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Nov 2, 2012

iPod Nano review (7th Generation) – The best nano ever

by Freddie Harrison

Our full, hands-on review of the seventh-generation iPod nano – a stunning offering from the smallest member of Apple’s iPod family.

iPod nano - review - Main

Available from: www.store.apple.com

Price: £129/$149 (16 GB)

Of all the iPods in Apple’s personal music player range, it’s fair to say that the iPod nano has seen the most change since it was introduced back in 2005. Now in its seventh major redesign, the iPod nano sees a stunning return to form following the somewhat lacklustre fifth and sixth generations.

Weighing in at just 31 grams with a thickness that doesn’t even top 5.5mm, the seventh-generation iPod nano is nothing short of incredible as far as its size and weight goes. In fact, we’ve held heavier matchboxes. In some ways, the almost-impossible form factor does leave the iPod nano feeling a little vulnerable, especially in clumsy hands or active exercisers, without the clothing clip that featured on the previous generation. It’s going to be down to third-party manufacturers to keep the iPod nano safe when you’re using it on the go.

Despite this relatively small caveat, it is nice to see a return to the ‘iPod- shrunk-down’ form – everything here represents a miniaturised iPod touch from the smaller home button, 2.5-inch display, volume rockers and sleep-wake button. It’s a welcome change from the sixth-generation, which aped the iPod shuffle’s design.

Turning on the iPod nano reveals an all-new interface. Like a stripped down iOS, it features a limited set of circular app icons (although these are less apps, more functions) and a distinct lack of the bells and whistles associated with the full build of iOS, such as Notification Center or the multitasking tray. It’s halfway between the interfaces we saw on the fifth and sixth generations of the iPod nano and, at times, leaves us wishing we had a full version of iOS running on this.

That said, stripping it down to basics has left a beautifully fast, snappy and responsive interface that will quickly allow you to make the most of the iPod nano’s features. As well as the obvious music player (which, as you’d expect, resembles a stripped down and miniaturised version of the Music app in iOS 6), there’s also a video and photos viewer, a dedicated Podcasts application, a radio function (providing you’ve got your EarPods plugged in), a clock and settings. As far as functionality goes, the real star of the show here is Fitness.

Combining the best bits of Nike+, a built-in pedometer and Bluetooth support for wireless heart monitors and headphones, Apple has set the iPod nano out as the ultimate device for exercise fanatics. We tested the built-in pedometer and found it to be fairly accurate in counting our steps. It was even able to offer more complex data such as distance and calories burned. It’s certainly one of the more advanced features on offer here and, compared with the iPod nano’s tiny form factor, makes for a great, unobtrusive exercise partner.

iPod nano - review - main

The fifth-generation’s square design made it perfect to show off a number of clock faces and, although they don’t look quite so good on the new iPod nano, there’s still a choice of six to choose from – all offering distinctly different styles. There’s also a timer and stopwatch function, which could prove to be highly useful.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, there’s a lot more to the iPod nano than meets the eye. Another great example of this takes place when you plug in the set of bundled EarPods. This enables both the radio tuner and voice memo recording. It’s a pleasing aspect of this device in that it does so much more than you’d expect – especially when you look at the tiny space it’s all packed into.

Viewing photos and videos on the iPod nano is equally pleasing thanks to the device’s 2.5-inch display, which packs an impressive 202ppi resolution. In our tests, we did find images lost a little detail and pixels became somewhat noticeable when we used a two-finger pinch to zoom in on them, but for quickly sharing photos with friends or family, the display is perfectly adequate.

As far as battery life goes, Apple boasts an impressive 30 hours during music playback and we’re inclined to agree – a full charge easily lasted us over five days of on and off usage and, thanks to the new Lightning connection that’s used for charging and syncing, re-charging doesn’t take all that long, either.

Aside from the aforementioned Bluetooth and Lightning connectivity, a 3.5mm headphone jack lets you use your favourite pair of cans or in-ears with the iPod nano, as well as the included Apple EarPods (which we’ve reviewed on page 118). All in all, connectivity is stellar for the size.

Over the years, Apple has given the iPad nano a number of varied designs that have drawn some pretty strong opinions, from the much- loved third-generation design to the less popular fifth-generation. But the latest iteration sees a welcome return to form. Its combination of an impossibly small form factor and a dazzling array of features gives the seventh-generation iPod nano a renewed sense of magic that only Apple can achieve. We love it.

Verdict:
Orange 5 Stars 

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