Report: iPod shuffle 3G controls fail during workouts | iLounge News


Report: iPod shuffle 3G controls fail during workouts

A group of third-generation iPod shuffle users is complaining of issues when attempting to control the device from the pack-in headphones. According to an Apple Discussion thread on the matter, the issue appears to be linked to moisture and sweat, which seems to interfere with the in-line controls. Users have repeatedly reported that the volume randomly increases to maximum when working out or running during use, while a subset of users said that the unit unexpectedly turned itself off shortly after the volume increase. Apple has yet to publicly respond to the thread, however, one user claims that the company has quietly made contact to get the unit back for examination. [via MacNN]

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It stands to reason. If you ever have one or see one (either for the shuffle or the headset mic one for other ipods) up close, it’s definitely not water tight, and the earphone cord makes a perfect highway for some head-sweat to go down.

I’ve worn mine while working, and while I do sweat a lot, I haven’t had this problem. But like I said, it’s easy to see how it can happen.

A small obstruction, like a piece of clear tape, might be enough to stop the sweat droplets just long enough to be flung off the cord from movement. You’d be surprised at how well something like that would work.

Posted by Ned Scott on April 3, 2009 at 12:17 PM (CDT)


I agree, not too surprising.  I also predict we’ll start hearing about lawsuits about this issue or that the remote ceases to function appropriately which Apple will say is due to normal wear and tear.  I just can’t see how this remote is going to hold up to the repetitive clicking that is going to be necessary to make it work.

Posted by TosaDeac on April 3, 2009 at 1:25 PM (CDT)


Hmm… I wonder if strapping the shuffle upside down instead could solve this problem

Posted by Jeffrey on April 3, 2009 at 4:14 PM (CDT)


@jeffrey - no.  the problem isn’t that sweat gets into the ipod, but that sweat gets into the little clicker remote control on the cord below the right earbud.

Posted by bozz_2006 on April 8, 2009 at 6:03 PM (CDT)


I have the ipod shuffle 3g and I started having those problems the first time i ran with it.  The volume suddenly increases, then the controls stop working.  I never had problems with my shuffle 2g….

Posted by xlerma on April 19, 2009 at 7:27 PM (CDT)


I’ve had the problems too with the shuffle 3g.  First time, couldn’t figure out why the volume had increased sharply and the shuffle cut out but clearly it was in thirty minutes into my workout.  Second time, the shuffle simply tailed off in volume, started announcing playlists, and then cut off.  Again, towards the end of the workout.  I sweat rather heavily on the side of the face and the Ipod itself is tucked in, so clearly the sweat is getting into the remote.  Maybe I buy a 2g now.

Posted by Charles on April 21, 2009 at 11:19 AM (CDT)


Unfortunately i start to experience this too, after updating to the newer firmware…. but not sure if its just cause i havn’t sweat as much before.

but my problem is that the volumne decreases and cannot be increased no matter how many times i click on the +.

Posted by HH on April 25, 2009 at 3:19 AM (CDT)


Serious problems with mine too.  I have to set it in the sun for 3 or so hours until it works properly again.  I bought this item ONLY for its size during workouts, and now it isn’t very good for that.

Will Apple brush this one off also?

If there is a way to address this, please let me know.

Posted by Mark on April 29, 2009 at 5:53 AM (CDT)


I am on my 2nd 3G Shuffle after the first one refused to be controlled via the headset clicker.  After having a short run in the gym today using the new 3G replacement for the 1st time I now find that I cannot alter the volume. I am really disappointed with this as they must have road tested in a gym prior to launching it. what a shambles.. what is the best way to go about getting a refund for this piece of crap?

Posted by jefferz on May 14, 2009 at 5:37 PM (CDT)


I have had the same problem with my 3G shuffle.  Running or biking, usually within 30min to 1hr, the control on the headphones becomes useless.  Sometimes increasing volume, sometimes continuously cycling the playlist names.  Very irritating.  In some cases I can imagine how perspiration or moisture might be reaching the unit, but it is very minimal.  There’s no excuse for this happening under the benign conditions this has been happening for me.  Uncertain of the cause, I’ve had it replaced once, but the problem still occurs with the new unit.  So it’s not just an isolated failure.  I don’t know if I should wait to get new headphones with the control, or just abandon the 3G all together.  I was quite happy with my 2G, but wanted more memory and playlists.

Posted by Ben on June 2, 2009 at 4:28 PM (CDT)


I have now sent in my second unit for warranty in less than two months.  The promotional literature and the video guided tour itself highlights the convenience of using the 3G Shuffle while working; though I wonder how much longer before they edit that copy from the script.  If it were not for threads and blogs such as this one I would have never made the connection between workouts and the failure of the volume control settings.  For the most part the buttons and device are out of the way of direct perspiration but I do change the settings with sweaty hands.  I would have never imagined that such a fundamental functional specification for the use of the product was not considered during engineering and design; it was certainly considered during the marketing phase of the project.

Posted by Mike on June 5, 2009 at 12:46 PM (CDT)


About three weeks after using it for sweaty workouts, my 3G iPod starting randomnly announcing playlists then the controls went unresponsive entirely. Now they’ll work for about the first 5 seconds that I first turn it on so I can at least not get stuck on one playlist. Going to the Apple store tomorrow.

I heard that Scosche is releasing a $20 adapter in July that would put all the controls on a little dongle into which you can plug your own headsets (my preference anyway). Has anyone here bought Scosche stuff? Does it work/last?

Posted by Matt on June 17, 2009 at 11:56 PM (CDT)


My 2nd ipod shuffle in 6 mos just died while on a long run—won’t play, turn on, synch or charge.  I use etymotic ef5’s instead of apple-supplied earphone controls, so its definitely a failure of the unit itself. 

It’s gotta be moisture intrusion, maybe down the cord thru the earphone jack.  I’ll try baking it in the sun for 3 hrs like Mark did, but not optimistic.

Started to get intermittent earphone jack connectivity which makes me think headphone jack corrodes on the inside probably from sweat.

Posted by john on June 19, 2009 at 1:41 PM (CDT)


I have the same exact problem as hundreds of others! My iPod shuffle 3G will start announcing the playlists randomly, volume goes up & down, and then the controls become unresponsive. The headset control appears to be vulnerable to the slightest bit of perspiration. It’s unsuitable for workouts even though Apple markets it as such.

I’m not about to try and fix it with plumbing materials (void your warranty!) or spend another $20 on a third-party adapter! I tried to submit a support request but if you select a problem with Earphones you get, “We’re sorry, the transaction cannot be completed at this time.”

The message board is full of complaints that Apple is ignoring this problem. This appears to be yet another major defect in yet another Apple product. It’s getting tiring trying to convince Apple of their own problems or spending additional money for a product that should function properly in the first place!

Posted by Chris Y. on August 8, 2009 at 7:51 PM (CDT)


Same exact problem here - same timing, 30 to 40 minutes, same issues.  Very frustrating.  Basically the only reason i bought a Shuffle was for working out.  Sorry to see that Apple doesn’t seem too responsive…  i am going to head to an Apple Store today but it seems that the problem is not isolated to me..

Posted by Jeff on August 13, 2009 at 12:49 PM (CDT)


Ditto here to Jeff’s comment above!

I’ve had mine and the wife’s replaced once under warranty for the same problem. I’ve also discovered that the ear buds themselves can affect operation such as pressing them into the ear will change tracks or adjust volume. Very sad state of affairs for something that looked ideal for working out!

Never had this problem with an old Creative Zen that went AWOL at the gym.

Posted by Mike V. on August 24, 2009 at 4:53 PM (CDT)


I bought a 3G Shuffle last week to use while running, to replace my 4G Nano that was dying after working out with it since December.  Not only would I not be able to control it while I was running, but after just 4 runs it no longer works at all.  Won’t charge, won’t sync, no lights of any kind.  It might just be the shoddiest piece of electronics I have ever owned.

I don’t even want a replacement, I just want my $80 back.

Posted by Scott on September 23, 2009 at 7:54 PM (CDT)


I bought my iPOD shuffle 4G on 31 May and shortly after began having problems. THey initially switched my earbuds out, and then because it continued to have problems with me working out (namely volume increasing to max, unable to lower volume, voice over starts freaking out and then it stops working altogether) I went and scheduled a genius visit and they switched the ipod out for a different “apple” ipod shuffle. They told me they hadnt heard ANY similar complaints, and that ipod shuffles are watertight. I can see now they were clearly lying to me.

Posted by Dalia on November 8, 2009 at 11:20 PM (CST)


This has been happening to me for a couple weeks.  I thought it was just mine.  About 20 minutes into a cardio workout the volume spikes to max and the controls stop working.  It needs about 10 minutes in a dry place before it starts working again.  Considering I bought it to workout with,  not Apple’s best effort.

Posted by Rokit on January 6, 2010 at 5:32 PM (CST)


Yes I just got the ipod shuffle 3G for christmas.  The first time I used it on the treadmill the thing started jumping from song to song without me doing anything.  I sweat a good bit when I run so sweat was running into the clicker.  I could not adjust the volume or stop it clicking through songs automatically.  Do they make a waterproof headset?

Posted by Jason on January 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM (CST)

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