RIP iPod: A look back at Apple’s iconic music player through the years

RIP iPod: A look back at Apple’s iconic music player through the years

Apple announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch earlier this week, and since it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its discontinuation effectively marks the end of the entire iPod line.

RIP iPod function
To get the iPod off the ground, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases of the past 21 years.

Original iPod (2001)

Launched in October 2001, the original iPod was launched as a device that put 1,000 songs in your pocket. It has become one of Apple’s most iconic and recognizable products and is one of the devices responsible for bringing Apple back to success.

2001 iPod

The original iPod offered a 5GB hard drive and a scroll wheel that physically rotated, and it remains the only iPod with this design. It also featured a FireWire port for connecting to a Mac and sold for $399. Apple followed the original iPod in 2002 with an almost identical second-generation model that featured a touch wheel with capacitive sensing and click buttons on the sides, and a third-generation model added an even more sophisticated touch wheel with buttons above it. The third generation iPod also added a dock connector.

Third generation iPod

With the fourth-generation model, released 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 years later.

iPod Click Wheel 4th Gen

The iPod photo with its color display followed the fourth-generation model later in 2004, and Apple extended the color display to all models in 2005 with the iPod with color display. Both were considered part of the fourth generation lineup.

iPod color

Apple added video capabilities in 2005 with the fifth generation iPod, and this was also the first iPod to be available in black, aside from the special black and red U2 edition iPod.

u2 iPod

After the iPod video, Apple introduced the iPod classic, and several versions came out in 2007, 2008, and 2009, all with a similar design. The 2009 iPod classic was Apple’s last iPod of this size and featured a 160GB hard drive, a Click Wheel and a widescreen color display. It remained in existence until it was discontinued in 2014.

iPod Classic Views

iPod mini (2004)

Apple’s first iPod mini was released in 2004 and was much smaller than the standard iPod. It came in several fun colors, including yellow, blue, pink, and gold, and it had a standard Click Wheel.

iPod mini 2005

The iPod mini didn’t last long, and although a second-generation version existed in 2005, it was subsequently phased out in favor of the iPod nano.

iPod nano (2005)

The iPod nano replaces the iPod mini and is one of Apple’s most interesting iPods, having gone through many major design iterations over the years.


Apple started out with a sleek, aluminum-colored iPod with a click wheel, color screen, and flash storage that allowed Apple to reduce the size. The Nano was replaced in 2006 by the second-generation version, which featured more rounded edges, a smaller form factor, and bright aluminum colors.


Apple took a very different direction with the third-generation iPod nano, released in 2007, and this nano was colloquially known as iPod nano “fat”. It featured a wider, stockier body with a wider display and came in multiple color options.


The Nano Grease only lasted a year before being replaced by the once again slimmed down fourth-generation iPod nano, which came in a rainbow of colors. It has a larger screen, a curved front, and an accelerometer for the “Shake” feature, which lets you shake an iPod to shuffle songs.

ipod nano 4

Apple’s 2009 fifth-generation iPod nano was similar to the fourth-generation model, but had a larger screen and gained a camera and microphone. It was also available in shinier colors, but Apple kept the wide range of color options.


The Nano received a major design overhaul in 2010 with the sixth generation version being just a screen in a square body. It used a multi-touch display instead of a click wheel, and this is the version that people attached watch bands to, making it sort of a precursor to the Apple Watch.

6th generation ipod nano watch strap

Apple changed the design in 2012 with the seventh generation iPod nano, returning to the rectangular shape but leaving the Multi-Touch display in place. The Nano from that era resembled a smaller iPod touch with a home button and support for multiple apps. The seventh generation iPod nano received new colors in 2015 before being discontinued in 2017.

iPod nano colors

iPod shuffle (2005)

Apple’s first iPod shuffle was introduced in 2005, before the second-generation iPod mini, and looked a lot like an Apple TV Remote. It was Apple’s first non-display iPod that had nothing but a control pad to keep it small, and doubled as a flash drive.

Ipod Shuffle Anniversary Wikimedia Commons

The second-generation iPod shuffle received a major redesign in 2006, and Apple shrunk 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 dock for the iPod shuffle to charge from the headphone jack. It was launched in silver, but Apple eventually released additional colors like pink, blue, green, and orange.

iPod Shuffle 2nd Gen

The iPod shuffle received another redesign in 2009, with Apple adding a speech feature that allowed it to say the names of songs and albums aloud using text-to-speech. With this model, Apple has done away with the controls on the device and instead used headphones with an attached remote control for playback.

iPod Shuffle 3rd Gen

In 2010, Apple decided that no device control was a bad idea and introduced the fourth-generation iPod shuffle. The fourth-generation model was the last iPod shuffle, with bright colors, a smaller body, and the return of the Control Pad.

iPod shuffle 2015 lineup

The iPod Shuffle didn’t receive any further design updates, although Apple introduced new colors in 2015. He was eventually hired in 2017.

iPod touch (2007)

The first iPod touch was released alongside the iPhone in 2007 and was a cheaper “iPhone” alternative without cellular capabilities. It looked like an “iPhone” with a 3.5-inch multi-touch display and came with WiFi support, Safari integration, and apps like YouTube, Mail, Maps, and Weather.

ipod touch original

The second and third generation iPod touch models shared the same design, but when the “iPhone” 4 came out in 2010, Apple also redesigned the iPod touch to have a similar look. It included a front-facing FaceTime camera, a rear camera, and support for iMessage, plus it was available in black or white.

iPod touch 2011

Apple redesigned the iPod touch again in 2012, and the fifth-generation model had a larger display and thinner body, plus it was the first iPod touch to come in bright colors. It was released together with the “iPhone” 5 as a pocket computer with an A5 chip.

iPod touch 5 colors

After the fifth-generation iPod touch, the design didn’t change, but Apple introduced a sixth-generation model in 2017 and a seventh-generation model in 2019, both with updated chips. Following the release of the seventh generation iPod touch in 2019, the device went without an update for three years until it was discontinued earlier this week.

iPod Touch background feature 2

iPod replacement

Apple said it decided to discontinue the iPod line because the iPod’s capabilities are now built into every Apple device, from the iPhone and iPad to the Mac, Apple TV, HomePod and Apple Watch.

iPod touch discontinued

Almost every modern Apple device supports the Apple Music service, which Apple introduced in 2015, and it’s also available on the web, Android devices, and more, making the iPod obsolete. Apple is selling the iPod touch while supplies last, but it’s already sold out in the US.

You may still be able to find an iPod touch from a third-party store, but act fast as they sell out fast as people aim to get one of the last iPods available.

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