New iPod Nano review

Review & video: Compact new Shuffle-style Nano with multitouch

Image 1 of 6 Apple iPod Nano 6th gen match
Apple iPod Nano 6th gen match
Image 2 of 6 Apple iPod Nano 6th gen side
Apple iPod Nano 6th gen side
Image 3 of 6 Apple iPod Nano 6th gen main
Apple iPod Nano 6th gen main
Image 4 of 6 Apple iPod Nano 6th gen front
Apple iPod Nano 6th gen front
Image 5 of 6 Apple iPod Nano 6th gen charge port
Apple iPod Nano 6th gen charge port
Image 6 of 6 Apple iPod Nano 6th gen main menu side
Apple iPod Nano 6th gen main menu side

Interesting design but who exactly is it aimed at?

At about 40mm across and weighing 21g, this is the smallest and squarest touchscreen iPod Apple has ever made. The video camera from the iPod Nano fifth generation is gone, presumably as everyone over the age of 12 now has a much better video camera on their phones.

As a piece of engineering, the new iPod Nano is impressive. Employing the now-familiar ‘app’ menu system, everything is selected via swipes and stabs, with the familiar array of playback buttons supplemented with icons for playlists, Genius mixes, podcasts, FM radio, somewhat undersized photo viewer, Nike+ and a clock.

See the new iPod Nano up close:

Watch the new iPod Nano review video on the right >>

Click here for exclusive new iPod nano pictures

Check out the new iPod Nano unboxing

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More Apple reviews:

New iPod Touch review

New iPod Shuffle review

Apple iPhone 4 review

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As with the Touch and iPhone, icons can be placed wherever you like on the screen but you can’t add any from the app store. There’s no Cover Flow and finding your way back to the home screen isn’t as easy as usual, due to the absence of a big home button, but you’ll get over both those “problems”.

New iPod Nano sixth generation: Sound

Audio quality is superior to the Shuffle but nowhere near the calibre of the Touch with some high-quality tracks sounding flat at times even with half-decent headphones. That is presumably because the smaller design means less powerful audio components. Shaking the Nano to shuffle tracks is a nice touch, although you’d be well advised to turn it off if you’re jogging with it in your pocket.

Battery life ran to around 20 hours for continuous audio playback in our tests.

While the Nike+ adapter is almost as big as the Nano itself, the size is still an improvement for runners, especially with the Shuffle-like clip attached to the rear of the casing. However you decide to clip it onto your person, you can adjust the screen at 90-degree increments using a two finger gesture. We’d hoped an accelerometer would be used to make it start automatically as you went into action, but no. Maybe next time.

You attach a pair of headphones to the Nano to tune into FM radio. You can live pause shows and, if broadcast, song information can be saved to purchase via iTunes at a later date. Photos can also be synced but with just a1.54-inch, 240 x 240 screen it’s more gimmicky than useful – like a cheap key-ring photo frame.

New iPod Nano: Verdict

Coming in 8GB and 16GB flavours and in six colours, this new iPod Nano is more of a Marmite product than its predecessors. We welcome the innovation, but we’re not sure who’s going to want it. It’s a similar, gym-friendly size to a Shuffle but almost £100 more expensive; nowhere near the feature-set of an iPod touch but just £50 cheaper for the 8GB model. It’s perhaps an example of cramming a touchscreen into a product size that doesn’t really suit it. Consumers are fickle beasts and it’s hard to say if this will prove to be the Holy Grail or an epic fail. However what we will confidently predict is that any accessory maker who launches a Nano watch strap to show off the retro analogue clock app better will make a fortune.