Each new generation of iPod brings new features and different performance. Each iPod series -- iPod classic, iPod mini, iPod shuffle, iPod nano and iPod touch -- has gone through a number of hardware and software revisions: screens shrink or get bigger, outdated features are removed, controls are optimized, new features are added and any number of other things can change. There are lots of ways to figure out what generation your iPod is.
Inspect your iPod's click wheel. If the wheel physically turns, you have a first-generation iPod. If the wheel doesn't physically turn but has four control buttons arranged around the outside of the wheel in a circular layout, it is a second-generation iPod.
Check the location of the iPod's "Play," "Next," "Back" and "Menu" buttons. If the buttons are arranged above the click wheel, you have a third-generation iPod; if the buttons are placed on the device's click wheel, you have a fourth-generation iPod, or newer.
Look for a "Videos" section on the iPod's main menu. If the iPod has a "Videos" section, it is a fifth-generation iPod, or newer.
Find the serial number on the back of the iPod's case. If the number ends in "Y5N," "YMU," "YMV" or "YMX" you have a sixth-generation iPod.
Check the color capability of your iPod screen. If the screen has no color, it is an iPod mini and not an iPod nano. If the color of the text on the click wheel matches the color of the iPod, and if the hard drive size on the back of the iPod is engraved directly into the case, the iPod is a second-generation iPod mini. Otherwise, it is a first-generation iPod mini.
Look for a "Videos" section on the iPod nano's menu. If the device cannot play video, it is either a first-, second- or sixth-generation iPod nano. If the corners of the front face of the iPod appear rounded, you have a first-generation iPod nano.
Find the serial number on the back of your iPod nano. If the last three characters are "YOP," "YOR," "YXR," "YXT," "YXV" or "YXX" you have a third-generation iPod nano.
Inspect the iPod nano's screen. If the screen takes up roughly half of the surface area on the front panel of the iPod, it is a fourth-generation iPod nano; if the screen takes up two-thirds of the surface area it is a fifth-generation iPod nano; and if the screen takes up the entire surface area it is a sixth-generation iPod nano.
Inspect the bottom of the iPod shuffle for a physical USB connector rather than an input for a 30-pin connector. An iPod shuffle with a USB connector is a first-generation iPod shuffle.
Inspect the positioning of the click wheel. If the click wheel is horizontally off-center, you have a second-generation iPod shuffle, or newer.
Check for a large switch on the front of the iPod shuffle and a clip on the back. If the unit has a large three-position switch on the front of the unit and a clip on the back, it is a third-generation iPod shuffle.
Check for a single-centered click wheel on the front of the device. If it has a click wheel that takes up the entire front panel of the device, it is a fourth-generation iPod shuffle.
Inspect the antenna cover in the upper-left corner of the back panel of the device. If the cover is not in the shape of an oval, you have a first-generation iPod touch.
Inspect the model number beneath the engraving on the back panel. The model number of the second-generation iPod touch is A1288; the model number of a third-generation iPod touch is A1318.
Look for a front-facing camera on your iPod touch; if your device has one, you have a fourth-generation iPod touch.
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