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Music Geeks Are Retrofitting Old iPods to Keep the Perfect MP3 Player Alive

Upgrading an old iPod’s battery and storage drive makes it a potent companion, even in the age of Spotify.

Apple hasn't sold the iPod Classic since September 2014, when it trimmed the iPod lineup down to the iPod Touch, iPod Nano, and iPod Shuffle. The message from Apple was clear: the iPod, that famously "perfect thing" that was designed to hold your music library in your pocket, no longer made sense in a world where when tens of millions of songs were now merely an app away.

But for some music fans, the high cost of mobile data, and a desire to have their whole library on their person at all times, has them returning to the old standby.


A quick search on eBay finds several vendors selling refurbished models of old iPods that include brand new batteries and storage drives. The drives in these refurbished models, which tend to go for around $300 to $400, are typically high-capacity solid state drives (SSDs) with as much as 256GB of space—enough for more than 50,000 songs encoded at typical bitrates.

"I've [refurbished] four iPod Classics and six iPod Minis," one iPod reseller, Tired8281, told me recently via Reddit private message. "They all sold, and I made a nice profit on all but one." These refurbished iPods, he explained, are all outfitted with brand new batteries and, depending on the model, either a CompactFlash card or an SD card. Both solutions replace the mechanical hard drives that were originally present on the portable media player, increasing both battery life and the device's responsiveness since there's no moving parts to slow things down.

For others like Anthony, a member of a large, invite-only BitTorrent music site who owns a refurbished 240GB model, the appeal of these refurbished, souped-up iPods is clear to diehard music fans who are unwilling to outsource their listening habits to the cloud.

"No streaming service has everything, and the necessity of an internet connection to use is still a barrier that can be pretty limiting to many users," he recently told me via private message. "[Refurbished iPods] is not for everyone, but for those music lovers unwilling to compromise their digital collections' size and mobility, it would absolutely be my first recommendation."

Anthony, a recent university graduate, also attributes the interest in these refurbished iPods to the fact that consumer tech companies are no longer producing high-capacity portable media players, leaving a "sizable hole" to be filled for people who want to carry their entire music library with them without relying upon a streaming music service. (Not all New York City subway stations currently have cellular data or Wi-Fi, for example, so unless you previously synced that one song that just popped into your head you're out of luck.) After all, it's a lot easier to sync thousands of albums from your PC or Mac to a refurbished iPod than it is to sync all of that over the internet with something like Spotify.

"For my purposes, which do not in any way necessitate the need for a touchscreen or ability to juggle apps with my music collection, the [refurbished iPod] has been a very satisfying purchase," Anthony added. "[It] functions very well for what it is designed to do and offers a truly improved experience over the stock iPods or any other portable MP3 player for the price."