It may have been a while since you’ve used a standalone MP3 player. Most of us now stream our music through services like Spotify or Apple Music rather than maintain a physical or digital music collection.
However, our smartphones aren’t always the best way to listen to music. Battery life, data allowances, and screen time restrictions all impact our music playback. If you’re after a separate device to listen to music on, we can help.
Here are the best MP3 players you can buy today for all budgets.
Best MP3 Player Overall:
Apple iPod Touch 256GB
While Apple has discontinued the legendary iPod Classic, the iPod Touch 256GB is a worthy successor. That said, the iPod Touch barely resembles the comparatively basic iPod Classic. The Touch is more like an iPhone without the cellular connection. It has access to the App Store, runs Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, and comes with apps like Apple Music pre-installed. You can load your own music via iTunes too.
Unlike many standalone MP3 players, the iPod Touch has an 8MP primary camera with a 1.2MP front-facing camera. While you can only access the internet via Wi-Fi, the most significant difference between the iPhone and the iPod Touch is price. You’d pay almost double for the equivalent amount of storage on an iPhone. If you don’t need 256GB of storage, you can save some money by opting for the 32GB or 128GB model instead.
Best Sony MP3 Player:
Sony Walkman NW-ZX300
Sony were the originators of personal audio with their Walkman cassette and CD players. Although never as popular as the ubiquitous iPod, the Sony Walkman MP3 players continue to offer great value for money. The Sony Walkman NW-ZX300 is one of the best MP3 players for audiophiles, too.
The NW-ZX300 weighs 157g, has a 30-hour battery life, and charges in 5.5 hours. It also runs the purpose-built Sony Original OS, rather than a mobile operating system like Android or iOS. The device supports a comprehensive selection of file formats, including Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) files, and can even upscale your compressed audio files thanks to a feature called DSEE HX.
The rigid aluminum frame is designed to resist electrical noise, giving clear audio reproduction and playback. The NW-ZX300 comes with a balanced plug for headphones, providing dedicated right and left audio channels. There’s support for Bluetooth as well, using Sony’s LDAC to transfer data at nearly three times the rate of standard Bluetooth profiles.
Best Waterproof MP3 Player:
The FINIS Duo is among the best waterproof MP3 players on the market, but it is also fairly unique. The Duo is primarily aimed at swimmers who want to be able to listen to music underwater. To that end, the device is IPX8 rated for waterproofing up to 3 meters for 30 minutes.
It is unlike other MP3 players on this list, though, as it uses bone conduction, rather than headphones, to playback your music. The Duo can be placed onto a headband or the strap of your goggles and rests on your cheekbone. You won’t have to recharge it too often either, as the battery lasts up to seven hours. It has 4GB of onboard storage for MP3 or WMA audio files.
Best Cheap MP3 Player:
Soulcker 16GB MP3 Player
In their heyday, cheap MP3 players would lack features or storage space—not anymore. The Soulcker 16GB MP3 Player is an affordable, but feature-packed, option. This 16GB MP3 player has SD card support so that you can expand your storage up to an additional 128GB. It also has a Bluetooth 4.0 connection, making it a breeze to connect to your favorite Bluetooth headphones and speakers.
The device supports all major audio file formats; MP3, WAV, WMA, APE, FLAC, and AAC. There is a built-in speaker, an FM radio, support for ebooks, a 2.4-inch color screen, and a voice recorder. It even offers 55 hours of playback from a two-hour charge. Of course, if you’re after a standalone MP3 player, you may not need all of these features. However, for the price, it’s an excellent choice.
Best MP3 Player for Kids:
You may not want to give your children something easy to damage or expensive. If you’re after an affordable, but resilient MP3 player, then the Mighty Vibe is an excellent choice. The device is the spiritual successor to the discontinued iPod Shuffle but has one key difference; Spotify. The Mighty Vibe allows you to download up to 1,000 tracks from Spotify to listen to on the device, without your phone.
This makes it the perfect MP3 player for kids—download their favorite Spotify playlist to the device, and they can listen for up to five hours on a single charge using wired or wireless headphones. The player weighs just 20g, and is water and drop resistant. It does, however, require a Spotify Premium subscription to download music.
The Best MP3 Player for You
Although your smartphone can playback music, it isn’t always the best choice. A dedicated MP3 player may work better for you, especially if you have your own music library. They often have more storage and better battery life too. That’s not to mention that they are often significantly cheaper than a smartphone.
Before you add music to your new MP3 player, you’ll want to make sure your music library is organized. These tools to manage your MP3 collection may help you out.