Editors' note, July 31, 2017: Apple has finallythe and , the more portable variations of the original Apple iPod. The Shuffle and Nano, like the that was discontinued in 2014, finally succumbed to their fatal flaw -- a lack of integrated internet connectivity. For now, Apple still sells 32GB and 128GB editions of the ; the previous versions featuring 16GB and 64GB of storage are no longer available.
The iPod Shuffle review, published in June 2016, follows.
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.
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.