Before the iPhone was Apple’s bread and butter, there was the iPod.
For years my iPod and I were inseparable. No longer tethered to my denim FUBU CD case/purse hybrid and bulky CD player, the sleek, pocket-sized Apple MP3 player was the immediately lovable, magical music box I could bring with me anywhere I went.
I experienced a similar kind of euphoric relief when I got my first iPhone; I no longer had to carry my flip phone and iPod, just this infectiously alluring, futuristic, pocket-sized computer.
We’re more than nine years into the iPhone, and I — like hundreds of millions of others — have relegated my old iPod to the junk drawer. In fact, Apple no longer even makes the old-school clickwheel iPod. Not counting the iPod Touch — which is really just a Wi-Fi-only version of the iPhone — the only two models left in the music player line are the iPod Nano and the iPod Shuffle.
So I bought both of those latter iPod models, looking to see if it still had any appeal in an iPhone age. I started with the Shuffle.
Apple’s smallest, cheapest iPod
The Shuffle has two main appeals: price and size. At just $49, £40 or AU$75, it’s less than what you’d pay for a good pair of headphones (Apple throws in a pair of its earbuds). It’s also among the most affordable thing you can buy with an Apple logo on it: that’s a third the price of the Nano, or a sixth the price of the Apple Watch Sport.
Design-wise, it’s the same Shuffle you’ve been able to buy since 2010 (though it’s now available in six bright colors). It has the same unobtrusively small, square shape with a built-in clip that’s difficult to pinch without pressing one of the buttons on the front (I accidentally restarted many songs and podcasts this way. So. Annoying!), a power switch and headphone jack on the top edge (with the recent addition of the voiceover button), and volume buttons that surround the play/pause button as the round centerpiece.
There’s no Lightning port or even an old 30-pin port. It recharges from any USB port or charger using the included proprietary cable that plugs into the headphone jack — so don’t lose it.