Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium (2024)

By Harry McKerrell

last updated

The iPod Touch was the last remaining Apple player, but there are now many excellent alternatives

Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium (1)

There’s no getting away from it: the Apple iPod in all its guises was a great portable music player. But the relentless progression of Apple's miraculously versatile iPhone all but took over music-playing duties for most users, making the Touch essentially redundant as time wore on. When Apple killed the iPod after 21 years (!), its demise simply felt like an inescapable inevitability.

So where do you go now if you simply want a dedicated music player? What if you're after a better-sounding option or a portable player that, unlike the iPhone, plays hi-res music out of the box? The good news is that there are plenty of excellent alternatives out there that can offer these things and more to fill the void left in the wake of the much-missed iPod touch.

How to choose the best iPod Touch alternative for you

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

All of the portable music players listed below have decent storage, but note that some can be expanded further using a microSD memory card and thus can accommodate an entire library of hi-res tunes.

In terms of resolution, these players often support hi-res 24-bit/192kHz files and beyond, with several supporting DSD and MQA decoding and file playback.Some can even double up as a DAC to enhance the sound from your laptop – we've listed the perks and specifications of each player below. Many let you even download your favourite streaming apps, and deliver sound quality beyond what you'd get from a smartphone.

We have tested and rounded up the best iPod alternatives across a range of prices from the likes of Astell & Kern, FiiO and Sony. You'll need to budget accordingly for a decent pair of headphones or maybe even a DAC, but get everything right and you'll have a formidable on-the-fly system.

Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium (2)

What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. Astell & Kern has squeezed even more performance out of its superb hi-res player.


Storage: 64GB, expandable by 1TD via microSD)

Max file support : 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256, MQA

Headphone outputs : 3.5mm, balanced 2.5mm, Pentaconn 4.4mm

Battery life: 20 hours

Dimensions (hwd): 10.8 x 6.3 x 1.6cm

Weight: 178g

Reasons to buy


Entertaining and expressive sound


Streaming service integration


Full MQA decoding

Reasons to avoid


64GB internal storage might not be enough for some


Sharp corners

The Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII is the latest in what has been a long line of excellent,What Hi-Fi?Award-winning, ‘entry-level’ portable music players, with each new generation invariably proving even more talented than the last.

The SR25 MKII doesn’t let us down, propelling its lineage forward from the 2018-introduced A&norma SR15 to set a new performance benchmark, nabbing aWhat Hi-Fi?2022 Award once again in the process.

Notably more expressive and eloquent than any otherportable music playerwe have encountered at this price, and far beyond anything thatsmartphonesare capable of, the SR25 MKII demonstrates just how good music on the move can sound while also remaining reasonably affordable. And we stress the word 'reasonably', because while it pushes performance forward, it also pushes what is acceptable as an entry-level price.

If your budget can stretch to it, this is a truly stunning player with superb build quality to match – it'll make you forget the iPod Touch ever even existed.However, it's worth noting that this model has now been replaced by the even newer SR35 model (below). Stock of the SR25 MKII is diminishing, but there are still a fair few left online if you want to nab a deal.

Read the full review:

Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium (3)

What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner. Astell & Kern’s quirkiest player yet delivers an astonishing performance.


Storage: 256GB (expandable by 1TB via microSD)

Max file support : 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256, MQA

Headphone outputs : 3.5mm, balanced 2.5mm

Battery life: 14hr

Dimensions (hwd): 13.7 x 7.7 x 2cm

Weight: 280g

Reasons to buy


Engrossing sound quality


Interchangeable modular DAC design


Strong features and user experience

Reasons to avoid


Extra DAC modules are relatively price

How about a customisable PMP with interchangeable DAC modules? That's the idea here – and we liked it so much, we gave itWhat Hi-Fi?2021 and 2022 Awards trophies.

To personally tailor your sound, the SE180 goes one step further than the slightly older SE200 (which has two user-selectableDACconfigurations built into the player) in that it features an interchangeable DAC module design. The concept: Astell & Kern releases a series of DAC modules, all with different sonic characters, so that owners can purchase them and swap them in over the standard supplied module if they so wish.

The SE180 is an all-in-one player in itself, too, with the default module containing the ESS ES9038PRO DAC. It supports 32-bit/384kHz PCM, native DSD256 andMQAaudio and has 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm outputs to cater for a wide range of headphones.

With built-in wi-fi as well as direct access to streaming service apps in its menu, the SE180 doesn’t make hard work of your music however you would like to play it.Whether you consider the modular design valuable or not, even straight from the box, the SE180 is one of the best performance-per-pound offerings in the company’s line-up.

Read the full review:

Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium (4)

A wonderful hi-res player that really gets the most out of your music.


Storage: 64GB (expandable by 1TB via microSD)

Max file support: 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256, MQA

Headphone outputs : 3.5mm, 4.4mm and 2.5mm

Battery life: 20 hours

Dimensions (hwd): 10.8 x 6.4 x 1.6cm

Weight: 184g

Reasons to buy


New benchmark for sound quality


Well-equipped functionality


Smart, compact design

Reasons to avoid


Battery life could be better


Price no longer truly 'entry level'

The SR35 stretches the definition of ‘entry level’, sitting a rung or two up the ladder from the affordableSony NW-A306and even pricier than the previous 'entry level' SR25 MKII it replaces. But there's no arguing with the astonishing level of performance you get from it.

The excellent SR35 boasts many of the features that made its five-star,What Hi-Fi?Award-winning predecessor so successful – including three headphone outputs (3.5mm, 4.4mm and 2.5mm), native playback ofMQA, DSD256 and PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz files, 64GB of built-in storage (expandable by up to 1TB via a microSD card), and the neat ability to use the player as a performance-enhancingDACdevice between your wired headphones and, say, laptop.

There's not a chance of the SR35 missing a beat with the music you send its way. The five-star player has the punch and rhythmic drive to keep you tapping along to upbeat tracks, and the insight to draw you into the details of those calmer ones. Presentation is hugely likeable, with a tonal balance slightly on the rich side and a combination of power and finesse that feels very mature for a source at this level that most headphones will get along with just fine. Happy days all around.

Read the full review:

Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium (5)

5. Sony NW-A306

An affordable player with excellent hi-res support and a mature, balanced performance.


Storage : 32GB (expandable by 2TB via microSDXC)

Max file support : 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256, MQA

Headphone outputs : 3.5mm

Battery life: 32 hours approx

Dimensions (hwd): 9.8 x 5.7 x 1.2cm

Weight : 113g

Reasons to buy


Clear, detailed, composed sound


Pocketable size


Excellent hi-res audio support


Wi-fi and Bluetooth supported

Reasons to avoid


Android OS is cumbersome and space-hogging


Interface can be clunky


Internal music storage space is only half of what’s available

As an affordable alternative to the iPod Touch, the new NW-A306 fits the brief perfectly. It's compact and fits in palms and pockets alike comfortably, and we love the scalloped textured back that gives us a good grip without sacrificing on style. Even Apple didn't think of that.

The NW-A306's connections are minimal, but that's no bad thing: the USB-C cable lets you charge, transfer files and use the Walkman as a DAC, while the 3.5mm headphone jack can be used with a variety of good-to-great headphones. The available onboard storage is rather small in comparison to other players, but it is possible to expand the storage thanks to the microSD slot.

Internally, NW-A306 is packed to the gill with features: the hi-res file support is extensive and excellent at this affordable price, the full Android OS means it effectively operates similarly to a smartphone (for better or worse) and lets you download your favourite music streaming app, and it even supports LDAC and aptX codecs over Bluetooth.

The Sony player is adept enough to turn its hand to various genres and can even discern the differences in file qualities, while all sounding comfortable to listen to for long periods. It's a pleasingly detailed and clean performance, and we're impressed at how mature and evenly balanced it sounds for this price. We'd like a tad more dynamic punch and drive to songs that need it though; the Sony can sound a touch reserved when a song demands outright fun or aggression.

Definitely a neat compact player worthy of your consideration, especially if your budget doesn’t stretch to the more premium.

Read the full review:Sony NW-A306

Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium (6)

6. FiiO M11S

A solid effort from FiiO with ample features, offering a decent alternative to A&K's market stranglehold.


Storage : 32GB (expandable by 2TB via microSD)

Max file support : 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256, MQA

Headphone outputs : 3.5mm, balanced 2.5mm, balanced 4.4mm

Battery life : 14 hours

Dimensions (hwd): 12.5 x 7.4 x 1.9cm

Weight : 271g

Reasons to buy


Big, open, smooth sound


Extensive features


Intuitive Android OS

Reasons to avoid


Only 32GB of storage


Slightly sub-par battery life


Sound lacks dynamic punch and top-notch timing

While our lists of the best portable music players are somewhat dominated by Astell & Kern, it's been gratifying to find some market variety in the shape of the Sony NW-A306 (above) and the recently-released FiiO M11S. The Chinese brand hasn't quite cracked the nut by edging out the more established class leader in this 'entry-level' price bracket, but it's done a fine job of at least making us think that there could be other runners in this particular race.

The M11S is a decent iPod Touch alternative, a chunky, well-built item that benefits from a logically laid out interface that most people will become au fait with within a few minutes. The feature list is admirable, with full hi-res audio support, multiple headphone outputs, streaming via Bluetooth (LDAC, aptX HD, LHDC codecs supported) and AirPlay.

Sound-wise, the M11S offers a wide-open, comfortable sound that's easy to listen to. There's sonic clarity and openness, but it does tend to give its songs a more easygoing, unobtrusive presentation instead of opting for a fun, expressive punch. It's not quite as adept as the Astell & Kern players in underpinning the rhythmic elements of a song, so you might find peppy, upbeat numbers slightly dulled by FiiO's lack of fizz.

Still, it's great to see more choices appear in this 'entry-level' price bracket, and the M11S is a solid alternative with its smooth sound and pleasingly broad feature set.

Read the full review:FiiO M11S

How we choose the best Apple iPod Touch alternatives

We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test the majority of hi-fi and AV kit that passes through our doors.

Of course, testing portable iPod Touch alternatives doesn't always require such facilities – though we do try each player using variousaudiophile headphones, both in wired and (if the player supports it) wireless varieties to thoroughly appraise the sound quality. Most importantly, every product we review is compared to the best in its price and class – whether that's one standout player or a few we favour the highest among the many we listen to each year for reviews andWhat Hi-Fi?Awards judging.What Hi-Fi?is all about comparative testing, so we keep our Award winners nearby to enable unbiased comparisons between new products and ones we know to have performed highly in the category.

We are always impartial and do our best to make sure we're hearing every product at its very best, so we'll try plenty of different types of music and give each plenty of listening time (and time to run in). It's not just about sound quality, of course. If a product has noteworthy features (enviable battery life, removable DAC modules, full MQA decoding) we'll ensure that a big part of our testing involves testing the claims made by its makers.

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the entire team, rather than an individual reviewer, to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict. AtWhat Hi-Fi?,we are proud to have consistently delivered honest, unbiased reviews for over 45 years.


Now check out the best headphones to listen with

These are the best portable music players

And 10 of the best hi-res albums on Tidal Masters

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Harry McKerrell

Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or forcing himself to go long-distance running.

2 CommentsComment from the forums

  • Navanski

    Here's a suggestion, why not ditch the list provided in the article and spend your cash on something else.
    Buy a phone with a decent DAC and adequate power output.
    My LG V30 has a quad DAC, it will handle virtually all codecs, including 32 bit @ 384khz and MQA. It drives my 300ohm HD580s with ease. And it cost me, new, about the same as the cheapest device in your list.
    Basically, you don't have to remove all that cash from your pocket to make room for a second device.


  • Norvitski

    Do not make accusations of payola - unless you have evidence.


Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium (2024)


Best Apple iPod Touch alternatives 2023: budget and premium? ›

Apple no longer sells them but they do still work. The iPod touch still have updates in 2023 ? Unfortunately the iPod touch 1,2,3,4 and 5 will not have updates in 2023 normally.

Does Apple still make iPods 2023? ›

Apple no longer sells them but they do still work. The iPod touch still have updates in 2023 ? Unfortunately the iPod touch 1,2,3,4 and 5 will not have updates in 2023 normally.

What was iPods biggest competitor? ›

SanDisk's Sansa mp3 player was the iPod's closest competitor with 8% market share. Few would deny that the iPod is a great product, surpassing any other mp3 player offering.

Is Apple phasing out iPod Touch? ›

The company announced it had phased out production of its iPod Touch, bringing an end to a two-decade run of a product line that inspired the creation of the iPhone and helped turn Silicon Valley into the epicenter of global capitalism.

What is the new equivalent of an iPod? ›

Examples include the Sony Xperia E5 (£127.92), the Moto G4 Plus (£164.99) and the Samsung Galaxy A3 (£160). All three have 16GB of storage, music management software and FM radios built in.

Is there anything like an iPod now? ›

Apple iPod alternatives

Sony has been making its own portable audio players for decades with the series named Walkman! Actually, the original Walkman was a portable cassette player, but with its popularity, Walkman has now been converted into an audio player. There are several models that you can buy.

What is Apple's new gadget in 2023? ›

Apple has already unveiled several major new products this year, including its first mixed-reality headset, called Vision Pro, and the 15-inch MacBook Air. But if history is any indication, there's still plenty more to come in 2023, potentially including an iPhone 15 equipped with USB-C and the Apple Watch Series 9.

How much is an iPod Touch worth in 2023? ›

iPod Touch 7th Gen prices start at $119 and cost $196 on average as of August 2023. iPod Touch 7th Gen prices will continue to get cheaper over time.

What has Apple released in 2023? ›

Apple in January 2023 introduced new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that are equipped with updated M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. Apple also introduced new M2 and M2 Pro Mac mini machines and a new larger-sized $299 HomePod, with all of these announcements done via press release.

Why don t people use iPods anymore? ›

The increased functionalities on smartphones subjected the iPod to the diminishing utility principle. In addition, the advent of fast, cheap internet, alongside music streaming services like Spotify, iTunes, Prime Music, etc meant substantially narrowing use for the iPod.

Why don't iPods exist anymore? ›

And if you like to browse on the move, you also have the iPad (9th generation), which gives you a much bigger screen for $329. The declining sales of the iPod touch and the rising popularity of other Apple products probably pushed the company to pull the plug on the iPod.

Which iPod is obsolete? ›

iPods to be declared obsolete by Apple

The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle were discontinued long ago in 2017, and the iPod Touch 7th Gen was the sole surviving model until 2022, when Apple eventually pulled the plug. Apple currently makes or sells no iPod models.

How long will Apple support the iPod touch? ›

On May 10, 2022, Apple discontinued the iPod Touch, effectively ending the iPod product line. iOS 15 is the last iOS version to support the seventh-generation iPod Touch, except for ongoing OS maintenance.

How long will iPod touch 7th generation be supported? ›

iPod Touch (7th generation)
The iPod Touch (7th Generation), in Pink
TypeMobile device
Release dateMay 28, 2019
DiscontinuedMay 10, 2022
Operating systemOriginal: iOS 12.3 Current: iOS 15.7.8, released July 24, 2023
19 more rows

Can iPod touch still be updated? ›

Update iPod touch manually

At any time, you can check for and install software updates. Go to Settings > General > Software Update.

Why did Apple discontinue iPod touch? ›

The declining sales of the iPod touch and the rising popularity of other Apple products probably pushed the company to pull the plug on the iPod.

How do I upgrade my iPod touch? ›

Update iPod touch manually

Go to Settings > General > Software Update. The screen shows the currently installed version of iOS and whether an update is available. To turn off automatic updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates.

What ipods are no longer supported? ›

iPod obsolete models
  • iPod (5th generation)
  • iPod (5th generation, Late 2006)
  • iPod (Click Wheel)
  • iPod (Dock Connector)
  • iPod (Scroll Wheel)
  • iPod (Touch Wheel)
  • iPod classic (80GB and 160GB, 2007)
  • iPod classic (120GB)
May 18, 2022

What can you do with old iPod touches? ›

Following are top 9 creative uses for old iPod Touch:
  • Jailbreak to Enjoy More Interesting Apps. ...
  • Use it with Romo App-Controlled Robotic Pet. ...
  • Use it with OhMiBod Naughtibod. ...
  • Use it as a Walkman. ...
  • Turn Old iPod Touch into a Monitor. ...
  • Set Old iPod Touch Up with Bluetooth Speakers. ...
  • Use it to Listen to Podcasts.
Aug 4, 2022

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