The History of the iPod nano

01
of 08

The History of the iPod nano and All Its Models

iPod nano family
Every iPod nano model to date. each image copyright 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. But after two generations of the Mini, the nano replaced it hasn't looked back.

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

This article shows how the iPod nano has evolved over time by tracing its evolution model by model, feature by feature.

02
of 08

iPod nano (1st Generation) Specs, Features & Hardware

1st gen. ipod nano
First Generation iPod nano. image copyright Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: Sept. 2005 (2GB and 4GB models); Feb. 2006 (1GB model)
Discontinued: Sept. 2006

The device that started it all. The 1st generation iPod nano replaced the iPod mini as the low-cost, relatively low-capacity, smaller, entry-level model. It was a small, thin iPod with a small color screen and a USB connector.

The first-generation iPod nano had rounded corners, as opposed to the slightly sharper of the second-generation models. The 2nd gen. models are also slightly smaller than the first generation. Headphone and dock connector ports are both located on the bottom of the nano. It used a clickwheel to scroll through menus and control music playback.

Screen Lawsuit
Some nanos initially had a screen that was prone to scratching; some also cracked. Many users reported the screen becoming unreadable due to scratches. Apple said that a tenth of 1% of nanos had defective, especially scratchable screens, and 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 US$15 and $25 in most cases.

First-Generation nano Specifications

Capacity
1GB (about 240 songs)
2GB (about 500 songs)
4GB (about 1,000 songs)
Solid state Flash memory

Screen
176 x 132
1.5 inches
65,000 colors

Battery
14 hours

Colors
Black
White

Supported Media Formats

  • Audio: AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3, WAV
  • Images: Bitmap, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PSD (Mac only), TIFF

Connectors
Dock Connector

Dimensions
1.6 x 3.5 x 0.27 inches

Weight
1.5 ounces

Requirements
Mac: Mac OS X 10.3.4 or newer
Windows: Windows 2000 or XP or newer

Price
US$149 - 1GB
$199 - 2GB
$249 - 4GB

03
of 08

iPod nano (2nd Generation) Specs, Features & Hardware

2nd gen iPod nano
Second Generation iPod nano. image copyright Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: Sept. 2006
Discontinued: Sept. 2007

Read the Review

The second generation iPod nano arrived on the scene just a year after its predecessor, bringing with it improvements to it size, new colors, and a changed location of its heaphone port.

The second-generation nano has 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 are both located on the bottom of the iPod.

In response to the scratching problems that plagued some 1st generation models, the 2nd generation nano included a scratch-resistant casing. Like its predecessor, it used a clickwheel to control the nano and was able to display photos. This model added support for gapless playback.

Capacity
2 GB (about 500 songs)
4 GB (about 1,000 songs)
8 GB (about 2,000 songs)
Solid state Flash memory

Screen
176 x 132
1.5 inches
65,000 colors

Supported Media Formats

  • Audio: AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3, WAV
  • Images: Bitmap, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PSD (Mac only), TIFF

Battery
24 hours

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)

Connectors
Dock connector

Dimensions
3.5 x 1.6 x 0.26 inches

Weight
1.41 ounces

Requirements
Mac:Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher; iTunes 7 or higher
Windows:Windows 2000 or XP or higher; iTunes 7 or higher

Price
2 GB - US$149
4 GB - $199
8 GB - $249

04
of 08

iPod nano (3rd Generation) Specs, Features & Hardware

3rd Gen. iPod nano
Third-Generation iPod nano. image copyright Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: Sept. 2007
Discontinued: Sept. 2008

Read the Review

The 3rd Generation iPod nano began a trend that would continue throughout virtually the rest of the nano line: major changes with each model.

The 3rd 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. A key reason for this was to make the device's screen larger (2 inches vs. 1.76 inches on earlier models) to allow for 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 navigating content on the iPod.

Capacity
4 GB (about 1,000 songs)
8 GB (about 2,000 songs)
solid-state Flash memory

Screen
320 x 240
2 inches
65,000 colors

Supported Media Formats

  • Audio: AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, Audible, MP3, WAV
  • Images: Bitmap, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PSD (Mac only), TIFF
  • Video: H.264, MPEG-4

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

Battery Life
Audio - 24 hours
Video - 5 hours

Connectors
Dock connector

Dimensions
2.75 x 2.06 x 0.26 inches

Weight
1.74 ounces.

Requirements
Mac:Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher; iTunes 7.4 or higher
Windows:Windows Vista or XP or higher; iTunes 7.4 or higher

Price
US$149 - 4 GB
$199 - 8 GB

05
of 08

iPod nano (4th Generation) Specs, Features & Hardware

4th gen iPod nano
Fourth Generation iPod nano. image copyright Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: Sept. 2008
Discontinued: Sept. 2009

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.

The Fourth Generation iPod nano sports a 2-inch diagonal screen. This screen, however, is taller than it is long, unlike the third-generation model, which was squat and nearly square.

The fourth generation iPod nano adds 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 adds support for recording voice memos using an external mic or Apple's new in-ear headphones, which have a mic attached to them. It also offers the option to have some menu items spoken through the headphones.

Capacity
8 GB (About 2,000 songs)
16 GB (About 4,000 songs)
solid-state Flash memory

Screen
320 x 240
2 inches
65,000 colors

Supported Media Formats

  • Audio: AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, Audible, MP3, WAV
  • Images: Bitmap, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PSD (Mac only), TIFF
  • Video: H.264, MPEG-4

Colors
Black
Silver
Purple
Blue
Green
Yellow
Orange
Red
Pink

Battery Life
Audio - 24 hours
Video - 4 hours

Connectors
Dock connector

Dimensions
3.6 x 1.5 x 0.24 inches

Weight
1.3 ounces.

Requirements
Mac: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher; iTunes 8 or higher
Windows:Windows Vista or XP or higher; iTunes 8 or higher

Price
US$149 - 8 GB
$199 - 16 GB

06
of 08

iPod nano (5th Generation) Specs, Features & Hardware

5th Gen. iPod nano
Fifth Generation iPod nano. image copyright Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: Sept. 2009
Discontinued: Sept. 2010

Read the Review

While the Fifth Generation iPod nano looked fairly similar to the fourth, it differs from its predecessors in a number of important ways, most notably thanks to the addition of a camera that can record video and its slightly larger screen.

The Fifth 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

Capacity
8 GB (about 2,000 songs)
16 GB (about 4,000 songs)
solid-state Flash memory

Screen
376 x 240 pixels vertically
2.2 inches
support for displaying 65,000 colors

Supported Media Formats

  • Audio: AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, Audible, MP3, WAV
  • Images: Bitmap, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PSD (Mac only), TIFF
  • Video: H.264, MPEG-4

Video Recording
640 x 480, at 30 frames per second, H.264 standard

Colors
Grey
Black
Purple
Blue
Green
Yellow
Orange
Red
Pink

Connectors
Dock Connector

Dimensions
3.6 x 1.5 x 0.24 inches

Weight
1.28 ounces

Battery Life
24 hours - audio playback
5 hours - video playback

Requirements
Mac: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher; iTunes 9 or higher
Windows: Windows Vista or XP or higher; iTunes 9 or higher

Price
US$149 - 8 GB
$179 - 16 GB

07
of 08

iPod nano (6th Generation) Specs, Features & Hardware

6th Gen. iPod nano
Sixth Generation iPod nano. image copyright Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: September 2010
Discontinued: October 2012

Read the Review

Another radical redesign. Like the third generation model, the 6th Generation iPod nano is dramatically different in look from other nanos. It's shrunk compared to its predecessor and adds a multi-touch screen covering the face of the device. Thanks to its new size, the nano now sports a clip on its back, like the Shuffle.

Other changes include being 46% smaller and 42% lighter than the 5th generation model, and the inclusion of an accelerometer.

Like the previous model, the 6th generation nano includes Shake to Shuffle, an FM tuner, and Nike+ support. Where the previous model included a video camera, this model does not. It also drops support for video playback, which older models offered.

Oct. 2011 Update - In Oct. 2011, Apple released a software update for the 6th generation iPod nano that added the following to the device:

  • The ability to change the display preference to show 1 large app instead of group of 4
  • A new Nike+ app that removes 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, users cannot install third-party apps on the 6th generation nano.

Capacity
8GB (about 2,000 songs)
16GB (about 4,000 songs)
sold-state Flash memory

Screen Size
240 x 240
1.54 inch multi-touch

Supported Media Formats

  • Audio: AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, Audible, MP3, WAV
  • Images: Bitmap, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PSD (Mac only), TIFF

Colors
Gray
Black
Blue
Green
Orange
Pink
Red

Connectors
Dock connector

Dimensions
1.48 x 1.61 x 0.74 inches

Weight
0.74 ounces

Battery Life
24 hours audio

Requirements
Mac: Mac OS X 10.5.8 or higher; iTunes 10 or higher
Windows:Windows 7, Vista, or XP or higher; iTunes 10 or higher

Price
US$129 - 8 GB
$149 - 16 GB

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08
of 08

iPod nano (7th Generation) Specs, Features & Hardware

7th gen. iPod nano
Seventh Generation iPod nano. image copyright Apple Inc.

Availability
Release date: Oct. 2012
Discontinued: July 2017

Read the Review
Compare Prices at multiple stores

As you know by now, 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 6th generation shrinking to smaller than a match book after the 5th generation's vertical orientation, change is a constant with the nano. So it should be no surprise that the 7th generation model is pretty different from the sixth. It retains some things—like the multitouch screen and the core music-player features—but it many other ways, it's very different.

The 7th generation model has the largest screen ever offered on a nano, has only a single storage capacity (previous generations often had two or three capacities available), and, like the 6th generation model, has a number of built-in apps that provide functionality. While there is still no support for third-party apps, a la the iPhone or iPod touch, the 7th generation nano looks more and more like a mini touch.

7th Generation iPod nano Features

The 7th 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 improved versatility of data transfer and recharging
  • Apple's new EarPods headphones
  • Thin, light enclosure

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

Storage Capacity
16GB

Screen
2.5 inches
240 x 432 pixels
Multitouch

Battery Life
30 hours audio
3.5 hours video

Colors
Black
Silver
Purple
Blue
Green
Yellow
Red

Size and Weight
3.01 inches tall by 1.56 inches wide by 0.21 inches deep
Weight: 1.1 ounces

Price
US$149 

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