It's probably been at least 15 years since I have owned a digital audio player.
My last iPod was retired when I got into PalmOS devices, then moved to a Symbian phone, then other smart phones.
But it seems that (especially in the low to medium tier) modern smart phones have regressed a bit when it comes to using it as an audio device. Phone manufacturers are obsessed with providing giant screens, which are horrible for one-handed usability. Only certain high end models put emphasis on audio output quality (Like the LG V-series), and a lot of them don't have analog outputs at all. Which takes me to my current phone, the LeEco X522. After I broke my old Xiaomi phone, I "borrowed" the LeEco from my daughter. After flashing it with LineageOS, its not bad. However, it doesn't support SD card expansion, and eschews the headphone jack in favor of USB-C. Since my Sailfish OS phone stopped receiving SMS after the last OS update, I'm stuck with the LeEco.
Since I like to tinker, my personal phone gets wiped quite often. I figured this would be a good time to shift back to a dedicated audio device. Since Apple pulled out of the stand-alone audio player market, many options at all price points have popped up. I ended up selecting the Shanling M0
. It's the size of an old iPod nano, and has a decent 32bit DAC along with good touchscreen controls and battery life. There is a single physical dial/button on the side which functions as on/off and wakes the screen when pressed. When turned, the dial controls volume. The rest of the functions are controlled via the touchscreen interface.
I do a lot of driving for work, and frequently listen to podcasts. Using the AntennaPod app on my phone, I can download fresh episodes via WiFi. The M0 has a couple of neat features which make it an excellent companion device. The first is built in Bluetooth. This can be used two-ways. I can either output to a BT speaker. Or use the device as a BT receiver and output from the analog jack. The second cool feature is the ability to use the M0 as a USB digital to analog converter. By connecting a USB cable from my phone to the device, it acts as an analog output for my phone. Pretty slick!
Now, all I need is a modern semi-smart phone and the circle will be complete o/