What's the best iPod for Bluetooth? Comparing the options in 2023

What's the best iPod for Bluetooth? Comparing the options in 2023

It might be almost 2 years since the final iPod model was finally laid to rest, but iPods are still holding on - the classic models are ideal for enjoying your music library without the interruptions of social media or adverts, the shuffle and nano models remain some of the absolute sleekest mp3 players ever, and iPod touch is great as a first device (and the last generations are still healthily supported by the App Store and other key services).

Unfortuantely though, given that the basic feature set of the standard iPod line was last updated around about the 2005 mark with iPod Video, a lot of things people take for granted nowadays aren't on offer with many iPods. Many people get frustrated when their playlists and songs from Apple's Music app don't sync to their classic iPod - because they're trying to copy over the library of their Apple Music Subscription and not their own, local library... Newer iPod touch models that have supoprt for Apple Music can get around this of course, but unfortunately they lack the same classic experience that the classic iPods provide (clue's in the name!)

The most frequent question I get asked though is about Bluetooth - which iPods have it? Bluetooth headphones have become so ubiquitous that AirPods are practically a standard now. Plus the demise of the 3.5mm headphone jack on practically every modern smartphone means that people really have a need for wireless connectivity, as otherwise it means having to buy even more accessories for a device that already needs its own charging cable

So, which of the models have bluetooth, and how can you add Bluetooth to the ones that don't?


iPod Touch

Unless you have a 1st generation iPod touch, you're safe. Every model after the original comes with built in Bluetooth - version 2.1 in the 2nd through 4th gens, then Bluetooth 4.x in 5th gens and up. Your fancy space-age AirPods will happily pair with any of these, but don't expect to be able to use all of the features like controls or viewing the battery charge level - features that requires iOS support. iPod touch 6 and 7 can use all the features of 1st and 2nd gen AirPods - later AirPods require a 7th gen.

Practically any Bluetooth receiver (headphones, external speakers) will work with any iPod touch after the 1st gen. Pairing each device will be down to whatever the manufacturer's instructions say though, so it may or may not end up fiddly.

Identify your iPod touch with this guide https://support.apple.com/en-gb/103823

iPod Nano

The nano line went through quite a few evolutions of design - the original tall, then a short and fat, a proto-watch square and finally a baby iPod touch design.

Unfortunately for those people who want to strap a 6th gen nano to their wrist and use it as a 0th generation Apple Watch, Bluetooth was only included in the final 7th generation nano. Bluetooth version 4.0 allows for pairing to practically anything, but again specialised features of AirPods that require iOS support won't function. Another heafty drawback for the nano is its maximum storage capacity of 16GB, which really hampers this model's ability to stand up in the modern day. Realistically a nano can be used as a curiosity, but serious listerners should probably look elsewhere.


The main one. Classics are the models that have the space (digitally and physically) to go the extra mile and really provide that original listening experience. Upgrades and mods to increase battery life and improve storage are rampant in these models, and perhaps Bluetooth mods too...?

First off, none of the classic line (officially only the final model was named a classic, but this also includes all other full size iPods) include Bluetooth as a feature. They all only output audio via their 3.5mm headphone jack, or via the 30-pin connector on the newer models. That output is almost always just a line out - there are very very few devices that were available on the market that were able to take a digital audio output from the 30-pin port - and Apple of course doesn't license the tech anymore to enable future devices to do the same.

What you can do quite easily however, is use a Bluetooth dongle to add wireless to an iPod. Anything that plugs into the 3.5mm jack and has its own battery can take the audio from the iPod and beam it out over Bluetooth. This has its drawbacks of course, namely the bulbous attachment that you'll have to have dangling around your iPod, but also niggles like having to manage both the iPod's internal volume as well as the Bluetooth volume (since its taking headphone audio out, not line out). You also don't get to enjoy Bluetooth audio controls like play/pause - so you'll need to keep the iPod accessible to do any of that.

If you fancy this solution, a good pick is the UGREEN Bluetooth adapter for the Nintendo Switch. It's designed to plug into the Switch's headphone port and then sit snugly behind the rest of the device. Helpfully enough, it can also do the same with an iPod! So the adapter is less obtrusive than one that rigidly sticks out like an antenna from the headphone jack. But you can use whatever adapter you like, just make sure to get one that is battery powered!

There are also dongles that take the line out from the 30-pin. This is a bit more of a secure fit that the headphone jack, but it will lengthen the whole device more. Also make sure you get the transmitter version of this device, and not the receiver. Receivers plug into docking stations to enable them to receive Bluetooth audio - not what we want to accomplish here.

Internal Bluetooth in a Classic?

But what about a hardware mod that could take something like those adapters and stick in inside the iPod? That way it can use the iPod's own battery, not get in the way and risk getting broken, and perhaps also be controlled in a sleeker way.

Well, kinda. But you might have to get handy with a soldering iron. Redditor /u/classicsarerelevant was able to get a mod working that offered internal Bluetooth controlled via an additional button under the hold switch! /u/gavidoc02 managed to build one that was controlled via buttons under the click wheel (using double button combos like the ones to reboot and enter disk mode). All of the builds use the same basic idea though - take a generic bluetooth transmitter and wire it up to the interal audio lines. Then, power it via the internal battery and find a way to press the buttons of the generic device from the outside.

If you fancy a go yourself, here is a guide from Instructables. But do it at your own risk! I dabbled in internal Bluetooth myself, but I'm not quite at the stage where I'd work on anyone else's iPod for it :/

/u/classicsarerelevant used to offer this service, and pre-built kits. We used these for some of our builds too! Alas, this has been discontinued, so you will have to look elsewhere.

For now, if you want Bluetooth on your classic, you'll need to use a dongle of some manner. Or, get close and personal with some solder. Perhaps in the future I'll be able to update this page with an alternative option...

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