Review: Newer Technology NuPower Replacement Battery for 3G iPods
Pros: Higher-capacity internal batteries add no bulk to iPods, but enhance their power at reasonable prices.
Cons: Installation may challenge or deter some users; 3G installation is more challenging and likely to damage plastic around the Dock Connector, 3G version adds only modest performance benefit unless your existing battery’s dying.
Our hands may be scratched, but our iPods aren’t. And now they’re working better than they did when we bought them, thanks to a set of replacement iPod batteries we’ve been testing from Newer Technology.
This time last year, Apple’s biggest concern was iPod battery life; not only were some of the first (2001 vintage) iPods beginning to lose their recharging capacity, but then-current lower power capacity third-generation iPods were showing anemic four- to six-hour run times under “normal” usage conditions. Thankfully, Apple listened to consumer concerns and complaints. It formulated plans to release new iPods that either consumed less power (iPod mini, 4G iPod) or included bigger batteries (iPod photo). But existing iPod owners had a less exciting solution: buy a third-party iPod external battery pack for $50-$100, or pay Apple $99 plus a shipping fee to replace the iPod’s internal battery when it expired.
Newer Technology has a considerably better and cheaper solution for many users: for $39.95 or less, you can pop out the internal battery of a first-, second-, or third-generation iPod, living or dead, and replace it with a brand new one. Would you really want to get rid of a working iPod battery? If you’ve wanted to increase the run time of your iPod without carrying around an external battery, you just might.
Newer’s replacement batteries (now called NuPower) only trouble you with two questions: how much extra battery power do you want, and are you nimble enough to perform a short battery replacement procedure on your own?
Two of Newer’s batteries - one for 1G/2G iPods ($29.95, not received for review) and one for 3G iPods ($25.99) - actually offer 130% of Apple’s original battery life, such that Newer claims that a 1G/2G iPod can run for 14-18 hours and a 3G iPod for a bit over 10. The best of the bunch is the Super High-Capacity Battery ($39.95), which presently is available only for 1G/2G iPods, and offers nearly 171% of their original power: Newer claims users can expect continuous run times of 20 or more hours, depending on the contents of their music libraries.
For reference, our initial test of the 3G battery yielded an 8 hour, 52 minute run time, and the 1G/2G Super battery ran for 15 hours, 29 minutes. However, initial battery tests of iPod lithium-ion batteries are almost always low by comparison with later, broken-in battery results, so although both of these numbers exceed their respective iPods’ initial performance statitics, we would expect that final numbers will come much closer to Newer’s estimates.
The company’s do-it-yourself battery kits each include four items - two blue plastic iPod opening tools, one battery, and illustrated instructions. You use at least one of the tools to pop open the iPod’s case, and then easily remove and replace the iPod’s original battery with the new one.
iPod 3G Battery Kit
In our testing of the battery kits, we found Newer Technology’s tools and instructions to be just about perfect for a do-it-yourself replacement project. Using the blue plastic opening tools to separate the iPod’s front and back casings was only modestly challenging, and resulted in a few paper cut-sized nicks to our fingers in both of our iPod installations. But critically, the tools proved highly unlikely to even slightly damage the exterior of an iPod, which unlike fingers won’t heal quickly or easily. (Wear gloves if you’re really concerned about the cuts.) In each case, installation took us under twenty minutes, including reading the instructions, fully opening an iPod, and replacing the battery. The 1G/2G batteries are considerably easier to replace than the 3G’s, which requires a tiny bit of nimble wire-shifting and adds five or so minutes to the installation time.
Additionally, Newer’s instructions were actually useful, pointing out likely installation hurdles and possible ways you could damage your iPod during the replacement process. Again, the 3G iPod replacement process is a bit trickier than the 1G/2G model thanks to smaller connectors and a fragile piece of plastic at the Dock Connector port, but reading the instruction manual makes everything a lot easier than you’d have imagined.
iPod 1G/2G Internals - Apple’s Battery is the Large Silver Pack
Will the average person want to do his or her own iPod internal battery replacement? Maybe. Given the aggressive prices of Newer’s batteries, plus the fact that they’re considerably less expensive (by a factor of 60-70%) than Apple’s battery replacement service, and the fact that they’re more powerful, we would most certainly recommend them as a superior option. But we’re also aware that the process of opening an iPod and performing the replacement will intimidate potential customers - primarily because Apple didn’t just include an easy pop-off battery compartment in these iPods. Newer could do great business by offering (or incentivizing resellers to offer) installation services.
Newer Technology’s iPod batteries are almost perfect, no-brainer replacements for Apple’s own internal components: for a considerably lower price than Apple’s replacement battery service, the new batteries offer markedly extended run time with virtually no prospect that an installer will damage the iPod’s exterior. These factors alone qualify them as highly recommended products from iLounge’s perspective.
However, they’re not foolproof from an installation standpoint, and consequently aren’t right for all people - if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, they’re ideal, but if you’re easily intimidated by electronic devices or common tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches (even though you won’t need them here), you’ll want to either stick with Apple’s costly service or find a friend to perform Newer’s battery installation for you. Third-generation iPod owners can also consider the dramatically more expensive sets of external battery solutions developed by Battery Technology Incorporated (iLounge ratings: A and A-), as well as Tekkeon’s myPower (iLounge rating: B+).
For our money, we’d pick Newer Technology’s NuPower Super High-Capacity Battery without question as a 1G/2G iPod battery replacement, and strongly recommend that any 3G iPod owner consider the 3G High-Capacity option as soon as it’s time to replace the iPod’s internal battery. Despite our reservations as to the ease of these batteries’ installation for the average person, their price justifies the small amount of effort their installation will require.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school - ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.