Apple's new iPod touch, iPod nano, & iPod shuffle: which one is right for you?

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited July 2015
In a world of iPhones and iPads, iPods nevertheless continue to have a place at Apple, and Wednesday's update of the iPod touch -- plus new colors for the Nano and Shuffle -- raise the question of which iPod, if any, a person should buy.


iPod touch

For the vast majority of iPod shoppers, the iPod touch is the easily the best option. It's the only iPod that runs iOS, which gives it access to Siri and all the apps available for the iPhone.

Since its only wireless connections are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, apps that require GPS on the go or a cellular connection won't work -- but the addition of an M8 motion coprocessor means that even many fitness apps should be useful.

The importance of apps can't be overstated. Even if your interest is just in music and podcasts, the iPod touch opens up access to Internet radio, on-demand platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, and better podcasting options than Apple's own mediocre effort. On top of this you can take photos, do online and offline video, play games, and make calls through FaceTime, Skype, and other services.

People who already have an iPhone or iPad might still want an iPod touch, whether as a backup, a device they can leave connected to a clock or speaker, or something they're less worried about breaking when taking to the gym -- or handing to their kids.

Indeed, the iPod touch has long been popular with parents wanting to give their kids an iPhone-like device that isn't saddled with monthly fees or a high upfront cost. As a gaming handheld, its only real competition stems from the Nintendo 3DS and the iPad mini.

With four storage options ranging between 16 and 128 gigabytes, it's also the one realistic iPod option for people who want to take most or all of their music collection with them.

iPod nano




Let's get this out of the way: Buying an iPod nano is almost certainly a bad idea for most consumers.

Ignoring the new colors, which ultimately don't matter, Apple hasn't made any changes to the iPod nano since 2012. That means the device is limited to the same 16 gigabytes of storage, and an operating system that doesn't support third-party apps, simply mimicking iOS -- an outdated version (iOS 6) at that.

It really only has a few saving graces, namely video, FM radio, and a $149 pricetag. That could put it in a sweet spot for a handful of runners and gym-goers tied to the Apple ecosystem, since it also has Nike+ support and a built in pedometer. Anyone serious about fitness tracking has probably moved on, though, whether to a Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, or Apple Watch.

Apple's insistence on a $149 pricetag is almost offensive otherwise. The Nano is just $50 less than the latest Touch, which outstrips it in every way except for FM radio. A Nano might be worth buying at $50, or even $100 -- check eBay and Craigslist -- but at its current price, it's not a good value for most people.

iPod shuffle




The iPod shuffle is similarly overpriced, costing $49 despite having just 2 gigabytes of storage, no screen, and a design even older than the iPod nano, dating back to 2010. It should probably be priced at $30, if that much.

The device does have a few qualities which keep it relevant, at least moreso than the iPod nano. It remains Apple's most affordable media player, and because there's no screen, it's more difficult to break. It's also extremely compact, and it is the only iPod with a built-in clip.

Apple appears to have laser-targeted the iPod shuffle at fitness fans who want music and podcasts but nothing else, or are justifiably worried about breaking or losing a device worth several hundred dollars. Smashing a Shuffle in a bike accident is far easier to handle than doing the same with a $649 iPhone 6.

Conclusions

Almost invariably, people should ignore the iPod nano and iPod shuffle and skip straight to the iPod touch if they want one of Apple's latest portable music players. It's the most powerful and flexible model, geared to the modern era of apps and Internet streaming. The iPod nano is essentially redundant, and while the iPod shuffle does have value, it's in a narrow niche.

The very concept of an iPod has become irrelevant for many people, so it remains to be seen how the new iPod touch will sell. It could potentially be the last new iPod if the Apple Watch evolves into a standalone product not dependent on an iPhone connection.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,749member

    Horrible commentary. How can anyone start an analysis without examining the use cases for each model, then determining their overall value in relation to each other or the competition?! For example, the analysis of the Nano completely ignores those who want to use it as primarily music player. Let's see, possible applications...

    - Working out whan you don't want your larger iPhone 6 strapped to your arm.

    - Kids who don't need more than a music player and an occassional video.

    - How about leaving it connected in the car full time to access music without draining a phone's battery or worrying about plugging it in each time. I'm sure there are more uses. That's just off the top of my head.



    Whether, it is too expensive for what it does can be debated, but I'll wager that someone who already has several Apple products is not going to be looking at another brand of portable music player.

  • Reply 2 of 24
    mike1 wrote: »
    Horrible commentary. How can anyone start an analysis without examining the use cases for each model, then determining their overall value in relation to each other or the competition?! For example, the analysis of the Nano completely ignores those who want to use it as primarily music player. Let's see, possible applications...

    - Working out whan you don't want your larger iPhone 6 strapped to your arm.

    - Kids who don't need more than a music player and an occassional video.

    - How about leaving it connected in the car full time to access music without draining a phone's battery or worrying about plugging it in each time. I'm sure there are more uses. That's just off the top of my head.


    Whether, it is too expensive for what it does can be debated, but I'll wager that someone who already has several Apple products is not going to be looking at another brand of portable music player.

    The thing is, it's not like there aren't millions and millions of used iPods out there. Heck, Nano refurbs are only $100 from Apple. The only thing the new ones gained apart from colors was locking out Snow Leopard. It's simply overpriced, and I wouldn't recommend a new one to anyone.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Waaaay too many products in the sub $200 category all the iPods and the iPad mini...
  • Reply 4 of 24
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,569member

    What iPad mini is sub $200?

  • Reply 5 of 24
    ecsecs Posts: 307member
    Quote:


     which one is right for you?


     

    Either a 4-core Mini, 8-core iMac, or 32GB-RAM Macbook Air. Whatever comes first.

  • Reply 6 of 24
    asciiascii Posts: 5,940member

    I agree with the article. The iPod Touch is an excellent handheld gaming device, but the other 2 iPods are just anachronistic at this point. The release of the Watch would have been the perfect opportunity to discontinue the Shuffle.

  • Reply 7 of 24
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member

    Forget games. The iPod Touch renaissance is driven by Apple Music. It is no coincidence Apple is giving the iPod Touch a significant update during the three month free trial of Apple Music. It is why they have refreshed the iPod now, and not in September.

     

    I agree with the author of this article: The iPod nano is dead on arrival. An extra $50 gets you an iPod Touch which is lightweight and durable.

     

    However, I do believe Siri can rejuvenate the iPod Shuffle. It'd make the Shuffle relevant again. You don't need a screen if you can rely on Siri.

  • Reply 8 of 24
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mr O View Post

     

    Forget games. The iPod Touch renaissance is driven by Apple Music. It is no coincidence Apple is giving the iPod Touch a significant update during the three month free trial of Apple Music. It is why they have refreshed the iPod now, and not in September.

     

    I agree with the author of this article: The iPod nano is dead on arrival. An extra $50 gets you an iPod Touch which is lightweight and durable.

     

    However, I do believe Siri can rejuvenate the iPod Shuffle. It'd make the Shuffle relevant again. You don't need a screen if you can rely on Siri.




    Not really. Apple Music isn't that big, and if it was about that, they'd have released it at WWDC, not just throwing it on the website.

     

    And please tell me how Siri is supposed to run on the $5 in components in the Shuffle.

  • Reply 9 of 24
    schlackschlack Posts: 673member
    i don't know how people can compare a watch which starts at $350 and has no headphones jack to a shuffle which starts at $50 and does have a headphone jack....as if the x7 more expensive device which is heavier, more breakable, and doesn't even support wired head phones is a good replacement.

    I'd love to see an updated shuffle with bluetooth added and the ability to store "cached" music from the Apple music service.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,469member

    Not really. Apple Music isn't that big, and if it was about that, they'd have released it at WWDC, not just throwing it on the website.

    And please tell me how Siri is supposed to run on the $5 in components in the Shuffle.

    Apple thinks it's that big. Take a look at their press release announcing the touch. Gruber has a link if you haven't seen it..

    Your corrosive anti-Apple tone gets more and more out of place here. You really belong at MacRumors.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    schlackschlack Posts: 673member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     



    Not really. Apple Music isn't that big, and if it was about that, they'd have released it at WWDC, not just throwing it on the website.

     

    And please tell me how Siri is supposed to run on the $5 in components in the Shuffle.


     

    Apple Music usage will continue to grow and this is an enabler. also $199 iPods really help to sell that $15/month family subscription....and bring the kids into the eco system.

     

    Siri wouldn't work on a shuffle unless it had access to a wifi network...but then it could work just fine.

     

    Siri voice recognition (and "thinking") is done remotely on Apple's servers...not on your iDevice...so it doesn't require much processing power locally.

  • Reply 12 of 24
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     



    Not really. Apple Music isn't that big, and if it was about that, they'd have released it at WWDC, not just throwing it on the website.

     

    And please tell me how Siri is supposed to run on the $5 in components in the Shuffle.




    1. Have a look on Apple's website: http://www.apple.com/ipod-touch/

     

    Scroll down and you'll notice they mention Music before Games. The layout reveals Apple's interest in emphasizing the iPod Touch as a gateway to the recently launched (free) Apple music service. Having said that, I agree with you that Apple Music isn't that impressive.

     

     

    2.  Adding Siri to the iPod Shuffle would significantly improve the user experience. Apple could easily increase the price to $79 for a 8GB iPod Shuffle with Siri voice control.

  • Reply 13 of 24

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mr O View Post

     



    1. Have a look on Apple's website: http://www.apple.com/ipod-touch/

     

    Scroll down and you'll notice they mention Music before Games. The layout reveals Apple's interest in emphasizing the iPod Touch as a gateway to the recently launched (free) Apple music service. Having said that, I agree with you that Apple Music isn't that impressive.

     

     

    2.  Adding Siri to the iPod Shuffle would significantly improve the user experience. Apple could easily increase the price to $79 for a 8GB iPod Shuffle with Siri voice control.





    And how is the Shuffle supposed to talk to Cupertino to process Siri inputs? And I'm saying that Apple Music isn't "big" from a marketshare standpoint. People aren't going "Wow, I have to buy an iPhone/iPod to get Apple Music!".

  • Reply 14 of 24
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,469member


    And I'm saying that Apple Music isn't "big" from a marketshare standpoint. People aren't going "Wow, I have to buy an iPhone/iPod to get Apple Music!".

    It's blindingly obvious that Apple is aiming to change that. And it's obviously possible that this is the exact reason for releasing the new iPods now.

    Your attitude is getting in the way of the obvious.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    xixoxixo Posts: 417member

    I'm always amused by the "which one is right for you?" headlines at AI, when most of the time (for me) the answer is "none of them..."

  • Reply 16 of 24
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

     



    And how is the Shuffle supposed to talk to Cupertino to process Siri inputs? And I'm saying that Apple Music isn't "big" from a marketshare standpoint. People aren't going "Wow, I have to buy an iPhone/iPod to get Apple Music!".


     

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

     

    Sometimes I wonder how people calculate their prices.

     

    Do you seriously think it only cost $10 for Apple to add a wifi connection to an shuffle? 

     

    With adding Siri the suffle would have to be at least $100 or even more.


     

    Apple already released a voice controlled Shuffle at $79 (source: PCMag). It was ahead of its time, three years before Siri. 



    The Third Generation Shuffle: source wikipedia

  • Reply 17 of 24
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

     

     

    there's a huge difference between a device that can say a few lines and Siri.

     

    That devices DOES NOT have voice control.  You can't tell it play a specific song.




    Yes, you're right.

     

    Here's a user's guide video of the Shuffle, skip to 3:35



    image

     

    It was a poor user interface at the time because - as you said - it was a one way conversation between the device and the user. Siri however could put a whole new spin on this concept ...

  • Reply 18 of 24
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,346member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    I disagree.  Both Nano and Shuffle have their specialized usages.  Apple won't release products that LOSE them money.  If they charged less for either product they would be losing money or making so little profit it won't even justify having those products in the store.

     

    Its easy to say the Nano/Shuffle sucks for the price compared to the Touch.  But many people don't need all the features of the Touch and want to save $50-$150. Many of these people already have iPhones and have no need for another touch screen device.  They just need a music player.  Why should they shell out $50-$150 for something they have zero use for?

     

    And lets look at the competition.  Is there any other music player out there that matches the Nano/Shuffle in build quality and ties to Apple ecosystem for LESS money?  There isn't.  The Nano/Shuffle are not horribly priced just because some may feel the Touch is the better bang for the buck.  That's like saying the Touch is horribily priced because my iPhone6 does way more for just a few hundred more.

     

    Compare the Nano/Shuffle to other MP3 players and those are a joke.  My iPodMini (not sure what its called) is almost 10 years old and works like a boss.  Other MP3 players from China are dead in 30 days.


     Much of the cost (and margin) of products is in their design, tooling up to make them, and the parts. As more units are sold, the first two of these ("production experience" roughly) are amortized away by the profits made and it's well known that many to most components of digital devices keep trending down in price.

     

    So - unless they're rotting in boxes and not selling - the net, net margins on Nanos and Shuffles have to have increased by a good amount since their introduction, meaning that with no major re-design, re-tooling and parts cost issues, Apple could cut the price and keep their historical goals of 40% or more profit margin (which is, of course, a multiple of what most companies can hope for).



     

  • Reply 19 of 24
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,346member
    Quote:


     .....make calls through FaceTime, Skype, and other services.


     

    As a "poor man's" (and carrier skirting) iPhone, do other services include Google Hangouts and facebook video calling? 



    Most of people's friends seem likely to have the capability of using at least one of these....

     

    ...I'd think it would be a matter of time until some maker releases an "unphone" specifically putting using these free (including video) services front and center - to cut voice plans entirely out of the loop (as long as one is near wi-fi at least - and people did get by with home phones for a century or so - and these would travel between "home bases" - e.g., go to a Mickey D's or Dunkin' donuts and call away).

     

    Or not....

  • Reply 20 of 24
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,263member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mr O View Post

     

    However, I do believe Siri can rejuvenate the iPod Shuffle. It'd make the Shuffle relevant again. You don't need a screen if you can rely on Siri.


    I agree with you. I don't think any Apple device that can't at least stream Apple Music from another device, won't be around much longer.

     

    The nano at least has bluetooth to provide that kind of functionality if Apple were to enable it. They probably need to eliminate the nano, bump up the Shuffle in price with greater storage, as well as a bluetooth radio at a minimum (if not wifi). I'd like to see them switch to a Lightning connector and Lightning EarPods. Wireless might be pushing things too far. The entry point would start higher, but it would also offer a great deal more.

     

    I sort of see the ?Watch killing the nano anyway, once the price drops $100 on "last year's model" when the 2nd Gen comes out. If someone could afford the nano now, then buying a pair of wireless headphones shouldn't be a stumbling block. The convenience of wearing your iPod on your wrist makes a lot of sense for it to evolve in this direction.

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