What are the differences between all the iPod models? | iLounge Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the differences between all the iPod models?

Author's pic

By Dennis Lloyd

Publisher, iLounge
Published: Sunday, September 21, 2003
News Category: iPod General

1st Generation iPods (Classic, Original, Gen 1, G1, 1G)

The G1(1st generation) has mechanical buttons around the moving mechanical scroll wheel, with each stretching over one quarter of the outer circumference of the wheel. 
 
The Gen 1 iPod has a white plastic top plate around the FireWire port, headphone port and ‘Hold’ switch. 
 
ALL 5GB iPod are G1s. (M8513 Mac, M8697 PC). There was never a G2 5GB iPod. G1s weren’t only 5GB, however, since there was also a briefly available Mac-only 10GB Gen 1 (M8709).

M8513: Original scrollwheel version 5GB (Mac only) 
M8541: Original scrollwheel version 5GB (Mac only) 
M8709: Original 10GB original scrollwheel version (Mac only) 
M8697: ‘New’ scrollwheel 5GB PC version

2nd Generation iPods (Gen 2, G2, 2G)

The G2 (2nd generation) iPod has the same buttons as the Gen 1, but these are located around a non-moving, touch sensitive, solid-state touchwheel. The top plate is primarily stainless steel. The FireWire Port was protected by a built in cover. The G2s came with the remote and Apple case as standard. There was never a 5GB G2 iPod.

The G2 10GB iPod was marginally thinner than the original 5GB iPod and the G1 10GB iPod. (M8737 Mac, M8740 PC). 
The G2 20GB iPod was marginally thicker than the original 5GB iPod. (M8738 Mac, M8741 PC).

M8737: Touchwheel 10GB Mac version
M8740: Touchwheel 10GB PC version
M8738: Touchwheel 20GB Mac version
M8741: Touchwheel 20GB PC version

3rd generation iPods (Gen 3, G3, 3G, docking iPod)

The G3 (3rd generation, docking) iPods, also known as docking iPods, introduced a completely new form factor, with a single layer front (white plastic and lucite) and rounded edges front and back. The smaller body houses a smaller battery, of completely new design, with much reduced life.

The G3 iPod has four touch sensitive (backlit) buttons in a row above the non moving touchwheel. All G3 models have the new dock connector on the bottom, though the Dock itself is only included with the 15, 20, 30 and 40 GB models, and is an optional extra for the 10GB model, like the case and remote. The wired remote and headphone plugs have been separated, with separate sockets on the top plate, but remain integrated as one unit. 

All G3 iPods are Mac compatible ‘out of the box’. PC users will have to install and format the iPod for use on Windows with the included software. Even the biggest G3 iPods are thinner than G1s and G2s. (M8976 10GB version, M8946 15GB version, M9244 20GB version, M8948 30GB version and M9245 40GB version)

M8976: Touchwheel, 4-button 10GB Mac/PC version
M8946: Touchwheel, 4-button 15GB Mac/PC version
M8948: Touchwheel, 4-button 30GB Mac/PC version
M9244: Touchwheel, 4-button 20GB Mac/PC version
M9245: Touchwheel, 4-button 40GB Mac/PC version

4th generation iPods, including HP iPod, iPod Photo, and U2 iPod (Gen 4, G4, 4G, docking iPod)

The G4 (4rd generation, docking) iPods, also known as docking iPods, introduced a new Click Wheel similar to the iPod mini and is uses the same form factor as the G3 iPod. The body houses a smaller battery than G1/G2 iPods and is rated for up to 15 hours of charge, the most battery life out of any previous iPod models. 

The G4 iPod has four buttons around the touch wheel and an Action button in the center. All G4 models have the dock connector on the bottom, though the Dock itself is only included with the 40, and 60GB models, and is an optional extra for the 20GB model. The 40GB iPod and 60GB iPod photo does not include a wired remote. The wired remote and headphone plugs have been separated, with separate sockets on the top plate, but remain integrated as one unit.

All G4 iPods sold by Apple are Mac compatible ‘out of the box’. PC users will have to install and format the iPod for use on Windows with the included software. HP iPods are PC compatible ‘out of the box.’
U2 Special Edition and a limited Harry Potter Collector’s iPod also available in 20GB HD size.

M9282LL/A Click Wheel, 20GB Mac/PC Verison, B/W Screen
M9268LL/A Click Wheel, 40GB Mac/PC Verison, B/W Screen
M9787LL/A U2 Special Edition B/W Screen

PE435A HP iPod, Click Wheel, 20GB PC Verison, B/W Screen
PE436A HP iPod, Click Wheel, 40GB PC Verison, B/W Screen

MA079LL/A 20GB (Color)
MA127LL/A 20GB U2 Special Edition (Color)
MA215LL/A 20GB (Harry Potter Collector’s iPod with color display)
M9830LL/A 60GB (Color)
M9829LL/A 30GB (Photo)
M9585LL/A 40GB (Photo)
M9586LL/A 60GB (Photo/10-04)
M9830LL/A 60GB (Photo/2-05)

5th Generation iPods - Video enabled iPods, and U2 iPod
The 5th Generation iPods introduce the ability to play back videos, as well as photos, on a larger 2.5 inch screen (up from 2.0 inch). The iPod features the now standard bottom docking port but the headphone jack is moved over to the right hand side of the top plate and the remote connector is discontinued. Apple estimates video playback times of 2 hours (30GB) and 3 hours (60GB) along with 14hrs or 20hrs music playback time respectively. Actual times are slightly better for 30GB.
The fifth generation iPod is available in both black or white (as with the iPod nano) and in 30GB or 60GB sizes and features a larger version of the nano clickwheel. Connection to computers is now via USB 2.0 only, Apple having dropped the Firewire cables from included cables.
The U2 Special Edition introduced in June 2005 - a cosmetic update of the standard black 30GB iPod, featuring a red Click Wheel, engraved U2 band signatures, and darker-colored top, bottom, and rear metal/plastic components. Loses prior U2 pack-ins - a U2 poster, and a discount coupon towards purchase of U2 music.

MA002LL/A (30GB white)
MA146LL/A (30GB black)
MA003LL/A (60GB white)
MA147LL/A (60GB black)
MA452LL/A U2 Special Edition


NEW! 5th Generation (Enhanced) Video enabled iPod
Announced on Sept 12 2006 the latest version of the 5th Gen iPod (some refer to it as the 5.5 Gen iPod) is now available in two hard drive sizes (30GB and 80GB) and two colour options, black or white. Featuring a newer brighter 2.5 inch colour LCD with LED backlight the iPod looks little different from it’s predecessor. Playback times have increased up to 14 hours of music playback; up to 4 hours of slideshows with music; up to 3.5 hours of video playback for the 30GB version and up to 20 hours of music playback; up to 6 hours of slideshows with music; up to 6.5 hours of video playback for the 80GB version. Included accessories are earphones, USB cable, dock adaptor, case.

Also available the iPod U2 Special Edition has been updated to match the rest of the 5th Generation range.

MA444LL/A (30GB white)
MA446LL/A (30GB black)
MA448LL/A (80GB white)
MA450LL/A (80GB black)
MA664LL/A U2 Special Edition (30GB)

Full iPod specs

Other iPod Models

iPod shuffle
The first iPod to not feature a screen, the iPod shuffle used the hookline “Life Is Random”, and is basically a thumb drive with Apples circular control wheel. A sliding off/loop/shuffle switch is located on the back of the iPod. The front features a two colour LED, which indicates various functions, above the play/pause/fwd/rev/volume up/down control.
A USB connector is located on the bottom of the iPod and covered by an end cap (the iPod’s capacity is engraved on the USB connector). The shuffle is flash based and is ideally suited for activities which might be considered too vigourous for hard drive based iPods.

M9724LL/A (512MB)
M9725LL/A (1GB)

NEW! 2nd Generation iPod shuffle
Introduced during the “Special Event” on Sept 12 2006 the latest incarnation of the shuffle has been reduced from the ‘pack of gum’ sized device down to something even smaller. Dimensions of the new shuffle are H: 27.3 mm (1.07 inches) X W: 41.2 mm (1.62 inches) X D: 10.5 mm (0.41 inches) Including clip and it weighs in at a mere 15.5 g (0.55 oz). The shuffle now has an anodised aluminium enclosure as opposed to the white plastic of the first gen shuffle and is available in only a 1GB size. Included accesories are earphones and a Dock. In February 2007 Apple released four additional colors of the shuffle.

MA564LL/A (1GB silver)
MA949LL/A (1GB blue)
MA951LL/A (1GB green)
MA953LL/A (1GB orange)
MA947LL/A (1GB pink)

Full iPod shuffle specs

iPod mini
Apple introduced the all metal iPod mini in January 2004 in one hard drive size, 4GB, but in five colors - silver, blue, pink, green and gold. Featuring the new style clickwheel the mini also makes use of the bottom docking port and headphone/remote ports and hold switch on the top plate. The black and white display is 1.67 inch.

A year later the range line up was changed to include models with a 6GB hard drive alongside the 4GB but one color was dropped from the mini family. The gold went and the remaining color range was made brighter and the clickwheel is now color coordinated to the main body color. The 1G mini is easily distinguished from the 2G as the latter has it’s hard drive size engraved on the rear. The mini was a popular choice amongst female iPod owners, with the pink always being the ‘hot’ color to have.

In September 2005 the iPod mini was discontinued, being replaced by the iPod nano.

1G mini (4GB)
M9160LL/A (silver)
M9436LL/A (blue)
M9435LL/A (pink)
M9434LL/A (green)
M9437LL/A (gold)

2G mini
M9800LL/A (4GB, silver)
M9802LL/A (4GB, blue)
M9804LL/A (4GB, pink) 
M9806LL/A (4GB, green)
M9801LL/A (6GB, silver)
M9803LL/A (6GB, blue)
M9805LL/A (6GB, pink)
M9807LL/A (6GB, green)

iPod nano
Apples second flash based iPod, the nano was introduced in two sizes, 2GB and 4 GB, but now includes a 1GB version, and is also available in either black or white. The design of the iPod nano harked back to the lucite front of the original 1G/2G iPods and also features the chrome back of all its bigger siblings.  The clickwheel is colour matched to the iPod in the black version while the white nano has a grey clickwheel.
The nano is able to display photos on its small, but clear, 1.5 inch colour LCD screen. Connection is via USB 2.0 only.

MA350LL/A (1GB white)
MA352LL/A (1GB black)
MA004LL/A (2GB white)
MA099LL/A (2GB black)
MA005LL/A (4GB white)
MA107LL/A (4GB black)

NEW! 2nd Generation iPod nano
As well as the new shuffle the updated iPod nano was announced on Sept 12 2006. Now looking like a slimmed down iPod mini the nano has expanded it’s model range to 3 flash drive sizes (2, 4 & 8GB) and five colours (silver, pink, green, blue and black) all encased in durable anodised aluminium. Dimensions of the nano is now 90 x 40 x 6.5 mm (3.5 x 1.6 x 0.26 inches). The colour options are limited across the range with the 2GB only available in silver and the 8GB being available in black. The 4GB is available in silver, pink, green and blue. All feature a brighter 1.5 inch liquid crystal display with blue-white LED backlight (176-by-132-pixel resolution, .168-mm dot pitch). Included accesories are earphones, USB cable, dock adaptor. battery performance of up to 24 hrs is claimed for the nano.

MA477LL/A (2GB silver)
MA426LL/A (4GB silver)
MA489LL/A (4GB pink)
MA487LL/A (4GB green)
MA428LL/A (4GB blue)
MA497LL/A (8GB black)

Full iPod nano specs

iPod: How to Identify Models

Article updated 9/21/06

Next: Is there any difference in size between 3G 10/15GB vs. 20GB iPods and 30GB vs. 40GB iPods?

Previous: Can I replace the iPod’s battery myself?

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