I’ve owned the 16 GB iPod 6th Generation Nano portable media player from Apple for a few years now. Bought it at Best Buy for $179, the standard price.
Over all, I very much like the 6th generation Nano, though some of the qualities that make this version of the Nano so likeable also contribute to the difficulties in using it. It’s quite a bit smaller than the previous Nanos (perhaps too small now) and so, easier to lose. But it sounds every bit as good as its predecessors, and lasts about as long per battery charge as well.
Benefits, Features, Advantages, and Pros
The significantly smaller size of this Nano (not much bigger than many watch faces), and its built-in clip on the back allows this Nano to be fastened easily to the cuff of a shirt or arm or wrist band for easy access while walking or jogging. It’s size and function remind me of the iPod Shuffle.
The sound quality is every bit as good on the 6th generation Nano as in Nanos past. In fact, the ear buds that come with this Nano appear to be the same as those shipped with previous models.
Unlike the 4th and 5th generation Nanos, this iPod incorporates a full implementation of the VoiceOver feature; the earlier versions utilized a voice clip system that required significant extra time during syncing as the computer had to generate the voice clips for each song synced. This drawback does not exist in VoiceOver however. VoiceOver is a feature that Apple has incorporated into the iPhones and iPod Touches historically. But as of this Nano, VoiceOver has now come to the Nano family. The voice synthesis software now is a part of the Nano. So this Nano does not require computer generation of voice clips during syncing. This feature enables the blind and vision impaired listeners to operate the Nano without seeing the screen; a handy feature for a touch screen based user interface to have.
It contains a sweet-sounding stereo FM radio. You can pause it for some seconds without missing anything when you return to listening, as it records into memory what the station broadcasts, while playback is paused. Plus, you can save songs that you hear to purchase them from the iTunes store later.
You can make a clock face appear so that when the home key is pressed, this iPod looks just like a watch face that includes a sweep second-hand that moves smoothly around the numbers (not in one-second intervals as seen in so many quartz clocks and watches).
Battery life in my experience seems comparable to my 4th generation Nano; the internal battery lasts between fifteen and twenty hours roughly per charge. This is highly variable however, depending on how bright you have the screen backlight set, how long it glows after being touched, how loud you play the Nano, and so on.
The online documentation provided on Apple’s web site here, is thorough, well-written, and easy to read.
Syncing and managing this iPod via iTunes works just as it did for the previous Nano generations.
You can organize your “desk top” on this Nano easily (move icons around on and amongst the various pages).
You can edit existing playlists and create new ones as well right on this Nano, without plugging it into iTunes. This is a new feature in the 6th generation Nano.
I like the idea of the built-in pedometer to measure how far one has walked. But I’ve not yet utilized this feature.
Disadvantages, Problems, Limitations, and Cons
Though the smaller footprint of this 6th generation Nano facilitates ease of use while exercising, it can irritate; especially if you forget where you last put this Nano. This tiny player can easily slip between pillow cushions or slide underneath couches and such. Thus, it can easily be lost, and when you’re looking for it, it’s easy to overlook due to its low profile.
I indeed miss the function wheel found on all previous generations of the Nano. This one offers a small touch screen instead. I like the touch screen well enough, but very much miss the wheel.
Skipping around in your music requires more presses and touches than previous incarnations of the Nano. The older Nanos only required one press of the wheel to advance or move backward in the playlist; even when the screen is off. But this iPod requires you to first activate the screen by pressing the home button at the top right of the unit, then to touch the screen once to bring up the player controls. Then, you must touch the right place on the screen to advance or go backward. A bit awkward.
They eliminated the built-in camera that they added in the last generation Nano. I can’t cry too much over this however, as all I ever used the camera for was to check my advancing bald spot.
I found it curious that they eliminated video playback functionality in this Nano, though the 5th generation Nano could do this.
As in all previous Nanos, the charge cable and earphone cable connectors are very close to each other so that disconnecting the charge cable without first unplugging the earphone jack is virtually impossible.
Getting used to the “gestures” required to operate this Nano (the swipes, taps, and presses) proved a bit of a challenge at first. But it didn’t take long to master, although I’m still not as proficient with this as I was with the wheel from previous generations of Nanos.
I would have liked to see more flash memory included (at least 32 GB; not just 16 GB).
For my purposes, which involve mainly audio music listening while exercising, I’ve found no better portable players than the iPod 6th generation Nano; except for perhaps the 5th and 4th generation models. Apple made many counter-intuitive omissions on this iPod (the deletion of the video playback and camera). Perhaps they figured that people weren’t using these features much on the 5th generation Nano given the small size of the screen. As mentioned, I’m also sorry to see the function wheel go. So far, as a result, this iPod seems harder to work than previous models. But perhaps with time, I’ll get used to it. I’ll let you know. However, I still find myself grabbing my 3rd generation Nano for many of my walks, because it has a function wheel (and a big one at that), along with the associated improved ease of use that the wheel offers. I must force myself to take the 6th generation Nano with me, which should not be the case.
But in terms of sound quality and overall performance, this 6th generation Nano is second to none. So I’d recommend buying it, as it offers a pretty affordable means to get into portable digital music for novice listeners, and its advanced sound quality will please even the most discriminating audiophiles. Remember however, that you must use a computer (PC or Mac) to put music on it initially. But computers are probably second nature to anyone considering purchasing a Nano anyhow. So this is no big deal. Thus, I’d rate this portable media player at 80 out of 100.
Where to Buy the iPod 6th Generation Nano
They’re available at Walmart, Best Buy, and numerous other electronics retailers. Plus, nowadays, you can pick them up used online at places like eBay and Amazon.
- 2015-11-27: Added appropriate tags.
- 2014-11-23: Adjusted ad placement and updated content to reflect the three years of additional experience we’ve accrued since originally posting this.
- 2011-08-08: Originally published this article.