How to buy the best Apple iPod

MP3 players

How to buy the best Apple iPod

by Ben Stockton
Apple's iPod remains the most popular brand of MP3 player, but which model is the best? Our guide will help you pick the right iPod for you.

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Although Apple iPod sales are now eclipsed by the iPhone and iPad, they remain immensely popular among those looking for a simple and stylish portable music player. Apple's iPod range currently consists of three models – the Touch, the Nano and the Shuffle – each coming in a variety of colours with varying amounts of internal storage.

Apple's digital music store, iTunes, is a key part of the iPod experience. iTunes is essentially an online version of the traditional record store, selling albums and individual tracks on a gigantic scale – it currently offers more than 26 million digital songs, all just a couple of clicks away.

Want to choose the best iPod for you? Take a look at our MP3 player Best Buys to discover the models we recommend.

iPod Touch

The iPod Touch, Apple’s largest and most advanced model, is a sleek touchscreen-equipped MP3 player that could also be described as a pocket-sized tablet. While it plays music with ease, it can also record and play videos and browse the web. The iPod Touch is available with 16, 32, 64 or 128GB of memory – the largest capacity of all the iPods – but comes at a premium, with prices ranging from £160 to £330. For buyers with a bulging music collection, a spacious model is recommended.

Apple Music, the company's subscription-based streaming service, has further extended Apple's influence on the market. For a fixed monthly sum, Apple Music grants you access to around 43 million tracks. Unlike iTunes, streaming services such as Apple Music and the equally popular Spotify don’t allow you to own your music library. You can use wi-fi on the iPod Touch to use streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, but that's not the case if you own an iPod Nano or iPod Shuffle. Consider how you store and listen to your music collection before buying a new iPod.

Pros: With a large, high-resolution display, the iPod Touch is more than just an MP3 player. It can be used for gaming, watching films and browsing the web - making it the most feature-rich MP3 player on the market.

Cons: Many smartphone users will find that the long list of extra features offered by the iPod Touch are obsolete.

Take a look at our full iPod Touch review to see how this device performed in our test lab. For more information on other MP3 players, take a look at our MP3 player reviews page.

iPod Nano

The iPod Nano is a small, super-lightweight MP3 player that still manages to squeeze a bright and responsive 1.5-inch touchscreen on its front. It lacks the wi-fi capabilities of the iPod Touch, which means it can't be used with streaming services. Even so, at around £130, this colourful little music player is noticeably cheaper.

Despite its limitations when it comes to streaming, the iPod Nano still has a good range of functionality, featuring Bluetooth and FM radio with live pause and rewind, plus the ability to tag songs you like so you can buy them from iTunes. This model also has Apple's VoiceOver function built in, which tells you the name of a song being played and the artist.

Pros: Pick up the iPod Nano and you'll be treated to minimalist Apple design and a nice touchscreen display, without scrimping on portability.

Cons: The iPod Nano is only available with 16GB of memory, enough for around 4,000 songs. Although this sounds reasonable, installing apps on the device will see space fill up quick. It's also worth noting that memory can't be expanded.

Find out how Apple's mini MP3 player performed in our full iPod Nano review.

iPod Shuffle

Weighing in at just 12.5g, the iPod Shuffle is the smallest member of the iPod family. The 2GB device has enough memory for around 500 songs and costs just £40, which means this model is also Apple's cheapest. The iPod Shuffle is ultra-portable and features a clip to attach to your clothes, making it a great option for fitness fanatics and runners. The iPod Shuffle is available in an array of colours.

Naturally, there's a reason why the iPod Shuffle is priced as it is. This Apple device has no display, so you can't select which song you want to listen to. Instead, this iPod shuffles through your library - hence the name. In place of the display, the iPod Shuffle is equipped with VoiceOver, which announces the track, artist and playlist names.

Pros: Whether you're a gym junkie or an impromptu exerciser, the iPod Shuffle could be a great fit. This compact model's handy clothes clip makes it the perfect iPod for a workout, without the need for any accessories.

Cons: As there's no display and songs are shuffled, finding your favourite track could require a lot of clicking and a little bit of luck.

Is this compact iPod worth your money? Our full iPod Shuffle review reveals all. If you'd like to take a look at more MP3 players, our reviews page features the latest models from Sandisk and Sony.