Though MP3 players have limited appeal, they're not completely pointless. Why have an MP3 player when you can listen to music on your phone, you ask?
- Streaming music eats data
- Downloaded music takes up storage space
- Listening to music drains your phone's battery life
Aside from these reasons, a supplemental MP3 player eliminates the anxiety of:
- Dropping your phone while on a run
- Breaking it at the gym
- Getting it stolen on your commute.
These are all things you should consider when using your phone as your primary way of listening to music, especially if you use it a lot. If you find yourself in the position of picking up a new MP3 player, the following is a round-up of ones we think are worth considering.
The iPod Shuffle is Apple's smallest and cheapest MP3 player. It has a sleek, aluminum design with a built-in clip for carrying it along during your workouts and a long-lasting battery. It doesn't have a screen or Siri, so you can't quickly pick what to listen to and it's limited to only 2GB of storage. It is, however, only $49, £40 or AU$75.
Similar to the iPod Shuffle, the SanDisk Clip Jam has a built-in clip to easily wear at the gym or on a run. Unlike the iPod Shuffle, this MP3 player has a screen and 8GB of internal storage that's expandable another 32GB via microSD card expansion slot. With a lightweight, plastic design, it's not as stylish as the iPod Shuffle, but it is cheaper ($40, £30, directly converts to AU$54) and doesn't require iTunes (huzzah!).
There's one feature that makes the iPod Nano stand out among the previous two: Bluetooth. You can pair your wireless Bluetooth headphones or speakers with the pocket-sized MP3 player. It holds up to 16GB of music but, unfortunately, you still have to tether it to your computer to transfer music and, at $150, £129 or AU$219 it costs almost three times as much as the Shuffle.
Sony has been making headphone-based music players for years, and the NW-WS413 adds a twist: it's fully waterproof, even in salt water. That means you can load up 4GB of music and listen to your tunes even when you're in the pool or crashing through waves at the beach. And at $80, £80, AU$169 they're not crazy expensive, either. (Look for a full CNET review soon.)
The Apple iPod Touch is basically the iPhone without any cell service. You can download apps for streaming music, like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music, and sync your Bluetooth headphones/speakers with it. It comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB variations and the entry-level 16GB model only costs $50 more than the iPod Nano, starting at $200, £159, or AU$279.
Serious listener? Step up to a high-res music player
Note that this list is mostly focused on inexpensive players that you'd use in those cases outlined above, when your phone isn't convenient. If you're an audiophile looking for the best possible sound quality, however, check out our list of best MP3 players -- but be prepared to pay a premium of $300 or more for brands like Sony, Cowon, Astell & Kern or Pono.