Hands-On With The New iPod Nano

Ready for iPod Nano Round Six? Because, as of Apple’s media event this morning, it’s a reality — and it’s completely different from every Nano that came before it.

We spent some time with the new Nano this afternoon. Want to get inside our heads on the matter? Join me after the jump for my first impressions on this lil’ guy.

The Good:

  • The old, antiquated iPod OS (Pixo) used on all of the old Nanos? Gone. I’m not sure if this is iOS — Apple said it wasn’t, but we think that might be a branding thing (it lacks the App Store) — but it sure as hell looks like it. And man, is it smooth.
  • Getting around is ridiculously easy. For the most part, it’s almost identical to getting around iOS on an iPhone, with one major change: there’s no home button. To get back to the homescreen, just tap-and-hold any on screen area where there aren’t any buttons or other interactive doodads.
  • I won’t call it pretty, but I will say that looks like something out of the friggin’ future. It’s essentially an edge to edge touchscreen display, with the smallest of bezels holding it all together.
  • It’s small. Really, really small. I’ve never seen a touchscreen on such a small device (at least, not one of this quality.)

The Bad:

  • Multi-touch seems a bit.. showy, right now. The screen is too small for a keyboard, and there’s no WiFi or 3G, so no browser or Google Maps. As a result, multi-touch is primarily used to flip the homescreen around to face whichever direction is most suitable for the current situation, and to zoom into pictures.
  • Again, due to no 3G/WiFi, there’s no App Store. If this thing really is running some form of iOS (and again, it really seems like it is), I wouldn’t be surprised to see it get third party apps (be it via jailbreak or some official means) before too long. I can’t think of many apps I’d want to see on the Nano — but hey, I never would have guessed that there’d be 250,000 apps built for the iPhone/iPad, either.
  • It’s small. Really, really small. Perhaps I’m crazy or I’ve just got oafish hands, but there was at least a few times during my hands-on that I thought “Erk, this is sort of hard to hold.”

The Ugly:

  • No Video playback. Ditching the camera was one thing; it takes up space, and costs money. But ditching video playback? That’s a bummer. Sure, watching video on that lil’ square screen might be hell on the eyes — but if the capability is almost certainly there, why strip it out?

The Neutral:

  • No camera. The camera was almost certainly ditched for cost reasons (touchscreens are expensive, you know), but it’s sad to see the camera get pulled from the Nano line after just having been introduced in the last generation.


Will these things sell like hotcakes? Absolutely. Would I buy one? Nah. The only use I have for a small MP3 player like this is for running, and the combination of sweat and a tiny touchscreen don’t seem like a good one. Based off my brief time with it, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it for the same audience I’d have recommended the Nano for: people who want a really great, reasonably flashy MP3 player, but don’t need the expandable frills of an iPod Touch.

If you want something primarily for exercise, buy a Shuffle. If you want Apps, browsing, e-mail, etc., buy a Touch. Want something in between? Check this one out.