It’s reasonable to assume that a jack-of-all-trades devices, such as the iPhone, would lose against a specialty device, such as the music-centric PonoPlayer, in that specialty device’s respective category. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case here as some blind audio tests have shown that people enjoy the audio quality of the iPhone more so than or at least equal to that of the $400 PonoPlayer.
Though it has the backing of legendary rocker Neil Young, the new Pono music player for audiophiles doesn’t actually sound much better, or better at all, than high-quality MP3s played from an Apple iPhone. Funded through a high-profile Kickstarter effort a year ago, the PonoPlayer is now shipping to some early backers. For everyone else, the uniquely shaped triangle device carries a retail price of $399, and it comes in colors of yellow or black. Young originally said in 2012 that he had been working with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on a new music format that would improve audio quality. Those plans apparently fell through, however, which helped lead Young to publicly support the PonoPlayer, which supports high-fidelity audio up to 192kHz/24-bit resolution.