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Apple Hardware Longevity

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Today, my daughter put my old iPod Mini (s aapl) into the iHome clock radio in her room and was surprised to see it spring to life.  Surprised, but not nearly as surprised as I was. Astonished is probably a more accurate word for my reaction. Not only had that iPod lasted me for years in my car, at the gym, at work, and at home, I had used it until the battery no longer held a charge.   The Mini came with me on trips around the country, driving and flying, my constant companion. At one point I loaded Linux on it, just because I could, became tired of it and set it back to factory defaults.

After the battery gave up the ghost, the Mini continued to work great, as long as it was plugged in, for a couple more years. After the Mini refused to power on when plugged in, (or so I thought) I put it up, and generally forgot about it until my two year old son somehow found it and decided that he needed it.  Since it was busted anyway, I let him have it, and that’s when the real abuse began.

My son dropped it on the concrete, used it as a hammer, and may have even taken a dive in the tub with it once or twice.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a device as throughly beaten as this old Mini. For months, what was my companion became my son’s, inside and out. So, imagine my surprise when, after months of neglect and mistreatment, the Mini powered on and filled my daughter’s room with music once more. My old iPod is not without its scars, the click wheel doesn’t work, and the black and white display is a little patchy, but it still accepts the buttons on the iHome.

Have you had a similar, jaw dropping, “it still works” moment with your Apple gear?  I’d love to hear about it, sound off in the comments!

Image courtesy of Flickr user mfajardo

62 Responses to “Apple Hardware Longevity”

  1. Rodrigo

    Well, until last year I was playing around with an old computer, it worked fine. The mouse is not tracking correctly but the cpu works perfectly. We actually don’t use that machine because of the obsolete software, just because of that. The computer is a Macintosh LC III that my dad bought in 1991, that’s 19 years ago!!! I’m really amazed at it’s performance because, even though it’s not precisely fast, it’s still working as if it were new. We also have a 10 year (more or less) old PowerMac G3 with Panther still running. Apple machines just work :)

  2. I really like Apple products… but… I’ve gone through two screens, am on my third hard drive (the other two died), and have a case that is cracked and falling apart on my MacBook. Mac hardware isn’t all great, unfortunately. I can see why they switched to the unibody design as the previous MacBook case blows.

    • Yep, I was really disappointed with the older MacBook case too. The unibody design is what it should have been all along, miles away from therevious design. I also thought that the iBook case was higher quality than the original MacBooks.

  3. I crashed on my skateboard with a powerbook g3 in my bag. It was in a case but when I got home some of the plastic casing had cracked and a piece had broken off. My jacket and knee were also damaged in the crash. I didn’t think the computer would start up but it did. I continued to use it until I sold it on ebay a year or two later.

  4. Yep…I still have a PowerBook 100 that works like the day I bought it…33hz processor, 4MB RAM, and a 20MB hard drive. The battery started to swell, and had to be “professionally removed”. Also, one of my dogs pee’d on my 15″ MBP the other day…seeped into the battery compartment. After 2 hours of taking apart and cleaning, it is fine. People wonder why we pay more for Apple products….THIS is why.

  5. Apple hardware definitely lasts longer than the PC counterparts.

    I have a 2nd generation iPod that still works (bought this 9 years ago… in 2001). And I have a PowerBook G4 that still runs (bought this 7 years ago… in 2003). Right now, I’m using a Unibody MacBook Pro.

  6. I spilled partially mixed whey protein all over the keyboard of my Macbook. The machine died immediately and I wiped off what I could. I then left it open and upside down in my tub until it dried. I left it in this position in my closet, and after a week, it was risen.

    I then called Apple, as I was told when I bought Applecare that they would take care of accidental spills. It turns out the salesman was a little over-zealous and it was not covered at all. In an act of great generosity (although I suppose they were just doing what they said they would. Either way, they have bought me as theirs forever), they replaced the entire face of the machine.

    It’s been a year since the spill and there are absolutely no signs of the goop that once seeped through my machine.

  7. I still have a 3rd gen iPod the ones with the sweet red 4 buttons and the touch sensitive wheel. God I loved that thing. Bought it pretty much when it first came out. Unfortunately it did not last as long as I’d hoped (I would probably still use it as a car iPod). I’ve been through two batteries, replaced the harddrive and now I’m fairly certain it’s dead. It still powers on but promptly shuts off and won’t sync with iTunes. Lasted me 5 solid years though, and I beat the living bejesus out of the thing. I’d listen to it for literally 8 hours a day, rain, sun, snow everything.

    Makes me nostalgic.

    Oh my parents also still have a lampshade iMac from good ol 2002. Sucker is still going strong, only problem we had was a harddrive failure but it was covered under Applecare. She’s still going strong though. Unfortunately because I want my parents to get a new computer!

    I also have 2 clamshell iBooks that work flawlessly, one with 3 hours battery. Damn I have too many macs…

  8. one can find so many of these kinds of stories for all kinds of brands. This might seem out of context but reliability is something that Apple needs to improve on the macs. they are probably above average but macs are (on average) not the most reliable notebooks on the market. they are not as reliable as the toshiba’s or even the sony’s. what the apple hardwares have are original ideas, e.g. magnetic power cable. and I’m not just talking about the notorious macbooks. even the macbook pros that people spend their hard earned bucks on are disappointing in my opinion. coping with heating macbook pros under your palms is frustrating enought but dealing with reliaiblity issues in spite of spending all that money is just too much. I’m refraining to buy a mbp mainly for that reason. I just believe that the people deserve better. this post might disappoint some mac fans but I’m defending the interests of the people not Apple computer. sorry! :(

  9. I have a 14 iBook that I dropped on concrete from 4.5 feet. It was in my backpack at the time, but it had no padding. I was quite relieved to find that the computer was not damaged in any way and it powered on perfectly and continued to work for another year with no trouble.

  10. TheOtherGeoff

    my 1992 NeXTstation Mono still boots, after 8 years of storing in my Northern Plains unheated garage. The rubber feet have corroded off, and the fan has a bearing scream. Alas, my 1988 (and upgraded to 040 in ’90) NeXTcube doesn’t drive it’s video anymore… but I can still telnet into it.

  11. Last I checked (about two years ago) my Apple //gs and my dad’s Apple ][+ ran just fine. I’m typing this on a 5-year old iMac that has seen 250+ days of use a year, never been brought in for hardware repair or software problems, and which has on multiple occasions gone >1 month between reboots. I’d kind of like a new iMac but I really can’t justify it – this one works great for everything I need.

  12. Shock Me

    I have a purple G3 iMac and an original 128K Macintosh from 1984. Both boot and still work as designed.

    Casualities include Grey iMac with WiFi and firewire (along with its heartbreakingly good backward compatibility), blue and white iBook (died at age 5) and a 2003 PowerBook 15″ that just died in January.

    Still functional Macs that left me as sales or gifts and gifts to others include Mac SE, MacTV, Mac II, and Peforma 6115.

    Original iPod, 40 GB color iPod, original iPhone, and now a new 16GB WiFi iPad to tide me over until the iPad gets a next generation 4G wireless radio or AT&T finally allows tethering.

  13. I have found Apple products, while elegant and with a great user experience, to be losers when it came to reliability. My iMac G5 first generation had a bad motherboard within 3 months. Of course Apple replaced it for free. Then at 9 months (6 months later) it happened again. Again, free replacement. At this point I bought the Applecare. About a month until my applecare was up it went out again and I got it replaced. 3 months later I have a paperweight. That isn’t even counting the optical drive and harddrives that went out (both replaced by applecare).

    I have had similar issues with my various iPods over the years although my Mac Minis have been very solid.

    That being said, no one beats Apple on customer service.

  14. In 2004 I bought a 667 MHz PowerBook G4 “DVI” from a used/refurbished mac website. I used it through a year and a half of high school, taking it to school often in a book bag full of stuff. In college I studied Computer Science, so I put it through it’s paces running Eclipse and Xcode, as well as browsing the web while sitting in class. When 10.5 came out I was stunned that Apple was no longer supporting my still working hardware. Around my second year of college the original harddrive died, and I replaced it with a smoking fast 7200 RPM IDE drive from newegg. It was like getting a new laptop. By this time I had started working part time as a sports photographer. I installed Adobe CS3 on it, primarily for Photoshop. To this day it can handle RAW image processing from a Canon 1-D Mark III, which I feed it regularly at NCAA Basketball games. I spent three summers as a backpacking guide of sorts working in the mountains of northern New Mexico. I spent lots of time hiking and taking pictures, and I edited all of them, thousands per summer, on my PowerBook G4. I kept the thing stored in my trunk in my tent in basecamp for a total of 9 months. It had to endure temperatures ranging from 30 to 90 degrees in an environment ranging from dusty to snowing. The only upgrade I have made to it other than the harddrive was adding an additional 256 MB of ram, to bring the total to a staggering 768 MB.

    So after almost 9 years of life, a year of high school, 4 years of college, and hours of professional workload, my PowerBook “TiBook” G4 “DVI” is still cruising along. My only two problems I have ever had with it were the harddrive crashed (easily fixed thanks to a backup, even the physical replacement wasn’t very hard), and a case early on, maybe a few months after I bought it, where the screen hinges cracked. I took it in to Apple the next day and amazingly, in 2004, it was still under warranty from 2001 or 2002 because the original purchaser had AppleCare. Not only was the repair to my display free, and great quality, but Apple techs also diagnosed a problem with my speakers that I didn’t mention, and replaced those. I was very impressed with the service.

    I have a PowerMac G5 as my primary computer, so I don’t really use the laptop as my “Daily Driver” of sorts. But everytime a new line of Apple laptops comes out, I consider upgrading but then I think to myself, “What for? My PowerBook does everything that I need it to do.”

  15. Alvaro Rodríguez

    I have an old Mac II FX with system 8.6 on it and 8 MB of RAM. You can still do e-mail and surf the web with it (old Netscape browser). Works like a charm.

  16. My 7 year old dropped his ipod while coming out of the school bus in October. After the snow thawed on a warm December day, one of the parents at the stop found it and returned it. About one day later, we tried it and it still works today.

  17. A few years ago my 1.5 year old Ipod got a few drops of water on it and never worked again. I brought it in to the Apple store and since the warranty was only 1 year they it would cost $100 to repair. I am a big Apple fan but I have to say I have always thought that Durability and service were always big weak points.

    • Sorry, you got your iPod wet and you’re blaming Apple for it breaking?

      The 1 year warranty is irrelevant, it doesn’t cover liquid damage so it should never have been a free repair/replacement.

      It’s very simple with Apple and all other companies: You break it, you pay

  18. I still own a ipod mini 4gb / jan 2005 .. it still works fantastic though had battery replaced once & does not have much battery life as the newer ones but is still really good & Im happy :) It has traveled so much with me & its without a ssd / flash drive!! It has fallen down numerous times from the table still it stands strong !

  19. James T.

    Well, I don’t know if this counts, but I dug my Apple II+ out of my dad’s garage on Sunday, where it has sat since the fall of ’85. It powered up just fine, and I resumed a game of Zork I started about a quarter of a century ago.


  20. Mustang Paul

    My first generation 5 gig iPod is filled with Blues and hooked to my home stereo. Everything, but the battery, work as it did day one. I keep it plugged in to a power source, so no problem. It is showing no signs of giving up the ghost anytime soon.

  21. Sent a first gen. Ipod Nano through the wash cycle, twice. I thought it was toast. But after drying out a couple of days, it powered up and I still use it today for the gym.

  22. I spilled an entire Cup O’ Noodles on my PowerBook 3400’s keyboard. The computer fizzled and popped and crackled, and went down for the count. I dived under the table to pull the plug, but the computer was dead, I assumed. Went black. I disassembled the laptop and dried off the mobo with towels. No luck. Months later I powered it up — and it worked just fine. It still works to this day (although I use a 15″ MacBook Pro now).

  23. Richard Walsh

    My iPhone 3G went through a wash cycle after visiting my family for a weekend. My dad thought he was helping me out while I slept in for once.

    I had come home, and just tossed it over to my room mate (who happens to be an engineer). He popped her open and today she works fine as if it never met the dark hole filled with laundry detergent and fabric softener.

    Works as if nothing ever happened to it (even though I still had it replaced at full price). Only thing WiFi takes a little longer to respond when re-establishing connection. But now it sits as our boxee remote in our living room. I use it as my back up (if and when it needs to be).

  24. I have only just stopped using my vintage 1992 Duo 230. My old Performa 5200 is still working in a local school, my tangerine iBook lasted nearly 10 years and many airline flights, the Ruby iMac lasted about 9 years, my imagewriter I lasted nearly 20. In fact if we could still find ribbons, it’d probably still be in service.

  25. farshitect

    Yeah… spilled apple juice on my white macbook (not without recognising the funny) last summer, dried it out and it still worked although with a splodgy screen and loud whirring. Thought rather than paying the £500 repair Apple quoted me, I’d wait for it to thoroughly die and get a new pro or imac, still waiting….