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Thursday, March 12, 2009, 08:20 pm PT (11:20 pm ET)

Inside Apple's new third-gen iPod shuffle (teardown photos)

The latest, most petit version of Apple's iPod shuffle music player can be disassembled without major challenge, according to a new tear-down report, which notes that the player is compatible with third-party headphones if all you want to do is listen to music straight and not control playback or volume.

Apple's third-generation shuffle was announced just yesterday with 4GB of storage and a new aluminum design that's smaller than a AA battery. The controls, somewhat controversially, have been moved to the earbud cord, with VoiceOver speech technology for navigation.

The Apple teardown experts at iFixit have posted their first look at the new shuffle, observing that a single MacBook Pro 17" weighs as much as 286 of the miniscule players. Even more tiny is the battery, about the size of a dime, with a 73 mAh capacity representing less than half the size of the power reservoirs used in previous shuffles. The weight of the entire shuffle is less than 11 grams, and the rear cover and clip by themselves weigh as much as the rest of the components.

As part of its examination, the iFixit team found the new third-generation shuffle isn't compatible with the second generation dock, nor did the third-generation cable work with a second-generation iPod shuffle.

"Interestingly enough, normal headphones can still be used to listen to music," the solutions provider says. "The only drawback: without Apple's proprietary headphone playback control, you will not be able to change songs or adjust the volume."

Before taking it apart, the technicians couldn't resist placing the diminutive device into a police line-up for a size comparison against a quarter, nickel, dime, PEZ dispenser, SanDisk flash drive, and paper binder clip. While it's not the row's smallest suspect, the shuffle is certainly guilty of being significantly shorter than the dedicated flash drive and just slightly taller than the binder clip.

iFixIt


"We begin by inserting a metal spudger into a crevice between the rear cover and the rest of the shuffle," iFixit wrote. "Inserting the metal spudger creates a gap big enough to insert an iPod opening tool." Sliding the tool across the length of the gap dislodges the left side, then the same procedure is applied to the other side to pry the device open. Once inside, the team was impressed with the clean, simplified interior design ("Is this the future? A single IC, a battery, and some user interface components").

With the outer casing removed, the electronics and battery weigh just four grams, or less than a single sheet of paper. While it's a little bit of a challenge to separate the two halves, once inside there's only one screw to remove.

iFixIt


iFixIt


iFixit noted the back aluminum cover is "fairly easy to bend," recommending caution whenever dealing with that part. With the full shuffle taken apart, the CPU, RAM, and 4GB of flash memory can be seen on a multi-layered stack connected to the battery, while the headphone jack and shuffle switch come out as one unit. According to a stamp inside the casing, the device appears to have been built on March 3rd, meaning iFixit's lucky shuffle had been assembled no more than nine days before being dismantled.

Below are all of the internals ("There are not many parts in this iPod") laid out for comparison with a dime the iFixit team said they found inside (geek humor).

iFixIt


For the full disassembly guide, complete with additional details and photos, is available at iFixit's website.