Are new ipods more reliable than old ipods?
May 18, 2006 6:08 AM   Subscribe

Are new ipods more reliable than old ipods?

My 4g 20 gig ipod is dead. I mean, really dead. I've troubleshot everything. I am really dissapointed in the track record of this thing. I had to return it once, and then once out of warranty, it died a slow, painful death. For $300, I expected it to last longer.

While I really love the ipod experience, I am hesitant to buy another. Are newer ipods more reliable, or will this cycle continue? It pains me that I have to spend so much money on a piece of technology that appears to be not ready for prime time. And sure, I could have gotten the apple warranty, or the best buy protection plan, but it seems that you shouldn't NEED those. Isn't it kind of an admission that your product is prone to breakage?
posted by quibx to Technology (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well hard drives are going to fail, especially these little ones. I believe the iPod Nano uses flash memory though.
posted by delmoi at 6:19 AM on May 18, 2006

Yes. From personal experience I can tell you my old iPod is NOT as reliable at the newer ones that my roommates own. Then again by OLD, I mean like, nearly 3 years old, now.
posted by dead_ at 6:41 AM on May 18, 2006

the ipod nano uses a hard drive as well. the shuffle uses flash.
posted by shmegegge at 6:55 AM on May 18, 2006

shmegegge, the Nano is a flash drive as well as the Shuffle, that's supposed to be how they made it so thin. It also means it's better for exercise, because it has no moving parts. (I wasn't sure, so I doublechecked at
posted by jacalata at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2006

Not in my experience.

I've had 6 iPods. One 2nd gen, two 3G, two 4Gs, and one 5G. Up until the 5G, all worked flawlessly. I had zero probs with them and they are all still working great for the people I sold them to.

However, my 60gb 5G sucks ass and gives me prob after prob. It jams, it has a display that sometimes is invisible, it killed my Etymotic headphones, it's slow as hell to boot... I'm about ready to downgrade.
posted by dobbs at 7:03 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Are you sure about that? Wikipedia says it's using flash. And my mother owns one, I looked at it, not sure you really can fit a spinning hard drive in that. It would vibrate, anyway.
posted by a007r at 7:04 AM on May 18, 2006

My 4g died a slow death and seemed to present issues at every turn after a few months, from disconnecting from the computer to freezing during playback.

I've had my 5g since January and it has not needed a restore, has not given any difficulties on disconnect and if a buggy mashup that I've downloaded jams things up, I can now trigger a restart simply by holding the center button and menu with my thumb -- no resetting hold, standing on my head, and timing it just right.

In contrast to my 4g, then, my 5g simply works as it should.
posted by VulcanMike at 7:16 AM on May 18, 2006

The nano does use flash. That's why it's more expensive gigabyte-for-gigabyte compared to the mini it replaced.
posted by macdara at 7:22 AM on May 18, 2006

I have an original iPod which has never had a single issue. Even the battery continued giving good service. I recently bought a Nano (which is flash-based) for the smaller form factor and passed the 1G iPod to my sister. Absolutely zero complaints about either one.
posted by daveleck at 7:23 AM on May 18, 2006

The AVERAGE quality is improving, individual results may vary.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:30 AM on May 18, 2006

I have a third generation iPod and it's still working. The battery life isn't as great as it once was, but no other problems to speak of.
posted by danb at 7:43 AM on May 18, 2006

The 4Gs have had a pretty awful service record; this parenthetical comment from anildash summarizes my own experience, as well. More specifically, both Anil and I have the 40 Gb grayscale click-wheel iPod (a 4G iPod), and according to Ric Ford's iPod reliability survey, that model has a failure rate that's more than two standard deviations above average. According to that same data, all the grayscale 4G iPods did worse than average, while the color 4G iPods did better than average (with the exception of the 40Gb one).

To answer your general question, though, I'm not sure that enough data exists about the newer iPods -- because not enough time has passed to make any judgements about them. My personal belief is that if any of the older iPods have some tendency towards increased rates of failure, then that tendency gets amplified by the fact that Apple replaces broken iPods with refurbished ones of the same make -- meaning that a failure-prone iPod which fails is replaced by another failure-prone iPod. I have brought my grayscale 40Gb 4G iPod back in three times for replacement, and I'm not sure that that's a good thing for Apple. (I've even posted twice in amazement at how many iPods get replaced at the Genius Bars, which again can't be good for Apple.)
posted by delfuego at 7:59 AM on May 18, 2006

I have a 1Gb shuffle, actually it's my 3rd, thanks to warranty replacement. The first two died. I also have an old Creative Nomad player, which would still work if there were drivers to support it on XP with SP2.
posted by JamesMessick at 8:16 AM on May 18, 2006

My 4G has been sent in for repairs 4 times. I eventually switched out the battery, thus voiding my warranty, and have continued to have issues with it. However, I find if you ignore your iPod, and toss it around haphazardly, it will revive itself. I know it sounds weird... BUT IT WORKS!

I also have a Pez MP3 Player for those times when my 4G isn't in the mood.
posted by bjork24 at 8:16 AM on May 18, 2006

Just another datapoint, my 4G grayscale was a disaster -- failed repeatedly even after repairs and eventually went into the trash -- but like a sucker I bought a 5G anyway. The 5G has been great. Totally trouble free. So I was interested to read that the 4G grayscale seems to have just been a lemon iteration.
posted by The Bellman at 8:47 AM on May 18, 2006

I have an original first generation iPod, and it still works perfectly--even the battery still holds a charge for a few hours. I agree with the poster that said these things are crapshoots. Get what you need and hope for the best. Oh, and if you can, try to buy it with a credit card that has warranty extension. A lot of cards have them now and the give you an extra year of free service.
posted by reformedjerk at 8:49 AM on May 18, 2006

The warranty is a function of the quality of the product.

Not entirely. The warranty length has several inputs, constrained by the cost of their implementation. Some companies may be willing to invest a lot of money into a longer warranty for a lower quality product, banking that a good marketing reach by offering said warranty will result in increased profit from sales that will make up for the cost of providing the warranty. The long warranties offered by Asian car companies such as Hyundai or Kia are an example - their cars are generally not as reliable as Honda or Toyota, but they offer such long warranties to combat such perceptions.

And I went through a period of specifically repairing 4G iPods. They seem to have major issues with bad sectors on the hard drive in the initial firmware partition causing the boot-up sequence to hang. Many times this cannot be corrected using just the Apple formatter going through the iPod's on-board USB< ->IDE interface. I'd have to remove the drive, attach it directly to a raw USB or IDE interface, and then zero out the bad sectors. After that I could image a firmware copy on to the disk, or re-initialise it within the iPod.
posted by meehawl at 8:49 AM on May 18, 2006

Same as reformedjerk. I have original 1G iPod that I bought in 2001 and I still use on a near daily basis. The battery life is down to 4-5 hours, but the thing is rock solid.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 9:04 AM on May 18, 2006

I had a 1G, 3G and now a nano. My 1G still works, but battery life is almost non-existent--it now acts as a museum piece. The 3G's battery died, I had to replace it, and then I dropped it, messing up the hard drive. What I didn't like was that I could not find a utility to successfully map out the bad sectors, so it became useless. I actually traded it into the Apple Store for 10% off a new 4GB iPod nano which I now LOVE. No moving parts. No worries about hard drive failures.
posted by lunarboy at 9:28 AM on May 18, 2006

I have a 3G and had it replaced (by Apple for $70 thanks to the class action lawsuit) due to battery failure. Two identical iPods have lasted me nearly three years and I use it everyday. No complaints, the battery issue was solved for cheep and I've always had good experiences with Apple customer service.

I'll invest in a newer one as soon as I get the money - I like the slimer design and color screen, but I'm not hurting for disk space. 10GB isn't enough to store all my music, but I change it around a lot and honestly, I never find myself wishing I had my entire collection in my hand anyway.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:42 AM on May 18, 2006

I too have a 1G, and it still works great. Granted, I use it less heavily than most, but it's never given me a problem, and battery life is still several hours.

I'm waiting for the supposedly full-screen video, touch screen interface models to come out before I consider upgrading. Anybody know about those?
posted by LooseFilter at 10:16 AM on May 18, 2006

my 2g, which got willed to a friend, just died about six months ago.

my current model, which is a 4g 20gb monochrome, developed battery death after a year, which is way too early (to me) for an expensive device holding a file collection that may well be irreplaceable.

i replaced the battery myself, and all has been well since then, but i did lose a ton of files at one point during a reset.

my boyfriend has had no problems with his 4g 20gb bought at the same time as mine.
posted by patricking at 10:39 AM on May 18, 2006

Speaking from experience, the reliability of the different generations of ipods doesn't always mean that newer = better. I had a 4th gen 20g greyscale ipod that had to be repaired three times within the first eight months I had it- I eventually gave up and bought a 3rd gen 10 gig used off of ebay that hasn't given me a problem yet.
posted by Glitter Ninja at 11:12 AM on May 18, 2006

My 2g 20 gig gets used every day and still works flawlessly.
posted by gregariousrecluse at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2006

Every ipod I've owned and most of my friends' ipods have needed warranty service within 6 months of purchase
posted by skallas

My comment would be similar:
Every ipod I've owned and most of my friends' ipods have not needed warranty service within 6 months of purchase.

Personal experience isn't going to help. You'd need a lot of statistical data. I do agree with skallas when he says it's a 'crap shoot'.
posted by justgary at 3:21 PM on May 18, 2006

I'm on my second iPod, a 5g Video iPod and it's been fantastic. I've had absolutely no problems with it since buying it (I got it when it first came out).
My 3g that I had before was a bit more problematic, I had to reset it a few times. But I never had any problems, really. My 3g is still running despite being 3 years old now, my sister has it.

Really, I havn't had any of the problems I've heard of others having with their iPods, knock on wood.
posted by smitt at 4:44 PM on May 18, 2006

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