One of the areas where Android has an advantage over Apple is its expandable memory. Most Android devices have a microSD slot, giving you gigabytes of memory compared to what’s built into your device. Meanwhile, Apple is still selling 16GB phones without expansion ports. This extra data makes Android the perfect smartphone for music lovers: you don’t have to choose between storing albums on your phone or keeping an app.
This data freedom has helped fuel a storm of great music media player apps in the Android market, with options ranging from simple players to complex systems that let you customize your perfect sound. Here are the best music players for Android, including some streaming options for users who don’t already have large music collections on their computers.
The best music player for Android
Free random play, $9.99 per month for single user, $14.99 per month for family plan
In the music streaming landscape, no one does it better than Spotify. Its interface is intuitive and easy to use, with the best organized playlists in the industry. Mobile users can now access podcasts directly from the app. If you’re streaming on your data plan, you can lower the audio quality to use less data, but ultimately you won’t need it because of its best feature: offline listening. Spotify Premium subscribers can download albums off the service for offline listening, meaning you can listen to your favorite Kendrick Lamar album over and over again without consuming all your data. Free listeners are limited to shuffling artists and albums, with ads between songs. But do you only pay $9.99 a month to be able to download almost any song ever written to your device? It’s a deal almost too good to be believed.
Free to use for radio $9.99 per month for one user or $14.99 per month for a family of four
There are two excellent steam browsing options for Android users, and one of them comes directly from Google. Google Play Music combines access to an almost unlimited library of streaming music, with the ability to stream up to 50,000 of your songs without taking up space on your phone. As music listeners increasingly move away from large digital music libraries and into the streaming landscape, Google Play Music is a great middle ground. Its flash design is bright and colorful, with large buttons for navigating through each menu. While Google Play Music’s curated playlists aren’t as robust and diverse as Spotify’s, they’re still useful for discovering new music. Note: Your subscription includes a free YouTube Red account.
Free or $2.99
Pulsar has many of the same features as other music players for Android, including an integrated tag editor and gapless playback. These apps, however, lack Pulsar’s gorgeous and incredibly useful Library View, which lets you explore your music by album, artist, genre, or folder through a beautiful interface. Bonuses like downloading missing album art are nice, but if you’re browsing through a complicated library, it’s the organizational features that will attract you the most to this app.
Free with in-app purchases ranging from $0.99 to $3.49
The N7player isn’t for everyone, but a particular subset of music fans will fall in love with it immediately. Its user interface shows you your music as a collage of tags, with larger tags representing the music you listen to the most. You navigate through its menus with gestures, zooming in on the genres or artists you want to discover. It’s form rather than function, but N7player offers a legitimately unique browsing experience, especially if you have a large and diverse content library. A 10-band equalizer, environmental effects, and surround sound virtualization help you get the most out of your files, ensuring that N7player isn’t just a gimmick.
If you still have a huge library of digital files and want to use your Android like an iPod, Pi Music Player is a great option. Plenty of library management tools make finding exactly what you want a snap, and 3D reverb effects and a five-band EQ can help you get your levels right no matter what. headphones with which you listen. Where Pi shines, however, is its ringtone cutter, which lets you quickly grab clips of your favorite songs for ringtones without having to purchase the tracks elsewhere. The free version of this app is ad-supported, but if it drives you crazy, you can pay a small fee to remove them and get a few more themes.
Free or $3.99
This longtime Android favorite has built a loyal following for a reason. Filled with audio enhancement options, including 32 equalizer presets, jetAudio HD helps make your music sound amazing. Its useful widget lets you browse your tracks from your home screen without launching the app. Heck, you can even play MIDI files on it. JjetAudio offers a great blend of easy-to-use interface and powerful customization. There isn’t much difference between the paid and free versions of the app beyond ads and a few themes.
seven) media monkey
Do you listen to more than music on your phone? Media Monkey is for you. From albums to audiobooks and podcasts, Media Monkey is ready to handle any type of audio file you can throw at it. Beyond its specific organizational freebies, Media Monkey also lets users sync their music collection from their computer to their phone via Wi-Fi, saving you time in front of the monitor when you want to add files to your device. Setup can be a little frustrating, but once it works, Wi-Fi syncing is a godsend.
8) Apple Music
$9.99 per month $14.99 per month for a family of four
Apple has come to Android, bringing its Apple Music service to a wider market. While Apple’s streaming is basically the same as Spotify and Google Play Music, it has one feature worth considering for music fans: Beats One Radio is easily the best online radio service around, with buckets of exclusive content and shows. for listeners. Rap fans, in particular, will want to give Beats One a serious look, with stations like Drake’s OVO Sound releasing exclusives regularly.
Looking for a minimalist music player? Phonograph would love your business. With a bright and colorful flat design that isn’t cluttered with menus, Phonograph is easy on the eyes. Once you open its menus, you’ll find features like editing tags and managing playlists, but it doesn’t consistently put buttons all over the screen. One detail we particularly liked was the app’s color scheme that changed to match the art of whatever you’re listening to. Phonograph puts your music and album art first, with great sound as a bonus.
Free or $0.99 for full version
Shuttle uses the same card-style interface as Google Play Music, but this lightweight player is designed just to manage your collection. It supports gapless playback, album art downloads for your recordings, a sleep timer, and Last.fm scrobbling. The simple interface is easy to understand if you’re a vet or a smartphone novice, with lock screen and notification center controls so you don’t even have to open the app to skip the songs. The upgraded Shuttle+, a steal at just $0.99, adds beacon editing and Chromecast support. Support the devs if you use Shuttle and throw in the dollar to help them stay in the noodles.
Editor’s Note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
*First published: August 18, 2017, 5:30 a.m. CDT
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture editor for Daily Dot. A longtime cord cutter and early adopter, he’s an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former editor for TUAW, he knows all about Apple and Android. You can also find him regularly performing stand-up comedies in Los Angeles.