iPod shuffle: Is it Worth Betting On?

by Chris Howard Mar 21, 2007

The other day I chucked out my iPod shuffle. It was less than two years old.

It had nothing to do with the quality of the electronics, which were still working fine. Instead it was something as simple as a dead battery.

Apple in all its generosity will happily replace iPod batteries: “If your iPod requires service only because the battery’s ability to hold an electrical charge has diminished, Apple will replace your iPod for a service fee of AU$89.10 inc GST, plus AU$19.95 postage and handling.” (Not sure if that includes the cost for you to send it to Apple in the first place.)

Consider that a new 1GB shuffle costs only AU$119, and it’s hard not to get a bit cynical. You end up buying two iPod shuffles in less than two years.

Alternatively you can get a two-year APP warranty and hope your shuffle’s battery is covered for the $59 fee. I wonder what that says about the odds of an iPod failing. If Apple wants to at least not lose money, then it could mean as many as one in three shuffles fail in the first two years.

That extended warranty only guarantees against “battery depletion of 50 percent or more from original specification.” And can you be the judge of that? I doubt it.

I don’t like extended warranties anyway. You’re betting your device will fail. Why buy it in the first place if you’re that sure it’ll fail?

Of course, all this cost could be avoided if the iPod’s battery was user-replaceable…I get the point that a user-replaceable battery affects the design; however, isn’t Apple the master of design solutions?

I probably could have continued to use the shuffle as portable storage, but with two USB keys already, I didn’t really have a need. Instead I decided to investigate user-replacement of the battery. From the iPod’s point of view, that met with disaster. smile

I’m not even a regular listener of music, so it must be even more frustrating for those who are. They could find themselves changing shuffles annually. Oh well, archaeologists in 1000 years will have a field day digging up our landfill and hearing what we used to listen to. Who knows, maybe it will be a bit Bill and Ted-ish with some band immortalized as some sort of god and that’s just what’s on the iPod. Imagine the excited archaeologists listening to original Nirvana, who just happen to be their god? Of course iPods will survive buried in the ground that long. It’s only the battery that has a life of one year; the rest of the system has a half-life of some five million years. Which makes it even more frustrating.

I also have an iPod photo that is the same age. Its battery is also playing up. However, if it goes, the replacement deal is a much better value at only one fifth of what I paid for the iPod.

Interestingly, the APP warranty on new video iPods is only AU$89, which is 23% of the cost of the smaller model. So I guess Apple is betting more heavily that a shuffle (at 50%) will fail. Also interesting is that the battery replacement program doesn’t seem to distinguish between models and costs the same for each. Thus my $500 iPod photo will cost the same to have its battery replaced. Which again is a much better deal than the shuffle.

The most intriguing thing, which I assume only applies to shuffles, is that Apple might replace your iPod altogether. I’d be really interested to hear if any readers got the warm and fuzzy end of that deal on an iPod (besides a shuffle), maybe getting an older generation iPod replaced with a newer one when all they were expecting was a new battery. Even a like-for-like replacement would be good, as then I’d get an unscratched iPod photo. But, scratches and why my iPod photo’s screen is more scratched than my mobile phone of the same age…there’s a whole other article.

Some smarty will probably say Apple has improved battery lifetime, but my experiences sure have sown and nurtured some healthy seeds of doubt.

If you want to try to extend your iPod’s battery life, read Tips and tricks for getting the most out of your iPod’s battery and The iPod battery FAQ.


  • Did you look here first? Don’t chuck that Shuffle!


    Robert Pritchett had this to say on Mar 21, 2007 Posts: 25
  • Robert Pritchett had this to say on Mar 21, 2007 Posts: 25
  • Ribbon Cable Repair Hack - http://isop.blog-city.com/job11.htm

    Robert Pritchett had this to say on Mar 21, 2007 Posts: 25
  • Robert Pritchett had this to say on Mar 21, 2007 Posts: 25
  • Robert Pritchett had this to say on Mar 21, 2007 Posts: 25
  • I get the point that a user-replaceable battery affects the design; however, isn’t Apple the master of design solutions?

    Out of all the possible reasons to prevent users from replacing the battery, this is the lamest possible one.  You mean I’m stuck paying $100 to Apple or buying a new iPod because Apple doesn’t want an unsightly SEAM on the back?!

    And yes, we’re aware of third-party battery solutions, but this can’t possibly be a viable ‘out.’  According to Mac geeks, users who are too easily confused by a right-mouse button are going to figure out how to put a battery in an iPod?

    Truth be told, it is not an uncommon shady practice for companies to make basic maintenance so expensive and troublesome that the customer basically just gives in and buys a new one.

    That’s the only explanation that makes any real sense.  As illustrated in those links, a battery only costs $10 RETAIL.  That means Apple is marking it up 1000% minus labor!

    And they’re doing the same with the iPhone.  I can’t even imagine the uproar if MS or Samsung released a phone with no user-replaceable battery.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Mar 21, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I’m still wondering why Apple doesn’t design the iPod the way they designed the apple remote. The battery tray pops out when you press the little button on the bottom. This can be made in such a way so that it’s not done by accident, and provide an easy method of battery replacement for the user. If designed right, Apple can retain it’s clean sheet design and have a proper solution for the user. The Apple Remote battery tray could be it.

    Kaiser Machead had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 10
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