iPod mini battery tests | iLounge Article


iPod mini battery tests

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Sounds to me like the random playback on the mini is not queuing up the random files in the cache, but is randomly picking songs, only the first of which will be in the cache.  The 3G iPod is nearly identical for both tests, which suggests that it is making more efficient use of the cache.

I wonder if the software update to the iPod mini addresses this?

Posted by Scottman on February 26, 2004 at 8:45 PM (CST)


Not only is it not reading ahead on the random play list to save battery, but if its filling up its 32 MB buffer for antiskip protection, its wasting on average 28 MB worth of disk access every time it goes to the next song.

No wonder the battery life was so bad.  Sounds like its time for a software upgrade.

Posted by mcchris on February 26, 2004 at 10:24 PM (CST)


Scottman + Mcchris - we should have included a link to the original iPod mini Power User review on this point. It actually doesn’t seem like either one of those is the case; as we noted in the Power User review, the mini is definitely using the cache for shuffle play also. It’s not accessing the hard drive after every song, that’s for sure.

Perhaps the shuffle play is not making the hard drive get accessed more often, but when it does get accessed, the mini has to search more on the hard disk for the songs it’s going to pull. Or perhaps there’s something else that accounts for the disparities. We’re still investigating, and test #7 (another iPod mini test on shuffle play) is running right now with again surprisingly different results.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on February 26, 2004 at 11:10 PM (CST)


Actually your Type-A is exactly how i use my iPod.

I have almost never any interaction with it, since I use smart-playlists and SoundCheck.

That’s probably why I am still satisfied with my 1G 5GB iPod. With a good smartplaylist I don’t need bigger HD capacity or an extraordinary battery.

Posted by Charles on February 26, 2004 at 11:54 PM (CST)


mcchris wrote:
“Not only is it not reading ahead on the random play list to save battery, but if its filling up its 32 MB buffer for antiskip protection, its wasting on average 28 MB worth of disk access every time it goes to the next song.”

I am kind of suspecting that the iPod and iTunes are unable to use the buffer (streaming or antiskip) in between tracks:

If you use iTunes on a remote computer you can see that when a new song starts (random or not) there is a pause and a surge in network activity as the new songs is loaded to the buffer.

Very weird that Apple did not include something better there.

Posted by Charles on February 26, 2004 at 11:59 PM (CST)


Note that there is virtually on difference between the two 3G iPod tests, which is how it should be, because in test A, the hard drive spins up, loads up the first 32MB of songs on to the RAM (which is a preset order that the iPod ramdomly selects as soon as you hit play on the playlist), plays them, and then repeats the process. In test B, the same should happen, except it plays them in alphabetical order. The mini is doing something very different, so Apple needs to fix the firmware fast I would say.

Posted by Nuke666 on February 27, 2004 at 2:32 AM (CST)


Battery life of my iPod mini generally exceeds that of my 3G iPod.

I think some people like to look for trouble where none exists and then when they don’t find it, they make something up!

Hey folks, while you’re at it, why don’t you perform the Type-C and Type-D tests!  Maybe they’ll negate your Type-A and Type-B tests.  If that is the case, you may need to perform a Type-E test.

Posted by The Raven in USA on February 27, 2004 at 5:58 AM (CST)


The recent software update on the mini was simply the “restore” function made available for those who didn’t boot up the CD enclosed with the device.  I didn’t when I first downloaded iTunes to the mini.  My iMac recognized the mini and had no trouble downloading.
Batteries need to be conditioned before they reach their optimal charge.  Use your mini for a while then test the playback time.  Apple says “up to 8 hours” not “guaranteed 8 hours”.

Posted by pkradd on February 27, 2004 at 6:45 AM (CST)



Just to clarify: my tests of the battery life of the iPod Mini, as published in my Wall Street Journal column of Feb. 11, did indeed involve the use of shuffle mode during playback of the entire library. Also, I had the volume set at about 75% and was using an EQ setting—Vocal Booster. So my test was close to your type A test than to your type B. And I performed mine on two different Minis.

Walt Mossberg

Posted by Walter Mossberg on February 27, 2004 at 7:00 AM (CST)


There will always be an inverse correlation with battery lifespan and bitrate. The higher the bitrate and quality, the lesse the battery charge lifespan.

I think you need to use some graphs, and plot time vs bitrate (right up to uncompress AIFFs) for random play until exhauustion.

These graphs would look a bit like CPU utilisation against multiple resolutions, as plotted for some CPU benchmarks.

That way we get to see complete profiles of the iPod’s battery behavior for different playback scenarios.

Posted by mp3 rates on February 27, 2004 at 9:17 AM (CST)


I’ve had my mini for a week now, and I’m getting very nervous about the battery situation.  My normal usage is similar to your type-B test.  Last night I left the mini to charge thru the AC adapter.  This morning the batt indicator said “charged”.  I discnnected and started listning to one album with no shuffle and no EQ, and about 20 minutes later, my batt indicator showed only 70% full! to me that is unacceplable for a portable device that has been charged over night.

Posted by orock on February 27, 2004 at 10:54 AM (CST)


I’ve found that the battery indicator usually isn’t a good indicator at all.  I have shown empty battery quite a few times and still gotten two or more hours of play.

Posted by dig_duggler on February 27, 2004 at 11:04 AM (CST)


What bitrate was used btw? Results should differ between 128 and higher bitrates, since those are usually bigger in size, therefore fill the cache faster - and result in a more active HD and more power consumption.

Don’t think 128 kb mp3s are still standart.

Posted by Shrike on February 27, 2004 at 11:26 AM (CST)


There are known problems with the battery indicator.

Posted by Steve Klingsporn on February 27, 2004 at 12:06 PM (CST)


It looks to me like the battery monitoring circuit tracks battery load over interval and updates the display accordingly.  It, consequently, behaves more like a time-remaining indicator (in the form of a battery icon).

If I advance several times through a shuffle, I’ll note the battery image ‘draining’ at a startling rate.  As soon as I settle onto a song a want to hear, the battery image recovers somewhat.  I’ve noted shifts from 90%...then dropping to 25% during my indecision…and then returning to near 90% once I’ve settled.

I’ve decided to view the battery icon as a “Estimated time remaining based on current interval usage (of ~8hrs total time)”


Posted by Phred on February 27, 2004 at 12:52 PM (CST)


To go along with the higher bit rate leading to lower battery life theory one must also consider that long songs would also fill the buffer faster and cause more hd access leading to lower battery life.  I think that if the test is going to be fair you have to make sure that all the songs from one test to the next are the same file size.

Posted by cougardew on February 27, 2004 at 12:53 PM (CST)


The “higher bitrate - shorter life” is not a theory. I have tested it myself.

It’s just common sense. Spinning up and down the hard drive is the most battery intensive thing the iPod does. Also, the PoirtalPlayer chip can ratchet its operating frequency from 32KHz to 90MHz on-demand. This is part of its power-reduction strategy. More data to be decompressed because of higher bitrates requires higher clock speed.

Finally, you can quickly verify the compression/battery relationship yourself. Make a few AIFFs. Play them back. This demands almost continuous disk access by the iPod based on zero compression. You will be astonished at how quickly your battery indicator drops.

Posted by reality on February 27, 2004 at 1:02 PM (CST)


This may be a moot point. But what percentage of the hard disk space is occupied on the iPods? Hard disk performance in general takes a hit when they are reaching 100% capacity. Is there more unused disk space on the 3G? This may account for needing more spin cycles to access the needed data in the mini when the hard drive is being read.

Posted by Ron on February 27, 2004 at 1:25 PM (CST)


I’ve noticed something strange with my mini. When I charge it via the AC adaptor, the large “charging” icon eventually fills up, but the little battery icon never fills up. the highest I’ve ever seen it is 80-90%

Posted by ferrell on February 27, 2004 at 1:40 PM (CST)


I know it’s for an Archos and not an iPod, but I can’t find any equally exhaustive analysis people have done on mp3 player power consumption. Outside of NDA stuff, of course:

      HDD off, backlight off, idle 94 mA
      HDD off, backlight off, play 97 mA
      HDD off, backlight on, idle 129 mA
      HDD off, backlight on, play 131 mA
      HDD on, backlight on, play 230 mA
      HD on, reading, backlight off ~ 600 mA
      HD spin up before read max 800 mA


Using a disk sucks around 6 times as much power as the CPU. Now, the iPod’s disk is smaller, so it has lower inertia and power consumption, so maybe the factor is reduced to 3:1 or 4:1. The disk power consumption on the iPod Mini will be even smaller, so the ratio is reduced further. Then again, the 4GB Hitachi uses regular atmospheric pressure to keep its disk aligned, whereas the 1.8” and 2.5” disks used in regular iPods and Archoses are vacuum sealed.

Posted by battery usage on February 27, 2004 at 1:41 PM (CST)


“It’s just common sense. Spinning up and down the hard drive is the most battery intensive thing the iPod does.”

So .... if apple increased the flash memory to 64mb wouldn’t this under many test scenarios increase battery life?

Posted by DMW on February 27, 2004 at 7:29 PM (CST)


Hey that link says the Archos people increased their playtime 30% by increasing their memory from 2MB to 8MB.

But to upgrade the iPod by the same amount we’d have to go to 128MB.

Maybe replacing the Mini’s 4GB CF disk with a 1GB (or 4GB, but they are super spendy!) flash ram card would increase battery life by around 30%?

Posted by memory size on February 27, 2004 at 9:12 PM (CST)


I have just purchased an ipod mini for my fiance and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is able to charge from the USB slot on my laptop (and desktop)!  When checking the USB properties in the device manager I see that it has a load of 500mAmps as compared to 0 on my 3G 15gb Ipod… 

As for the power indicatior - I have loaded a little file on my 3g so that I no longer get the bar graph representation of my battery but rather get a numerical value with ~500 being full charge.

Posted by gambit on February 27, 2004 at 11:41 PM (CST)


i agree with mp3 rates theory: “There will always be an inverse correlation with battery lifespan and bitrate. The higher the bitrate and quality, the lesse the battery charge lifespan.” last summer i listened to 16 bit lectures all day at work….8 hour work day and still had juice left for the commute (30 minutes each way) and there was always a little battery left when i got home.

Posted by Bkcraft on February 28, 2004 at 6:43 PM (CST)


also, temperature has a lot to do with it…i live in atlanta and we have been getting some colder weather….the battery life has decreased dramatically. try keeping your ipods warm. last summer when i got so much life out of the batt. it was out door lab work in south georgia. the temp was always around 95-100.

Posted by Bkcraft on February 28, 2004 at 6:49 PM (CST)


Sorry, but your temperature anecdotal evidence is exactly the opposite of what you should be seeing. “keeping your iPod warm” is not a good way to prolong the life.

Posted by Me. on February 28, 2004 at 7:05 PM (CST)


Sure? What what I know is that cold usually leeches energy from batteries.

This may be a little over the top comparsion, but car bats are a lot more likely to die in winter than in sommer, for example.

Posted by Shrike on February 29, 2004 at 1:49 AM (CST)


Your battery will discharge faster in the cold, but heat will permanently harm the battery and permanently decrease its capacity.

Posted by Questioner on February 29, 2004 at 4:39 AM (CST)


Hi folks,
i just started to test my iPod mini XD.I’m just running the type A test and already got two and a half your and my iPod mini still showing me 80% :D.I have loaded it four times now,so i can’t say if the battery does use its full capacity.

Posted by Jamie on February 29, 2004 at 1:12 PM (CST)


I’m back and guess what XD,my iPod mini is still running in random access mode at least now for 6 hours 40 minutes and it still shows 20 %.I don’t know how they get the result of under six hours but i think their batteries weren’t very well contitioned at this time ;-)

Posted by Jamie on February 29, 2004 at 5:30 PM (CST)


I finished the type A battery test finally and now recall what you read up in their test and compare XD.If you were affraid of buying a mini because of its low battery capacity,don’t be and buy one because mine ran for more than 9 hours !!!
Starting with full charg,plugged earphones,loudness middle,randomly played 791 Songs coded in 160 KBit AACs and 160 KBit & up Mp3s,no Backlight, no EQ, after pressing Play i put in hold and started the stopwatch in my SE T610.
I finnaly stop the watch at 09:37:26:2 hours.
Which means that it outperformed not even 3rd G iPod for more than 1 and a half hours.In this contition it will reach nearly the legendary 10 hours of my 1st G iPod and my will even outperform it in Type B test.For now i can say,it blasted all my expectations and even the promise of Apple’s 8 hours of battery life :D.Only thing i can say,great work Apple, i love this sweet little thing !
50% after 4 hours 30 minutes10% at nearly 7 hours,0% at 8 hours and 25 minutes,shut down after 9 hours 37 minutes.
isn’t it a great news ?! I hope i can take fear of those who are considdering a mini and bring those relief who already get one XD.
Greez Jamie (iChat:macnasien) if you have questions.

Posted by Jamie on February 29, 2004 at 8:37 PM (CST)


I agree that the battery on these recently purchased Minis need to be conditioned.

I also agree that the battery indicator IS NOT the be all, end all gauge of the actual power remaining in the unit.  I have had iPODs run for close to two hours after the battery meter reads NOTHING!

You will often find that the iPOD battery gauge (All iPODs) will actually move HIGHER after the unit is brought out of sleep mode and sometimes will not show a reasonably accurate reading until after at least 20-30 minutes of use.

Our family owns 5 iPODs of various models including the original, a 40gb and a new Mini.  The battery fears are WAY OVER BLOWN! 

You people need to RELAX and calm down.  Our first iPOD is almost 4 years old and the original battery pack is still going strong.

Don’t let the vocal minority of those out there with battery problems lead you to the false assumption that ALL iPODS have battery problems.


97% of them don’t!

Posted by R.V. on February 29, 2004 at 9:58 PM (CST)


I agree with R.V.  Stop worrying about the battery and enjoy your iPod!  I suspect that firmware updates or conditioning the battery will solve the any problems, assuming there ARE any!
And The Raven, why would someone who likes the mini try to find flaws in it (with objective tests, I might add)?
Peace out and long live the iPod!

Posted by Judy on March 1, 2004 at 1:05 AM (CST)


Seriously. I have had my 3G since May, and I love it. Sure, it would be awesom if the thing would play for a week without a charge, but tech is not there yet. Oh well, the iPod is awesome.

Posted by billy on March 1, 2004 at 10:03 AM (CST)


Ron wrote:

“Hard disk performance in general takes a hit when they are reaching 100% capacity. Is there more unused disk space on the 3G? This may account for needing more spin cycles to access the needed data in the mini when the hard drive is being read.

What about disk fragmentation? Could it be an issue in the long term, not just for battery life, but for read and write performance?
Is it possible/safe/recommendable to defragment an iPod?

Posted by WebWolf on March 1, 2004 at 10:37 AM (CST)


I have been using my Ipod mini for a week straight and the best my battery has done is 6 hours(rndm mode on). Much less if i am using the Itrip.

And i too have found that the power indicator is about as reliable as the cable guy. SOmetimes it is at 1/2 at hour 2. Sometimes its at 1/4.

Where can i get the program that represents this indicator as a numerical value?

Posted by joel on March 1, 2004 at 2:38 PM (CST)


Ok, i finished the type B test and figured out that my iPod mini played for 9 hours and 17 minutes after it shut down. I think Apple have done a greate job with the iPod mini and keep it’s promised battery capacity of 8 hours.

Posted by Jamie on March 1, 2004 at 5:44 PM (CST)


man, I’m getting one in a few weeks and I hope my battery is as great as Jamie’s!!!!!

Posted by Noodle on March 1, 2004 at 6:41 PM (CST)


While I agree that my min is by far the best mp3 player around, I still feel like, if RIO managed to squeeze 14 hours out of their batts, so should apple.  I would say battrey life might be the #1 most important thing in any portable device, period.  Thats why people are bitching.

Posted by orock on March 1, 2004 at 6:42 PM (CST)



iPod almost 4 years old?... its not even 3 yrs old yet…

5 iPods in the family? liar.

Posted by Stasyna on March 3, 2004 at 1:54 PM (CST)


My Ipod mini got 9 hrs of battery life on shuffle with no EQ .. It kicks a**.. so all of you people that say it doesnt hold a charge are wrong :-D

Posted by Dave on March 5, 2004 at 2:44 PM (CST)


I want an iPod with more songs that the mini but I want the mini’s colours and buttons and and design. Which one? Can help me out? Thanks.

Posted by who wants to know? on March 14, 2004 at 6:13 AM (CST)


who wants to know?  Consider colorwarepc.com they will color your iPod and accessories any color for $49 if you want to spend the money.  This way you can get an iPod with a larger HD and sent it to them before you put music on it.  They also sell iPods already colored but they are more expensive to buy directly from they.  You come out better buying from someone else cheaper and just having them color you iPod.

Just a suggestion to consider.

Posted by Honeybee1236 on March 14, 2004 at 2:48 PM (CST)


My new 15gb 3G iPod din’t get 8 hours of battery time on its first runs, maybe only two but now it gets up in I think 8 hours in continius play, I havent tested yet.

Posted by Orbulon on March 20, 2004 at 2:45 PM (CST)


this is in regards to battery life on the ipod mini. i do not get 8 hours out of my battery charge.  i can literally watch the battery meter rescind.  i use the ipod at work and lucky to get 3 hours use out of the damn thing. does anybody else have issues like this?  please give me some info.  248 563 3105 or email.



Posted by jason morris on April 3, 2004 at 10:31 PM (CST)


Well i only get about 4-5 hours out of mine - vol about 70-80% usually, playing 1 album at a time.

Thats a 15g gen 3 - batt life indicator is very good i think IF you appreciate its a bit funky when you boot the unit or take it out of sleep.

still the best machine out there bar none.

Posted by Dave on April 6, 2004 at 9:06 PM (CDT)


I agree with Jason Morris posting,
i charged my mini ipod fully ready to take me all the way round the London Marathon, the battery was fine then , went to a thin band after about 2 hours. I had to turn it off in order to get me through the last miles.Not a happy bunny had my tracks all lined up.Music has an amazing effect to keep me going.Not impressed at all.
im sure ill make friends with again, but not at the moment.

Posted by lilli on April 19, 2004 at 11:22 AM (CDT)


I have a 5gb ipod over two years old.  I get ten hours out of every charge.  The drive is full and all songs are 320 bit.  Reminds me of rechargeable phones.  People used to complain about the short battery life of them. Turns out they were not properly charging them.  Some batteries need to be completely dead before recharging or it shortens the battery life.  Some need to be charged before they go dead or it shortens the battery life.  Do you know which is in your ipod.  Find out what type of battery you have and look up the recommended way to recharge it. Oh, could you tell me the battery type without looking it up. If you could not, there is the problem.

Posted by Migwuk on May 1, 2004 at 10:42 PM (CDT)


I have a 40gig model - the battery probably hasn’t been conditioned yet, seeing how I’ve only had it for maybe three weeks.  But I find the “8 hours” advertised time to be VERY misleading, since the testers don’t seem to take into account things like the backlight, the manual rewind/fast forwarding or the skipping of tracks, or the fact that most people tends to shut down and restart their unit at least a few times between charges.  The most I’ve gotten out of my unit is maybe…  oh, maybe three hours between charges?

And Lilli I see where you’re coming from…  BUT, if there is a certain way the batteries are supposed to be charged, then fine - but shouldn’t Apple tell us what this certain way is?

Posted by BC_Animus on May 5, 2004 at 8:47 AM (CDT)


“To go along with the higher bit rate leading to lower battery life theory one must also consider that long songs would also fill the buffer faster and cause more hd access leading to lower battery life. I think that if the test is going to be fair you have to make sure that all the songs from one test to the next are the same file size.”

Yes, but then the song takes longer to play, so that shouldn’t make any difference.

The fact that you’re playing different songs, or the length of them, isn’t the point. The point is that the iPod is effectively playing a constant stream of audio, regardless of where individual tracks begin and end. It still has to keep filling its buffer at the same rate.

Posted by Ben on May 9, 2004 at 11:20 PM (CDT)


new mini, never get more than 3 hours out of it :( I figured 8 hours meant 8 hours, I didnt consider it would depend whether I shuffled, had the light on, volume changed or forwarded or rewind.. etc I think thats a con

Posted by giggles on May 12, 2004 at 8:20 PM (CDT)


My iPod is still new but I absolutely love.  However, after reading the postings on battery life I thought I would leave a message.

I don’t know that much about birates but I am quite advanced in technology.  I work for a major computer company (not apple).  I’ve work in program management for my company so I see our products, hardware and software, from concept through release to customers and then to any customer issues.  I’ve got to say how impressed I am with Apple’s customer care in general.  The fact that this message board exists is very cool indeed.  Customers of my program and products do not usually have such a forum to learn and exchange knowledge.

I use my iPod primarly for a CD player for my new car as well as an MP3 player from time to time.  I would earnestly say that any owner of an iPod should condition the battery.  When you first get it, let it completely die before putting back onto the charger.  Then charge it 100%, remove from charger and let it completely die again.  No, Apple doesn’t state to do practice this but as an owner of a pocket PC, 2 lap tops, and 1 tablet PC in addition to numerous PCs that DONT require battery life, I know that you should always condition any battery - no matter what for.

My favorite lap top gets so many complaints from customers about battery life.  Let me tell ya, the many lap tops that I have set up retain a battery life of 3 hours or more.  I make every user condition.  Some people say you don’t have to condition - just do it.  Apple may or may not come out with a fw upgrade but conditioning is what every new iPod owner should do.

Posted by Rallen on May 14, 2004 at 9:35 PM (CDT)



I have had my 3G Ipod for one week.

Within 15 mins of playing the Ipod, my battery life drops to 80%.

I too am concerned with the battery life. I am getting around 4.5 hours continuous play with EQ ON and on shuffle mode.

Hopefully it will get better as the battery conditions. Anyone have a similar experience?


Posted by Paulo on May 26, 2004 at 4:01 PM (CDT)


My minis battery appears to run down WHILE SWITCHED OFF. I have no idea what the hell is wrong with it, I am a long time iPod owner and I am turning it off fine etc. but either the battery runs down in 2-3 hours MAXIMUM or it actually depletes while turned off.

This could be one of those “starts off with about 10 mins of life but in a week or two, back up to 8 hours” deals, because it is only a few days old, but it is rather worrying.

Anyone else had similar probs?

Posted by Suspect on June 28, 2004 at 4:54 AM (CDT)


I didn’t charge my Ipod mini for the four hours when i first received it.  Will it truly effect the performance or battery life of the mini?

Posted by nik on August 24, 2004 at 2:48 AM (CDT)


WHO CARES?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Posted by Homo Sapien on September 24, 2004 at 7:59 PM (CDT)


all your questions about the iPod battery type (lithium ion) are answered here. learn how to treat the battery properly and you should get the proper battery life. http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm

Posted by Sam on October 12, 2004 at 3:18 PM (CDT)


I paid $250 for an ipod mini that I still have to charge everyday? What is going on here? I am so disappointed. This type of reliability is so unlike apple.

At least it’s eye candy!

Posted by Jerry Perkins on October 14, 2004 at 11:04 AM (CDT)


I just got my 4G 20GB iPod last week and i tested it with the type b test and i only got around 8:45 - 9 hours from it, at least 3 hours less than what its supposed to give! Is this because i havn’t “broken it in” yet because ive only had it for a week, or is it faulty?

Posted by Mike on October 19, 2004 at 3:49 AM (CDT)


I have had my i pod for about a couple months and i’m lucky to get about let’s say 30 minutes battery life out of it. it really dissapoints me

Posted by adr8 on February 2, 2005 at 8:11 PM (CST)


I just bought an ipod mini about 2 weeks ago, i work at a cemetary and use it non stop for 8 hours every day, no matter what i do to it there is still about half the battery left at the end of the day and i didnt even condition it.

Posted by jasschul on May 28, 2005 at 12:44 AM (CDT)


my iPod mini its working but the display contrast is getting light and light during working time (HEARING TIME) .
when we put for charging the contrast came back and good views .
It works with out display contrast (working but no selection of songs jest set next next ).
please inform me if anyone know this fault and solution….................. please. ................................

Posted by safiyullah on May 30, 2011 at 11:15 AM (CDT)

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