iPod Battery Experiment

An iPod Experiment
A couple people have asked me recently whether I’ve had any trouble with my iPod battery. In short, nope. My iPod is one of the original 5GB ones and was purchased in a California Apple story in January 2002. I wouldn’t say I’ve been a heavy user over the past two years, but I’m fairly certain I’m in the fat part of the “normal usage” bell curve. I listen to it on-and-off at work and on my commute, and a full charge generally lasts me two days (but runs out on the third). I tend to leave it set on “song shuffle” and fast-forward through songs when necessary. I don’t do anything special to prolong the battery and in fact I do things you’re not supposed to (i.e. leave it plugged into the computer for extended periods of time, let it run down completely). I’ve even dropped it a couple times.

So what’s my actual play time from a full charge? I have no idea. I’d guess probably around eight hours but it’s hard to tell. Therefore today I’m running an experiment to ascertain this once and for all. I started it up at 8:00 this morning and it’s been running ever since. I’ve got it set to play random songs but I haven’t been using the fast-forwarding at all. No backlight or sounds or anything like that. The first of the four “power bars” disappeared at the three hour mark. I’m now up to five and a half hours and the remaining three bars are still visible. (For the record, I don’t think they’re necessarily a very accurate guage of battery life, but it’d be nice to have proof.) More updates as the day progresses…


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  1. Cool I’ve been meaning to do something like that myself. My experience is pretty much the same as yours. Original iPod, and I get about 3 days of average use per charge. There was a period back when with one of the old firmwares where the battery life sucked, but that was resolved with an update. Then I had one period in Europe where the battery life sucked b/c the HD never stopped running, but I fixed it with a firmware super-reset which I had read about on the internet. Then one time I dropped it while the disk was just spinning up. After that it froze randomly for awhile, but I ran a super disk scan I read about on the internet and the freezes went away. It’s a two year old machine now. It’s been a working iPod, not just for show. It’s taken it’s falls and is plenty scratched. But it still works good. I am going to post my pictures from when I took it apart…

  2. We’re up to six and a half hours and I’m down to two bars now. (That happened sometime in the past hour while I was at lunch.) I’ve never had to do any maintenance on it other than the usual firmware updates.

  3. iPod guts! Impressive. You’re a lot braver with yours than I would be!

    And hey, I recognize that html template! Nice use of the iPhoto “export as web page” function. (I used it as the basis for my Sock Monkey tutorial last weekend.) 🙂

  4. Oh, and we’re up over eight hours now and still going strong with two bars… Which just goes to show that they’re useless. This thing isn’t going to last another eight hours. My experience has been that once you get down to one, you’ve got about two minutes to total depletion.

  5. This is freaking me out. I’m coming up on eleven hours here. Isn’t that longer than they were originally advertised? My iPod is clearly powered by Mac loyalty… or something.

  6. It died just after eleven hours. I can’t believe it.

  7. I thought I was having battery problems with mine, but I conducted my own experiment before I left to visit my sister in Fort Wayne last week. I charged my iPod overnight via wall adapter, and took it to work with me. I put it on song shuffle (which is what I normally do, anyway — it’s like Radio Moire!) at exactly 9:00am, and let it run. And run. And run some more. I was concerned that the battery bars were lying to me, so I kept trying to do stuff to it, like fast-forward through songs and use the backlight every once in a while, and jump forward in my playlist. My iPod lasted just over 10 hours. I was amazed — and relieved that I don’t yet need to brave battery replacement. So, you’re not alone in your experience, though since I don’t have a commute any longer, I probably don’t use my iPod quite as often as you.

  8. I bet our usage patterns are pretty similar, Moire. I only use it on my commute one day a week (the day I take the bus) and most of the time I’m just using it at work, in pretty much the exact same manner you do. So there’s two of us with the exact same (excellent) battery life!

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