Why I choose to get an entry level smartphone over a MP4 player?



Nowadays, little separates an audio player and a smartphone. If you take the SIM slot out of the equation, the two have almost identical functions.

I mean, the iPod and some other audio players out there can download Apps, play videos and games, let you browse social media and watch YouTube too! It's only missing that SIM card slot!

So for a long time, I kept swaying between getting a MP4 player and a entry level smartphone! (You know I'm just so annoyed with my iPhone adaptors! They spoil too fast!!)

Also, I wish to get a decent MP4 player that could hopefully replace my iPhone (which battery is dying) as an "entertainment center". My budget was initially just up to SG$80 but in the end I settled for the Poco M3 which is about SG$100 more than my budget and here is why.

Note:

1) The "MP4 or audio player" in this post is referring to budget players within the range of SG$40-120, with full touchscreen, ability to install and play games and the function to play video in the common formats (like mp4, wmv, avi, mkv, mpg, mov...etc)!

2) Most of the online sellers will not provide all of the specs of their MP4 player, some don't even give any! It makes comparing really difficult, so I ended up relying a lot on buyers' reviews, cross references and some guess work (LOL). 

3) The smartphones mentioned in this post (unless stated) are entry to mid-range phone that price ranges from SG$120 - 200


Mobile Data connection


While I’ve came across audio (MP4) player that comes with the SIM card slot, they’re relatively more expensive than an entry level smartphone due to its lower specs.

And that takes us to the next point.


RAM and ROM


The MP4 player mentioned above actually cost about SG$115 (estimated) and it probably only have 1-2GB of RAM and 8GB ROM, Quad core. And the Poco M3 cost SG$179(early bird price)-199 for 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM, Octa core!

Both will be based on Android system with Poco M3 running MIUI 12 (based on Android 10) and the MP4 player running on Android 6.

However, the Poco M3 have a much larger screen (6.53”) as compared to the 4.8” screen of the audio player!

This will makes a lot of difference when typing, reading and watching videos!


Battery


Next up is the battery capacity. Most smartphones comes will much more battery capacity (at least 4000mAh) when compared to any audio players out there.

The largest battery capacity I’ve seen on a MP4 player is actually 3000mAh but most budget players only have 500-1600 mAh. They promise about 10 (for 500mAh) - 60 hours (for 1600mAh) of music and much lesser if watching videos.

I really cannot imagine how long a player with such battery capacity will last when it comes to playing games or streaming videos!


Music Player, Emulators and Games


While some higher end audio players runs on Android system and can allow you to download and install apps, they just don't have enough RAM to run some of the games. Not to mention that they usually don't come with much memory space. (usually 8-16GB, anything above 16GB is very rare!)

Even when they do support microSD card expansion till a maximum of 128GB (some rare ones can go up to 256GB), you usually can't install apps to the external memory, so you're pretty much stuck with the 8-16GB! Which won't be much left due to the installed system files.

I've some "strict" requirement for my music player - it needs to show album art, show artistes profile and have scrollable lyrics. It also has to have the option to sort by artistes, albums and create playlists.

Unfortunately, most budget MP4 players doesn't have a proper sorting and filter system and it's always a mess to search for songs! The better ones, mostly doesn't comes with scrollable lyrics, and only shows lyrics in LRC format! This of course can be solved if the player can download Music players app.

I run PPSSPP on my Poco M3. It's running smooth for most games I play (Gungnir, Bomberman and Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes) but it does stutters a little on some more demanding games.

If a game stutters on a 4GB RAM then I doubt it could work well on a player with only 1-2GB RAM!


Camera


I've yet to come across a MP4 player that comes with a decent camera. I've saw one selling online that comes with a single 5MP back camera and that MP4 is a really rare gem as that is the only one that I found that comes with a camera! 

Most smartphones comes with at least 2 cameras (front and back) and at least 8MP.
The Poco M3 have a 48MP camera!!


OS/Firmware Update


I know budget or entry level phone's don't get much updates but there will be at least 1 or 2 updates versus no updates at all for most budget MP4 players!

But considering that most budget MP4 players only comes with 8-16GB of space, they probably don't have enough space for updates!

Conclusion


At the end of the day, it's still personal preference. I believe there will be people who actually prefers the MP4 smaller size or doesn't want the 4G/5G connections nor do they need so much RAM. (Say for a child or they actually want it solely for Music) 

While I've quite a mediocre experience with a very budget (SG$16) MP3/MP4 player (Benjie Nuo Bi Xing v3 Audio Player: review), I believe there'll be a MP4 player with great quality that is within the SG$80-120 range! 


But my preference is clear and I must say it's after much struggle that I opted to get the Poco M3 instead. I could really use a "spare" phone (although now it's being use more than my "main" phone. LOL). The biggest reason I got the Poco M3 is that I think it have a higher RAM and ROM space, giving it the ability to serve more functions (apps and games) and also more possibility of being able to keep up with future updates!

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