Using Your Cell Phone As an MP3 Player




Introduction: Using Your Cell Phone As an MP3 Player

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One of my friends was absolutely amazed when I told her that her phone could be used as a quite decent MP3 player. She noted that it would be one less thing she’d have to carry in her purse.

You can do this with smartphones (iphone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) and many other phones. It’s easiest if the phone has a standard 3.5 mm. mini jack, but can be used with other phones with the appropriate adapter.

Step 1: Ways to Hook It Up in Your Car

If your phone has a 3.5 mm. jack there are several ways to listen to music in your car, depending on your car’s sound system.

The best scenario is a newer car which have a jack on the dashboard for audio input. Just use a simple 3.5 mm male to male cable to plug your phone into your car’s audio system.

In a couple of rare cases car radios have hidden audio input jacks on the back of the radio. You’ll need to disassemble your dashboard to get access to the radio and figure out a way to string a cable from the back of the radio to a place you can easily reach.

An older car with a cassette radio is the next best choice. Just get an adapter which insets into the cassette’s slot with a cable with a 3.5 mm. plug. Car cassette adapters were originally intended for use with a portable CD player for cars without built-in CD players but are marketed now for MP3 players.

The final choice is a small FM radio transmitter which sends a signal through your car’s radio. This is often the only choice for a car radio which doesn’t have any other inputs.

There are more creative solutions which involve disassembling the car radio and connecting wires directly into the sound circuits or a circuit which emulates an external CD disk changer, but they’re beyond the scope of this tutorial.

Step 2: Non Smartphones

If you have a non-smartphone which has built-in MP3 playback capabilities you will generally be limited to the software built into the phone. Depending on the phone and how much effort the manufacturer decided into putting into software development for the non-phone capabilities it may be pretty decent software or just a plain music player like a cheap stand-alone MP3 player.

I especially enjoyed my Nokia 5230. It had an excellent MP3 player and I loaded the memory card with almost 24 hours of music covering dozens of different albums – music I transferred from CDs and cassettes, music I downloaded, and even some music I created myself. It was nice to have music on the go – in the car, while walking down the street, and even inside my house.

For the car I used a cassette adapter. When on the go I used the same stereo headset I used with the phone to talk. Inside my house I have portable stereos with line input jacks in several rooms. Simple adapter cables with 3.5 mm plugs permitted me to plug into any of these stereos. As a bonus when the phone was plugged into the stereo it was an excellent quality speakerphone with extremely high quality echo cancellation. I wish my current phone had as decent sound quality.

Step 3: Smartphones

If you have a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Android) then it comes with a basic music player app (application) but you’ve got lots of alternative choices too. There are plenty of free and pay alternatives with various advantages over the basic app which came with your phone.

PowerAmp is an Android music player with lots of enthusiasts but I wasn’t that impressed and didn’t think it was worth paying for. When the trial period was over I removed it from my phone.

MortPlayer is my favorite of the Android music players I’ve tried. It’s got many different playback modes – and best of all it’s free.

One friend complained that my Android had a “bug” because it played the songs at random in shuffle mode. I had a hard time convincing her that it was not a bug (something which isn’t working properly) and it was actually a highly desirable function. I showed her how with a couple of quick finger clicks I could select sequential mode to play a specific album. It’s up to you how you want to play your songs and whether or not you want to set up a Playlist and that does give you extra flexibility.

Of course there are lots of other choices, these are just the ones which I have tried.

Step 4: Syncing Between Your Cell Phone and Computer

Synching your music between your phone and computer is basically the same as your MP3 player. Just use the sync cable which came with your phone to connect it to your computer’s USB port.

In the case of some non-smartphones, including the Nokia 5320, there can be some confusion. The phone uses separate connectors for audio (3.5 mm.), power (micro coax connector), and computer data (micro USB). There are power cables which plug into a USB charger and those will not permit you to transfer any data between the phone and your computer. You have to use a standard USB to micro-USB cable.

Your phone may have come with a utility which lets you sync all sorts of files (contacts, pictures, text messages, and music) between your computer and phone. For at least one phone I’ve seen the program is actually located within the phone’s memory and the first time you plug your phone into the computer it asks you if you want to install the program on your computer.

Amazingly there are cases where the phone gives you the choice to use that company’s sync program, and the program exists in some countries but not others. One of my major annoyances with Samsung is their phones tell me that I can use the Kies synchronization program – but that program isn’t available for users inside the United States! Why would the phone and literature from the company tell me to use the Kies program when it’s unavailable in the country where I purchased that phone? Remind me not to use Samsung products in the future or recommend them.

Other sync programs include iTunes and Windows Media Player if you like them. Personally I prefer to just drag music folders back and forth between my computer’s hard drive and my phone’s microSD memory card.

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    Phil B
    Phil B

    6 years ago on Introduction

    After a few years of dragging and dropping files in Windows Explorer between a CD in the computer's disc drive or a folder on the hard drive to memory in an MP3 player that appeared as just another drive I came to have an iPhone. The only files I can view on the iPhone are photos. Everything else has to go through iTunes, and iTunes was maddening, especially version 11, until I learned to right click on just about everything in it. Suddenly menus appeared. Still, there is very little help available for iTunes 11. I did just do an Instructable on how I was able to load audiobook files through iTunes 11. Like your friend, it is nice to have everything on one device.