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The best MP3 player is capable of holding thousands of songs for immediate playback, keeping you in the groove throughout the day. Choosing the wrong MP3 player can mean the difference between low-quality playback and your entire album library at your fingertips, ready to play any song in seconds. Our evaluation focused on price, feature set, storage, ease of use, battery life, and interface. We also explored auxiliary features such as design and smart compatibility.
Our top pick, the Searick 16G MP3 Player, is a convenient and durable model, making it a top choice if you’re looking for the best MP3 player for running or outdoor exercise. It has great sound quality if you care about quality and can also function as an eBook reader if you’re an avid reader.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: Lossless Hi-Fi with fully manual equalizer control gives this unit the best MP3 player sound quality in its class. Plus, it comes in a compact, durable all-metal housing with Bluetooth connectivity that’s great for running.
If convenience and durability are important, this may be the best MP3 player with Bluetooth in its price range. It has a touch screen and built-in speaker–rare among budget MP3 player options–and it does FM radio, eBooks, and a wide range of audio formats.
The best sound quality MP3 player we’ve tested for the money has a lossless output and sounds great over earbuds or via an external Bluetooth speaker. It even comes with a manual equalizer function. In a pinch, the built-in speaker also gives decent sound quality for something of this size. Great for music, with the best headphones for running.
Award: BEST BATTERY LIFE
WHY WE LIKE IT: This tiny device is the best budget MP3 player in terms of battery life, with up to 80 hours of playback available from a 2-hour charge. It also allows video playback, a nice bonus.
Ultra slim and tiny, this portable budget MP3 player consumes so little power that it can claim an 80-hour playback battery life from a 420mAh battery that takes 2-3 hours to fully charge. In comparison, an iPhone X has a 2700mAh battery.
Thanks to its small size and low price, this may be the best MP3 player for kids, as long as you don’t require too much in the way of app compatibility or video function. It does support image formats, including JPG/JPEG/BMP files, and text as .TXT files, but it only does video in the somewhat rare AMV format. You can read about the best on ear headphones to go with it.
Award: BEST FOR ITUNES
WHY WE LIKE IT: With this multifunctional MP3 player, music is just the beginning: it also does voice memos, pedometers, eBooks, and FM radio and works as an alarm clock, too, with a built-in speaker.
This MP3 player, iTunes, compatible with Mac OS 10 and Windows 7/8/8.1/10/XP/Vista, aims to win over those in search of a multifunctional, yet budget-friendly device for travel and outdoor exercise. It’s among the best MP3 players for running and jogging, thanks to the stopwatch and pedometer functions as well as an included armband.
It also works as an FM radio and alarm clock with a built-in speaker. It also supports OTG data transfer with Android phones and is PC compatible via a USB cable. Your kids can use it with the best kids headphones.
Award: BEST FM RADIO
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best budget MP3 player in terms of design and quality feel, with its touch button interface and all metal frame, this 16 GB (expandable to 128GB) Bluetooth MP3 player is also a multifunctional item that supports FM radio, data transfer, and image browsing.
This solid feeling and substantial portable MP3 player is just 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches, but has a high quality and durable feel with its metal frame. It has 16 GB of internal storage, enough for a considerable song library, and it’s expandable up to 128 GB if you have a micro TF card.
While the battery life isn’t as long as you get with some of the other choices for the best budget MP3 player, Bluetooth functionality is superb, thanks to its use of Bluetooth 4.2. It seamlessly pairs with speakers and headphones, as with most portable MP3 players, you can’t pair with computers or phones over Bluetooth. It does have an internal speaker, however.
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Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: A slim, pocket-friendly design plus HiFi lossless sound quality and a colorful TFT screen make this MP3 player with Bluetooth one of the best value propositions if you’re looking for a multifunctional MP3 player.
A good value, the Mibao MP3 player with Bluetooth 4.2, is pocket-sized and has a generous 600mAh battery that provides up to 50 hours of music playback per charge. It measures just 2.4 inches and has a color screen that displays status, song titles, and album art and also gives this MP3 player the ability to function as a (very small) ebook reader.
While it doesn’t offer app downloads as some other devices do, it does pair with external speakers and provides some of the best MP3 player sound quality in its price range. It also has an FM radio and aux out. It supports playback of a large number of audio formats, including MP3/WMA/WAV and FLAC, and you can add your own SD card for over 128GB of storage. Crank up the volume and plug in the best headphones for working out.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Convenient clip-on design lets you take it with you anywhere, while an easy-to-use layout and up to 128 GB of storage allow plenty of songs. This MP3 player with Bluetooth also gives you up to a 30-hour battery life and doubles as a step counter, making it the best budget MP3 player we’ve tested for running.
This simple, tiny, and convenient MP3 player with Bluetooth comes with a built-in pedometer that lets you track steps, velocity, time spent running, and approximate calories burned, making it our pick among budget models as the best MP3 player for running. It has up to 30-hour battery life and takes only an hour and a half or so to charge.
Storage capacity starts at a rather meager 8 GB but is expandable all the way to 128 GB with a simple micro SD card. While it may not have all the latest apps and smart connectivity features, it does deliver great sound quality and even comes with earphones and doubles like an FM radio tuner. Use this with the best over ear headphones.
In order to pick the best MP3 player (digital music player) for travel, running and hiking, or general music listening, we considered value, storage capacity, and user experience.
We only selected MP3 players with at least 8 GB of built-in storage, and a minimum of 64 GB upgradeable storage via SD card or the equivalent.
We also considered battery life, limiting our search for the best MP3 player to those with at least a 30-hour playback time on a full charge.
Since for an MP3 player, music is usually the first priority, we gave preference to MP3 players with lossless Hi-Fi sound output and looked into sampling rate and signal-to-noise ratio where available. We considered other features like FM radio reception, step tracking, and video playback to be nice extras.
You’ll want the best speakers to go with your MP3 player, and you may want to go all out with the best subwoofers too. Many of the best tabletop radios also incorporate MP3 technology. Although the best smartphone will usually serve most of your MP3 functions these days.
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