Finding an MP3 player in 2022: the Sony Xperia Tipo

I own two PSPs and a PS Vita. It’s not possible to purchase games and accessories for these consoles at my local EB Games — the PSP is almost 20 years old, after all. The only way to get PSP-related goods (and by extension, the PS Vita) is by purchasing them pre-owned — so scouring the internet or your local second-hand-goods stores are usually the best way to go.

My destination of choice is always Cash Converters.

Cash Converters is the fastest, most reliable place for me to test potential purchases. My PSP shudders every time it steps into Cash Converters — it’s tested a few games and has had its battery pulled to test whether other PSPs work (spoiler: they didn’t).

Next to the games cabinet in my local Cashies is the phones cabinets. There are dozens of current-gen phones all priced above $400. And further to the right is the shelf of oldies.

And by oldies, I mean the mid-tier phones from 2012 that nobody wants. My search for a dedicated MP3 player brought me here.

Since the Alcatel had failed to live up to my expectations, I decided that perhaps going backwards in time was better than remaining in the present. As a teenager, I had dozens of MP3s downloaded to my Samsung Galaxy Young — a nifty bit of hardware aimed at the teenage audience. There were even apps I could download that served as new-age Limewire — I, too, got to play the “is this the track I hope it is?” roulette.

My aim was to find a phone with a headphone jack, and a music app capable of making playlists, shuffling and providing track information. Given that this was the expectation of phones in the early 2010s, this was an easy ask.

I settled on the Sony Xperia Tipo, which I purchased (pre-owned) for $25. When this thing launched in 2012, it was worth $218 ($277, adjusting for inflation today). It’s amazing what ten years can do to a phone’s worth.

I had no difficulty working the Xperia Tipo. It was harder for me to get the Cash Converters sticker residue off the back of it than it was for me to get songs loaded. I did, however, discover that Xperia doesn’t necessarily like translating Windows 10 music information. I found I had to go through my tracks via my PC’s Windows Media Player to add the artist and track title (as opposed to just adding this information via file properties) and had to cross my fingers hoping it’d stick on the phone.

When it’s used only as an MP3 player, the Xperia’s battery is immense. It’s a Sony phone, so of course it’s built to play music at a reasonable quality. The downside is the Bluetooth: on the Alcatel, I had no hassles connecting my wireless headphones. On the ten-year-old Xperia, however, it’s a significantly different story for obvious age-related reasons.

Not to mention, the Xperia is unlocked (whereas the Alcatel is locked to Optus network). When my poor Oppo Find X2 Neo bit the dust in late 2022, the Xperia served as my temporary device until I purchased my Reno8 Lite. It served this function again for a day for my brother, too. It might be stuck on the 3G network, but its call quality is still pretty top-tier compared to some counterparts of its time. It’s good to have a spare phone, no matter the age.

Additionally, the Xperia’s memory is expandable through micro-SD, which also comes in handy. It’s currently loaded with about 150 songs, and is used on long train trips.

Repurposing old phones as MP3 players is the best way to protect your budget

MP3 players are a dime a dozen these days. Unless you’re willing to fork out hundreds of dollars for an iPod or a 2022 MP3 player (whose quality can be dubious and exceedingly difficult to gauge online), repurposing a mid-tier or flagship phone from a decade ago may be your best bet. They were built with the intention to play music on the go, primarily as competition to the iPhone of that day. Can they connect to the internet today? No, not really. But they still play MP3 files without issue.

Reuse, recycle. Old tech will thank you for it.

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