Earlier than Apple was the iPhone firm, it was the iPod firm. Apple’s moveable music participant dominated its marketplace for most of its heyday between 2001-2010. Whereas the final “basic” iPod was launched in 2007, the title continues with the iPod contact line, phone-less iPhones which are nonetheless available on the market right now.
Between 2001 and 2019, Apple and its companions launched round 30 distinct iPod fashions, relying on what you name a “distinct iPod mannequin.” (It’s extra should you deal with each U2-branded mannequin as a definite mannequin or break up the 2 revisions of the Traditional, for example.) That’s lots of iPods! It’s sufficient for a March Insanity-style (or, should you want, Squid Sport marbles episode-style) battle royale.
In our household, we had six iPods: a third-gen, a fifth-gen, a second-gen Mini, a first-gen Nano, and second and fourth-gen Shuffles. So I do know a few of what I’m speaking about right here. With out additional ado, let’s get to rating 32 Apple iPod fashions. Be sure you stick round for the video on the finish, the place we reminisce about all issues iPod.
Spherical 1 (iPods 32-17)
On this first part of the bracket, I matched up lots of comparable pairs and had a couple of matchups between very totally different fashions.
The worst iPod in historical past, in my opinion, occurred when HP skinned over iPods and tried to promote them as its personal merchandise. Though the fourth-gen iPod was a good iPod, shopping for the HP mannequin put you out of Apple’s help system and compelled you to attempt to get help for an Apple product from HP, which wasn’t an ideal thought.
#31: Harry Potter iPod
Apple did a lot of bizarre, co-branded iPods between 2001-2004. You may get one with Beck’s or Madonna’s signature on the again, for example. I’m calling out two on this checklist – the Harry Potter one and the U2 one (which had an ideal coloration scheme.) The Harry Potter iPod had a Hogwarts crest on the again and will solely be bought with a full set of Harry Potter audiobooks. One other dumb train in co-branding. Let’s put the remainder of the “random movie star signature” iPods right here, too.
#30: iPod Nano 1
I largely resent the primary Nano for not being a Mini, but it surely ended up this low on the checklist as a result of it was recalled for an exploding battery downside.
#29: iPod Shuffle 3
The one iPod to ever have no precise controls. The controls had been on the headphone twine, which additionally meant you couldn’t use third-party headphones with it and have any management over your music. Terrible thought.
#28: iPod Nano 3
The ugliest iPod in historical past – perhaps the solely ugly iPod? – was a squat, considerably misshapen factor with an infinitesimal 2-inch display screen that you simply had been supposed to have the ability to play video games on. Our reviewer favored it on the time, however to me now, the thought of enjoying video on a 2-inch display screen is hilarious.
#27: iPod Picture
The 4th-gen iPod with a photograph show might present your iPhoto or Photoshop album footage on its tiny, 220-by-176 display screen. This was a foolish and bizarre characteristic. Even on the time (2004) when telephone screens had been additionally fairly small and low-res, the awkwardness of syncing your images to your iPod after which taking a look at them … in your iPod … was odd. The larger-screened, next-gen iPod with video received issues proper.
#26: iPod Contact 1
The unique “iPhone with out a telephone” was a good suggestion, however I’m placing it down right here as a result of it charged you a $4.95 charge to get the model of iOS which had the App Retailer on it. That’s not cool.
#25: iPod Contact 3
Apple simply stored revving the iPod contact for some time to maintain it updated with the earlier 12 months’s iPhones. There was nothing notably notable concerning the iPod Contact 3, which was (like another fashions within the line) largely a rev to maintain the processor much like those within the iPhones, and thus keep third-party app compatibility. A forgettable iPod.
#24: iPod Shuffle 4
I do know lots of extra athletic folks liked this tiny, clip-style iPod, however I didn’t. I by no means favored the super-small Shuffles’ proprietary USB cables. I put this within the bracket in opposition to the same however way more highly effective Nano 6, and the Nano 6 is the clear winner.
#23: iPod Contact 6
As soon as the iPod Contact 5 was two and a half years previous, Apple wanted to replace the processor so the Contact might run the most recent apps. So the Contact 6 was largely only a processor bump, and I famous in my evaluation that it had fairly brief battery life. Just like the Contact 3, not a memorable iPod.
#22: iPod Nano 2
A mini manque with out fairly all of the attraction. The second-gen Nano copied the Mini’s aluminum physique and was significantly slimmer, however I really feel prefer it misplaced some intangible ingredient which makes the Mini extra of a real basic.
#21: iPod Contact 4
The fourth-gen iPod contact launched back and front cameras however caught with the earlier era’s 3.5-inch display screen because the system grew to become an increasing number of app-dependent. The Contact 5’s 4-inch display screen makes the distinction for the win right here.
#20: iPod Nano 4
The Nano 4 wasn’t all that dangerous. It had a tall display screen which was good for scrolling by playlists, a basic click on wheel, and 9 totally different coloration choices. However I bracketed it in opposition to the Nano 5, which was a killer Swiss Military knife of a gadget, so goodbye, Nano 4.
#19: iPod 2
Apple removed the charming mechanical scroll wheel on the iPod 2 however hadn’t but gone to the stunning, absolutely solid-state method of the iPod 3. The perimeters of the iPod 2’s bodily buttons tended to get a bit dirty, and it nonetheless used a FireWire cable relatively than the later, extra widespread dock connector.
#18: iPod 5.5 (Video ‘06)
Sure, the 2006 improve to the video iPod made lots of good incremental enhancements, with a brighter display screen and higher battery life. However you don’t beat the bracket by being incremental. You beat it by being progressive, and this was an incremental iPod.
#17: iPod 3
I liked my iPod 3 and used it for greater than a decade, however typically we should kill our darlings. The iPod 3 was a full redesign, with a touch-sensitive scroll wheel, the 30-pin dock connector, and an attractive, luminous white-under-glass physique. However up in opposition to the iPod 4, the iPod 3 should fail as a result of it nonetheless relied on FireWire for charging, and USB has at all times been a way more extensively adopted commonplace.
Spherical 2 (iPods 16-9)
#16: iPod Picture ‘05
This iPod solely made it this far within the checklist as a result of I had bracketed it in opposition to the Harry Potter/Superstar iPods. The iPod Picture was a foolish thought in ‘04, and it was nonetheless a bit foolish in ‘05 with a slimmer physique and a cheaper price. The iPod Video was a greater iPod for the time.
#15: U2 iPod
The U2 iPod is the final of our co-branded fourth-gen iPods. This one positioned the very best of the bunch as a result of I believe its black-and-red coloration scheme was really fairly cool. The U2 coloration possibility continued as much as the iPod Video ‘06 mannequin.
#14: iPod Mini 2
The Mini 2 was an incremental improve to a fabulous iPod. It’s nonetheless good, however incremental solely will get you up to now on this bracket.
#13: iPod Nano 7
The ultimate iPod Nano existed a bit uncomfortably within the iPhone period. Bluetooth and video playback had been good to have right here, however the system has a way of being one thing that’s nearly about to play streaming music however not fairly. The road was being eclipsed by the iPod contact at this level.
#12: iPod Shuffle 2
I actually respect the thought right here that you would clip a tiny iPod to your garments and go working, and at the very least the Shuffle 2 had each controls on it (not like the Shuffle 3) and a spot to place your thumb the place you wouldn’t hit the controls (not like the Shuffle 4). However man, did I hate that it used a super-proprietary connector and will solely be synced when sitting in its little dock.
Advisable by Our Editors
#11: iPod Contact 2
A built-in speaker, quantity buttons, and included App Retailer help made this the primary actual “iPhone with out a telephone” and guided iPod customers to transition right into a world the place music can be saved in quite a lot of apps or streamed over Wi-Fi, not simply synced from iTunes.
#10: iPod Contact 5
This absolute banger of an iPod contact caught round for years, nearly till software program wouldn’t run on its A5 processor anymore. The 4-inch display screen, Siri, and twin cameras put this in some ways on par with the iPhone 5 and authentic iPhone SE (though it was slower.)
#9: iPod 1
The OG iPod began all of it, and that retro mechanical scroll wheel is an actual journey. That mechanical wheel, in my thoughts, beats out the semi-upgrade within the iPod 2, however the authentic iPod’s chunky physique, clumsy FireWire port, and low storage don’t match as much as the basic iPod 4.
Spherical 3 (iPods 8-5)
#8: iPod Nano 6
Our reviewer known as the iPod Nano 6 a misstep, however that is my bracket, and I disagree. The iPod Nano 6 was the final word iPod shuffle: tiny for exercise put on, however with a cute little touchscreen that will help you navigate by your music.
#7: iPod Nano 5
A way more beloved Nano, the fifth-gen Nano added a video digital camera, voice recorder with mic, and FM radio to the standard iPod-mini-like kind issue. It was a little bit of a hodgepodge of options, however the “MP3 + FM radio” mixture was a winner.
#6: iPod Video
The video iPod, from 2005, was a usually nice product. It was glossy, with an even bigger display screen than the iPod picture, and that display screen was simply sufficiently big to observe Star Trek on the practice again in an period while you couldn’t fairly watch video in your telephone but. A extremely strong basic, and the predecessor to the precise Traditional.
#5: iPod 4
The final of the pre-photo iPods, the iPod 4 beats out the iPod 3 by absolutely leaping on the USB bandwagon. Now, don’t get too excited – it’s USB-via-30-pin-cable – however with the touch-sensitive and haptic click on wheel and longer battery life, the iPod 4 was a noticeable improve in numerous methods.
Spherical 4 (iPods 4-2)
#4: iPod Contact 7
The Contact 7 (an iPhone with out the telephone) beats the Nano 6 (a multitouch Shuffle). The Nano 6 simply tries a bit of too laborious for its too-small display screen. In 2021, in the meantime, music is in apps, and the iPod Contact 7 not solely handles all the present music apps, it can accomplish that for years to return.
#3: iPod Shuffle 1
I had the Shuffle up in opposition to the iPod Video. The primary-gen Shuffle is the one iPod to ever use a regular USB plug. That’s so nice! And it had controls on the physique, so you would use it with any headphones! Sure, it solely performed one playlist, however you don’t need greater than that on a screenless system. The Shuffle had superb audio high quality, and it was the primary iPod to make use of flash reminiscence, so it will get factors for main the best way in a expertise that now guidelines the world. Within the bracket this time it goes up in opposition to the video iPod, and Steve Jobs did say video iPods had been a nasty thought. Shuffle wins as a result of Steve says so, despite the fact that everyone knows he was mendacity.
#2: iPod Mini 1
The iPod Mini beat the 4th-gen iPod. This was a tricky one; the fourth-gen iPod is an absolute workhorse. However the Mini is the essence of iPodness: palm-sized, candy-colored, and funky to the contact, with the press wheel and the complete iPod interface. It’s a delight.
Spherical 5: The Greatest iPod Ever
#1: iPod Traditional
The iPod is a music participant. It’s a lovely paragon of unitasking. It doesn’t must play movies or video games; it wants to carry your entire music library and enwrap you in it. The Mini was an exquisite iPod, however the iPod Traditional is your entire musical world. Every little thing since then has been a little bit of a corruption of the thought. The iPod Traditional has since then turn out to be a beloved cult hit, with hackers upgrading the gadgets to stand up to 4TB of storage and even Bluetooth audio. All hail the iPod Traditional; lengthy might she reign.
Now watch: The iPod’s twentieth Anniversary: A Look Again
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