The REAL reason behind iPOD mini delays: FATAL DESIGN FLAW!

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by loladze, Apr 6, 2004.

  1. loladze macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2004
    The CRUCIAL mistake in iPod mini design already brought trouble to many iPod mini users around the world. At the end you may find some suggestions that can prolong the use of the first generation Minis. Could this be the REAL reason behind unexpected delays and dry spells of iPod minis? You judge yourself...

    After as little as two weeks of use some iPod minis produce HEAVILY distorted sound and extreme sensitivity to touch.

    What happened and the reason behind the problem:

    My silver iPod mini after two weeks of casual use started to make horrible static noises. Any pressure, as small as thumb pressure anywhere on iPod mini, would throw my mini into acoustic convulsions. Resetting iPod did not help and the problem would happen for any music file format and all volume levels.

    Guided by the detailed “iPod mini Autopsy” posted on, I carefully disassembled by iPod. Then I started to play the iPOD and disconnected the wheel, then the hard drive, but my iPOD was still playing (out of 25 min flash memory) and still cursing.
    Eventually, I narrowed the problem to a small little part that contains the headphone jack and the hold switch.

    This small part attaches to the main iPod board ONLY via small INFLEXIBLE black connector. WHAT an OVERSIGHT on Apple Engineers’ part!!!
    Any pressure on iPod case, dock connector, or simply plugging in and out headphones, creates TENSION between the small part and the MAIN board.
    Since only the black connector is inflexible, it quickly wears out.
    What makes matters even worse is that the black connector is attached to the main board via ten very fragile copper pins that stick out of the main board. With regular use, contacts get loose and slightest pressure on IPod creates nasty squeaky static type noises killing all the joy iPod brings.

    I have no doubt this problem will surge in time and a fare share of iPod mini users will encounter it. Future iPod minis need to have the part with headphone jack attached to the main board via FLEXIBLE cable. To rely on ten tiny fragile pins is just plain silly. What is puzzling is that in the current design the battery, hard drive, wheal, and screen all use flexible cables. Why, why the engineers chose to use INFLEXIBLE connection for the part with the headphone jack is not clear to me. What is absolutely clear is that with the current design, MINIs will eventually get sick and start to scream with unbelievable distortion.
    Apple needs to change iPod mini’s design and attach “the headphone jack part” to the Main Board via FLEXIBLE cable.

    My advise to current iPod mini users: minimize the number of times you plug in/out headphones, gently plug in/out dock connector, do not put big pressure on the soft aluminum case.
    Yes, this is sadly ironic. The mistake in the design forces users of mini to MINImize using mini.

    Can APPLE be pretending about extreme shortages, while hastily fixing the problem? This could be the real reason behind huge delays in iPod mini shipments in Spring 04 and postponing of its sales internationally untill July. If so, I am glad APPLE fixing the problem. Otherwise, because with the current Flaw, many iPod minis will inevitably fail.

    Let others know about the problem, may be the awareness of it will help to speed up the birth of new improved mini!

    Here are some picks about the mini problem imbedded in a parody love story (do not take the story seriously ;-):

    Irakli Loladze
  2. Gymnut macrumors 68000


    Apr 18, 2003
    Uhmm I'm sorry to hear about your unfortunate dealings with the mini but I thought it was the fact that the supply of hard drives for the mini has been in short supply is the reason for the delays.
  3. mvc macrumors 6502a


    Jul 11, 2003
    Keep it wrapped in cotton wool!

    Note to self: keep iPod Mini away from Vice-like Handshakes, Jaws of Rabid Dogs, Drooling Sumo Toddlers and Inadvertant Backpocket Wedgies! ;)
  4. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    AFAIK all ipod headphone jacks are connected this way - not just the mini. In fact most headphone jacks in personal hifi equipment is directly soldered on the PCB.

    What puzzles me is why you took an in-warranty ipod apart thus invalidating your warranty. Couldn't you have just taken it back to the store and got another one?
  5. loladze thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2004
    Many people stuck with distorted sound on iPOD minis

    The part with the headphone jack is NOT directly soldered to the main board. It is attached via ten fragile pins.
    I wish I was the only one with the problem. There are people in UK stuck with this problem because they cannot exchange it yet in Europe.
    Why I invalidated warranty? Blame unsatiable curiosity. :)
  6. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    That's why it's dodgy buying stuff through grey channels. It's great when it works. You're screwed when it doesn't.
  7. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    You are splitting hairs here a little I think. How else are they meant to solder it directly other than through metal pins?
  8. Doraemon macrumors 6502

    Aug 31, 2001
    Europe (EU)
    Geez. You have it for two weeks and start disassembling it? Ever thought of sending it back to Apple?

    And ever thought of the possibility that you had the bad luck of having a faulty unit?

    Sorry, but your non-expert diagnosis doesn't prove anything.

    And it certainly is not the reason for the delays (or do you really think Apple would knowingly continue shipping a product with major hardware design flaws in the one country where lost lawsuits hurt most?).
  9. vollspacken macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2002
    Boogie-Down Berlintown
    well, if iPods suck so bad, why don't you get a Dell DJ or an ugly-@$$ brick sized Creative player instead..?

    :eek: ;) :rolleyes: :D

    and BTW, if you get yourself a product through grey channels, you're stuck with a lemon if you unfortunatley happen to got one... and if you opened it... sorry, but that's just plain stupid!

  10. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    It is. Those same Hitachi Microdrives aren't available in CompactFlash cards for cameras right now. I don't think that Hitachi even realised that the demand could be so great. I wonder how long it wil take to get their factory in Thailand building them.
  11. Quark macrumors regular

    Jan 9, 2002
    Thank you for the information

    I understand that 'loladze' is not disrespecting Apple or the iPod mini.

    In reading the post, I found the information, well, informative.

    I appreciate that such care was taken in examining the iPod mini and reporting what was observed.

    I agree that this by no means concludes that it will happen or is happening to all iPod minis, but the potential seems to be there.

    This one iPod mini analysis may actually get back to Apple and they may read it and say, "This is not the actual problem, but it has shed some light on another design glitch...".

    I don't think it is a good idea for people to just read the Title of the Thread and then make foolish comments.

    MacRumors is an incredible site for information and posters shouldn't pounce on others for sharing.

    Take care,
    Quark :cool:
  12. rt_brained macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2002
    Proving once again that while a prestigious education may indicate that you're smart, it doesn't guarantee that you're bright.

    (1)There is absolutely no proof or solid evidence to support the validity of your case and (2) the tone of your rant, replete with overzealous use of ALL CAPS and exclamation points!!!!! severely diminishes your credibility.

    Reading your case leads me to believe there is indeed a (sic) FATAL DESIGN FLAW somewhere, however I'm not convinced it's in the iPod.

    Had you exhausted all attempts through normal channels to resolve your iPod's problem and gotten nowhere and as a last resort pulled it open to investigate the problem yourself, perhaps you'd find a more sympathetic ear.
  13. gbojim macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2002
    I'm not sure how generic this fatal design flaw is. But I've sat on my mini a few times now, and I'm not exactly gentle when connecting and disconnecting the audio out or data cables. Mine is fine so far.

    BTW, as someone previously mentioned, Hitachi acknowledged that shortages in devices using their 4GB drive is due to their inability to meet demand.
  14. 603 macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2004

    hey... the iPods are not without flaws. nobody should have to live with a Dell DJ, but that doesn't mean the iPod is perfect. nothing Apple makes is perfect. it might be better than the alternatives, but it's not beyond reproach. i thought, for example, this thread was going to be about the fact that the dock scrapes the paint off the front of the Mini!
  15. walkerboh4269 macrumors newbie


    Mar 24, 2004
    I smell a troll
  16. superbovine macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2003
  17. djkny macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2003
    The degree of defensiveness (aka pro-Apple vs. being objective) to which people are willing to exercise just to defend an Apple product proves that Apple is more than just a's a cult. Ever disagreed with anything a Scientologist says? Check their forums. The tones employed are reminiscent of the ones here.
  18. taeclee99 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 4, 2002
    Anywhere but here
    My ipod mini developed the same flaw after a month of use. I promptly returned it to the apple store and they gave me another mini. The floor model silver mini also had the same problem. Not good for business imho.
  19. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    while the tone of the post may have been a bit abrasive for some (i didn't feel so) and this is probably not the reason for supply shortage, this may be a genuine design problem. i hope this info somehow gets to apple so they can address the issue as they see fit. there's no harm in improving the design for better wear and tear tolerance.
  20. loladze thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2004
    Thank you for your understanding and support.

    I thank Quark, Jxyama, taeclee99, djkny, and 603 for support and for interpreting my post in the way I intended.
    Quark’s statement “I understand that 'loladze' is not disrespecting Apple or the iPod mini” captures well my intentions.
    However, I am a bit perplexed that others made assumptions about “grey market” origin of my ipod, my “prestigious” education or my rush to conclusions.
    My iPOD mini came from a legitimate US retailer and I have no degrees from any prestigious (Ivy League) school. I made post only after discovering that many other users in US and outside of US had encountered exactly the same problem: heavily distorted sound that renders mini useless. In fact, I am receiving new emails with people stuck with the same problem and seeking advice.
    I am not a subscriber to CAPS or exclamation signs, and apologies to those who found them offensive. My intention was to draw an attention to the problem, which can speed up the redesign of mini.

    caveman_uk asked “You are splitting hairs here a little I think. How else are they meant to solder it directly other than through metal pins?”
    One possible answer is that Apple could have used flexible cable to connect the Main board with the small board that contains headphone jack & hold switch. I think that the problem with the current inflexible connection is that the aluminium case is relatively soft and slightly deforms in regular use. These deformations are enough to make tensions between two parts and get pins (that are very fragile) to become loose.
    I wholeheartedly agree with 603’s statement that mini “might be better than the alternatives, but it's not beyond reproach”
    Apple designers are known for continuously trying to improve what already seems to be a perfect product. I do sincerely hope that they will do the same to the mini. Updated mini will bring countless joyful hours of music listening to mini users around the world! (can’t resist an exclamation mark here)

  21. Freakk123 macrumors regular

    Feb 19, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    Could you perhaps link to a place that speaks of the many other users, or a link where these other users speak? If so, then you most likely have a legit point. Either that, or their are a bunch of people all plotting to turn people against Apple. Fairly unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely. If not, then I find it very hard to believe you.

    Also, since these are your first (and only) three posts, I can see why people would think you are trolling. And yes, Apple users tend to be more fanatical than the regular PC user, so, as long as you are being legit and have proof (shouldn't be hard), don't take the questions and attacks personally.

    Thanks a lot
  22. Koodauw macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2003
    Agreed. Anyone got some of those dancing Bananas that are holding the signs???

    My Silver iPod Mini works fine, after a month of use. And its has taken a beating. (sorry iPod Mini, I will try and be more careful.) And if all the iPod are connected in this way...wouldnt all of them have problem??

    Still hoping someone posts those Bananas....
  23. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
  24. NusuniAdmin macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2003

    I assume just buy cheap cd's and a skip proof cd player (like my wonderful small panisonic player that i got for free from panisonic :) ), that way if it breaks u only spent 69 bux vs 200+ bux. I personally dont mind carrying around the cd's, and the cd player fits perfectly in my pocket.

    But thats just me. It is definitly uncomportable when my and my gf are sitting really close together and she pushes it into my leg, now that is pain! Im too dumb to remember to take it out hahaha. Its also annoying when it comes to running, pulls the pants right down haha.

    But I sure hope apple fixes these problems, and I have jsut notified one of my friends about the warnings with the sound going crazy.
  25. janey macrumors 603


    Dec 20, 2002
    sunny los angeles
    um well i'd actually believe everyone saying good things if you, sir, used correct grammar/punctuation (although I should not be talking), capitalization for product names (sorry, its just my pet peeve...I dislike it when people say iPOD or IPOD instead of the correct iPod), et al.
    Anyway, taking apart an iPod mini was a somewhat dumb thing to do if it was under warranty. Apple is very good when it comes to fixing their mistakes, and sometimes you just have to sacrifice quality to a degree for beauty and simplicity.
    Honestly, I cannot think of another way to solder the headphone part onto the board (my 2nd gen iPod broke that way, but it was because I was awfully rough on that one specific part) and if I were you I would have counted my blessings (I cannot find a single silver iPod mini at an Apple Store in Los Angeles, they're pretty popular) and proceeded to ask Apple for a replacement.

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