One of the fun things* about actually buying our iPods rather than getting them shipped to us free and early from Apple is that we get to experience the whole buying, defective unit, and return process just like you do. So when our yellow fifth-generation iPod nano died this morning after less than a day of use, we had the chance to re-experience Apple’s in-store customer service, which should be noted up front is considerably better these days than it was, say, six years ago. Bring in a totally dead new iPod, and they’ll swap it on the spot for a replacement. Easy and friendly. Apart from the whole “my iPod died in less than a day” thing, it’s great, but iPod defects aren’t the store’s fault.
The surprise: the replacement yellow iPod nano we received had a fairly big, obvious gap next to the left side of its Click Wheel, evident before we opened the plastic case. This struck as as odd: wouldn’t dirt or dust be able to get in there? We could see something resembling a connector through the gap, so we shot this photo through the box before opening it. Then we went back and looked at the other eight nanos, and a couple of them had gaps, too, but they were smaller and not as immediately noticeable. Most were properly made from edge to edge. Touching the yellow nano’s Click Wheel let us center it a little better, but it does have a little bit of give inside the metal shell. The give appears to be due to a change in the way Apple is assembling the fifth-generation nanos—Click Wheels were better attached to the fourth-generation models—but the gap is definitely more pronounced in some shells than others. We’d suggest that you check your box with a little tilt before you pay for your purchase.
This sort of stuff can’t be found in an Apple press release, but it does impact the quality of the user experience. That’s just one of the reasons we actually spend a bunch of time testing these things before we review them. [* = "Fun,” as used in this and the preceding article, doesn’t actually mean "fun.” It’s actually no fun at all to have to deal with iPod defects.]