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Ranking the iPods

Evaluating all current models, judging which is the best iPod


Animal Farm introduced the idea that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. The same is true with iPods. They’re all great, but some are greater than others.

This list, which is updated when new models are released, ranks the current iPods to determine which is best. These rankings are based on functionality, performance, capacity, and, price. The iPhone is not included.

I hope this list will give you a way to evaluate the models against each other and to aid you in purchase decisions. For more in-depth-specification comparisons, see the iPod Comparison Chart.

Last updated: 11/5/12

1. Fifth Generation iPod touch

5th Generation iPod touch
image copyright Apple Inc.
The 5th generation iPod touch is the best handheld media player/Internet device (that's not a phone) that I've ever used. It takes all the strengths of the 4th generation model--its Retina Display screen, Internet connectivity, App Store support, FaceTime video chatting--and adds a handful of key improvements. Its screen is now 4 inches, the touch itself is lighter and thinner than its predecessor, the cameras are upgraded to give the back camera 1080p HD video and 5 megapixel stills, and the processor is faster. The entry-level price point is still a bit rich--US$299--but the 5th generation touch is worth it.

2. Seventh Generation iPod nano

7th Generation iPod nano
image copyright Apple Inc.
The 6th generation iPod nano was a step back. Apple clearly intended that nano--with its tiny shape and multitouch screen--to be an innovation, but it simply removed too many useful features. The 7th gen. model rectifies that. It restores features like video playback that had been removed from the 6th gen. model, while also adding key new features like a bigger, 2.5-inch screen, a home button, and the Lightning connector. Once again, the nano is the best non-iOS iPod and the perfect device for those on a budget who want to enjoy an iPod.

3. Fourth Generation iPod Shuffle

4th Generation iPod Shuffle
image copyright Apple Inc.
This version of the Shuffle brings back the design of the 2nd generation model, offering the buttons on the face that the 3rd generation model lacked. As a result, this version fixes most of the problems of the previous one. It's still tiny and light - just 0.44 ounces - and affordable (US$49). It only offers 2GB of storage, but it's a great package for certain users.

4. iPod Classic

apple ipod classic
image copyright Apple Inc.

The Classic is the old man of the iPod line up these days. It’s a direct descendent of the very first iPod and is beginning to show its age. Unlike the touch, it doesn’t offer support for the App Store. Unlike the nano, it uses a hard drive, rather than Flash memory, so is bulkier and heavier than other iPods. What it does offer is capacity – 160GB – enough for most large media libraries. It also sports a decently sized 2.5-inch screen. It’s in need of a refresh or retirement, though, as newer models are really pulling away.

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