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Purchasing a phone to use as a DAP only (what specs?)

RHO

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I’m thinking about purchasing a phone to use as a DAP only. So no SIM inside.
I have a good phone, but it won’t do as a DAP. (No SD card slot)

Requirements:
  • memory card slot (min 256GB: I like to store my complete library on the card)
  • USB-C
  • relatively compact screen size
  • Android
  • Good Wifi (for downloads and occasional streaming)
Don't care:
  • camera
  • gaming
  • audio quality for phone calls
  • 4G/5G
  • 3.5mm connector => will use USB dongle
Unknow:
What kind of performance would I go for regarding the SOC? It doesn’t need to be anything high-end. But would the most basic processor do?
Best software to install? (I use Foobar on my phone now, but would like something more comfortable to use) USB Audio Player Pro any good?
I don’t know how much I care about BT (LDAC, AptX,...) for this device.

What would the minimum specs for the phone be? I would like to go as budget friendly on the phone as possible, with still good reliability and good usability (good responsiveness, no stuttering).
Main use is with wired IEMs but occasionally I will be using headphones with this device.
As a DAC/amp I’m considering a Hidizs S9(pro) or E1DA 9038S Gen3. I use an iBasso DC03 with my current phone, but consider a dedicated device for this set-up.
 

Cahudson42

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I would be looking at one of the Quad DAC LG..such as the V20 H910. Good DAC performance..should be fine w/o dongle for your IEMs and many phones. I use one now bedside. NIB maybe 1 year ago was $120 on ebay. Now up afraid..

If going to add dongle I'd strongly suggest going a bit more $ to the $110 Qudelix 5k. Gives you PEQ. Plus amp, particularly if you use Balanced, will be fine for anything except the most inefficient planars (I use HE400se..drives them fine. Balanced)
 

Destination: Moon

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Another vote for the V20. Has slot for sdhc card and the battery is easily replaceable. The last iteration of a high end phone from any mfgr that has a removable battery
 

Nango

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V20 didn't receive new Android versions, V30 or sibling LG G7 ThinQ does and is only marginally higher in price. And you save the dongle costs.

It has also good battery performance. Look at the distance of the transistors inside the chipset, expressed in nm (nanometers). The lower this number, the less power is required resulting in longer battery performance. Avoid anything > 10 nm for a proper battery performance, 7 or lower is better. G7 ThinQ (10 nm) is around 32hrs nonstop Flac playing from the mCard in flight mode on regular IEM.

https://www.howtogeek.com/394267/what-do-7nm-and-10nm-mean-and-why-do-they-matter/amp/

To work around the bottleneck in Androids OS resampling all files to lower resolution just purchase an app like NeutronMP which bypasses the Android OS and delivers the music files in their native specs.
 
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MRC01

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One thing to watch out for with Android: the Android system uses a single sample rate and resamples all audio to this rate. This behavior may or may not be user-configurable, depending on the Android version, variant and device.

Certain apps like USB Audio Player Pro bypass this system behavior and are able to stream the bits out via USB without resampling or other tampering. However, that means you must have the music files you want to play physically stored on the device. If you want to stream from other apps (Primephonic, Spotify, etc.) you are subject to the Android system behavior above, and it is likely to tamper with the data before it sends it out the USB port.

For example, on my phone: If I use USB Audio Player Pro to play a music file stored on the SD card, it streams the raw unmodified bits out the USB port. So my DAC reports sample rate & bit depth matching the files. So far, so good. But, if I use the Primephonic app to stream music, it always comes out at 96 kHz 24 bit. Primephonic delivers the music data at its native rate (44.1, 96 or whatever), but the Android system resamples everything to 96-24 before sending out the USB port.
 

Fahzz

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John Darko had an article on this a couple of months ago at Darko Audio. Not vouching for his conclusions but he did speak about what factors to consider. I don't have a link for it.
 
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RHO

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I know these LG phones have a very good reputation but I'm not really keen on getting a device that is out of production from a manufacturer that has quit the phone market altogether.
So I'm looking at much more recent models.
Prices for the V20 are already level with a cheap new phone, with EU warranty. Getting a NOS LG will not make it that much cheaper, if at all.

So what I see is that the main thing is that I need software that plays my library without resampling.
Any cheap modern smartphone has hardware that should enable the device to work as a DAP? (provided I add a good dongle)
 

Katji

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One thing to watch out for with Android: the Android system uses a single sample rate and resamples all audio to this rate. This behavior may or may not be user-configurable, depending on the Android version, variant and device.
I wish there was a list somewhere, that would help to clarify it. So much phone specs but even which Bt codecs can take some work to find out.
 

Koeitje

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Any cheap modern smartphone has hardware that should enable the device to work as a DAP? (provided I add a good dongle)
Should be literally any phone with an usb-c connection.
 
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RHO

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I wish there was a list somewhere, that would help to clarify it. So much phone specs but even which Bt codecs can take some work to find out.
The nice thing is that I don't need to worry about any real phone applications.
BT codecs are nice but I will use it wired 99% of the time.
Should be literally any phone with an usb-c connection.
Yeah, I'm getting the impression that the hardware on cheap phones is actually quite a bit better than the hardware on a DAP. Only the battery is a bit smaller but for my use-case it should not be an issue.
Now looking at these:
https://tweakers.net/pricewatch/compare/1629374;1663270;1600590;1626036/
The Motorolas and the One+ have quite lean android. The Xiaomi has more performant hardware. But I don't think I'll need it.
Downside of the One+ is that is has the least performant hardware.
From these the Moto G9 Play looks interesting. (Good screen, good battery life, clean android, USB-C, BT 5.0, 5GHz WiFi, microSD(HD/XC))
Any good alternatives that have some features I that could come in handy for usage as a DAP?
 

Nango

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Should be literally any phone with an usb-c connection.
He should avoid newer models with chipset MediaTek *Dimensity* as they don't work with all these dongles.

Generally phones which feature newer BT codecs like LDAC and apt-X are supposed to be dedicated audio devices, aka Realme 8 5G is one of these, all though it sports the Dimensity chipset, it probably doesn't need an extra dongle.
 
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Nango

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I’m thinking about purchasing a phone to use as a DAP only. So no SIM inside.
I have a good phone, but it won’t do as a DAP. (No SD card slot)

Requirements:
  • memory card slot (min 256GB: I like to store my complete library on the card)
  • USB-C
  • relatively compact screen size
  • Android
  • Good Wifi (for downloads and occasional streaming)
Don't care:
  • camera
  • gaming
  • audio quality for phone calls
  • 4G/5G
  • 3.5mm connector => will use USB dongle
Unknow:
What kind of performance would I go for regarding the SOC? It doesn’t need to be anything high-end. But would the most basic processor do?
Best software to install? (I use Foobar on my phone now, but would like something more comfortable to use) USB Audio Player Pro any good?
I don’t know how much I care about BT (LDAC, AptX,...) for this device.

What would the minimum specs for the phone be? I would like to go as budget friendly on the phone as possible, with still good reliability and good usability (good responsiveness, no stuttering).
Main use is with wired IEMs but occasionally I will be using headphones with this device.
As a DAC/amp I’m considering a Hidizs S9(pro) or E1DA 9038S Gen3. I use an iBasso DC03 with my current phone, but consider a dedicated device for this set-up.
E1DA 9038S Gen3 is quite powerful and overkill to IEM. Will drain your battery in a couple of hours.
 

Katji

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The nice thing is that I don't need to worry about any real phone applications.
BT codecs are nice but I will use it wired 99% of the time.
Yes , sure , me too, just an example. ...what i said was quite clear .
 
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RHO

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He should avoid newer models with chipset MediaTek *Dimensity* as they don't work with all these dongles.

Generally phones which feature newer BT codecs like LDAC and apt-X are supposed to be dedicated audio devices, aka Realme 8 5G is one of these, all though it sports the Dimensity chipset, it probably doesn't need an extra dongle.
Oh really? That's good to know. Would have been quite the disappointment if that would happen.
 

Nango

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It is 93mA, 3x the consumption of a regular more than decent dongle, while it consumes in use hundreds of mA, so it will drain the 3000maH a mobile has in a couple of hours.
 
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RHO

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It is 93mA, 3x the consumption of a regular more than decent dongle, while it consumes in use hundreds of mA, so it will drain the 3000maH a mobile has in a couple of hours.
That is indeed something I have to take into account.
So the S9(pro) or Qudelix 5k is a better option.
 

Nango

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Don't see that Qudelux way ahead of an audio dedicated mobile phone in terms of SQ and with the apps aka NeutronMP you can do all the EQ and library services soooo much better.
 
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