iPod Model and Generation Differences

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With the popularity of the iPod, Apple has created a number of different kinds of iPods as well as different generations of iPods. This gives more choice to customers, however it can cause confusion for those interested in buying accessories for their iPod.

Fortunately, iPods can be lumped into a few major categories. iPod accessory manufacturers classify their accessories based on which iPod categories they are compatible with.


iPod classic

These started with the original iPod released back in 2001 and were originally called simply iPod'. They have 1.8" internal hard drives which give them a higher capacity when compared to other iPods. On September 5, 2007, they were officially renamed iPod classic.

1G and 2G iPods

These were known as 1st Generation and 2nd Generation iPods. Their overall shape and function was similar, so in terms of purchasing accessories, they are considered equivalent.

Unique Features: The 1G and 2G iPods have a Firewire port on top.

Scroll Wheel: 1G iPods have a wheel that physically turns when scrolling through your songs while the 2G iPods have a "virtual" wheel which you can slide your finger across.

3G iPod with Dock Connector

The 3rd Generation iPod is often described as the iPod with Dock Connector, since this is when Apple first introduced the "Dock" for the iPod.

The Dock is a special port which resides on the bottom of your iPod. This special port allowed users to stand their iPods in a dock to sync their music and to recharge. This replaces the firewire port on the top of the older (1G and 2G) iPods.

In addition, the 3G ipod has support for USB 2.0, a photo memory card reader accessory, and a voice recording accessory.

Unique Features: The 3G iPods have the touch sensitive, backlit buttons (Rewind/Fast forward, Menu, Play/Pause) in a row under the screen.

4G iPod with Click Wheel

The 4th Generation iPod is described as the iPod with Click Wheel. Apple redesigned the wheel/button interface on the 4th Generation iPods to match the iPod Mini.

Instead of buttons above the scroll wheel (like the 3G iPods) or around the scroll wheel (1G and 2G iPods), Apple replaced the scroll wheel with a touch sensitive button, or "Click Wheel", replacing the four buttons with pressing the top, bottom, left, or right quadrants of the wheel.

This iPod has a grey scroll wheel distinguishing it from older iPods.

Note: The U2 iPod is functionally equivalent to a black/red 4th Generation iPod. Some manufacturers make black versions of their accessories, which can be more appropriate for these iPods.

iPod Photo

Also known as the iPod with Color Screen, the iPod Photo offered users the ability to display full color photos on their screen.

Aside from this added functionality, however, the iPod Photo was otherwise functionally similar to the 4G iPods, so many accessories for the 4G iPods worked with the Photo.

Months after releasing the iPod with color display, Apple released an updated version of the U2 iPod, which had a color display, replacing the monochrome U2 iPod. The standard iPod was discontinued with the discontinuation of the 4G iPod.

5G iPod (with video playback)

The 5th Generation iPod is usually described as the iPod with video or iPod video. However, this is incorrect as Apple simply lists the 5G iPod as "iPod". Apple increased the screen size to 2.5 inches and made the click wheel smaller. It is also the first full-sized iPod to use a click wheel made and manufactured by Apple.

This iPod no longer includes the remote connector common with all full-sized iPods since the 3G. The headphone port is on the right, with the hold switch on the left. A software update was released for the 5G iPod adding a quick search feature, gapless playback and the ability to play downloadable games.

The original 5G iPod was thinner than previous iPods, and came in black and white, in 30GB ($299USD) and 60GB ($399USD) models.

The revised 5G iPod included a brighter screen, new headphones, longer video battery life and came in 30GB ($249USD) and 80GB ($349USD) models.

6G iPod classic

The 6th Generation iPod is the first iPod to be released under the name "iPod classic". It is much like the 5G iPod, but is made entirely of aluminum. As part of Apple's move to drop white from their products, it is not available in white. It is available in silver and black.

It also featured a new interface, matching the interface of the simultaneously released 3G iPod nano. It adds Cover Flow to the interface and shows album artwork floating by the menus.

It is available in 80GB ($249USD) and 160GB ($349USD) models.

Mid-size iPods

These follow the release of the iPod Mini in January 2004, they come with between 4 and 8GB of memory and are smaller and cheaper than full size iPods.

iPod mini

The iPod mini was a distinct iPod that was physically smaller than the main iPod line, which is the reason why it was the first iPod ever to feature a clickwheel. While these iPods also had a dock connector, accessories needed to be specifically designed to work with a mini due to their smaller size.

These iPods come in a variety of colors, including grey, pink, green, blue and gold. Many manufacturers create differently colored accessories to match an iPod.

2G iPod minis were released the following year. In this minor update, the gold iPod mini was discontinued while other colors where brightened. Colored font matching the color of the iPod mini was also added to the click wheel. Finally, the iPod minis were given a 6GB HD, giving consumers the choice as whether to buy a 4GB or 6GB iPod mini.

iPod nano (1G)

The First Generation iPod nano was at the time of release the smallest iPod to have a screen, advertised as being as thin as a pencil.

The 1G iPod nano had a color screen and came in black and white, and in 1GB ($149USD), 2GB ($199USD) and 4GB ($249) models.

It was the first iPod with a screen that had a flash drive, meaning it had no moving parts and was skip-free.

Apple included black protective sleeves with the iPod nano (which previously were white), following rare complaints about scratches.

iPod nano (2G)

The Second Generation iPod nano was the iPod nano's first major revision. It used the iPod Mini's scratch-resistant colored aluminum casing. It also featured a brighter screen, a 24 hour battery life and new earphones.

It was available in 2 GB ($149USD), 4 GB ($199USD), and new 8 GB ($249USD) models. The colors were silver, pink, green, blue, black, and a PRODUCT (RED) version. For every PRODUCT (RED) product Apple sells, they donate $5USD to a fund that helps fight diseases in developing countries.

iPod nano (3G)

The Third Generation iPod nano saw the iPod nano completely redesigned. It is wider and shorter than the previous iPod nano and cut off much bare space, also being made completely of aluminium, as opposed to the 2G, which had plastic caps on the top and bottom. It adds the ability to play video and iPod games, both features which have featured in the full-size iPod for a long time.

It uses the same resolution as the iPod classic, and the interface is the same, adding Cover Flow.

It is available in 4GB ($149USD) and 8GB ($199), coming in silver, emerald, turquoise, black, pink, and a PRODUCT (RED) version.

iPod shuffle

This is Apple's first flash memory based iPod and is the only iPod without a screen.

iPod shuffle (1G)

The First Generation iPod shuffle was Apple's first flash based iPod. It came at a much smaller size then the other models, due to the use of flash memory and the lack of a screen.

The only thing it has in common with the other iPods is a standard headphone jack. As a result, while headphones and speakers may work with the shuffle, many of the other iPod accessories may not.

iPod shuffle (2G)

The Second Generation iPod shuffle was the iPod shuffle's first hardware update. Its casing is now made out of aluminum and the shuffle is the same size as the iPod Radio Remote. It comes in one configuration - 1 GB for $79USD. It originally came in silver, pink, green, blue and orange. It now syncs files through a modified headphone jack, meaning that it only has one socket.

On September 5, 2007, the iPod shuffle's colors were refreshed, the new ones match the 3G iPod nano and are paler than the old colors. They are now silver, emerald, turquoise, purple, and a PRODUCT (RED) version.

iPod touch

This is Apple's touch screen iPod.

iPod touch (1G)

The iPod touch (1G) is Apple's multi-touch iPod. Its design is based on the iPhone, and its user interface is much like the that of the iPhone's, but it has no phone feature. It is currently the first and only iPod to have built in WiFi (802.11b/g), and it uses this to surf the internet with a modified Safari web browser. It has a 3.5 inch touch screen and features an accelerometer which allows it to detect tilting and go into landscape mode. It also features an iTunes WiFi Music Store, which allows the user to browse, preview and download songs directly to their iPod touch via WiFi, which later sync back to iTunes on their computer. It has applications for YouTube, a Calendar, a Clock, and a Calculator.

It is only available in black, and comes in 8 GB ($299 USD), 16 GB ($399 USD) and 32 GB ($499 USD) models.

See Also

External Links