The Unexpected Value Of Your Old iPod Today

Even though its cool factor has been overshadowed by smartphones in recent years, did you know Apple continued to produce its iconic portable media player, the iPod, up until approximately May 2022? While the most recent version of the iPod, a seventh-generation model called the iPod Touch, likely isn't worth more than its retail price of about $400, earlier versions of the MP3 — and later, other media files, including videos — player can fetch big dollars.

Apple introduced the iPod way back in 2001, revolutionizing the way consumers listened to music on the move. Depending on the selected capacity, some of the pioneering iPods could hold over 1,000 songs, with a battery that could last up to 10 hours. Of course, that technology was rendered obsolete by smartphones several years later, which combined digital music with, well, a cellphone. Not to mention that smartphones boasted internet and email access, a camera, and so much more.

Still, there's a strong feeling of nostalgia for these watershed Apple media players, alongside early iPhones. If you have an older iPod stashed away in a drawer or under a bed somewhere, it's definitely worth digging out to check its value. It could be worth barely enough to cover a fast-food lunch (by the way, here's how much Americans spend on fast food) or you could be holding upward of $1,000. In 2023, a completely sealed and unopened iPod that was received as a Christmas gift in 2001 sold for a whopping $29,000, though that's clearly the exception, not the rule.

The iPod Classic is the most valuable

Obviously, with a production spanning more than 20 years, the value of your iPod can vary greatly depending on such factors as age, model, condition, memory capacity, and whether or not you have the original retail packaging. To start, you will need to identify your iPod, which may be obvious if there's any packaging or literature present with the unit. Failing that, you can also search the device for a model number, which can be decoded online. Apple's own website is a good place to conduct your research, with a comprehensive listing of models both old and new(er).

Let's start with the media player that started it all: the iPod Classic, sometimes referred to as just iPod. This iPod model ran from 2001 to 2014, with the earliest (first generation) examples worth the most. However, the final (fifth and sixth) generations are still usable today if you actually want to press your investment into service.

Expect the historical first generation iPod Classics to fetch between $200 and $500 in good to excellent condition, or up to $1,000 if accompanied by the original packaging. The remaining vintages of the Classic model are estimated to fetch between $36 for the least valuable fourth-gen in merely good condition up to $300 for a perfect second-gen with all accessories.

[Featured image by e29616 via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY 2.0]

What about some of the budget iPods?

Even if you don't have the valuable OG iPod, there's still hope for a decent payday. The next model introduced by Apple was the iPod Mini, a diminutive version that introduced the click wheel into the American lexicon. Expect your iPod Mini to fetch anywhere between $20 up to $200, though you'll need one in top-notch condition with the original box to achieve the higher end of that price range.

After a few years, the Mini was replaced with the iPod Nano in 2005, a model which was offered until 2017. Similar to the pricing structure of the iPod Classic, the earliest and latest examples are the most valuable and collectible, with a price slump in the middle. Sealed Nano units from the first, second, and third generation can bring up to $250, while unopened sixth- and seventh-gen players command up to $250. The remainder of Nanos will almost surely net you less than $100 and possibly as little as $20.

Next, let's assess the iPod Shuffle, a model that ran between 2005 and 2010. Because it was designed as a low-cost player, the Shuffle doesn't have a display screen. Like the name implies, listeners were at the mercy of the device to randomly select their next song, though users could skip or go back (not unlike some audio streaming services, like Pandora). In spite of its original low price, some early and later Nanos can be worth up to $200, provided the original box is present — a recurring theme.

[Featured image by Usuario:House via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY 3.0]

Spoiler alert: AAPL stock was a better investment

Finally, there's the sophisticated iPod touch (stylized), which came out around the same time as the revolutionary iPhone (check out our guide on when to buy an iPhone for the best deal) in 2007. And frankly, the two devices even look pretty similar. Those first iPod touch models can bring you some serious cash: up to $600 for units still sealed in their original packaging. Later examples are worth considerably less, like $20 to $120, even sealed. The seventh-generation model, which was sold until 2022, sells for about $130 to $330, which represents a discount from its most recent retail price.

In closing, let's circle back to the unopened Christmas gift from 2001 that we mentioned in the introduction. The recipient's parents paid $399 for the newfangled MP3 player at a Texas shopping mall, so selling for $29,000 in 2023 seems like a home run, a windfall, or whatever your preferred cliche is. However, consider that $399 worth of Apple stock purchased in December 2001 would have been worth over $200,000 at the time the record-setting iPod was sold in 2023. That begs the question if investing in old iPods is the best money move after all. Perhaps just enjoy them for the nostalgia factor.