I get strange looks from anyone who sees me pocket my iPhone 5 so I can break out my iPod classic. Five years since I won the device at a company raffle, it remains my favorite little music player.
It isn’t perfect. The not-so-solid-state drive makes everything a little sluggish. The interface looks pretty dated. There’s no Wi-Fi, so it will always be tethered to a computer with iTunes installed. On rare occasions an album’s tracks will show up out-of-order (cleaning their ID3 data usually fixes it).
But it plays music. All of it. Not most of it through a streaming service. Not whatever I synced to some emaciated SSD, failing to predict what I’ll want in the hours, days or weeks ahead. Every forgotten 60s masterpiece, every underrated indie group, every B-side that could have been a single is playable, immediately, wherever I am.
There’s no touchscreen, so I can play, pause and skip tracks by touch alone. No Wi-Fi means no interruptions… I can listen to Side 2 of Abbey Road without some spammy notification tri-toning its way into “Polythene Pam.”
I love my iPhone. It would probably be my “desert island” device (assuming this hypothetical island has LTE data). It’s pretty great at most of what it does.
My iPod classic is better at music, because that’s the only thing it does. And sometimes that’s okay.