Flash-based iPod mini: an informal battery comparison

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Since upgrading my 4 GB iPod mini with an 8 GB CompactFlash card, not only have I noticed faster file transfer speeds and a more responsive interface, as expected, I’ve also witnessed an increased battery life, but when I wrote the previous article it was too soon to say anything more specific than that. Now that a couple of days have passed, and I spent more time listening to music with the iPod mini, I am positively astonished by how better battery life has got.

Keep in mind that this iPod still has its original lithium ion battery that it’s more than 10 years old. When the second-generation iPod mini was introduced in early 2005, the playtime declared on Apple’s site was 18 hours. In the months preceding the failure of its 4 GB MicroDrive, battery life had worsened so much that I could barely squeeze two hours of continuous play on a full charge.

When I upgraded the iPod the other day, it wasn’t fully charged. The battery indicator on these old iPods doesn’t give accurate measurements in percentages like modern iOS devices, just an icon that gets progressively empty. So let’s say that when I started listening to music after the upgrade, the battery was roughly at 90%. Since then, I was able to listen to seven different albums, each lasting an average of 50 minutes. Before writing this article, I took the photo above as I began listening to the eight album. As you can see, battery is at about 20%. Which means it took it about six hours of playtime for the battery to go from 90 to 20%. As I’m writing this now, that Jaco Pastorius album is over — it was about 42 minutes long — and I’m three songs into the next album. There’s still about 10-15% battery left. So the battery is already lasting more than seven hours. It’s nowhere near the original 18 hours of playtime, but 7-8 hours is nonetheless an excellent number given the age of the battery. The new CompactFlash card has definitely made this iPod usable again.

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