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 Victure MP3 Player with Bluetooth, is a convenient and durable clip on model, making it a top choice if you’re looking for the best MP3 player for running or outdoor exercise. It even doubles as a pedometer so you can count your steps when hiking, jogging or walking.
Top 6 Best MP3 Player
#1 Victure MP3 Player Clip
Award: TOP PICK
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 for running that we’ve tested.
- Best budget (also Best for Running)
- 1.5 hours of charging and 30 hour battery life
- Clip on design
- Requires micro SD card for full storage capacity
- Lacks the app compatibility of some higher end MP3 players
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 a 30 hour battery life and takes only an hour and 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 it even comes with earphones and doubles as an FM radio tuner. Use this with the best over ear headphones.
#2 Mibao MP3 Player with Bluetooth 4.2
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
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.
- Up to 128GB via SD Card
- Functions as ebook reader
- FM radio and Bluetooth 4.2
- Lacks smart app support
- Lacks exercise tracking function
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 colorful 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 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.
#3 Searick 16G MP3 Player with Bluetooth 4.2
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: Lossless Hi Fi with fully manual equalizer control give 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.
- Built-in Bluetooth for wireless headphones
- Functions as ebook reader
- Speaker and touchscreen
- Requires micro TF card for full 128 GB
- Does’t pair with phones or computers over Bluetooth
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–rarities among budget MP3 player options–and it does FM radio as well as eBooks and a wide range of audio formats.
The best sound quality MP3 player for the money that we’ve tested, it has 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 gives decent sound quality for something of this size as well. Great for music with the best headphones for running.
#4 RUIZU X02 Ultra Slim MP3 player
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.
- 80 hour battery life
- Lightweight; weighs just 1 oz
- Color screen with video playback
- Only 8 GB internal storage
- Requires TF card for full 128 GB
- Video format limited to AMV
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.
#5 Soulcker 16GB MP3 Player
Award: BEST FOR ITUNES
WHY WE LIKE IT: With this multifunctional MP3 player, music is just the beginning: it also does voice memos, pedometer, eBooks, FM radio and works as an alarm clock, too, with a built in speaker.
- Durable metal frame
- Supports picture storage and eBooks
- Bright, 2.4-inch screen
- Only 55 hour battery life
- Video limited to AMV format
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 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.
#6 BERENNIS 16GB Portable MP3 player
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.
- Excellent sound quality
- Sturdy metal construction
- Bluetooth 4.2 for faster connectivity
- Limited video and eBook formats
- Doesn’t pair with computers or phones via Bluetooth
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 battery life isn’t as long as you get with some of the other choices for best budget MP3 player, Bluetooth functionality is superb thanks to its use of Bluetooth 4.2. It seamlessly pairs with speakers and headphones, though as with most portable MP3 players you can’t pair with computers or phones over Bluetooth. It does have an internal speaker, however.
How We Decided
In order to pick the best MP3 player (digital music player) for travel, running and hiking, or for general music listening, we considered value, storage capacity and the 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.
Best MP3 Player Buyer’s Guide
Features to Consider
When looking for the best MP3 player, iTunes compatibility may or may not be essential but the ability to play the major music formats is a must. Make sure you find an MP3 player that works for .WMA, MP3 and any other formats you have music stored in.
- Battery Life
A good reason to have an MP3 player in addition to your mobile phone and other devices is that they can play music for an incredibly long time on a tiny battery charge. Whereas an iPhone only gives you 60 hours of playback from a 2700-3000mAh battery, the best MP3 players offer 80 hours or more from a mere 500mAh.
- Bluetooth (aka Connectivity)
When choosing the best MP3 player, bluetooth connectivity is an important consideration especially if you use wireless earbuds and speakers.
If you’re looking for the best MP3 player for kids or the best MP3 player for running and hiking, look for a model that combines a small, simple form factor with durable construction and a budget price. Some of the best budget MP3 players have all-metal or scratch resistant acrylic materials.
If you’re looking for the best MP3 player for running or for the gym, consider one that comes with a sports armband or can clip to your workout clothes so you don’t have to worry about it falling out of a pocket such as the Sandisk Clip Sport.
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.
MP3 Player FAQs
What is the best MP3 player to buy?
Depending on your needs, the best MP3 player may be a small, budget priced and simple 8 GB MP3 player for kids, or a more substantial Bluetooth MP3 player with built-in speaker, step-tracking, data transfer and FM radio functions. In general, the best MP3 player sound quality comes from models with Hi Fi lossless output.
Does anyone still use MP3 players?
There are lots of reasons to still use an MP3 player, even in the age of Spotify and your mobile phone. Budget MP3 players, like the Onkyo MP3 player or the Victure MP3 Player Clip (our Top Pick) are great to take with you traveling or hiking and save your mobile phone battery. For runners or gym fans, the SanDisk Clip Sport is a handy gadget with an integrated belt clip perfect for long jogs or workouts in the gym. Plus, MP3 players have a considerably smaller footprint than their smart counterparts. The Sandisk Clip Sport is almost completely free of gimmicks and focusing primarily on convenience and portability.
What is better, an MP3 player or iPod?
The original iPod was just that–an MP3 player. Today’s choices for best budget MP3 player give you even more functionality than the classic iPods, while costing in many cases far less.