iPod nano 5th gen vs iPod nano 6th gen

Apple's anticipated event covered a wide range of new products and, as we predicted here at Pocket-lint, not only did Steve Jobs take to the stage wearing his black crew neck and New Balance footwear combo but Apple also announced an updated version of the iPod nano complete with touchscreen.

But, is it worthy your hard-earned cash? And if you've already got an iPod nano, should you be thinking about upgrading? Read on to find out.

Form

5th gen
91 x 38 x 6.1mm, 36.3g

6th gen
37.5 x 40.9 x 8.78mm, 21.1g


Chalk and cheese here. One is a long, thin, oval cross section of a flattened cigar and the other is a postage stamp. The 5th generation iPod nano wasn’t exactly big but the new one is not only pocketable but the sort of thing you’ll forget you have on you altogether. Just in case 36g was a bit of a strain, it’s now dropped to approaching half of that. More significant is the inclusion of a clip which will help for those looking to use the new nano as a sports companion.

Display

5th gen
2.2”, 240 x 376px, LCD

6th gen
1.54”, 240 x 240px touchscreen


Hard to imagine being able to get a thumb and forefinger onto a 1.54-inch display for multitouch play, but Jobs seemed to manage it okay in the demos. More than anything though, it’s probably the addition of the accelerometer you’d notice. It seems largely a matter of aesthetic design but it’s also going to be quite useful if it’s clipped to your clothes. The resolution is pretty similar on paper, but the 220ppi pixel density on the 6th generation iPod nano is a little better than the 201ppi you’ll enjoy on the older model.

Imaging

5th gen
VGA camcorder

6th gen
Nothing


Um, yeah. Funny but in all the propaganda about these iPods being “the best we’ve ever made” Uncle Steve forgot to mention that Apple had decided to ditch the rather snazzy camcorder we saw on the 5th generation iPod nano. Oh well.

Form

5th gen
8/16GB

6th gen
8/16GB


No change here. The iPod nano remains a device to fit a fair whack of music onto without being a mobile library of everything you own. Minus the video function, you’ll probably be able to eke that added space out to a few more albums at any one time.

Battery

5th gen
24hrs audio, 5hrs video

6th gen
24hrs audio


As you were on the battery front as well. Whether it’s the same power unit or not is far too dull a question to answer. The fact remains that an iPod nano will last you one complete spin of the Earth of pumping your music. So, unless you walk around with headphones in all the time, that’s quite a few days between charges.

FM Radio

5th gen
Present and with RDS

6th gen
RDS + live pause


While it’s debatable as to who listens to FM radio any more, those that do will be rather chuffed with the live pause function added to the 6th generation iPod nano. It’s not designed as flash recorder but can pause and rewind for up to 15 minutes which should be enough to shoe away that person interrupting your life.

Extras

5th gen
Nike+iPod Support, Genius

6th gen
Nike+iPod Support, Genius


Despite all the chat and aesthetic differences, there’s nothing much you can’t do on the 5th gen that you can on the 6th - just the live pause on the radio, really. Both devices will keep you fit - so long as you do your part - with the Nike+ app and both, of course, do Genius playlists as well.

Conclusion

What’s interesting here is that Apple hasn’t really upgraded the iPod nano. Steve Jobs and co have just decided to reposition it instead. What was a light version of an MP3 player - with a cool little camera - has become, well, the iPod shuffle really. It’s been stripped down to where the screen has become virtually irrelevant, despite its gesture control and the way it obeys gravity, and reduced to a clip size least likely to get in the way while exercising.

The 6th generation iPod nano is a sports media player and Apple has decided that the light MP3 player space isn’t worth catering for any more because that’s basically what the mobile phone is nowadays. So, those that love their 5th gen nanos need not feel threatened and those who’ve always wanted a screen on their shuffle can rejoice. Unfortunately, the news isn’t so good for 3rd generation iPod touch owners.

Check out all of Pocket-lint's coverage of the September 2010 keynote and all out Apple news on our Apple homepage