Apple announced earlier this week that the iPod touch was discontinued, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, sunset effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup.
To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the most popular iPod releases over the past 21 years.
The original iPod (2001)
The original iPod was introduced in October 2001 as a device that puts 1,000 songs in your pocket. It has become one of Apple’s most popular and popular products, and one of the devices responsible for Apple’s return to success.
The original iPod offered a 5GB hard drive of storage and a scroll wheel that actually spins, and it’s still the only iPod with this design. It also features a FireWire port for connection to a Mac, and it sells for $399. Apple followed the original iPod with a nearly identical second-generation model in 2002 that included a capacitive-sensing touch wheel with click buttons around the sides, and the third-generation model also added a more precise touch wheel with buttons above. The third-generation iPod also added a Dock connector.
With the fourth generation model introduced in 2004, Apple introduced the click wheel, an iteration of the touch wheel that also included the buttons. The fourth generation model is notable because Apple continued to use the Click Wheel for years to come.
The image of the iPod with its color screen followed the fourth generation model later in 2004, and Apple expanded the color display to all models in 2005 with the iPod with a color screen. Both are considered part of the fourth generation lineup.
Apple added video capabilities in 2005 with the fifth generation iPod, and this was also the first iPod to come in black except for the black and red U2 version of the iPod.
After the iPod video, Apple introduced the iPod classic, and several versions were released in 2007, 2008, and 2009, all of which were similar in design. The 2009 iPod classic was Apple’s last iPod of size, and had a 160GB hard drive, a clickwheel, and a wide color display. It remained stuck until it was discontinued in 2014.
iPod mini (2004)
Apple’s first iPod mini was introduced in 2004, and it was much smaller in size than the standard iPod. It comes in several fun colors including yellow, blue, pink and gold, and has a standard clicking wheel.
The iPod mini didn’t last long, and while there was a second generation version in 2005, it was then discontinued in favor of the iPod nano.
iPod nano (2005)
Replacing the iPod mini, the iPod nano is one of Apple’s most interesting iPods because of the many major design iterations it’s seen over the years.
Apple started with a slim, aluminum iPod with a clicking wheel, color display, and flash memory, which allowed Apple to scale back. The nano was replaced in 2006 with the second generation version that has more rounded bezels, a smaller form factor, and bright aluminum colours.
For the third generation iPod nano introduced in 2007, Apple went in a completely different direction, and this nano was colloquially known as the “greasy” iPod nano. It had a wider, more spacious body with a wider display screen, and it came in several color options.
The fat nano only lasted a year before it was replaced by the fourth generation slim iPod nano again, which came in full rainbow colors. It has a taller screen, a curved front, and an accelerometer for a “Shake” feature that lets you shake your iPod to switch songs.
Apple’s fifth-generation iPod nano of 2009 was similar to the fourth-generation model, but had a taller screen and got a camera and microphone. It also came in brighter colors, but Apple kept a wide range of color options.
The Nano got a design overhaul in 2010 with the sixth generation version that was just a screen in a square body. I used a multi-touch screen instead of the Click Wheel, and this is the version people have strapped the watch to, making it a precursor to the Apple Watch.
Apple changed the design in 2012 with the seventh generation iPod nano, reverting to the rectangular shape but leaving the multi-touch screen in place. The nano from this era looked similar to the smaller iPod touch, which features a home button and supports multiple apps. The seven-generation iPod nano got new colors in 2015 before being discontinued in 2017.
iPod shuffle (2005)
Apple’s first iPod shuffle was introduced in 2005 before the second generation iPod mini, and was very similar to the Apple TV Remote. It was Apple’s first iPod without a display, and had nothing but a control panel in order to keep the size small, plus it doubled as a flash drive.
The second generation iPod shuffle got a major redesign in 2006, and Apple reduced it to about half the size of the original and added a belt clip. It was advertised as the world’s smallest MP3 player at the time, and there was even a small iPod shuffle docking station for charging it through the headphone jack. It launched in silver, but Apple eventually came out with additional colors like pink, blue, green, and orange.
iPod shuffle got another redesign in 2009, where Apple added an audio feature that lets it say the names of songs and albums out loud using text-to-speech. This is the model where Apple ditched the on-device controls, instead of using headphones with a remote control attached for playback.
In 2010, Apple decided not having on-device controls was a bad idea, introducing the fourth generation iPod shuffle. The fourth-generation model was the last iPod shuffle, featuring bright colors, a smaller chassis, and the return of the control panel.
The iPod Shuffle did not receive any further design updates, although Apple introduced new colors in 2015. They eventually discontinued in 2017.
iPod Touch (2007)
Introduced in 2007 alongside the iPhone, the first iPod touch was an affordable alternative to the iPhone that did not have cellular capabilities. Much like the iPhone with a 3.5-inch multi-touch screen, it comes with WiFi support, Safari integration, and apps like YouTube, Mail, Maps, and Weather.
The second and third generation iPod touch models had the same design, but when the iPhone 4 was introduced in 2010, Apple also redesigned the iPod touch to have a similar look. It included a front FaceTime camera, a back camera, iMessage support, plus it comes in black or white.
Apple redesigned the iPod touch back in 2012, and the fifth-generation model had a larger screen and slimmer body, plus it was the first iPod touch to come in bright colors. It was released alongside the iPhone 5 as a mini PC with an A5 chip.
After the fifth-generation iPod touch, the design hasn’t changed, but Apple introduced a sixth-generation model in 2017 and a seventh-generation model in 2019, both with updated chipsets. After the 2019 release of the seventh generation iPod touch, the device went without an update for three years until it was discontinued earlier this week.
Apple said it decided to end the iPod lineup because iPod capabilities are now built into every Apple device, from the iPhone and iPad to the Mac, Apple TV, HomePod and Apple Watch.
Almost every modern Apple device supports Apple Music that Apple introduced in 2015, and it’s also available on the web, on Android devices, and more, making the iPod unnecessary. Apple is selling the iPod touch while supplies run out, but it’s already sold out in the US.
You may still be able to find an iPod touch from a third-party retailer, but be sure to act fast because they sell out fast as people aim to get their hands on the latest available iPods.