Android portable media players

The iPod touch is a pretty amazing little device that bridges the gap between a portable media player and a smartphone. It’s a handheld device that you can use to surf the internet, listen to music, watch movies, play games, or download hundreds of thousands of applications. With a starting price of $199, it’s cheaper than a smartphone — and there’s no monthly voice or data plan to pay for.

It’s taken a while for other companies to start competing with the iPod touch. A year or two ago there was really nothing else like it on the market. Today there are a number of alternatives.

The iPod touch still offers more bang for your buck than most competitors, but if you’re looking for something a little cheaper, a device with a larger display, HDMI output, or just a different operating system there are now a number of Android alternatives to the iPod touch.

Here are a few:

Update: This article was originally published in 2011. You can check out our more up-to-date look at Android alternatives to the iPod touch for a look at the landscape as of late 2013.

Or you can continue reading… some of the items listed below are still available. 

Samsung Galaxy Player WiFi 5.0

The Samsung Galaxy Player WiFi 5.0 is probably the closest thing you’re going to find to a true Android version of an iPod touch. In many ways, this portable gadget with a 5 inch display is just a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone with the cellular radio ripped out.

It’s screen isn’t as sturdy as the Gorilla Glass display on the phone, but the Samsung Galaxy WiFi 5.0 supports a wide range of audio and video formats, runs Google Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, and has GPS capabilities.

  • 5 inch, 800 x 480 pixel capacitive touchscreen display
  • 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird ARM Cortex-A8 single core CPU
  • 8GB storage
  • Micro SD card slot
  • Android 2.3.5
  • Google Android Market
  • 0.3MP front camera and 3.2MP rear camera
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, FM Radio, and GPS
  • 2500mAh battery (up to 8 hours of video)
  • 5.6″ x 3.1″ x 0.5″
  • 6.4 ounces
  • Available for $270 from J&R

Samsung also makes a 4 inch model of the Galaxy Player WiFi, which is available from Amazon for $230.

Archos 43 Internet Tablet

Archos actually makes a whole range of portable media players powered by Google Android. I could just have easily selected the Archos 28 or Archos 32 for this article, but the Archos 43 has a higher quality display than it siblings. It also has a speaker and microphone as well as akick-stand.

Skytex Primer Pocket

I’ll be honest — the Skytex Primer Pocket isn’t very good at anything except playing audio or video content. It’s slow and has an unusual processor so that many apps don’t run and those that do often don’t run very well. But it does run Android. It can surf the web (slowly). And it’s dirt cheap, which almost makes it worth checking out.

  • 4.3 inch, 480 x 272 pixel resistive touch display (with pinch-to-zoom support)
  • 600 MHz MIPS processor + DSP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 4GB storage
  • Micro SD card slot
  • Android 2.2
  • GetJar app store
  • Mic, speaker, and headphone jack
  • 1400mAh battery
  • Available from Abe’s of Maine for $69

Sony Walkman Z

Next to the Samsung Galaxy Player, the Sony Walkman Z is probably the highest quality Android portable media player around. Like Samsung’s device, the Walkman Z comes from a company with a long history of making both smartphones and audio/video devices. There’s just one catch – the Sony Walkman Z isn’t yet available in the US. It was recently introduced in Japan, where it’s expected to go on sale in December.

  • 4.3 inch, 800 x 480 pixel display
  • 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core processor
  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB storage
  • Android 2.3
  • Google Android Market
  • WiFi and Bluetooth
  • FM tuner
  • HDMI output and DLNA support

Philips GoGear Connect 3

The latest Philips GoGear Connect portable media player is smaller than the iPod touch, and a tad cheaper. It also has an FM radio.

  • 3.2 inch, 380 x 320 pixel capacitive touchscreen display
  • 8GB to 16GB storage
  • Android 2.3
  • Google Android Market
  • 802.11b/g WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 4 hours video playback
  • 4.4″ x 2.3″ x 0.4″
  • 3.7 ounces
  • Available from J&R for $180

ICE Smart

The Latte Communications ICE Smart has a 5 inch display, supports 1080p HD video playback, and has a reasonable low price tag. Unfortunately it also has a relatively slow processor.

  • 5 inch, 800 x 480 pixel dual-touch resistive touchscreen display
  • 800 MHz Telechips 8903 ARM 11 processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • Android 2.3
  • microSD card slot
  • mini HDMI output
  • 802.11b/g WiFi
  • 2200mAh battery
  • mic and speakers
  • 5.2″ x 3.3″ x 0.5″
  • 7.4 ounces
  • Available from Amazon for $162

Cowon D3

The Cowon D3 is available with up to 32GB of storage — which is more than you get from most of the other devices on this list. Unfortunately while 8GB and 16GB models are also supposed to be available, I can only find product listings for the 32GB model which runs $280 — which means the Cowon D3 is also one of the most expensive products on this list.

Cowon’s device supports a wide range of audio and video formats as well as 1080p HD video playback.

Creative Zen Touch 2

Creative’s Android-powered media player isn’t the prettiest or fullest-featured alternative to the iPod touch. But with prices starting at just around $140, the Creative Zen Touch 2 can handle basic media tasks while also running many Android apps.

  •  3.2 inch, 480 x 320 pixel resistive touchscreen display
  • 8GB to 16GB of storage
  • Micro SD card
  • Android 2.2
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • FM Radio, GPS, digital compass
  • Composite video output
  • Mic and Speakers
  • 2MP fixed-focus rear camera
  • 4.7″ x 2.4″ x -.5″
  • 4.3 ounces
  • Available from Amazon for $140

The App Store for iOS currently has more third party apps than the Google Android Market — which means there are more apps available for the iPod touch than for any of these tablets. On the other hand, you have to jailbreak an iPod touch to run apps which aren’t available from the App Store, whereas most Android devices can easily run side-loaded apps.

While most of the devices listed above ship without full access to the Android Market, you can install a hacked version on some devices, or use a third party app store from Amazon, SlideMe, or another company if you’re not happy with the solutions offered by the device manufacturer.

Since Apple chose not to update the iPod touch with a faster processor or better screen this year, there’s a chance for Android device makers to catch up to the iPod touch. But right now there are few Android devices that can match Apple’s iPod touch in terms of screen resolution, battery life, or other features.

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15 replies on “8 Android alternatives to Apple’s iPod touch”

  1. nothing i see anywhere about problems surrounding the fact that not all of our music, audiobooks, etc. will play on other devices, drm? only thee quarters of my library can be played on my android device and none of my audiobooks. back when i purchased the books apple was the only source.

    a few years back i paid hundreds of dollars on audiobooks to keep me sane while traveling and now i cannot find any information here or elsewhere as to a method, alternative way to ditch the dying ipod be it hardware? software? both?

    i don’t want to have to choose between losing my library of books and some music (and all the $$) or shelling out a couple hundred plus on a new ipod. note i no longer use the itunes store for anything so that isn’t something i am concerned about.

    on the off chance someone has had success doing what i cannot, please post a reply. never hurts to try

    all have a good weekend!

  2. I am not a fan of apple, so I am looking for alternatives. Any of these have the free texting app like the ipod?

  3. Interesting, thanks ! The reason I am reading this is that my 2 year old iPod touch just stopped working (for no reason) and Apple wants another $200 to replace it. That sucks, I’d rather give my cash to a company that stands by their products.

  4. If “pocketable” was the cut-off, then the 5″-ers strain that definition. One can well fit a 7″ Nook Color into some pockets. The NC is really the go-to “portable” Android tablet at this point, and it’s surprising to not see it mentioned.

    Also, since the title of the round-up is for “Android devices,” memory (RAM) size is important, and that spec is only mentioned for two of the eight choices. There’s a big difference between 256 and 512MB.

    1. Unfortunately not all device makers release information about the RAM or other components. If anyone has more information about the products listed in this article, I’d be happy to update it. 

  5. For the price of an iPod Touch, you can get the Amazon Fire ($199), shipping in Nov.  

  6. If I was considering the 4.0 model, I would be tempted to buy a pre-owned S phone from some reseller like CowBoom available without contract since the screen is Amoled, the rear camera is better, and possibly battery capacity is better, although not sure:

      1. It is sort of confusing since there are separate web pages for the 5.0 model, one where Amazon is the primary seller and one where it is “fulfilled” by amazon.

Comments are closed.