The Unauthorized Guide to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Repair (2013)
Chapter 12. iPod nano 5th and 7th Generation Disassembly and Reassembly
I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for the iPod nano. Sure, I can play music on my iPod touches or my iPhones. However, you just can’t beat the portability of the nano. I also enjoy that the nano has always been a single-purpose device.
When I’m out running with my nano in my pocket, I am not tempted to check my email or jump online because those options simply are not available to me. The nano is a simple device and is relatively easy to take apart if you are willing to accept the following statement as truth:
After you disassemble an iPod nano, there is little to no chance that you can reassemble it to the way it was before you tore it apart.
The previous remark speaks to the “disposability” aspect of the nano. I can essentially guarantee you that although you may be able to disassemble and reassemble the nano successfully, the fit and finish might be off, there might be cosmetic damage, or both.
Note: Use the Right Nomenclature
Please remember how important it is to use our terminology precisely. Avoid calling the 5th generation iPod nano “iPod nano 5G.” Remember that we use the G designation to denote carrier network speed. Moreover, Apple stylizes this product name as “iPod nano,” not “iPod Nano.” I don’t mean to get distracted by semantics here, friends—I simply want to ensure that we understand each other when we talk shop.
In this chapter I selected the 5th generation nano for the primary teardown subject. My reasons for doing this are as follows:
Nowadays, all iDevices use capacitive touch screens. Including an iDevice with the old-school tactile scroll wheel adds a sense of history and nostalgia to this book.
The 5th (and 4th) generation nanos have a very interesting method of construction; it’s the ultimate in space-saving efficiency.
The 5th generation iPod nano is my favorite model of all nano models.
In Table 12.1, you can see that the 5th gen nano holds its own quite nicely as compared to the latest (as of this writing) 7th generation model.
TABLE 12.1 Comparison Between iPod nano 5th Generation and iPod nano 7th Generation
Figures 12.1 through 12.4 show you the external structure of the iPod nano 5th generation.
FIGURE 12.1 iPod nano 5th generation top view.
FIGURE 12.2 iPod nano 5th generation front view.
FIGURE 12.3 iPod nano 5th generation rear view.
FIGURE 12.4 iPod nano 5th generation bottom view.
Just for grins, compare Figures 12.1 through 12.4 with Figures 12.5 through 12.8, which shows the external organization of the iPod nano 7th generation, the latest version as of this writing in spring 2013.
FIGURE 12.5 iPod nano 7th generation top view.
FIGURE 12.6 iPod nano 7th generation front view.
FIGURE 12.7 iPod nano 7th generation rear view.
FIGURE 12.8 iPod nano 7th generation bottom view.
On with the show! Let’s start by performing a full teardown of the 5th generation nano. I follow that up with a mini-teardown of the 7th generation nano.
Phillips #00 screwdriver
Metal spudger and plastic opening tools
iFixit “guitar picks” (you can use traditional, thin-gauge guitar picks if you have them)
1. Start at the top of the nano. Use a metal or plastic opening tool to gently pry the top bezel off the iPod nano (see Figure 12.9). As expected, you encounter quite a bit of resistance from the liberal amount of adhesive used to bind the components together.
FIGURE 12.9 Removing the top panel.
2. Use your plastic opening tool to pry the hold switch button off the hold switch plate. This component comes off the nano completely.
3. While you’re at it, use your screwdriver to remove the two retaining screws that I call out in Figure 12.10.
FIGURE 12.10 Removing the hold switch button and retaining screws.
Tip: Screws Inserted at Angle
These screws are angled in from the edge of the iPod. Be mindful not to strip the screw heads during your work.
4. Use your plastic opening tool to pull the hold switch plate out of the nano (see Figure 12.11).
FIGURE 12.11 Removing the hold switch plate.
Caution: Slow Down!
I can’t stress this enough: Work slowly because the hold switch plate is tethered to the iPod nano by means of a delicate ribbon cable. It is far too easy to rip this ribbon cable.
5. Lift out the glass screen by inserting your plastic opening tool between the outer case and the top-left or right edge of the glass panel as shown in Figure 12.12. A common technique is to lift the display a bit, slide a guitar pick or another opening tool into the gap to hold it open, and then apply pressure in another location on the panel. Your goal is to loosen the liberal adhesive that holds the glass in place.
FIGURE 12.12 Removing the glass panel.
6. Turn your attention to the bottom of the nano. Use a heat gun, on the lowest setting, to loosen the adhesive that holds the bottom bezel on the nano. Remove the bezel by using your plastic opening tool. Figure 12.13 shows the loosened bezel being removed.
FIGURE 12.13 Removing the bottom bezel.
7. Use your Phillips #00 screwdriver to remove the three retaining screws on the bottom of the nano (see Figure 12.14). Again, the two outer screws are angled inward and are therefore extremely easy to strip.
8. When the screws are gone, take out the retaining clip for the 30-pin connector.
FIGURE 12.14 Removing the retaining screws on the iPod nano.
9. Remove the click wheel by inserting a metal spudger into the slot above the Dock connector and gently prying up the bottom edge of the click wheel (see Figure 12.15). You can insert the spudger or an iFixit guitar pick into the gap underneath the click wheel. You can then slowly work your way around the click wheel until it pops out of the nano completely.
FIGURE 12.15 Removing the click wheel using a pair of spudgers.
Caution: Take Your Time
Beware of the ribbon cable that connects the click wheel to the logic board. Work slowly and carefully.
10. To remove the click wheel entirely, lift the click wheel out of the way with one hand and use a plastic opening tool to pry the click wheel ribbon cable connector from the logic board (see Figure 12.16). Note that the figure does not show the plastic opening tool.
FIGURE 12.16 After lifting the click wheel, use a plastic opening tool to pry the click wheel ribbon from the logic board.
11. You might need to use your heat gun to soften the adhesive underneath the camera/microphone cover located on the back of the nano. Next, use a metal spudger to pry up the camera/microphone cover, as shown in Figure 12.17. Be prepared: You will likely scratch the paint on your nano in performing this step.
FIGURE 12.17 Removing the camera/microphone cover.
12. There is a small white retainer between the camera and microphone that keeps the inner components from sliding around. Insert a pushpin into the hole at the corner of the retainer and lift it out of the case.
13. Insert your metal spudger between the outer case and the battery and try to dislodge as much adhesive as possible (see Figure 12.18). Your goal is to slide the battery and logic board assembly out of the outer case like you’d remove a stick of chewing gum from its package.
FIGURE 12.18 Loosening the battery adhesive.
14. Now comes the fun part. Using a plastic spudger, push the logic board assembly through the outer case and out the bottom (see Figure 12.19). Be patient, and remember that the hold switch assembly is still tethered to the logic board by means of that crazily thin ribbon cable.
FIGURE 12.19 Extracting the logic board, LCD, and battery from the outer case.
15. You should be able to lift the battery perpendicular to the logic board. At the same time, observe a number of solder pads holding the battery to the logic board. Use tweezers to remove the strip of yellow tape that covers those pads (see Figure 12.20).
FIGURE 12.20 Uncovering the battery solder pads.
16. If you need to replace the battery and are brave, you can use your solder gun to desolder the battery from the logic board; I’ve highlighted the solder pads in Figure 12.21.
FIGURE 12.21 The battery solder joints revealed.
Thanks to our friends at iFixit, Figure 12.22 shows a completely disassembled iPod nano 5th generation; you should recognize all of the parts in the following image.
FIGURE 12.22 The iPod nano 5th generation, completely disassembled. (Photo courtesy of ifixit.com.)
Note: iPod nano 7th Gen Disassembly
If you want a complete walkthrough of iPod nano 7th Gen disassembly, see the wiki page at iFixit (http://is.gd/rRlxv1).
iPod nano 5th Generation Reassembly Notes
If you happen to sever the hold switch ribbon cable, don’t worry about it too much. The iPod will still work, although you obviously won’t be able to lock it. (That is a deal breaker for me, however, because I love the mechanical controls on this generation of the nano.)
You will doubtless need to “rob Peter to pay Paul” inasmuch as getting the nano back together requires you to co-op and re-use as much adhesive as you can from the disassembly. The good news is that the logic board, battery, and LCD slide into the main case. The bad news is that your iPod nano will likely not retain its original fit and finish.
iPod nano 7th Generation Quick-Disassembly
In this section we provide a (very) high-level schematic overview of iPod nano 7th generation disassembly.
The good news is that you can use the same tools you used for the 5th generation disassembly.
1. Use your plastic opening tool to remove the tab at the lower back of the nano, as shown in Figure 12.23. This little tab is the “magic door” through which the rest of the disassembly is accomplished.
FIGURE 12.23 Beginning the nano 7th generation disassembly. (Photo courtesy of ifixit.com.)
2. Pry up the display assembly from the rear case by applying your plastic opening tool to the seam at the side of the case. (See Figure 12.24 for an example of how it looks after it’s been opened.)
FIGURE 12.24 Cracking open the 7th generation nano. (Photo courtesy of ifixit.com.)
Caution: Wires Abound
Expect plenty of adhesive and hidden wires. This iDevice was NOT intended for do-it-yourself repair, I promise you.
3. Figure 12.25 shows the exploded, fully disassembled nano. To me the most interesting component is the new Lightning connector, which replaces the old 30-pin Dock connector we’ve grown to love (or at least grudgingly tolerate) over the years. I spend a lot of time talking about the Lightning connector later on in this book.
FIGURE 12.25 The 7th generation nano, fully disassembled. (Photo courtesy of ifixit.com.)
About the Mysterious Pixo OS
As you know, the 6th and 7th generation iPod nanos have touch screen interfaces and support limited finger gestures. The nano 7th gen interface in particular looks particularly iOS-like. But does the nano actually run a stripped-down version of the iOS?
Apple certainly isn’t telling us anything, but the industry consensus says “no.” Consider the following facts, some of which I sourced from an excellent blog post from Roughlydrafted.com (http://is.gd/QZcG13):
The Home button on the 7th generation iPod nano uses a circle icon to differentiate the device from the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad Home buttons, which feature a square-shaped icon.
The apps included on the iPod nano are round, whereas app icons in iOS are square.
The current iPod nano has absolutely no internet connectivity or capability of running iOS apps.
The prevailing belief is that the iPod nano runs what is called the Pixo OS. Pixo has been around since 1994, and at one time, early in the iPod nano’s lifecycle, Apple credited Pixo OS in its About iPod menu. Additional evidence that points toward Pixo OS driving the nanos lies in the fact that Pixo was founded by former Apple employees; specifically members of the Newton project.