iPod classic, nano batteries beat Apple claims

When we posted our reviews of Apple’s iPod classic (iLounge rating: B+) and iPod nano (iLounge rating: A) last week, our early tests had already shown that their battery performance exceeded Apple’s claims. This wasn’t a complete surprise, as Apple became conservative with battery promises two years ago, and has consequently delivered iPods that generally exactly meet or surpass the company’s stated performance levels.

Final test results for the iPod classic and new iPod nano are in—at least, mostly—and they’re impressive. Apple promises that the new iPod nano, regardless of storage capacity, will deliver 24 hours of continuous audio playback and 5 hours of video before the battery expires. In our tests, holding volume at 50% and keeping equalizers off, the new nano played audio of various types for 30 hours and 21 minutes before shutting down. Video tests with test 640 pixel wide videos from the iTunes Store ran for 5 hours and 47 minutes, also longer than Apple’s estimates.

Even more impressive were the run times of Apple’s iPod classic models, which vary in battery claims based on capacity. The 80GB model promises 30 hours of audio playback and 5 hours of video playback. Our tests with the same audio content used on the new iPod nano ran for 36 hours and 16 minutes, while the same videos played for 6 hours and 46 minutes. Apple claims that the 160GB iPod classic will do better, suggesting 7 hours of video play time and 40 hours of audio. Our results were better: the 160GB model played videos for 9 hours and 28 minutes before expiring. And our audio test has been running for more than two full days at this point: this model has been playing our test audio in loops for over 56 hours. The battery still shows some remaining power. (Updated: Our 160GB iPod classic finally ran out of juice after 58 hours and 14 minutes of playback.)

As promised, we’ve been updating the battery sections of our reviews with the final numbers as they come in, but given how impressive the numbers are, we felt that they were worth bringing to your attention in a separate news story. The iPod classic and iPod nano reviews can be seen in their entirety here, with comparisons against past iPod models.