mp3 player
Dedicated music devices are an easy, portable way to access all your favourite tunes no matter where you are. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Also read:

Summers demand focus, whether you're conquering your workout or navigating the city's energy. Thankfully, a reliable music source is making a comeback: the MP3 player. No more scrambling for chargers or dealing with frustrating connection drops.

This resurgence isn't just about nostalgia, although Y2K trends have been somewhat responsible for the renewed interest in these devices. Audiophiles seeking pristine sound quality and fitness enthusiasts craving uninterrupted beats are also rediscovering the advantages of dedicated music devices. With a wider range of features and capabilities than ever before, MP3 players are back in the game, offering a solution for every music lover in the UAE. So, ditch the dead phone anxiety and delve into the best MP3 players out there right now.

To help us curate this list, we spoke with Shikhar Sinha, a Dubai-based software engineer and IT expert. With a Prime subscription, your MP3 player will be delivered to you the very next day.

1. Best Overall: Sony Walkman NW-A306 Touchscreen MP3 Player


  • Excellent audio performance
  • Solid connectivity features
  • Supports all streaming services


  • Android apps usage reduces battery

The Sony Walkman, a name synonymous with portable music players, has recently seen a resurgence in popularity with the release of the NW-A306. This sleek and stylish MP3 player caters to audiophiles seeking high-resolution sound quality without the bulk of a smartphone. It's filled to the brim with features, and supports a variety of hi-res audio formats, like FLAC and WAV, offering a richer and more detailed listening experience compared to standard MP3s. You don't have to worry about Wi-Fi connectivity either, adds Sinha. With built-in storage of 32GB, you can expand the capacity further by using a microSD card (sold separately) to accommodate a larger music collection. One of the aspects that reviewers like most, is its S-Master HX digital amp technology for reduced noise and distortion, which delivers a more natural listening experience. The icing on the cake is that the lightweight design makes it perfect for active lifestyles, as it's easily carried in your pocket or bag. Overall, the Sony Walkman NW-A306 is a compelling option for audiophiles seeking a dedicated music player with exceptional sound quality and long battery life. Its compact design and expandable storage make it a practical choice for active users. However, the lack of Bluetooth connectivity, limited functionality compared to smartphones, and a slightly higher price tag might deter casual listeners.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh131.75 for 12 months with select banks.

2. Best Budget: Phinistec Z6 Music Audio Player with Speaker


  • Easy on the wallet
  • Pocket-sized portability
  • Expandable music library
  • Multi-functional


  • Basic sound quality
  • No Bluetooth

The Phinistec Z6 caters to a specific niche: Budget-conscious music lovers seeking a simple and portable MP3 player with a built-in speaker. While it doesn't boast high-end features, the Z6 offers a compelling combination of affordability, decent audio quality, and basic functionalities, explains Sinha. The Z6 offers enough storage for a decent music collection, with the option to expand further via a microSD card, which is sold separately. Moreover, you can enjoy music on the go without needing separate headphones. However, the speaker quality is likely to be basic. It also supports playback of popular audio formats like MP3, WMA, FLAC, APE, and WAV. However, some might find the small screen to be a deal breaker. Overall, the Phinistec Z6 is a solid choice for budget-conscious users who prioritise basic music playback with a built-in speaker and some additional functionalities. Its portability, long battery life, and expandable storage make it a practical option for casual listeners on the go. However, if you prioritise exceptional sound quality, wireless headphones, or a larger screen for e-book reading, you might need to look elsewhere.

3. Best Premium: FiiO M11S Hi-Res MP3 Player


  • High-fidelity playback
  • Premium audio components
  • Multiple connectivity options


  • Expensive

The FiiO M11S Hi-Res MP3 Music Player is for music lovers who crave exceptional sound quality and extensive features in a portable package. While it might not be for everyone due to its price point, the M11S boasts impressive specs, powerful audio processing, and a feature set that aims to elevate your listening experience. You'll get what you paid for: the M11S supports a wide range of high-resolution audio formats like FLAC, DSD, and MQA, allowing you to experience music in the true sense of the word. It possesses high-performance digital-to-analogue converters and ensures pristine audio conversion, while minimising distortion and delivering a clear and detailed soundscape. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Processor ensures smooth operation, allowing you to navigate your music library, stream music, or run other apps without lag. It runs on Android 10, offering access to a vast library of music streaming apps, audiobooks, and other functionalities. Overall, the FiiO M11S Hi-Res MP3 Music Player is a high-fidelity powerhouse designed for discerning audiophiles. Its exceptional sound quality, Android functionality, and multiple connectivity options create a feature-rich music experience. However, the price tag might be a barrier for some, and the size and complexity might not be ideal for everyone.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh169.58 for 12 months with select banks.

4. Best Value: Shanling M0 Pro MP3 Player


  • Multiple outputs
  • Exceptional sound quality for its size
  • Long battery life


  • Small touchscreen
  • Limited storage

The Shanling M0 Pro is a feature-packed MP3 player that defies its miniature size. This portable powerhouse caters to music lovers seeking exceptional sound quality without sacrificing portability. You got that right, you can enjoy music with support for various hi-res formats like FLAC, DSD, and MQA. The device offers both balanced and single-ended headphone outputs, catering to different headphone types and preferences. The M0 Pro offers balanced output and is also known for its improved signal-to-noise ratio and potentially superior sound quality. "You can also connect wireless headphones with high-quality codecs for a seamless listening experience without compromising sound quality. And, it has a 2.7-inch touchscreen, which allows for easy navigation and control of your music library," says Sinha.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh43.09 for 12 months with select banks.

5. Best for Beginners: AGPTEK MP3 Player


  • Budget-friendly
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Supports a variety of audio formats
  • Built-in speaker


  • Small touchscreen

You can crank up your tunes anywhere with the AGPTEK 32GB MP3 Player. This pocket-sized device serves as the perfect companion for music on the move, blending affordability with must-have features. Whether you're hitting the gym, cruising on your commute, or lounging at home, AGPTEK keeps you entertained without breaking the bank. This budget-friendly device offers impressive features for the price. Apart from crystal clear audio, you are treated to expandable storage, where you can build a massive music library to match your ever-growing musical interests. The MP3 player also has a stunning colour display, long battery life, integrated FM radio, a built-in speaker, and one of the newest versions of Bluetooth. It can also double as a voice recorder. If you value affordability, wireless listening, and a few bonus functionalities, the AGPTEK MP3 player might be a good fit.

What to consider when buying an MP3 player

Choosing an MP3 player can feel overwhelming, but it all boils down to your music needs. Here's a cheat sheet to guide you, courtesy Sinha.

For starters, consider the size and quality of your music collection: If you've got a treasure trove of lossless files (FLAC, WAV, etc.) and refuse to compromise on sound quality, it's well worth going for an MP3 player.

Secondly, consider a device with a top-notch Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC). This technology acts like a translator, transforming your digital files into crystal clear audio, and it's especially noticeable with high-impedance headphones, so think audiophile-grade with higher resistance.

However, if you just want to break free from your phone and jam out to tunes without draining its battery, an affordable MP3 player is all you need. Most MP3 players still come with a dedicated headphone jack, which is a huge plus. The dedicated jacks often deliver superior sound quality, as compared to using adapters with your smartphone, explains Sinha.

If you plan to use your player on the go, then also consider one with Bluetooth connectivity, adds Sinha. This is especially beneficial if you prefer to listen to music while working out and you don't want to get tangled up in cords.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.