You might prefer to perform this delicate task in a quiet, well-lit environment with the correct tools, on a nice big flat work table.
Rather than in 20 minutes on a poorly-lit, commuter-packed train on the way home from work on a Friday evening, working off a dodgy tray-table that pitches all over the place.
That’s entirely up to you — but here’s how I did it:
- Read this article last July. You have to have read it last July; any more recently and you won’t have forgotten enough of it to make this task a challenge.
- Have some of the right tools, but not all of them. If you don’t use a flat-blade screwdriver instead of the more appropriate phillips-head tool, then you won’t achieve the same smug sense of ingenuous hacking-ness that I felt.
Oh and you’ll also need a replacement battery. I got mine off a mate.
Now let’s get started…
- It helps if your iPod has been dropped on one of its corners, once or twice. On the concrete. That way you can start prying off the plastic end-covers and the ensuing damage made by your inappropriate tool will be somewhat disguised. The inappropriate tool I used was a flat-bladed screwdriver.
I also had some fairly useless iPod Opening Tools; they were no good for starting to lift the end-covers, but once one end was up, you could slide them around the edge of the rest of the cap and not scratch your iPod’s aluminium case.
The end-covers take a little encouragement — they’re each held on with a bit of glue. Once you’ve removed them, place them somewhere safe where they won’t fall on the floor and get squashed under the boots of the construction worker seated next to you.
- Now, this is the part where you must listen carefully, because here is the one thing I remembered from the article I read in July: You have to pop off the metal clip from the bottom of the iPod to get at the connector for the clickwheel. If you don’t disconnect the clickwheel, it’s almost certain that you’ll totally destroy the cable in a subsequent step.
The clip is annoyingly difficult to remove. The article above makes it seem easy, but it’s not. I had a pair of tweezers with me which, at first, seemed like an appropriate tool to use here, but they weren’t.
I ended up just sticking the little jeweler’s screwdriver through each of the 4 little round holes and forced each corner of the clip to release without snapping the shaft of the screwdriver, which, at one stage seemed inevitable given the amount of force I needed to apply.
Once the clip is free, put it away safely with your end-covers to prevent it escaping.
- Remove the clickwheel connector. This is fairly easy to do, but very important, nonetheless (see step 2). The most appropriate tool I found for this job was my thumbnail.
- Unscrew and remove the two phillips-head screws from the top of the iPod. These are small, and will fall out the holes in the little plastic bag in which you’re keeping the end-covers and metal clip. This is where the one redeeming aspect of working on a tray-table comes into play; the round indent for holding a cup will stop your screws from rolling away.
- Go back and make doubly sure that you’ve completed step 3, (this is the ‘subsequent step’ mentioned in step 2.) then carefully slide/pull/push the innards out. Take care not to get dust, fingerprints or construction worker on the screen – it needs to stay clean!
- The battery is now quite obvious, and is kinda held on by that sticky-sided foam tape stuff.
Unplug the battery lead from the main board.
- Now try and pull the battery off without damaging the sticky foam pad thing.
I know, I couldn’t do it either; half of the sticky pad tape stuff stayed on the board and half stayed on the battery. Nevermind.
- Plug in your new battery and fit it up against the mainboard; you can try and make it stick to the remaining foam thingy if you want.
- Carefully side the whole assembly back into the case. Yes, it will fit without you having to force it; there are slots that it slides into, and you may need to adjust the angle at which you’re sliding it in.
- Pick your two screws up off the floor from under the seat in front of you and replace them. I found that mine weren’t done up very tight to start with, so I didn’t over-tighten them when I replaced them.
- Reconnect the clickwheel connector
- Replace the metal clip. It’s nearly as tricky to put back in as it was to get out. Try not to damage the case as you force it back it; teeth gritted and hands shaking, and praying that you’re not going to slip and stab your hand (or someone else’s) with the inappropriate jeweler’s screwdriver.
- Another important bit is coming up, so stay alert. Replace the bottom end-cover. The residual glue should still be sufficiently sticky to hold it on. I wasn’t prepared for the eventuality that it wasn’t, but thankfully it’s still stuck, even today.
Pause before you replace the top cover — this is an important bit: look into the open top of the iPod and check the position of the ‘Hold’ switch and make sure that the outer switch on the top end-cover is in the same position when you fit it back on. If it’s not, you’ll probably damage the wee microswitch.
- I think you’ll find that you’re finished. If you discover that there are no bits left over, you can do as I did and now start grinning like an idiot, just hoping that someone will ask why you look so happy so you can, in minute detail, explain to them what you’ve just done.
So that’s it. It took me longer to write it up that to do the swap.
If you break anything along the way, here are two important pieces of information: a) I will not be held responsible. I might commiserate with you if I feel so inclined, but I hereby place all responsibility in your own geeky hands, and b) replacement Apple iPod Mini parts are cheap and easy to get from ifixit.com. So you can relax a bit.
I know this article looks long and boring; it’s because there are no photos.
I was holding the iPod in one hand, a spudger in the other, and an array of screwdrivers between my teeth. My nose is not dexterous enough to hold and operate a camera. Go look at the article I refer to if you want photos.