Apple iPod Nano review
The death of the dedicated audio player has been greatly exaggerated. There are plenty of people who still want to play music from a source that isn't their smartphone. Certainly fitness enthusiasts will be fond of the iPod Nano's Nike+ integration. But even if you're not a runner and would rather hit the weights, you'll likely be fond of the Nano's diminutive size as alluded to by its name. It's small enough to slip into a pocket, even the smaller zippered pockets on a pair of running shorts. But the other reason you might want to listen on a dedicated audio player is to save battery life on your smartphone.
The current Nano, which is in its 7th generation, has been out for a few years now, but Apple hasn't revised its design since its original 2013 launch. There are numerous colour options now available including blue, silver, gold, space grey, pink and red after the introduction of a few new shades this year.
The 2.5in touchscreen is multitouch, and the iPod has obligatory Bluetooth, so you can use wireless headphones. Another coup for the fitness inclined. The whole thing is just 5.4mm thick and it weighs just 31g, so you can fit it almost anywhere. There's no clip on the back, so it's not quite as well suited to sporty users as the previous version. However, most people will be pleased with the improved movie viewing experience provided by the display’s 240x432 widescreen aspect ratio.
Like its squarer predecessor, the Nano’s touchscreen lets you flick between two menu screens displaying large icons. It even comes with a selection of wallpapers that are matched to the colour of the iPod itself. Unlike the iPod Touch, you can't install apps. The first menu provides shortcuts to your music, videos, podcasts and photos, along with a Nike Fitness app and radio tuner. On the second screen, you'll find a handy clock, settings menu shortcut and access to your audiobooks.
In addition to the usual options of sorting by playlist, artist, song, album or genre, you can also use Apple's Genius to put together a playlist of songs similar to the one you're currently listening to or create a playlist based on iTunes' analysis of your taste, but you have to enable the feature in the iTunes desktop client first. iTunes itself has undergone some changes lately, simplifying and streamlining its previously clunky interface, but in the process also removing a few familiar features, such as Cover Flow.
We're pleased that the sidebar that makes it easy to copy content from your PC to your iPod and move content between different playlists is still present. You can also opt to sync specific types of content only. As an example, can have your podcasts synced every time you connect the iPod to its associated PC, but not your music or videos. You can, of course, organise the content on the iPod Nano manually, too.
Audio files in MP3, AAC, AIFF, WAV and ALAC formats are supported, as are Audible format audiobooks; you'll have to convert other audio formats to a supported one to listen to them. Audio quality is, of course, very good indeed. The DACs favoured by Apple for its iPods are characteristically bassier than those used by some other rivals. The Nano sounds detailed and accurate, particularly if you upgrade it to a better pair of headphones. The Nano's warm sound complements balanced armature earphones extremely well and also sounds great through high-quality dynamic headphones such as Soundmagic E10s.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there's no support for Apple's burgeoning music streaming service, Apple Music. So you'll have to make do with locally stored tunes and that does mean dealing with iTunes.
Like the new versions of the iPhone and iPod Touch, the Nano comes with the improved EarPod version of Apple's earphones. They're still white, plasticky and none too comfortable to wear, but they're less leaky than their predecessors and sound more detailed and less fuzzy. They sound a bit better overall too; they're not quite ear-canal headphones, but their plastic casing is shaped to direct sound to your eardrums and less towards innocent bystanders.
They also tend to sit in your ears more comfortably with less of a tendency to pop out at a moment's notice. Still, for anyone who wants to better appreciate their music library, you're better off replacing them with a higher quality pair of headphones. See our guide to the best headphones for some improved options.