Replacing an iPod Mini Battery


April 19, 2016

apple battery ipod


Old iPods are just as good at playing music as the originals. If that’s all you’re looking for, why buy a new one when you can keep the old one going? Let’s take a look at an iPod mini, see what’s inside, and get the battery changed.

Naturally, genuine Apple batteries are now difficult to come by, and will likely have reduced capacity due to their age. While replacements are realistically going to be of lower quality, it’s the only sensible option to keep the device going.

iPod battery
iPod next to the new battery.

The battery used here is a VHBW battery, labelled as having a capacity of 600mAh.

The one-piece aluminium shell is a great design feature, especially for the time. It does mean that it’s a little more difficult to remove the internals though. Fortunately, this design uses screws and a small amount of adhesive, and is much easier to open up than newer models.

To open the iPod, you’ll first need to get a small blade (or similar) to gently pry up the white covers on the top and bottom of the device. These are held in place with adhesive, so might take a bit of force to get them up. Take care not to damage these pieces, and lift up slowly.

The bottom piece has a small metal piece underneath, used to support the charging socket. Lift this piece out, to uncover the scroll wheel connector cable.

Use a spudger to gently lift this up and out of its socket.

Under the top cover, you’ll find two #00 Philips screws. Remove these to free the board/inner frame from the shell.

You should now be able to start gently pushing the board up from the bottom. It should start to slide upwards and out of the top.

Take care when doing this, and slide the board out slowly. It’s possible that the old battery has bulged due to old age; if that’s the case, there will be extra friction against the battery. If it feels too tight, it’s best to stop pushing to be safe.

iPod open
Board/inner frame completely removed from the shell.

Flip the board over, and you’ll find the battery connected to the board. It should be easy to unplug and lift up the old battery, and plug the new one in.

iPod battery replaced
Old battery removed, and new battery installed.

An interesting point to note when looking at the back of the board, is the Microdrive storage device below the battery. Microdrives were a range of CompactFlash compatible mini hard disk drives, manufactured by IBM and Toshiba. A couple of other manufacturers made similar drives, under a different name.

Apple used these drives in many of the iPod devices of this time, due to their large capacity compared to the flash storage available at the time. It took until 2006 for flash-based CF cards to surpass their storage capacity, by which point storage had begun to be integrated and non-replaceable.

These drives would be subjected to much more abuse than your average hard drive, and have added features to improve durability as a result. They also reduce battery life compared to flash storage – power is required even when the drive is not in use, to keep the platters spinning. It’s no surprise that, once flash capacities caught up, Microdrives fell out of use.

With the new battery fitted, simply reverse the steps to reassemble the device. Take care when sliding the board back into the shell – some replacement batteries are slightly thicker than the originals, so will be a tighter fit as a result.

iPod working
Reassembled iPod, with new battery fitted.

If the scroll wheel is not working correctly, double check that the cable has been plugged in securely.

To further upgrade an older iPod, take a look at installing Rockbox, to reduce reliance on iTunes and Apple software.

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