Skip to main content

Hands on with the new iPod Nano

The video Nano is back! Apple did a smart thing replacing the not-so-beloved "watch-style" iPod Nano with a slim, multi-coloured plaything in a range of attractive colours. The new iPod Nano is still probably best thought of as a media player for workouts, but the bigger display and metal body make it more flexible and more usable than the previous model. I got a few minutes to play around with it yesterday at Apple's launch event, and here are my thoughts for your delectation.

All of Apple's new products share several design cues, most notably the use of soft, warm, colourful anodised aluminium on the back. The cute little Nano is almost credit card-slim at 5.4mm, with a colourful metal housing that wraps around the edges, like a baby Nokia Lumia smartphone.

There's a hardware home button on the front, just like an iPhone. I actually made a bunch of jokes about it being a baby iPod Touch when I saw the two of them together on a table.

The front of the device is a bright, clear, 2.5in and 240 x 432 resolution screen. I played some videos on it and they looked sharp, although obviously it's well short of high definition (which would be wasted at that size, anyway). The hardware volume rocker on the side was easy to find with my fingers.

As before, the Nano is powered by a stripped-down OS that looks a little like iOS, but doesn't run apps. The most surprising new option is the built-in pedometer, which launches when you click on a Nike+ icon. I couldn't make it work, though, so I'm wondering if it needs Nike+ shoes as well. The FM radio requires that you plug in wired headphones first.

The Nano comes with Apple's very interesting new EarPod earbuds. They're more ear bubbles than earbuds, made of smooth plastic with little ports dotted all over the place. They sat firmly in my ears like little pebbles, but didn't create a seal like my Nokia Monster Purity earbuds do. We'll have a full review of them soon to let you know if they deliver better sound than Apple’s previous (and now venerable) aural offering.

At £129, the Nano isn't the cheapest media player out there by a long shot, and its price isn't much lower than the much more functional £169 (previous generation) iPod Touch. The small size tells me that like the previous model, it's designed with workouts in mind. While it'll take up a little more room on your arm than the previous square Nano, the built-in pedometer and easier-to-use UI will probably make up for that.

We'll have a full review just as soon as the Nano becomes available in October. To read up more on the new iPods, see our “Breakdown of the new Apple iPods” article.