessor, it relies on a click wheel to control the nano. This model also added support for gapless playback.

Specifications

This generation of the iPod nano featured the following specifications that differ from the first-generation model:

Capacity

The 1 GB model was discontinued, but an 8 GB model introduced. The high-end model held roughly 8,000 songs.

Battery

Battery life extended to 24 hours on a single charge.

Colors

The iPod nano's color palette shifted significantly with this generation. Devices came in up to six different case colors:

  • Silver (2 GB model only)
  • Black (8 GB model only came in black initially)
  • Magenta
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Red (added for 8 GB model only in Nov. 2006)

Form Factor

The iPod nano used Apple's then-standard Dock Connector port. The device weight fell slightly, to 1.41 ounces, with dimensions of 1.6 inches by 3.5 inches by 0.27 inches.

System Requirements

The device worked with Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer, or Windows 2000 or newer, computers. It required iTunes 7 or higher.

Price (in U.S. dollars)

Apple priced the iPod nano at different tiers depending on the storage space:

  • 2 GB: $149
  • 4 GB: $199
  • 8 GB: $249

iPod nano (3rd Generation)

3rd Gen. iPod nano

Apple Inc.

Released: Sept. 2007
Discontinued: Sept. 2008

The third-generation iPod nano began a trend that would continue throughout virtually the rest of the nano line: major changes with each model. Like its predecessor, it lasted for one year, from September 2007 to September 2008.

The third-generation model ushered in a drastic redesign of the nano line, which made the device squatter and closer to a square than the previous rectangular models, to make the device's screen larger to accommodate video playback.

This version of the nano supports video in H.264 and MPEG-4 formats, as other iPods that played video at that time did. This model also introduced CoverFlow as a means of browsing content on the iPod.

Specification Differences

The iPod nano differs from its predecessor in the following ways:

Screen

The screen's dimensions increased to 2 diagonal inches to support a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels.

Supported Media Formats

The device supported playback of videos encoded with the H.264 and MPEG-4 codecs.

Colors

The color palette expanded to include:

  • Silver (4 GB model only available in silver)
  • Red
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Pink (8 GB model only; released Jan. 2008)
  • Black

Battery Life

Although battery life for audio remained unchanged, the device could support up to five hours of video playback on a single charge.

Dimensions
Given the form-factor redesign, the size of the device increased. Weight jumped to 1.74 ounces while the dimensions changed to 2.75 inches by 2.06 inches by 0.26 inches.

System Requirements

The device worked with Mac OS X 10.4.8 or newer, or Windows XP or newer, computers.

Price (in U.S. dollars)

Apple priced the iPod nano at different tiers depending on the storage space: 

  • 4 GB: $149
  • 8 GB: $199

iPod nano (4th Generation)

4th gen iPod nano

Apple Inc.

The fourth-generation iPod nano returned to the rectangular shape of the original models, being taller than its immediate predecessor, and brought back the slight rounding on the front. It lasted from September 2008 to September 2009.

The 4th generation iPod nano sports a 2-inch diagonal screen. This screen, however, is taller than it is long, unlike the third-generation model.

The fourth-generation nano added three new features that previous models didn't have: a screen that can be viewed in both portrait and landscape mode, integrated Genius functionality, and the ability to shake the iPod to shuffle songs.

The shake-to-shuffle feature is thanks to a built-in accelerometer similar to the one used in the iPhone to provide feedback based on a user's physical manipulation of the device.

It also added support for recording voice memos using an external mic or Apple's in-ear headphones, which have a mic attached to them.

Specification Differences

The iPod nano differs from its predecessor in the following ways:

Capacity

Apple introduced a 16 GB model and retained only the 8 GB version. All smaller-capacity devices were discontinued.

Colors

The trend toward more, brighter colors continued; you could buy an iPod nano in any of the following colors:

  • Black
  • Silver
  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Red
  • Pink

Battery Life

Although audio life remained unchanged, video playback dropped to 4 hours on a single charge.

Dimensions
This generation weighed 1.3 ounces and measured 3.6 inches by 1.5 inches by 0.24 inches.

System Requirements

The device worked with Mac OS X 10.4.11 or newer, or Windows XP or newer, computers. It required iTunes 8 or higher.

Price (in U.S. dollars)

Apple priced the iPod nano at different tiers depending on the storage space: 

  • 8 GB: $149
  • 16 GB: $199

iPod nano (5th Generation)

5th Gen. iPod nano

Apple Inc.

While the fifth-generation iPod nano looks fairly similar to the fourth, it differs from its predecessors' in several important ways — most notably the addition of a camera that recorded video and a slightly larger screen. It debuted in September 2009 and retired in September 2010.

The 5th generation iPod nano sports a 2.2-inch diagonal screen, slightly larger than its predecessor's 2-inch screen. This screen is taller than it is long.

Other new features available on the fifth-generation iPod nano that weren't available on previous models include:

  • A built-in FM tuner
  • A pedometer with Nike+ syncing
  • Genius Mix support
  • VoiceOver support

Specification Differences

The iPod nano differs from its predecessor in the following ways:

Screen

A larger screen — 2.2 diagonal inches — opened the door to 376 by 240 pixels of resolution at 65,000 colors.

Video Recording
This model supported video recording, at 640 by 480 resolution at 30 frames per second, using the H.264 standard.

Dimensions and Battery Life
The iPod nano slimmed very slightly to 1.28 ounces, but gained an extra hour of video playback time, returning it to the five hours of the third-generation device.

System Requirements

The device worked with Mac OS X 10.4.11 or newer, or Windows XP or newer, computers. It required iTunes 9 or higher.

Price (in U.S. dollars)

Apple priced the iPod nano at different tiers depending on the storage space: 

  • 8 GB: $149
  • 16 GB: $179

iPod nano (6th Generation)

6th Gen. iPod nano

Apple Inc.

With another radical redesign, like the third-generation model, the sixth-generation iPod nano is dramatically different in appearance from other nanos. It's shrunk compared to its predecessor and adds a multi-touch screen that covers the face of the device. Thanks to its new size, this nano sports a clip on its back, like the Shuffle. It's also the first generation to last for more than a year of active sales; it hit the market in September 2010 but wasn't discontinued until October 2012.

Other changes include being 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than the fifth-generation model, plus the inclusion of an accelerometer.

Like the previous model, the sixth-generation nano includes Shake to Shuffle, an FM tuner, and Nike+ support. A big difference between the 5th and 6th generation is that this one does not include a video camera. It also drops support for video playback, which older models offered.

In October 2011, Apple released a software update for the sixth-generation iPod nano that added the following capabilities to the device:

  • Change the display preference to show one large app instead of a group of four
  • A new Nike+ app that removed the need for shoe sensors
  • 16 new styles for the clock app

This model of the nano appears to run iOS, the same operating system that runs on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Unlike those devices, though, you cannot install other apps on the sixth-generation nano.

Specification Differences

The iPod nano differs from its predecessor in the following ways:

Screen Size

The screen size changed to 1.54 inches at 240 by 240 pixels, with multi-touch capability.

Colors
The purple version was discontinued for this generation.

Dimensions
The physical presentation of this generation changed substantially. The weight reduced to 0.74 ounces while the dimensions changed to 1.48 inches by 1.61 inches by 0.74 inches.

System Requirements

The device worked with Mac OS X 10.5.8 or newer, or Windows 2000 or newer, computers. It required iTunes 10 or higher.

Price (in U.S. dollars)

Apple priced the iPod nano at different tiers depending on the storage space: 

  • 8 GB: $129
  • 16 GB: $149

iPod nano (7th Generation)

7th gen. iPod nano

Apple Inc.

Every generation of the iPod nano has been fairly different from the one that came before it. Whether it was the third-generation model becoming a square after the second-generation's stick-of-gum, or the sixth-generation shrinking to smaller than a matchbook after the fifth-generation's vertical orientation, change is a constant with the nano.

So it should be no surprise that the seventh generation model is different from the sixth. It retains some things — like the multitouch screen and the core music-player features — but in many other ways, it's very different.

The seventh-generation model presents the largest screen ever included on a nano. However, it offered only a single storage capacity (previous generations often had two or three), and, like the sixth-generation model, it ships built-in with additional apps that provide expanded functionality.

It also lasted for an eternity, relative to its predecessors: Apple released it to market in October 2012 but didn't discontinue it until July 2017.

The seventh-generation nano adds the following features:

  • A 2.5-inch multitouch screen
  • Video playback
  • Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming to headphones, speakers, and car stereo adapters
  • A Home button that functions the same way that the Home button does on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad
  • Integrated "Nike+ with Bluetooth" connection to heart monitors
  • Lightning-dock connector for the improved versatility of data transfer and recharging
  • Apple's new EarPods headphones
  • Thin, light enclosure

As with the previous nanos, this generation still offers core features including music and podcast playback, photo display, and an FM radio tuner.

Specifications

The final iteration of the iPod nano sported the following specs:

Storage Capacity

Apple prepared just one model, 16 GB, priced at $149.

Screen

The screen clocked in at 2.5 inches, with 240 by 432 pixels of resolution and multi-touch capability.

Battery Life

On a full charge, the device offered 30 hours of audio playback and 3.5 hours of video playback.

Colors

You could purchase this generation in one of seven colors:

  • Black
  • Silver
  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Red

Size and Weight
The seventh-generation nano was 3.01 inches tall by 1.56 inches wide by 0.21 inches deep. It weighed 1.1 ounces.