Apple iPod nano (4G) Review

Autumn is my favorite time of year for a couple different reasons. I love the cooler weather, the changing colors of the leaves and … new Apple iPods! For the last 4 years around this time, we’ve been introduced to a new iPod nano and this year is no different…

Apple iPod Nano 4G

Hardware Specifications

Storage: Available in 8GB and 16GB Flash drive capacities
Display: 2.0-inch (diagonal), 320 x 240 pixels 204 DPI, LED backlight
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
Audio formats: Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
Video formats: H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
Audio: 3.5mm stereo headphone minijack
Power: Rechargeable lithium polymer battery (up to 24hrs of audio playback time and 4hrs of video playback time)
Size: 3.6 x 1.5 x 0.24in (90.7 x 38.7 x 6.2mm)
Weight: 1.3oz (36.8g)

Apple iPod Nano 4G

Package Contents

iPod nano
USB 2.0 cable
Dock adapter
Quick Start guide

The nano really hasn’t changed drastically since 2005 when the original model made its debut.

Apple iPod Nano 4G

I still have all my nanos as you can see above. The 1st generation nano looked like a miniature version of the full sized iPod of that time. One year later we were given the 2nd generation version, with its brushed aluminum body and curved edges. Last year’s 3rd generation nano was a bit of a surprise with its squatty design and landscape display. This year’s nano is a combination of generations 2 and 3.

Apple iPod Nano 4G
Apple iPod Nano 4G

Gone is the squished design of the last model; we’re back to a tall nano, with a tall display to go along with it. Available in nine colors, more than ever offered before, I decided on Orange.

Like the 2nd generation nano, this one has a one piece brushed aluminum shell.

Apple iPod Nano 4G

The shape is a thin oval, making it appear quite slender from the side.

Apple iPod Nano 4G

In reality, it’s not that much thinner than previous nano models.

Apple iPod Nano 4G

The top edge has a hold switch…

Apple iPod Nano 4G

The bottom edge has the dock connector, which happily has not changed from previous models. There is also a headphone jack located next to it.

Apple iPod Nano 4G

The touch wheel also remains virtually unchanged from previous nanos. The only slight difference being that it curved to match the shape of the body.

The player is solid, but very light weight. I sort of wish it weighed more as it almost feels like it’s a demo unit with no innards. It does feel comfortable in hand though and is as easy to use as previous models.

The display looks oddly elongated, but is the same size and resolution as the previous nano (Fatty). It’s just in portrait orientation, instead of landscape. Other than that, it seems to be similar in color and brightness. One nice feature is that the display has a glass cover – it should do a good job at remaining unscratched.

So, not much has really changed with this new nano as far as the hardware design goes. Let’s take a look at the user interface.

Apple iPod Nano 4G
Apple iPod Nano 4G

The layout has slightly changed from the previous nano. A band of album art scrolls along the bottom of the display instead of on the right side. All the same main menu items are there though.

Everything appears to be the same until you start playing a song. It’s then that you notice the new Now Playing screen, which is similar to the iPhone and iPod touch. This is a nice improvement as the album art uses almost the entire display.

Sound quality doesn’t seem to have changed with this new version. I have no complaints in that area.

Apple iPod Nano 4G
Apple iPod Nano 4G

Besides the change in the Now Playing screen, this nano has inherited another iPhone / touch feature – the built in accelerometer. Rotating the nano will flip the screen. If you’re playing music, or are viewing a menu, it will automatically put you in cover flow mode. The screen will rotate automatically to landscape / widescreen mode when you watch video.

Apple has thrown in a few more new goodies too. There’s Genius mode, which will create a playlist of songs that go together. You can also shake your nano to shuffle to a new song. Another new feature is voice prompts. This is a great feature for people that are visually impaired. As you scroll through the menus, a male voice reads the menu items to you. And last, but not least, this nano can record voice memos if you plug in a microphone. It works well with the iPhone earbuds/mic.

Do I suggest that you run out and buy an iPod nano 4G even if you already have the 3G? Nope, not at all. Really I don’t think there has been a real improvement with this new version over the previous one. Yes, you can get a 16GB model – whoopee. I guess you can tell that I’m a bit bored with the nano. I think that it is overpriced for what it can do. I’d much rather spend $30 more and get get an 8GB iPod touch instead. There’s a lot more to like about the touch as it has WiFi, a bigger screen, web browser, app store, games, etc. I wonder if there will even be a new nano or regular sized iPod announced next year at this time… We’ll see, but I really doubt it.


Product Information

  • Light weight
  • Accelerometer
  • Voice prompts for the visually impaired
  • Voice recorder (have to supply your own mic tho)
  • Expensive

32 thoughts on “Apple iPod nano (4G) Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. thanks for the review, my kids use the 3g nano and really love them but the new size seems like it would be better for video. Still not a big enough reason to upgrade though.

    But I did have a question, what are you using on your touch for an ebook reader? I am using stanza on my iphone and like it just fine, but always on the hunt for the best 🙂

  3. Tim:

    The new nano’s display isn’t any bigger than the 3g nano. So, watching video should be no different… Actually, the 3g might be more comfortable to hold while watching because you don’t have to hold it in landscape mode.

    As for reading books on the Touch, I use Bookshelf, but I have all of but iSilo installed.

  4. I used Bookshelf as well. I found it very tweaky. I would suggest instead of paying $10 for either iSilo or Bookshelf, try Stanza first. Its free, can use many file formats, and works very well.

  5. hey guys
    i have the first generation ipod nano..
    and for along time i’ve been wanting the ipod touch
    but its not like my family has money to waste..
    and i live a good distance from the city, so i wont have good wifi at my house (where i spend most of my time)

    do you think thats the ipod touch is a good investment even with very little wifi? or should i save a little bit of money and go with the nano?

    1. Bobby:
      Do you think you would enjoy using the Touch to play games, read eBooks, watch movies, etc? Or do you think you’d just be using it for music? If you only want it for music, go with the nano… otherwise, the Touch is a great little all-in-one kind of device.

  6. Daniel:
    The dock adapter can be used in 3rd party accessories for the iPod, like speaker systems and clock radios.

    There’s a big difference between the iPod classic and the nano. Do you prefer a smaller device? Do you need to carry more than 16GB of audio / video? Answering those questions will help you decide. 🙂

  7. Umm. I was thinking of buying these and have been looking online for reviews, just see if it really is worth buying. Is it? or should I just get the iTouch? I’m in hunt for capacity and the iPod classic is out of the question. I also don’t find the iTouch long-lasting. I’m also in favor of the iPod Nano because of the variety of colors available. I have used an iTouch before well always, because my friend has one and I don’t find it amusing and worth it but I don’t know. When I read reviews about the iTouch, most of it, well all of it says that it ain’t worth it because for $30 more you can get the iPhone with way more things to offer. While the iPod Nano is well has received good reviews. What do you think?

    1. Katarina:
      It really depends on if you think you’d want to play games, watch videos, and install other applications on the device. If you only want a music and video (although watching video on the nano isn’t the greatest experience because of the small display…), then go with the nano. If you want to be able to do all kinds of things, go with the Touch.

  8. The 4g nano is actually a really good ipod. It is a little awkward at first when you watch movies, but you get used to it very quickly. I really never liked the touch because the screen scratches way to easily, much like the iphone. The ipod classic is way too big for my taste, and I find it bulky! My nano is like my best friend. I have friends who can sing, but I would much rather have my ipod to do that for me. =]
    I really would recommend the nano if you want to store music, movies, and even photos. I haven’t played any of the games but I guess you could use those too. All it takes is a little time to take getting used to. I never got the 3g because I never had the money. For my nano it took me 2 years to get money for it (im not old enough for a job so I got my money for mowing lawns) so I have been trying to keep it in the best condition I can. I ordered a really good case off this website,

    Anyways I guess if you have a 3g there really isn’t any point in switching, unless you really aren’t happy with it. I give it a 10/10.

    Hope this helped

  9. I must say I love the ipod nano 4g. there are two things that i find very annoying. First is the glare that the glass screen guard gets, especially because the glare itself is rather distorted. this makes it near impossible to see the screen in bright conditions without the backlight on. The second is how short the battery life is. it seems that the only way to get the thing to last the rated 24 hours that apple says it has is to turn off the backlight, turn power save mode on, leave the volume at about 1/4 and not use the menus at all.

  10. i am buying an ipod for the first time. right now i am torn between buying a 4G nano or 3G nano…. i would certainly not wish to waste my money and the battery life poblem with 4G also bothers me.. but the 4G does have new features..Which ipod nano would u suggest a first time user??

  11. I was looking to upgrade from my Classic (too bulky but I love the tons of Gigs!) to the new 4G Nano 16Gig for playing music only and also want to dock it in a speaker system that will also dock my Sirius radio. Now, I found the speaker system I like, but they told me that the 4G (and Touch) has a non-firewire connection and therefore it has some issues with charging while docked. That would be a deal-breaker for me. Can anyone confirm that this 4G has a different pin configuration even tho it has the same basic connector?? I’m anxious to buy, so if anyone has feedback on this please email me at [email protected] Thanks.

  12. Hi guys. I have just bough a Ipod Nano 4th Gen and I love it. However, it does not work on my Griffin RoadTrip that I had for my Ipod Mini. Does anyone know if I can get some type of adapter or do I ditch it and buy a new one?

  13. Hey. My friends have all been getting the same ipod, the 4th generation nano. A couple years ago i bought the 1g shuffle, and that is starting to fall apart i am thinking about getting the nano and i want to know if it is the right choice for me. I want an ipod that has music and video and game capacity that will allow me to have quite a bit of stuff. So is the nano the right choice and what kind of features does it have. If you have info email me at [email protected]

  14. I bought the Ipod Nano here in africa, and what i got was really a fake one. How do i detect the original ipod

  15. Hi, wanted to ask you this.. why does the menu ‘voice memo’ disappear suddenly from my nano 4th gen. (8gb)..
    how can i get it back??

    pleaseeeee 🙂

  16. i also wanted to ask, is the voice memo only appears when you plug an appropriate microphone adapter into the iPod nano 4G’s headphone jack?

    1. @Olive You answered your own question 🙂 Yes, you have to have a microphone plugged into the Nano in order for the voice memo menu to show up.

  17. I like the iPod Nano and still use it, I won’t buy an iPod touch because WinAmp can’t support it, but it can support the Nano. I don’t happen to do any voice recording with the Nano, am always home and never traveling.

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