I’m searching for a small, reliable and impressive music player that I could take with me on my jogging sessions (that are yet about to start). For more than 4 years, the NWZ-A816 Walkman model from Sony has served me well but now I’m looking for something new. With the iPhone 5 launch, Apple has also updated its iPod Nano line with the 7th, 2012 version. Is this the music player I’m looking for or I should look elsewhere?

Apple said they have “completley renanoed” their tiny music player and rightfully so. It comes with a “completely” different design, if you fall into Apple’s trap of slightly cunning tactic. On Reddit, quite a large number of users debate whether or not the new iPod Nano resembles a smaller Nokia Lumia.  Indeed, it does look like a tiny phone, but we’ll get back to that later on. What matters now is this – can the iPod Nano still satisfy my needs as a consumer?

 7th upod nano


7th iPod Nano – to be or not to be

I never had an iPod, all the devices that I used didn’t belong to me, so, it’s right to say I didn’t use an iPod to its fullest so far. Let’s give credit where credit is due – for many, the iPod is synonym to music player, just as Google is synonym to search. But that didn’t stop us, one year ago, to ask whether or not Apple was going to kill the iPod, reason to that being the decreasing sales. That’s a natural thing to happen, since the smartphone and the tablet can do so much more now.

Gradually, smartphones/tablets have become the universal device, replacing a lot of other functions during the years. That’s why it’s getting harder to buy a mp3 player, for example, because you already know that your smartphone can do that, so why pay more for something that you already have, right? Well, in my case, and I am sure that in my others, running with your smartphone might not be that comfortable and you just want to know that you have a dedicated device just for that.

What lured me in

The design. Not to say that I didn’t like the design of the previous iPod Nano, but this “tiny phone” touched a string in my heart. However, just as I said in the beginning, voices started to question whether Apple’s design is “clean” and indeed original. Have a look at the picture below and judge for yourself. Did Apple copy Nokia Lumia’s design or was it the other way around?

ipod nano 2012 vs nokia lumia

iPod Nano was released on September, 2010, two years ago and Lumia 800 was released 1 year later, in Octomber 2011. So, there’s actually no way Apple could have copied Lumia’s design. But do you remember how Apple “cut” in half the old iPod Nano, thus making 2 new products? Just like that, this time, they stacked 2 “old” iPod Nano versions, thus “renanoing” the actual one. Weird, but, personally, I’m pleased with the result. Now, some bad mouths could say that it was actually Nokia who copied Apple. But let’s hope that it will not evolve into another boring, neverending patent lawsuit cycle.

Leaving that aside, let’s see what the 2012 iPod Nano has to offer. As you already saw, it has a longer screen, going back to the era before the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle were part of a single product and it features a physical home button. If we are to believe to early previews of those that were at the Yerba Buena center, the device has a very pleasant touch to it, thanks to the glass and aluminum used in construction.

What’s inside and how it fares against iPod Shuffle

There’s no way for the 7th generation of the iPod Nano to run the iOS 6, and it will have its own specific mini-iOS. It has a 16GB capacity, is 6.1 mm thin and retails for $149. Now here’s where we might have an issue. The iPod shuffle retails at $49, which makes it three times cheaper than the iPod Nano and for those that need just plain listening to music, it can do the job with no questions asked. We’ll provide you with a head-to-head specs table, but you should know that in many situations, device vendors make money exactly from the difference in storage sizes.

shuffle vs ipod nano

The iPod Nano has 16GB, 8 times more than the Shuffle; double audio playback time, from 15 to 30 hours and 3.5 hours of video playback for those that believe a 2.5 inch screen can be enough. Also, it has a multi-touch display opposed to Shuffle’s clickable controls with the VoiceOver button. I decided to compare it with the Shuffle because that is its nearest competitor in the Apple yard. The iPod Touch represents a different league, for more “grown-up” players (some important Android names here, too) and the iPod Classic could be soon discontinued.

2012 iPod Nano – perfect for runners, drivers

For me, a great software treat is the Nike+ support and the pedometer that are built inside it. I value this application a lot and so do many others all over the world.

iPod nano is the perfect workout partner. It gives you some much-needed musical motivation and provides real-time feedback. Since Nike+ support and a pedometer are built into iPod nano, there’s no need to connect a receiver or use a shoe sensor to track your steps, distance, pace, time, and calories burned. Built-in Bluetooth technology lets you wirelessly connect to heart-rate monitors and headphones, making it easier to exercise. And at the end of your workout, sync iPod nano to nikeplus.com to track your daily activity and goals, check your NikeFuel, and monitor your fitness progress against yourself and your friends. Then get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

You might find some iPhone fitness applications to be enough for you or you might already own the Motoactv smart watch or another one from this list, but the partnership with Nike was a good idea, since there already is a huge community available. It weighs only 1.1 ounces (31 grams) so you will barely feel its weight. An interesting feature that gets overlooked by many but will be found by those in need is the accessibility for people with disabilities to help them “enjoy music, audiobooks, and more”, as Apple puts it. It also has FM Radio, so you can always switch from your own songs.

iPod Nano, the 7th generation, will also come with two of the newest “accessories” made by Apple. We’re talking about the EarPods and the Lightning to USB cable (both leaked before they were announced). Since the EarPods are something new, it’s safe to assume that they are able to provide a better sound experience. As for the Lightning cable, that might be a tricky one, because you might need an adaptor for it, and that comes with a $29 price tag. Another nice treat is its Bluetooth connectivity, so if your car is enabled to support Bluetooth, you can also use it in your car. So far, it manages to target runners and drivers.

Is this a product for kids?

2012 collection of ipod nano

We can no longer ignore the fact that kids interact more and more with technology, some of them being in love with intuitive mobile apps. That’s why, when I first saw the diversity of colors, I said – now this is a product that will get some love from the kids, that’s for sure. It has a more toy-ish look than the previous model, it doesn’t have a fancy screen, but it’s just enough for your kids to see some cartoons or to look at pictures. And it’s not a product aimed only at kids, don’t get me wrong.

Have you seen the yellow Nokia Lumia 920? Have you seen its speakers, its Fatboy pillow? Those are some products that too have a toy-ish aspect and just as the new iPod Nano, it will appeal to kids first. But it will also appeal to girls and folks that simply love to be creative. If I buy this product, I won’t labelled as being childish, I’m only trying to point out that it possesses the features that will make it a desired products by kids.

2012 iPod Nano against its competition

We’ve already presented what it has better than its smaller brother, the iPod Shuffle, but what about other names? The most important aspect of any product is, obviously, its price, therefore I think the competition for the iPod Nano is one that doesn’t go above the $250 mark, and even that seems big to me, since I know that for less than that, I can buy a pretty impressive tablet from Amazon - the Kindle  Fire HD. So let’s lower that price even more, to $200 and see what we can get for that money.

  1. Motoactv from Motorola – $149. This is probably the most impressive competitor the iPod Nano has, and it’s obviously aimed at runners. It has a GPS tracker, a smart mp3 player, heart rate monitor, Bluetooth and comes in 8/16 GB options. Thanks to an agressive marketing across sport lovers and compelling accessories, it’s a definite success and I don’t see how iPod Nano could outwit. Maybe Motoactv fails in front of iPod Nano because it acts as a smart watch and has a smaller size, but that’s for you to judge.
  2. Sony SmartWatch – $149. There have been many smart watch projects out there, including Pebble on KickStarter, but it is hard to match the brand and power behind Sony. It is powered by Android and has a very nice feature – the SmartConnect option that allows you to get a more optimized listening experience when you connect your headset or headphones. However, reviews like this make it obvious why it simply can’t compete with the iPod Nano.
  3. Sony Walkman NWZ-A845 - $149. This review tells pretty much what you should know about it – it’s great! And I can add to that my own experience with a previous model. It has 16GB of memory, S-Master digital amplifier, Digital Noise Cancelling, EX headphones and comes with a 2.8-inch OLED display and it has a 29 hours audio playback. It doesn’t win in its fight with iPod Nano but it doesn’t lose, either.

There are many other worthy competitors, but in my opinion, these 3 are more similar in terms of size, price and what they offer. There are still products like Zune HD, SanDisk player, the range of devices from Cowon and many others. As with almost all products that Apple has put on the tablet, iPod Nano is not very different and it’s not groundbreaking, but just by looking at it, one realizes that there’s passion and there’s care for the consumer there.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to buy the 2012 edition of the iPod Nano or not, but I convinced myself that every product Apple has made influences our buying decision. The simple fact that I have to wonder whether it’s still a good choice or not is a win for Apple, because it was the first thing that came into my mind when I thought about a music player. Will you be buying the 2012, 7th generation iPod Nano?

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Managing Editor

is the Managing Editor of Technically Personal. When he has some extra-time, he writes about Windows 8 apps and reviews them on Wind8Apps. Believes that technology is the main engine of civilization. Send him a tweet or make him your Facebook friend