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What are the differences between the iPod shuffle 4th Generation and the earlier iPod shuffle 3rd Generation? How does the 4th Generation model compare to the 2nd Generation one?
In a quiet admission from Apple that the "no buttons" iPod shuffle 3rd Generation model was received poorly by the marketplace, the iPod shuffle 4th Generation model brings the iPod shuffle back to much where it was with the 2nd Generation.
The iPod shuffle 2nd Generation and 4th Generation models both have "clickable ring buttons" (previous track, next track, volume up, volume down, play/pause) on the body of the players themselves whereas the iPod shuffle 3rd Generation has an awkward three button controller -- volume up, volume down, and "action" (which varies depending on the number and duration of clicks) -- integrated with the headphone cable.
However, the 4th Generation model has a new button on the top that when pressed speaks the names of songs, artists, and playlists as well as "Genius Mixes," borrowing the helpful "VoiceOver" feature introduced with the 3rd Generation.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (From Left — 2nd, 3rd, 4th Generation iPod shuffle)
The above product images are not precisely to scale, but should provide a decent idea of the size difference. The iPod shuffle 2nd Gen is 1.07 inches tall, 1.62 inches wide, and 0.41 inches deep, the iPod shuffle 3rd Gen is 1.8 inches tall, 0.7 inches wide, and 0.3 inches deep, and the iPod shuffle 4th Gen is 1.14 inches tall, 1.24 inches wide and 0.34 inches deep. The "clip" on the back of the iPod shuffle 2nd and 4th Generation is colored to match the casing whereas the iPod shuffle 3rd Generation models have a mirrored finish.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (4th Generation)
All use aluminum housings in a variety of color options. It also is worth noting that the iPod shuffle 2nd Gen models have a "dock" to connect the device to a computer whereas the 3rd and 4th Gen models use an extremely short headphone jack-to-USB cable for connectivity.
As the iPod shuffle 3rd Gen and iPod shuffle 4th Gen models are quite different in terms of design, these are unlikely to be mistaken for one another. However, it is easy to mistake an iPod shuffle 2nd Gen and 4th Gen model if they are not side-by-side. Consequently, it still is useful to know the model number for identification purposes.
Everyi.com's Ultimate iLookup feature also can identify these iPod models by EMC number, order number (referred to as "model" in software), and the last three or four characters of their serial numbers as well (the last three characters for models with eleven character serial numbers and the last four characters for models with twelve character serial numbers).
Capacity & Battery Life Differences
The iPod shuffle 2nd Gen models have 1 GB or 2 GB of storage, holding a reported 240 or 500 songs, respectively, and the iPod shuffle 3rd Gen models have 2 GB or 4 GB of storage, capable of holding 500 or 1000 songs, respectively. Interestingly, for the 4th Gen models, Apple only offers 2 GB of storage. For the 4th Gen models, although Apple no longer provides an "official" estimate of song capacity, they can hold approximately 500 songs just like their predecessors with 2 GB of storage.
The official estimated battery life of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Generation models are 12 hours, 10 hours, and 15 hours, respectively. No iPod shuffle models have a screen, and consequently, only support music playback.
For your convenience, the major differences between the three generations are summarized below:
|Flash Memory:||1 GB, 2 GB*||2 GB, 4 GB**||2 GB|
|Song Capacity:||240, 500||500, 1000||500|
|Battery Life:||12 Hours||10 Hours||15 Hours|
|Dimensions (In):||1.07 x 1.62 x 0.41||1.8 x 0.7 x 0.3||1.14 x 1.24 x 0.34|
|Intro Price:||US$79*||US$59, $79, $99**||US$49|
* The 1 GB configuration of the iPod shuffle 2nd Generation was introduced for US$79 and dropped to US$49 on February 19, 2008 with the introduction of a 2 GB configuration for US$69. When the iPod shuffle 3rd Gen was introduced on March 11, 2009, the 2 GB configuration of the iPod shuffle 2nd Gen was discontinued and the 1 GB configuration continued to sell for US$49 until September 9, 2009 when it was discontinued.
** The original iPod shuffle 3rd Gen was introduced in silver and black with 4 GB of storage for US$79. On September 9, 2009, Apple started selling 2 GB configurations, as well as 4 GB configurations -- available in colors as well as silver and black for US$59 and US$79, respectively. Apple also introduced a stainless steel "Special Edition" in a 4 GB capacity for US$99.
† The iPod shuffle 3rd Gen has a three button controller -- volume up, volume down, and "action" (which varies depending on the number and duration of clicks) -- integrated with the headphone cable.
†† When first introduced on September 12, 2006, the iPod shuffle 2nd Gen was offered only in silver, subsequent models were offered in a variety of colors as well as silver.
§ When first introduced on March 11, 2009, the iPod shuffle 3rd Gen only was offered in silver or black. On September 9, 2009, Apple started selling it in blue, green, and pink, as well as the original silver and black and an obnoxious "Special Edition" stainless steel.
§§ The iPod shuffle 4th Gen models are offered in silver (which has a black "ring") and blue, green, orange (gold-ish) and pink (which have white "rings").
To dynamically compare any of these iPod models to all other iPod, iPhone, and iPad models -- new and old -- please see Everyi.com's Ultimate iComparison feature.