Apple sent a clear message with the updated iPod Shuffle: “We were wrong.” They changed course, admitted that people actually like buttons, and brought them back for this generation. Pshhh! Those of us with 3rd Gen Shuffles just printed out a convenient chart and carried it around for reference.
Having confessed that their lack of buttons was a problem, we wanted to see if Apple improved the repairability of the device. The 3rd Generation had a press-fit back cover and a battery soldered to the logic board, making replacement quite difficult. Unfortunately, the 4th Gen is even harder to open, thanks to the generous application of glue in addition to the press-fit back cover.
- iPod Shuffle 4th Generation Repairability: 2 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)
- Good: The click wheel is attached to the logic board via a connector, allowing it to be easily separated.
- Good: The lack of a screen eliminates a large weak point of other devices, making the Shuffle more resilient to falls. Just don’t flush it down the toilet.
- Bad: You essentially have to break it to open it.
- Bad: The battery is soldered to the logic board, making replacement that much more difficult.
- Bad: Apple keeps shrinking connectors. These super-small cable connectors are increasingly difficult to open without breaking them.
- The device was extremely difficult to open. Apple press-fit and glued the back cover onto the body, so it took us quite a while to pop the cover off the unit. We definitely had a harder time accessing the internals than in the previous generation Shuffle.
- Even the seemingly simple task of disconnecting the button pad ribbon cable turns out to be quite a chore when the connector is 1/8″ wide.
- We have a feeling that as technology advances, we’ll need smaller and smaller tools to take devices apart. You won’t be able to see our hands in pictures, just little pointy tweezers.
- Apple once again chose to solder the battery to the logic board. This adds another layer of difficulty to replace it (aside from breaking the back cover to open it) if it dies on you in the future.
- Unsurprisingly, the date codes on the main Apple chip indicate die manufacture dates in late June (1025) and early August 2010 (1031).