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iPod nano 6th Gen (2010) - Navigation and Usability

By Hugo Jobling


Our Score


Review Price £140.00

We're not sure that the iPod nano always waking to the Now Playing screen, if something is, was the most elegant option. There isn't really any other way Apple could have introduced a quick way to access the Now Playing screen from outside the iPod app, though; and as basically all the new iPod nano can do is play music it's not like you'll be unlocking it for any other reason. It's also possible to set the clock to appear on waking the iPod nano instead, in which case the Now Playing screen is left a tap of the display away.

Navigation may be a little hamstrung by the relatively lower size and resolution of the iPod nano's display than the iPod touch and iPhone, but it doesn't take too long to appreciate that as much as the click wheel was the best input we've ever seen on a portable media player, touch-sensitive controls are blissfully easy, and eminently intuitive.

The iPod nano is just as easy to control as the iPod shuffle, when out jogging, or boating about on a rowing machine. In fact, whereas the scroll wheel could be a little difficult to make fine adjustments on sometimes, the physical volume buttons and lesser need to make small, precise movements to navigate menus mean that the new iPod nano is often easier to use than the old.

Multi-touch is woefully underused throughout the iPod nano's OS. A two finger movement to re-orient the display any which way you chose isn't exactly revelatory; even if it is useful for making the display easy to read when the iPod nano is attached to an arm band. Otherwise there's no multi-finger control at all, which seems silly. Okay, so the Photos application is a bit pointless given the tiny display, but we'd still like to see pinch-to-zoom implemented.

The gap between the iPod nano and iPod touch is wider than ever now. The latter may have gained a camera this generation, but the iPod nano has lost its. Gone, too, is video playback, although that's less lamentable as the screen is far too small to make it a worthwhile experience.

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September 16, 2010, 12:28 pm

At the moment, I am using an iPod nano 3rd generation. I've never had any other iPods (or, for that matter, any Apple products) before or since. As a music player, the iPod nano 3rd gen. covers my needs perfectly and, to be honest, I found the additions to the following generations completely superfluous, as they seemed to be blurring the lines between music player and multimedia hub or what-have-you. In that respect, I find the new iPod nano a welcome return to form - this is a music player, period. People interested in more can go for the iPod Touch, people interested in less can get the iPod shuffle.

All in all, I think Apple has successfully "rebooted" their iPod line with a clearer distinction between the devices. Now if only they would price them a bit more reasonably...


September 16, 2010, 12:56 pm

touch screens and audio books don't get along. too bad there's no click wheel.


September 16, 2010, 1:49 pm

When you first see that person on the Tube wearing the new nano as a watch, will you think "cool" or "t**t"?


September 16, 2010, 1:54 pm

wen it fell out of the ugly tree i reckon it landed on hugos head,im amazed if they sell even one unit.completely redundant.


September 16, 2010, 2:00 pm

I'd have liked to see a little more analysis of the music capabilities of this player and, thereafter,its standing compared to its rivals. I appreciate it's not the audiophile's MP3 player of choice but the cursory reference to its primary function is likely to just add further fuel to the tiresome "all people who buy Apple are just sheep blinded by glamour" type debates which often roadblock the comments sections.


September 16, 2010, 2:26 pm

Whilst nice I would have only given it a 4 for value its so overpriced. Needs to be half of what it is.


September 16, 2010, 2:52 pm

"Boating about on a rowing machine" - sorry, as a rower this statement made me laugh, although saying that the shuffle is the MP3 player I use when training on an erg so you are correct! Just never heard it being called "boating about" before :-)

The new Nano seems like an odd beast IMO, personally I think this what the shuffle should be, and that the pervious generation nano should have stayed as it was (perhaps with a camera upgrade so it could take photos) since now im not completely sold on the advantage of the nano over the shuffle, fair enough you cant select a specific track on the shuffle but on a device that small which is essentially aiming for music playback during activities I dont think thats an issue, just make sure all the songs you like or that you skip ones you dont. If you're that keen to pick a track then spend a bit more and get the touch, which does that and so much more

Saying that, I am tempted to sell my shuffle and get a "nano" simply because I love my shuffle and (as I said) I see this as the new shuffle! Especially useful would be the nike+ implementation and the new nike+ heart rate monitor, when the nike+ device available was only the pedometer I never really understood why you'd take your iPhone/iPod touch running/training but now a heart rate monior is out I can see myself using it on the rowing machine with the iPhone lying on the floor (out of sewat range) so I can see my HR and track it, although nike (in their wisdom) decided the old nano was the only device to support the heart rate monitor) I just hope the new nike+ heart rate monitor works with the nano!


September 16, 2010, 2:55 pm

Bought one of this and had to return it the next day. iTunes refused to recognise it on my main PC, media pc and laptop. All on Windows 7 and latest versions of iTunes. Windows 7 recognised the nano but as soon as the itunes software kicked in it disappeared from windows and iTunes did not recognise it. There might also be problems with power as the nanos do not shutdown completely and continue to draw power when 'switched off'. Apart from that a lovely toy!


September 16, 2010, 3:01 pm

After reading Gordon's article about the new iPods being a "deliberate botch job", I anticipated maybe a 6 or 7 out of 10 for this review. I'm quite surprised to see that you arrived at an 8 for what was overall, quite a negative review. Is it just me or do the scores not match the comments?

For example, how can you award perfect marks for usability when you say that the one handed navigation is "not ideal" and that its "almost too small"? Also, a 9 for design & features seems a bit generous (perhaps unfairly weighted towards design?) for a product that has actually dropped several features from the previous model without gaining a significant number, without a proportional change in the pricing.

I've never been a fan of Apple products but I'll admit they look great and they do what it says on the tin. It just annoys me that they've monopolised the market with these mediocre products and people buy them in their millions regardless of how good they are. Unfortunately, reviews like this don't help bring clarity to the situation.


September 16, 2010, 3:12 pm

At least you admit all Apple fans are irrational


September 16, 2010, 3:27 pm

The Nano should have been large enough to feature a screen capable of displaying 2x3 icons and a dedicated iphone style home button below it. Doubling the screens vertical size would have allowed it retain the physical dimensions of the old nano, increased usability and practicality. Long lists as you say would murder my desire to have anything with a screen this small


September 16, 2010, 3:40 pm

This year's iPod nano is very different to previous generations and I agree that the lack of backwards compatibility (games) and features (camera/video) may not suit everyone. When my 2G iPod Shuffle dies from sweat and water damage to the headphone socket I may add this to my shopping list, if only to have gapless playback of all the dance mixes I listen to at the gym.


September 16, 2010, 4:06 pm

@chugsey - quite simply Hugo and I disagree about the new nano. I'd have given it a 6.


September 16, 2010, 4:12 pm

I've had nano's from Gen 1 onwards for running and the gym. I think this one has just sealed future sales for Sony, their range makes much more sense than this device.


September 16, 2010, 4:20 pm

betelgeus - lol ur so rite, i am a idiot no won will bye this just liek they didnt bye the mac book air.

Stelph - I've been reading Wind in the Willows so I have boating about on the river on my mind. You're right about the classification; for all intents and purposes this IS the new shuffle by another name.

chugsey - As Gordon says - we don't agree about the nano (among other things). 10/10 isn't a perfect score - there's no such thing - or we could never use it - it just means "as good as it gets." The nano has a couple of niggles, yes, but it's still miles ahead of any rival device. The D&F rating is brought up by the design, yes, but also a touch-sensitive UI is a killer feature which helps. The lost features (camera, video playback, games) aren't ones that I think will be seriously missed - they were more important when the iPod touch didn't exist.

Enarca - I wouldn't say irrational - they just have different priorities. It's like buying an Aston Martin Rapide over a Jaguar XFR; the latter is much cheaper and by some accounts even a 'better' car - but which would you rather have on your drive way?

J4cK1505 - I disagree, the nano needs to be small to have a purpose, make it too large and you might as well get an iPod touch.


September 16, 2010, 4:51 pm

To answer my own question eralier, the 6G Nano doesnt have the nike+ functionality built in so you have to have the adapter for it to work with the heart rate monitor, shame that as im not so convinced id buy one now


September 16, 2010, 4:59 pm

Hmmm, so, it doesn't do very much and, due to the size of the screen and audio quality, it doesn't do what it can do particularly well. It's also very small and so is not well suited to posing about with. Add in the expense and I really don't see why anyone with half a brain would bother.


September 16, 2010, 5:09 pm

"touch screens and audio books don't get along. too bad there's no click wheel."

Does anybody know why? I listen to audio books all the time. Is the screen too small to accurately skip to a position in a long track? This would also be an issue for DJ sets, then.

BTW I'd have appreciated more then half a sentence on sound quality. So I guess it has notable improved?


September 16, 2010, 5:44 pm

@Enarca: At least you admit all Apple fans are irrational

Yeah, that's right.. It's like were all none-Apple fans live in a mud hut and cross dress.

Personally I wound't buy one, but for somebody who goes to the Gym or Jogs a lot seems fine.


September 16, 2010, 5:46 pm

I think they should make every iPod to look like an iPhone/touch

and just shrink them physically and feature wise according to price

, this would create a much stronger brand recognition. The iPods

below the touch have seemed to lost their way and I think implementing

that would solidify the iPod brand ten fold. It's just too confusing looking

at all these completely different looking devices and having to figure out

which one suits they're needs and people don't feel intimidated by having

To learn a new OS or new way of navigating the device. Surely for the price

this thing they could have made a mini and micro touch and just priced them

accordingly and still make quite a tidy profit. I'd love to be able to put my iPhone

4 down and pick up my micro touch , strap it on my arm and go for my morning

jog and not have to mess around with a completely different device . Can you hear

Me Major Jobs?! Can you hear me Major Jobs?!


September 16, 2010, 6:05 pm

@muthah - you mean something like this? ;) *spies an ally*



September 16, 2010, 7:21 pm

morsch - it's an iPod; no-one buys it for the sound quality so "good enough" is fine. A Walkman, iAudio, Sansa, etc will sound better, but the nano isn't exactly bad.


September 16, 2010, 7:32 pm

I have to say, I like it.

I don't see the point in buying this over a Sansa Clip + for the gym; but for a small everyday player, it looks like it fits the bill.

Shame about the price though.


September 16, 2010, 8:03 pm

@Hugo - agree with morsch, we have come to expect an analysis of the sound quality in your MP3 player reviews. How about if I was reading my first TR iPod nano review -- I would expect to learn a significant amount about the sound quality, and how it compares to other, similar products. I would want to be able to make an informed decision about whether it was for me or not.


September 16, 2010, 8:20 pm

morsch - it's an iPod; no-one buys it for the sound quality so "good enough" is fine. A Walkman, iAudio, Sansa, etc will sound better, but the nano isn't exactly bad.


I'll go further Hugo. Anyone that buys a Mobile MP3 player is saying '' I want convenience of listening to music anytime I want over sitting at home listening to it at home with bigger speakers on a HiFi system. It'll be nice to carry a Hifi around but it's totally impractical, so Ipod's don't need to be better than their rivals, simply easier to use, more popular to use/carry around as well having a strong user base loyal enough to upgrade as well as new users attracted to new products, particularly when few rivals tend to innovate themselves.

Closed system maybe; but Apple know how to exploit it to their advantage, esp. since they gave up the Desktop space for the masses to the PC since the late 80's/ 90's.

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