Everything You Need to Know About Every iPod Shuffle Model

01
of 05

The History of the iPod Shuffle

iPod Shuffle
image copyright: Chloe Media/Flickr/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The iPod line was almost 5 years old when the iPod Shuffle debuted. The iPod Mini had been Apple's attempt to shrink the classic iPod experience into a smaller, lighter, more portable form factor. The Shuffle was designed to take that effort a step even further.

No longer just content with being a portable media player, the iPod Shuffle was designed to be ultra-portable—a very small, very light iPod that would be ideal for runners and exercisers who wanted music without a lot of extra weight.

From that perspective, the iPod Shuffle has been a great success. It outlived the iPod Mini and has become a common accessory for exercisers. It's also been one of Apple's major playgrounds for experimentation. No Shuffle has ever had a screen and one Shuffle didn't have any controls at all—it was just a flat, smooth piece of metal. Those experiments haven't always been successful (check out the third-generation model, for instance), but they've always been interesting.

Each item in this article spotlights a different iPod Shuffle to demonstrate how they changed and improved (or didn't) through the years. We begin by returning to 2005 and the debut of the first Shuffle.

02
of 05

The First Generation iPod Shuffle

1st Gen. iPod Shuffle
1st Gen. iPod Shuffle. image credit: Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: January 2005
Discontinued: September 2006

The First Generation iPod Shuffle was shaped like a small pack of gum. It was long and thin and had a cap at the bottom that can be removed to reveal a USB connector used for syncing music. This model was plugged directly into USB ports for syncing and didn't require the syncing cable that other iPods did.

It was designed to be extremely lightweight and to be used in situations where weight is valued over features or a screen (which the Shuffle lacks), such as running or biking.

This model was controlled using the buttons on the front, which were visually similar to the iPod clickhweel. However, these buttons lacked any of that device's scrolling functionality.

It offered two playback modes: straight through the music stored on it or shuffle.

Capacity
512MB (roughly 120 songs)
1GB (roughly 240 songs)
solid-state Flash memory

Dimensions (in inches)
3.3 x 0.98 x 0.33

Weight (in ounces)
0.78

Screen
N/A

Battery Life
12 hours

Connector
USB port accessed by removing cap at bottom of Shuffle

Colors
White

Original Price
US$99 - 512MB
$149 - 1GB

03
of 05

The Second Generation iPod Shuffle

2nd Gen. iPod Shuffle
2nd Gen. iPod Shuffle. image credit: Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: September 2006
Updated: February 2008
Discontinued: March 2009

The Second Generation iPod Shuffle changed the shape of the Shuffle substantially. It was smaller, matchbook-sized, with just a wheel-shaped button on the face and a clip on the back.

Unlike the previous model, this one did not have a USB connector. Instead, it synced with computers using a small attachment that connected the headphone jack to a USB port.

The major changes in this model were its shape, its method of syncing, and support for some new audio file formats.

Capacity
1GB
2GB - introduced Feb. 2008

Dimensions (in inches)
1.62 x 1.07 x 0.41

Weight (in ounces)
0.55 

Screen
N/A

Battery Life
12 hours

Connector
Headphone jack to USB

Colors Introduced Sept. 2007
Silver
Light blue
Light green
Light purple
Red

Original Colors
Silver
Magenta
Orange
Blue
Green

Original Price
$79 - 1GB ($49 after introduction of 2GB model)
$69 - 2GB

04
of 05

The Third Generation iPod Shuffle

3rd Gen. iPod Shuffle
3rd Gen. iPod Shuffle. image credit: Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: March 11, 2009
Updated: September 2009 (new colors, 2GB, and special edition 4GB models)
Discontinued: September 2010

Third Generation iPod Shuffle Review

The 3rd generation model dramatically redesigned the iPod Shuffle, making the device even smaller, adding new features like VoiceOver, increasing capacity, and returning the device to a form factor similar to the first-generation Shuffle.

In keeping with earlier models, this one did not have a screen. Unlike earlier models, though, the third-generation iPod Shuffle also lacked buttons on its face. Instead, the device was controlled by a remote control on the included earphones. Single, double, or triple clicks cause various actions, such as fast forward or play/pause. Third-party headphones could be used with the Shuffle with the additional purchase of a remote-control adapter.

Its new VoiceOver feature allowed the iPod to read menu items to the user through the headphones in languages including English, French, German, Greek, Czech, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.

The third-generation Shuffle requires iTunes 8.1 or higher.

Capacity
2GB (about 500 songs)
4GB (about 1,000 songs)
solid-state Flash memory

Colors
Silver 
Black
Pink
Blue
Green
Stainless steel special edition

Dimensions (in inches)
1.8 x 0.7 x 0.3 

Weight (in ounces)
0.38 
0.61 for stainless steel edition

Screen
N/A

Battery Life
10 hours

Connector
Headphone jack to USB

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

Original Price
US$59 - 2GB
$79 - 4GB 

05
of 05

The Fourth Generation iPod Shuffle

4th Gen. iPod Shuffle
4th Gen. iPod Shuffle. image credit: Apple Inc.

Availability
Released: September 2010
Updated: September 2012 (new colors), September 2013 (new colors), July 2015 (new colors)
Discontinued: N/A, still being sold

4th Generation iPod Shuffle Review

The 4th Generation iPod Shuffle was something of a return to form, recalling the second-generation model and bringing buttons back to the face of the Shuffle.

Apple’s ultra-light, ultra-portable iPod, previous Shuffle models had buttons on the device’s face (1st and 2nd gen. models) or were controlled by a remote on the headphone cable (3rd gen.). After criticism of the 3rd generation model, the 4th brought the buttons back.

It added support for Genius Mixes and a hardware button for VoiceOver. It debuted with a US$49 price.

Capacity
2GB

Colors, 2010
Gray
Red
Yellow
Green
Blue

Colors, 2012
Silver
Black
Green
Blue
Pink
Yellow
Purple
Product Red

Colors, 2013
Space Grey

Colors, 2015
Blue
Pink
Silver
Gold
Space grey
Product Red

Dimensions
1.14 x 1.24 x 0.34 inches

Weight
0.44 ounces

Screen
N/A

Battery Life
15 hours

Connector
Headphone jack to USB

Price
$49