The Moondrop MIAD 01: A Smartphone With Balanced Audio Output

Over the past several years we have seen smartphones regrettably lose features which were once standard, such as FM radios, IR blasters, status LEDs, physical buttons, micro SD card slots, and of course headphone jacks. An interesting counterpoint here regarding the latter is the newly released Moondrop MIAD 01 smartphone.

As a relatively well-known manufacturer of audio equipment including in-ear monitors (IEMs), the announcement of a smartphone came out of left field, but the specifications make sense. Of particular interest are the dual audio jacks: one 3.5 mm TRRS and one 4.4 mm balanced TRRS, making it a good match for high-end headphones that support balanced audio.

The Moondrop MIAD 01 smartphone from all sides. (Credit: Moondrop)

While the smartphone hardware is your average mid-range selection, featuring a MediaTek Dimensity 7050 SoC — its main selling point are the dual Cirrus Logic MasterHiFi DACs, that power the dual audio jacks. It’s also the reason behind the name: Mobile Internet Audio Device, or MIAD for short.

Given Moondrop’s audio enthusiast market, this tracks. These are people for whom the mere mentioning of ‘Bluetooth Audio’ or ‘USB-C-to-audio jack dongle’ is likely to evoke a less than favorable response.

In terms of software, Moondrop says the phone will offer a “native” Android 13 experience, which hopefully means it will be free from manufacturer-specific changes and bloatware. You’ll need to manually install Google Mobile Services though, as is often the case with Android devices that aren’t from the major players in the industry.

As reported by Android Authority, the MIAD 01 is available via select outlets for $399. Details like software updates remain to be clarified, but this might be the most over the top audio-centric smartphone we have seen so far. It definitely gives Sony’s current range of Android-based Walkmans a run for their money, while even having phone functionality in the package.

21 thoughts on “The Moondrop MIAD 01: A Smartphone With Balanced Audio Output

  1. Oh my god, did someone finally actually *design* a phone? Like, they paid an actual industrial design professional to make a device that doesn’t look like a piece of glass with a random protrusion? I hope this is a start of a new trend.

        1. Modernism is about 100 years old.
          Modern, like dancing the Charleston, Model T and Marxism.

          Sometimes the names people choose to describe themselves and their thoughts tell you more about them than anything else.

          Self congratulatory, self deluded BS. Progressive, liberal etc etc etc.

  2. I want one! At 6.7 inches I consider it a tablet-not-a-phablet, and that kinda sucks. And 256GB is pretty small for someone who has well over 2TB of music. But I don’t mind an older version of Android, and the fact that it ships without all the Google crap which I’ve purged from my current phone is a feature rather than a bug. It will be a bit better if someone builds a LineageOS release for it, but that doesn’t seem likely.

    I wonder if it will work properly in Canada. I know that some phones come in country-specific versions because of carrier-specific configurations, but that Americans can use their phones here while we Canadians can use our phones south of the border. I’m not clear on what the differences are.

    Anyway, I’m being forced to look for a new phone. Canada’s cell providers are forcing the transition to VoLTE, and while my current hardware supports it, LineageOS does not. ‘Because Samsung’, of course… So there might be one of these phones in my future.

    1. I think you may be conflating earth ground with ground return paths that are definitely in battery powered digital/analog devices like this.

      In theory balanced output separates ground for both channels using a 4 pole trrs jack (as opposed to having a common shared ground like common 4 pole trs jacks) in an attempt to minimize crosstalk or something or other. I’m gonna be honest I’m not an audiophile and haven’t tried anything with balanced outputs yet but allegedly it sounds better.

    2. It probably connects better to pro audio gear, maybe good for playing demo recordings, or tracks for jam sessions or even performances. Better than any other smartphone I mean

      What excites me more is the dedicated audio DAC hardware. Make you feel better about plugging a phone into an expensive hifi setup .

      This is a feature of questionable utility but its technical appeal could be enough to get geeks/enthusiasts to choose it

      1. I am outside of the target audience because I use the apple usb-c audio adapter on my desktop computer and no adapter at all on phones. It actually tests pretty well, as I understand it, and I have no real complaint with non-luxury iems. But I think many of the people who want more than that are going to aspire to a well-regarded external device instead of whatever they managed to cram in within the bill of materials for a fully working phone.

        That said, maybe people who think of it like a hi-fi ipod that makes calls will take it, or maybe people who have carried around a portable dac will find it worthwhile to save effort. I can’t begin to guess who can hear any quality improvement while in noisy public spaces with their phone, but maybe if they take it to a studio or other quiet room they wouldn’t bring a separate device to, it could work out. Or maybe they just want the phone to work directly with existing equipment, regardless how much difference it makes?

        1. Can’t find any mention of IP rating. Does it get one while having ports? I don’t want it to die if I get it wet in rain or something. Warranty ending if you open Settings and unlock bootloader seems dumb. This needs GrapheneOS

    1. Don’t believe it. That’s just elitist audiophile babble. The files actually don’t matter. Having it capable of using demanding portable audio gear. Power makes a ton of difference!

  3. I’m using one in the UK. Love the design and sound quality
    Downside, will not work with Android Auto, Fitbit and Google fit.
    Would not work with B&O H95 headphones using wired connection.
    It looks like I’ll just put a data only simple in it and use it as a music player and internet access.
    Also it didn’t like my 128gb memory card, loaded Flac file ito phone memory.
    Hope this helps someone make a decision.

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