New Sony Walkman music players feature stunning good looks, Android 12
Sony has a pair of new Android Walkmans out, the NW-A300 and NW-ZX700. Yes, that's right, Walkmans, Sony's legendary music player brand from the 1980s. Apple may have given up on the idea of a smartphone-adjacent music player when it killed the iPod Touch line recently, but Sony still makes Android-powered Walkmans and has for a while. The first was in 2012 with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread-powered NWZ-Z1000, which looked like Sony just stripped the modem out of an Xperia phone and shoved it onto the market as a music player. Since then, Sony has made designs with more purpose-built hardware, and today there are a whole series of Android-powered Walkman music players out there. Sadly these new ones seem to only be for sale in Japan, the UK, and Europe, for now.
We'll start with the most consumer-friendly of the two, the NW-A300. This basic design debuted in 2019 with the NW-A105, but that shipped with Android 9. This is an upgraded version of that device with a less-ancient version of Android, a new SoC, and a scalloped back design. In Sony's home of Japan, the 32GB version is 46,000 yen (about $360), while in Europe, it's 399 euro (about $430).
The NW-A300 is a tiny little device that measures 56.6x98.5x12 mm, so pretty close to a deck of playing cards. And really, just look at these pictures. Sony might not be the consumer electronics juggernaut it used to be, but it still has an incredible product design department. I have no use for a standalone music player, but both of these Walkmans are so pretty that I just want to hold one.
The front is dominated by a 3.6-inch, 60 Hz, 1280x720 touchscreen LCD. There's 32GB of storage, and the device supports Wi-Fi 802.11AC and Bluetooth 5. That's about all Sony wants to talk about for official specs. It touts "longer battery life" but won't say how big the battery is, promising only "36 hours* of 44.1 KHz FLAC playback, up to 32 hours* of 96 KHz FLAC High-Resolution Audio playback." Presumably, that's all with the screen off.
For more specs, we can visit The Walkman Blog, a wonderful site that is very serious about these little music players. In October, the site found documentation for the A300 listing a 1500 mAh battery. The system-on-a-chip in the older NW-A100 model was the NXP i.MX8M-Mini, a wildly slow 28 nm SoC that has just four Arm Cortex-A53 CPUs and 4GB of RAM. You can say, "This is just a music player," but that's not really true since it still runs full Android with an app store and everything. Geekbench scores show this has a new quad-core Qualcomm chip of some kind with 4GB of RAM, but we can't be sure of the model number. A newer chip with smaller transistors would probably account for a lot of that "better battery life" promise.
This is a music player, so of course, there's a headphone jack on the bottom of the unit. You'll also find a spot for a lanyard, a speedy USB-C 3.2 Gen1 port for quick music transfers, and a MicroSD slot for storing all your music. Buttons along the side of the device also give you every music control you could want, like a hold switch, previous, play/pause, next, volume controls, and power.