KB-40010 Battery and Power care for iPod Classic

iPod Classic Battery Care

Standard Battery Capacities

Originally, iPod classics were fitted with lithium-ion rechargable batteries with rated capacities of 500-800mAh. The exact battery used varied due to the hard drive used and when in the lifetime of the iPod that specfific unit was manufactured.

Official 'playtimes' of iPod Classic models can be found in the table below:

 Model Advertised Playtime mAh rating
A1289 (Late 2009) 36 hours 750
A1289 (Original) 30 hours Dependent on hard drive*
A1136 (30GB) 14 hours
A1136 (Other Capacities) 20 hours


Conventional Charging

All of these models support USB charging. USB charging is conventionally rated for 5 volts at 0.5 amps, providing 2.5 watts of power. However, some USB ports mounted on computers may provide less power, and some standalone USB power adapters may provide more (such as 5w, 10w or 12w USB power adapters).

In addition, iPod classic supports charging via FireWire. FireWire charging provides power at higher voltage allowing for faster battery recharge rates. However, few devices include FireFire 400 ports and FireWire wall power adapters are not common. Thunderbolt ports can also provide FireWire power with the necessary adapters. Please note that if connecting an iPod classic to a Thunderbolt port via a FireWire adapter, the iPod will not be able to sync through the connection, only charge.

In some cases, using a higher wattage power source can help to charge, or even boot up, an iPod classic that seems to be unresponsive to a regular USB charger or USB port. This is commonly useful when a hard drive based iPod classic has been stored for a considerable amount of time; the battery has been drained completely in this case, and a standard 2.5w power source will not provide enough power to run the hard drive and the main logic board at the same time.

If your iPod does not respond to a regular USB charger, or if your iPod seems to be in a 'boot loop' and can't get past the Apple logo, try a higher wattage USB power adapter, or a FireWire power cable.


Extended Capacity Batteries

Larger capacity batteries are available for iPod classic models. All iPod models A1186 and A1289 use the same battery type with the same connector, so any battery that fits one will be compatible with another. However, larger batteries will of course require the battery to be located in a space that would originally be used by other components (usually the hard drive).

Compatible batteries are available in 1900mAh, 2000mAh, 2200mAh and 3000mAh 'capacities'. However, given the size and weight of these batteries, these capacity ratings are very unlikely to be genuine, and battery runtime testing also confirms this (a 3000mAh rated battery doesn't offer a runtime 4 times longer than a 750mAh battery). Therefore if a larger battery is installed, you should expect longer battery life but not to the extent that the rating implies.

Larger capacity battery mAh ratings are not accurate - while they do offer improved runtimes, they aren't as large as they are advertised

To keep large capacity batteries in good health, it is reccommended to cycle them at least once a year. A common fault with iPod classic is a problem with the power management system being able to interface with a dead or very low power battery, which can produce behavour such as that described above (where an iPod seems to be unresponsive to charging). By cycling the battery frequently, the iPod doesn't reach a very low power state

Battery Indicator Behaviour

When using a larger capacity battery, the iPod classic battery indicator may not be accurate until the abttery has been cycled fully. A battery cycle is defined as a complete charge, then complete discharge, followed by another full charge. You should do this if you install any new battery so that the battery indicator is accurate to the new battery.

Unfortunately, some iPod classics develop a fault with the battery and power detection circuit. The iPod may report an incorrect charging or power state. Possibilities include:

  • The charge icon indicating that the device is plugged in to power and fully charged (a green battery with a plug symbol) even though it is unplugged completely
  • The charge icon indicating that the device is plugged in to power and charging (a green battery with a power bolt symbol) even though it is unplugged completely
  • The charge icon indicating that the device is at very low charge (a red battery) even though the battery has high charge
  • The iPod detecting that the battery charge is at a level too low for use (showing the Battery Low screen when unplugged, or the Charging Please Wait screen when plugged in) even though the battery has high charge

This fault is not able to be fixed with a system restore, as the charge and power circuit uses a separate microship to the main system.

In some cases, this fault is only visually apparent and won't impact overall use. However, if the device isn't able to detect the battery charge well enough, it will report a low charge screen even when the battery has high charge - this makes the iPod unusable even though the battery is in good health. Since the power management controller is a micochip on the main board, the best way to fix this issue is with a main board replacement.

Please note that this fault isn't dangerous and will not impact the safety of the device. Also note that this fault is not the same as an uncalibrated battery, which can be easily solved by cycling the battery. If you perform a full battery cycle but still see highly incorrect battery and charge status, then it is likely you have a fault with the power management chip.


The Black Spot

Another common problem with iPod classics is a black bubble or spot showing on the LCD screen. This is sometimes incorrectly attributed to the LCD itself being damaged. However, the actual cause of the spot is the compression of the LCD layers against the plastic screen window. This compression happens when the battery behind the LCD begins to expand.

Expanding lithium-ion batteries are common in aging electronics, and can be dangerous. Lithium-ion batteries are extremely flammable, and if handled incorrectly can injure or kill.

If you notice a black spot on an iPod, you shouldn't attempt to charge the unit or plug it in to any power source - doing so will connect the battery to power, which may cause the battery to fail very quickly, possibly causing an electrical fire.

Expanding, failing, or even leaking batteries can be removed safely as long as careful precaution is taken. Never use metal or sharp tools to remove the battery, as doing so increases the risk of punturing the very thin metal shells of the battery. The strong adhesive of the battery can be loosened using isopropyl alcohol. Do not use heat to loosen the adhesive, as high temperatures can cause the battery to dangerously fail.

If you have extracted a dangerous battery from a device, you should store it in a sand bucket. If you dispose of it, ensure that you follow local regulations. Safe lithium-ion batteries are recycleable at special locations.

The Black Spot is caused by a failing, dangerous battery. Do not charge or power up an iPod with a Black Spot. Replace the battery immediately, and do it very carefully


Common Problems Checklist

  • No response to Charging
    • Try a wall adapter that can provide 5w or higher
    • Check the 30 pin port for dust or lint that is blocking the connector
    • Try FireWire power
    • Replace the battery and re-attempt
  • Battery level indicator issues
    • Cycle the battery fully (leave to charge for at least a day, then drain fully by running a repeating playlist, then charge again)
    • Check the internal main board for corrosion
    • Replace the battery and re-attempt
    • Replace the main board and re-attempt
  • Black Spot on LCD
    • Replace the battery
    • Repalce the LCD


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