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Please note that all iPod models mentioned in these Q&As have been discontinued.
What is the difference between the iPod nano and iPod mini?
The iPod mini and iPod nano models all use the "Click Wheel" (which places pressure sensitive navigation buttons underneath the scroll wheel) introduced with the iPod mini, but the similarities do not end with the "ClickWheel", particularly between the iPod mini 2nd Gen and iPod nano 2nd Gen.
The iPod mini uses a colorful "ultra-portable (3.6 inch tall, 2.0 inch wide, 0.5 inch thick) lightweight anodized aluminum" case available in five stylish colors -- silver, gold, pink, blue and green, with the second generation model using richer, deeper shades of four of the original colors -- silver, blue, green, and pink (with gold no longer available). All iPod mini models have a 1.67-inch "white backlit" monochrome LCD display, and either 4 GB or 6 GB hard drives to hold approximately 1,000 or 1,500 songs (encoded at 128-bit), respectively.
The first generation iPod nano, on the other hand, uses an "impossibly small" 3.5 inch tall, 1.6 inch wide, and 0.27 inch thick "iBook white" or jet black and stainless steel case with a 1.5-inch "blue white backlit" 16-bit color LCD display. The first generation iPod nano has 1 GB, 2 GB, or 4 GB of solid state flash memory and can hold approximately 240, 500, or 1000 songs, respectively, in 128-Kbps AAC format and up to 15,000 or 25,000 "iPod nano-viewable" photographs (15,000 on the 1 GB version, 25,000 on the 2 GB and 4 GB versions).
Perhaps in response to complaints about scratches on the first generation iPod nano, Apple released the second generation iPod nano models clad in aluminum cases similar in style to the second generation iPod mini -- sharing the silver, pink, green, and blue colors, and introducing black. The second generation models have 2, 4, or 8 GB of flash memory, holding 500, 1000, or 2000 songs respectively.
Upon first glance it would be safe to assume that the first generation iPod nano is a "micro" version of the iPod "Color Display" models, and in a few ways this is a safe statement. Both systems use the "Clickwheel" (which places pressure sensitive navigation buttons underneath the scroll wheel), have color displays, have software that uses color for all interface elements and applications, use the "Myriad" font, and are capable of displaying photographs in addition to playing music and transporting files.
At 3.5 inches tall, 1.6 inches wide, and 0.27 inches thick the first generation iPod nano is both physically smaller, compared to 4.1 inches tall, 2.4 inches wide, and 0.75 inches thick for the iPod "Color Display" models, and holds less data on 1 GB, 2 GB, or 4 GB of flash memory, compared to 20 GB or 60 GB hard drives for the iPod "Color Display" models.
However, there are also some important differences between the first generation iPod nano and iPod "Color Display" models as well. Unlike the iPod "Color Display" models, the first generation iPod nano lacks video out, and as a result, can display photographs on the internal display "loaded" from a computer, but cannot display photographs on a television or projector. The iPod nano also does not support the iPod Camera Connector or third-party solutions, so photos cannot be transferred from a camera either.
However, in addition to the calendar, contacts, and notes software from previous models, the first generation iPod nano includes additional software functionality, such as a "Screen Lock" security feature, a stopwatch, and a "world clock".
Also see: What are the differences between the second generation iPod nano models?
However, the similarities end with the dimensions and type of internal storage, as the iPod nano line is designed as a tiny but "full featured" MP3 player, with more in common with the "full size" iPod models, with a few notable exceptions, and the iPod shuffle, on the other hand, was designed as a simple low cost MP3 player that lacks a display and can only play music and transport files.
The iPod shuffle models are substantially different from the "full size" iPod models, as the iPod shuffle series consists of tiny MP3 players with limited capacity and no display. Instead of using a "ClickWheel" for navigation, the iPod shuffle models use a simple control pad and slider.
In general, the iPod was designed to allow people to carry their entire music collection, or the vast majority of it, along with other files (including photos and video on some models), and the iPod shuffle was designed only for music use at a much lower price.
Also see: What is the difference between the second generation iPod shuffle and the first generation iPod shuffle?