Sony has released a pair of new Android walkmans, the NW-A300 and NW-ZX700. Yes, it’s true, Oalmans, The legendary Sony music player brand of the 1980s. Apple may have ditched the idea of a smartphone-adjacent music player when it recently killed off the iPod Touch line, but Sony still makes Android-powered music players and has been doing it for some time. The first was in 2012 with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread-powered NWZ-Z1000, which looked like Sony had just removed the modem from an Xperia phone and released it as a music player. Since then, Sony has made designs with more purpose-built hardware, and now there’s a whole host of Walkman music players running Android. Unfortunately, these new models only seem to be on sale in Japan, the UK, and Europe at the moment.
We’ll start with the more user-friendly of the two, the NW-A300. This basic design debuted in 2019 with the NW-A105, but it came with Android 9. It is an upgraded version of this device with an older version of Android, a new SoC and a scalloped back design. In Japan, at Sony, the 32 GB version costs 46,000 yen (around $360), while in Europe it’s 399 euros (around $430).
The NW-A300 is a tiny device that measures 56.6×98.5×12mm, so pretty close to a deck of playing cards. And really, just to see to these pictures. Sony may no longer be the consumer electronics juggernaut it used to be, but it still has an amazing product design department. I don’t need a standalone music player, but these two walkmans look so good I just want to hold one.
The front is dominated by a 3.6-inch, 60Hz, 1280×720 touchscreen LCD display. There’s 32GB of storage and the device supports 802.11AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5. is pretty much all Sony wants to talk about for the official specs. It touts “longer battery life”, but doesn’t say how big the battery is, only promising “36 hours* of 44.1KHz FLAC playback, up to 32 hours* of high audio playback 96KHz FLAC resolution”. Presumably, that’s all with the screen off.
For more specs, we can visit The Walkman Blog, a wonderful site that takes these little music players very seriously. In October, the site found documentation for the A300 listing a 1500 mAh battery. The system-on-chip of the old NW-A100 model was the NXP i.MX8M-Mini, an extremely slow 28 nm SoC that only has four Arm Cortex-A53 processors and 4 GB of RAM. You may say “It’s just a music player”, but that’s not really true because it still runs Android with an app store and all. Geekbench scores show this has a new quad-core Qualcomm chip with 4GB of RAM, but we can’t be sure of the model number. A newer chip with smaller transistors would likely account for much of that “better battery life” promise.
This is a music player, so of course there’s a headphone jack at the bottom of the device. You’ll also find a slot for a lanyard, a fast USB-C 3.2 Gen1 port for fast music transfers, and a MicroSD slot to store all your music. Buttons on the side of the unit also give you all the music controls you might need, such as a hold, previous, play/pause, next switch, volume controls and power.