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A hi-fi smartphone for 2024: Moondrop’s MIAD01

  • China’s Moondrop – who recently gave us the DiscDream portable CD player – return this week with another head-turner: the MIAD01 is a smartphone designed with audiophile sensitivities in mind and is loaded with two headphone sockets.

    From the top, the MIAD01 is a 5G-capable smartphone whose native Android 13 OS runs from 256GB of UFS3.1 internal storage, juiced by a Mediatek 7050 octa-core processor and 12GB of LPDDR4X RAM. The 6.7″ AMOLED 1080p display refreshes at 120Hz and embeds a fingerprint reader.

    Cameras? Dual 64-megapixel on the back – including a wide angle – and a 32-megapixel on the front. A dated camera array is why I no longer use an LG V40 or V60 in the day-to-day. Let’s hope the Moondrop phone’s camera at least keeps pace with modern image quality standards, even if it isn’t a class leader. I’ve already seen one promotional image that reads “It’s not good but it works”. How’s that for re-aligning customer expectations?

    Since LG quit the smartphone business in 2021, wishful thinking has taken over the audiophile smartphone scene to – in some quarters – overrate the sound quality of Sony’s Xperia range and (to a lesser extent) the Asus Zenfone 10. Both feature a 3.5mm headphone socket but both are bested by a €70 balanced dongle DAC (from FiiO) — one that can be attached to any Android smartphone without too much in-pocket hassle, despite not quite offering the convenience of an in-built headphone socket.

    This is where the MIAD01 steps up. It gives us 3.5mm and balanced 4.4mm headphone outputs from the internal audio board, no dongle required. The latter promises up to 27 hours of listening time from the internal 5000maH battery. In testing, those headphone outputs will need to sonically see off the Sony, the Asus and the FiiO dongle if this Moondrop smartphone is to be seen as a bona fide successor to LG’s V series.

    When I asked Moondrop about the specifics of the internal DAC and headphone chip, my contact replied, “Sorry we cannot unveil the DAC chip”. That’s odd when HifiGo’s listing tells us it’s a pair of Cirrus Logic Master Hifi chips.

    HifiGo is where we also learn that the MIAD01’s Bluetooth output covers off SBC, AAC and LDAC and that music playback bypasses Android’s SRC. However, we’re not told if that SRC bypass has been applied to all streaming apps or just the local file player. DAP fans should note the presence of a microSD card slot on the Moondrop’s underside for up to 2TB of additional storage.

    Pushing Moondrop along is the MIAD01’s retail price: a very reasonable US$399. That’s cheap enough to say that if Moondrop doesn’t send me one, I’ll buy one. Why? Because from where I am sitting, this smartphone promises more mainstream crossover potential than any hi-fi product slated to be announced at (or alongside) Munich High-End next month.

    Further information: Moondrop

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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