You Might Still Want a Sony Walkman in 2023—Here's Why

It’s all about those buttons

  • Sony’s new NW-A306 Walkman can also stream. 
  • Sony’s design skills are still amazing as they were in the 1980s.
  • You might not need a new device—maybe you just need a better music app.
Someone sitting at a kitchen table with coffee listening to a Sony Walkman with wired headphones.


Sony has a couple of new Walkmans out. Yes, Walkmans, and when you see them, you're going to want one. 

It's 2023, and most of us stream our music, probably from Spotify or Apple Music. But the experience is lacking. The apps are frustrating, songs regularly disappear from playlists, and whole albums can be pulled. You never own your music, and you have to pay an ongoing subscription or be cut off entirely. But a Walkman? That's a different story entirely. 

"Because it can produce high-quality music, the Walkman is an excellent option for music fans who prefer to hear their favorites in high definition. They also give off a more 'personal' vibe in the sense that you feel more connected to the artist and the track. It is because the device is solely used for listening to music, in contrast to other electronic devices like smartphones and computers, which are designed to perform various tasks." James Dyble, managing director of Global Sound Group, told Lifewire via email. 

Walk, Man

The Walkman name is about as iconic as it gets, and you might be forgiven for expecting these new models to be throwbacks to Sony’s 80s devices. But these machines are totally modern, with Bluetooth for headphones, Android and a screen to run everything, and Wi-Fi for (yes) streaming. So why would you bother with one instead of just using your phone?

The 2023 Sony Walkman NW-A306.


First, take a look at it. Sony’s got design. This looks every bit as good as its portable electronics through the tape, CD, and MiniDisc eras, right down to the physical buttons along the side. Yes, physical buttons. Your iPhone might let you skip tracks and play/pause from your AirPods, but the new NW-A306 (and the fancier but less cool NW-ZX707 ) have proper buttons. 

But really, the main reason to use a dedicated music-playing device is that phones are so bad at it.

Own Music

The NW-A306 has a battery life of up to 36 hours of continuous playback, a 3.6-inch display, and because it runs on Android, you can install your favorite streaming apps if you must, although that defeats the point of having all your music with you. You'll still need a computer to load your music onto the device, just like with the iPhone's Music app, but that somehow seems less annoying with a walkman than with a phone. It also has audiophile-level playback at up to 96KHz (more than double the sample rate of a CD), although that's probably not a difference you can hear. 

But it's not all upside. For a start, you'll have to carry two devices if you still want to carry your phone. And it's possible that you kind of let your music library slip when streaming came along. I bought a used iPod a while back, and when I loaded up all my songs, there was no music from the last half-decade or so because I'd been streaming it all.

A 2023 Sony Walkman sitting on a gray surface.


"As for the biggest disadvantage of a dedicated music player like the Sony Walkman, I believe the one glaring downside is having yet another fairly sizable device to keep track of while you're on the go," Michael L. Moore, owner of the Devoted to Vinyl website, told Lifewire via email.

And this shows us who Sony's Walkmans are meant for: people with huge collections of MP3s or similar and who are willing to spend around $400 for a device to listen to it. 

App Alternatives

What if you hate streaming apps but don’t want to buy a new device? There are plenty of music apps in the various app stores, but if you are an iPhone user, I have one recommendation. It’s called Albums, and it is amazing. 

Albums arranges your music collection into a grid of albums, tap one and view its liner notes, track listing, and all kinds of info about who made it. The app is both immediate and really, really deep, but there’s one thing I love about it more than anything. No matter how long you leave it between launches, the app opens up exactly where you left off. And it also integrates with Apple Music, so you can even stream. 

You probably already know if you want an app or an entire device for your music listening, but either way, do yourself a favor and stop using the Spotify and Apple apps. You’ll be very happy you did.

Was this page helpful?