How to Identify iPod Generations

by Matt Skaggs

The iPod is one of the best-selling MP3 players, largely due to an impressive set of hardware and software features and its close integration with other Apple products, especially iTunes. Five families of the iPod have been produced, each with its own set of generations: the iPod Touch has four generations, the iPod Nano has six generations, the iPod Shuffle has four generations, the iPod Classic has six generations and the iPod Mini has two generations. You can find out your iPod's generation by checking a few key features.

iPod Touch

Look for a camera lens. Only the fourth generation of the iPod Touch has a camera -- in fact, it has two cameras, one on the front and one on the back.

Locate the model number on the back of the iPod Touch. It's near the bottom below the iPod's capacity engraving.

Compare the model information to Apple's descriptions. The third generation of the iPod Touch is imprinted with the model number "A1318"; the second generation is identified as model "A1288." If your iPod Touch does not have one of these model numbers, it is a first-generation model.

iPod Nano

Compare the size of the screen to the overall size of the iPod. Sixth-generation Nanos have a screen that is nearly the same size as the iPod; earlier generations have similar-sized screens but the casings are much larger.

Look for a camera and microphone on the back of the Nano. Only the fifth-generation Nano has these.

Look at the relative size of the Nano's screen. If it is clearly taller than it is wide, it's the fourth generation. Earlier generations have screens shaped almost like a square.

Measure the iPod's width and height. The casing for the third-generation iPod Nano is close to square, with a height of 2.75 inches and a width of 2.06 inches. Earlier generations were much taller than they were wide.

Examine the iPod's outer casing. The original iPod came with a plastic case; the second generation has a very different, anodized aluminum casing.

iPod Shuffle

Look at the size of the Shuffle. The fourth generation is very close to a square shape; it's only a little wider than it is tall. Earlier generations are much taller than they are wide.

Look at the controls on the Shuffle. Only the third generation has a single switch that moves between an "Off" position, an option to play all music in order and an option to shuffle through all music. If you see "Play," "Pause," "Volume" and "Skip" controls, your Shuffle is earlier than third generation.

Find the last three characters of the serial number, either on the inside of the Shuffle's clip or on the back near the lower-right area. All second-generation iPod Shuffles have one of the following as the last three characters: "1ZH," "1ZK," "1ZM," "1ZP" or "1ZR." If you don't see one of these, your iPod Shuffle is a first-generation model.

iPod Classic

Find the serial number on the back near the bottom of the iPod. Sixth generation models have a serial number that ends with "Y5N," "YMU," "YMV" or "YMX." If you don't see any of these, your iPod is earlier than sixth generation.

Open the main menu. You can do this by simply turning on the iPod; the main menu will display automatically. Look for a "Videos" option. If you see it, the iPod is a fifth-generation. If not, it's fourth-generation or earlier.

Look at the touch wheel to see if it has controls on it, such as "Menu," "Play" and "Pause." If you see these controls on the touch wheel, the iPod is fourth-generation; earlier generations have the controls above or beside the touch wheel.

Look for four buttons side by side just above the touch wheel. These controls allow you to skip tracks, pause and access the iPod's menu. If you see these four buttons, the iPod is third-generation.

Look at the top left of the iPod to find the FireWire port. This is the rectangular port that you use to sync the iPod with your computer. If the FireWire port has a cover, you have a second-generation iPod; if there's no cover, it's a first-generation. Also, look at the wheel: a first-generation iPod is the only one that has a scroll wheel that physically turns rather than being touch-sensitive.

iPod Mini

Check the color of the word "Menu" on the click wheel. If the text color is identical to the color of the iPod itself, it's a second-generation Mini.

Locate the information listed on the back of the iPod Mini.

Look for a hard drive capacity indicator. If the hard drive size is indicated (4 GB or 6 GB), it's a second-generation Mini.

About the Author

A lover of technology in all forms, Matt Skaggs began writing professionally in 2010, specializing in Windows computers and Android devices. His writing has appeared on many websites providing a plethora of technology information and tutorials. In 2008 Skaggs graduated from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Arts in humanities.

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