Dec 8th, 2020

There are many things you can do with an old Android phone. You could hook it up to a speaker and make your own DIY Google Home or use it as a dedicated time lapse camera. If you’re a die-hard music lover and audiophile, we have another idea to put that old phone to good use.

For a brief period of time, before smartphones really took off, everyone had a personal music player. These devices were essentially hard drives with headphone jacks. You could store tons of music and have it with you all the time. Nowadays, most people stream music from the internet, but there are advantages to having a dedicated device.

Should I do this?

For all the advantages of streaming music, there is one thing that a lot of people have to deal with: data caps. Streaming music all day over data is going to cost you a pretty penny. You could download the music for listening offline, but then you have to worry about storage.

A dedicated device solves both problems. You can avoid streaming by downloading music for offline listening, and since the device is only for music, you won’t have to share storage with all your other apps. Use a phone with an microSD card and you’ve got room for a giant music library.

Another problem with using your phone as a media player is battery life. Playing music all day can run down your battery, leaving you stuck without a phone at the end of a day. A dedicated device won’t drain your phone and it will last a lot longer because it’s not connected to data.

What You’ll Need

All you need for this is an old phone with decent audio quality. The HTC One M8 is a great candidate. It has dual front-facing speakers, dedicated sound processing, and headphone amplifier units. Plus, you can find it for less than $200. The phone should also have a good amount of internal storage or support for a microSD card. Oh, and you’ll want a decent pair of headphones.

Start from Scratch

We want to start fresh with a phone that has nothing else on it. The easiest way to do that is wipe it clean and go back to factory settings. The process is slightly different on some phones, but it should go something like this:

  1. Go to Settings > Backup & reset
  2. Select Factory data reset
  3. Confirm that you want to do it and make sure to delete ALL data

After the factory reset is completed, you can set up the phone again. Don’t use a saved backup from a different phone. You want to set up the phone completely clean. It’s also a good idea to remove any extraneous apps. Learn how to remove apps right here.

Download Media Apps

Now that we have a clean canvas to work from, we can download some media apps. This is where you’ll have to decide what kind of music player you want. Are you going to download offline music from streaming apps? Or are you going to load it up with local files from your PC?

Most of the popular streaming services, such as Spotify and Google Play Music, allow you to download for offline playback. You’ll just have to remember to download music for offline listening before you leave the WiFi network. In the example of Spotify, you’ll also be paying a monthly subscription to use the offline feature.

The second method doesn’t require monthly subscriptions, but it’s not as convenient. Putting all your music directly on your device means it’s always available for listening. There’s no need to remember to download music for when you’re offline. The downside is you’ll have to connect your phone to a PC for transferring files.

Apps like doubleTwist make it easy to sync files between your phone and PC. Regardless of how you get the music onto the phone, a good audio player is a must. Phone always have audio players built in, but they’re usually not very good. Check out these audio players.

Get Extra Storage

As more and more services have moved to the cloud, storage on phones has become less of an issue. We took steps to clear up space on your phone, but if you have a big music library you’re going to want some extra storage. You can add an extra 32GB to your phone for less than $15 or go crazy and get 128GB. Grab one of the SD cards below and load it up with tunes.

That’s it!

Now that we have everything set up, we can enjoy some music. Plug in some headphones, connect to your car stereo, link up with a set of portable speakers. All of your music is at your fingertips, and you don’t have to worry about data caps, storage, or battery life. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could add some movies and you’ve got a sweet little multimedia device.

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