Apple iPod Shuffle review:

An affordable MP3 player for working out -- and not much else

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Apple iPod Shuffle is affordably priced with a compact design and long-lasting battery. It's both stylish and easily wearable, thanks to its sturdy built-in clip.

The Bad Requires a USB sync from a PC or Mac running iTunes. There's no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Only 2GB of storage. Navigating your music is a bit difficult without a screen. You can't download subscription Apple Music songs.

The Bottom Line Apple's most affordable iPod is a cheap, workout-friendly option for listening to music or podcasts, but it shows its age with a reliance on iTunes syncing and lack of wireless support.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 5.0
  • Performance 7.0

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-size 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-size computer.

Josh Miller/CNET

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 earbuds). It's also among the most affordable things you can buy with an Apple logo on it: that's one-third the price of the Nano, or one-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, which is the round centerpiece.

Josh Miller/CNET

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.

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