What Devices Can Play Audiobooks?

There are mainly six types of devices that can play audiobooks from Audible or any other audiobook retailer: Computers, e-readers, tablets, smartphones, MP3 players, and car audio systems. 

In this article you will know the advantages of each of these types of devices and which one can be the most suitable for you:

  • Using computers to listen to audiobooks
  • Using E-Readers to listen to audiobooks
  • Using tablets to listen to audiobooks
  • E-readers Vs Tablets to listen to audiobooks
  • Using smartphones to listen to audiobooks
  • MP3 players to listen to audiobooks
  • Tablets vs e-readers vs smartphones to listen to audiobooks
  • The most sold device to listen to audiobooks in 2020
  • What device can play audiobooks in a car?

Using Computers to Listen to Audiobooks

This image shows a laptop and a desktop computer

Desktop and laptop computers are present in work and home environments. A very good advantage of desktop computers is that their built-in speakers tend to sound loud enough to listen to an audiobook when being seated in front of it. 

External speakers can also provide a much better sound quality as well as a much louder sound when the user is not in front of the screen.

Big screens provide a great deal of comfort and make working on them the most complete experience, such as choosing what unit and folder to download your audiobooks.

Using E-readers to Listen to Audiobooks

This image shows an e-reader

An E-reader is a device that stores ebooks and audiobooks. It looks like a small tablet (only 6 inches) but with the exclusive purpose of displaying e-books and playing audiobooks through the included app, which makes the battery consumption very low. A full charge can last up to 6 weeks.

Using Tablets to Listen to Audiobooks

This image shows a tablet

A tablet is a really complete device that allows the user many other features in addition to reading ebooks and listening to audiobooks. The memory capacity is much bigger. There are several apps to play audiobooks available on the Appstore and Android. 

Having multiple apps running simultaneously (email, chats, web browsers, etc.), in addition to having the wifi connection turned on can consume the battery much more quickly than in an e-reader.

I enjoy reading on an iPad and can get up to 30 hours on airplane mode. I turn on the wifi only If I want to check the meaning or definition of a word, check for more information about cites or biography of the author, or use any app for very few minutes.

E-readers vs Tablets to Listen to Audiobooks

8 GB devices can hold around the same average amount of audiobooks and ebooks. Notice that the examples in the chart below show the average capacity for one or the other:

Kindle Kobo Libra7 inchesiPad Mini7,9 inchesSamsung Galaxy Tab 7 inches
Memory8GB to 32 GB8 GB64 GB to 256 GB8 GB to 256 GB
Average capacity8 GB models:
35 audiobooks or 1,000 + ebooks
8 GB models:
35 audiobooks or 1,000 + ebooks
64 GB models:
280 audiobooks or8,000 + ebooks
8 GB models:
35 audiobooks or 1,000 + ebooks
Battery life21 hours
(wifi off)
28 hours
(wifi off)
30 hours (wifi off)25 hours (wifi off)
Weight188 gr190 gr300 gr276 gr
Price (Amazon)From $149From $99From $399From $140
Perfect for people whoLoves ebooks and audiobooks Loves ebooks and audiobooks Loves ebooks and audiobooks but needs other functions (web surfing, video conferencing, etc.)Loves ebooks and audiobooks but needs other functions (web surfing, video conferencing, etc.)
This table shows a comparison between e-readers and tablets

Using Smartphones to Listen to Audiobooks

This image shows an iPhone and an Android smartphone

Advanced model smartphones can be considered as useful as computers, with only a fraction of the size. Their portability and battery life make them very popular for audiobooks and their current storage capacity allows having hundreds of audiobooks and tens of thousands of ebooks.

Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary connections are available to listen to audiobooks from a smartphone or tablet in a car audio system.

MP3 Players to Listen to Audiobooks

This image shows six different MP3 player brands

iPods started the revolution of having access to audio content in MP3 format in the early 2000s. 32 GB MP3 players can store an average of 140 audiobooks. Some models have an FM receiver, voice recorder and can display ebooks. Many people choose MP3 players over smartphones to play audiobooks and music so they won’t have to spend battery life from their phones and tablets.

Tablets vs E-readers vs Smartphones to Listen to Audiobooks

Tablets are the direct competitors of e-readers as they can manage audio players and ebook reader apps, as well as many of the functionalities of a computer.

A tablet weighs more than a smartphone and takes the size of a thin book. Thus small sizes and greater storage make smartphones stand out over tablets when they are used in a car’s audio system to listen to audiobooks.  

The prices of smartphones are much higher than tablets and e-readers. The key to getting the most battery life is to turn off the wifi connection. Airplane mode can apparently save battery life in the short term, but in the long term, the battery ends its life cycle more quickly than keeping the tablet permanently on that mode.

The Most Sold Device to Listen to Audiobooks

This image shows smart speakers

The most sold device to listen to audiobooks are smart speakers. As I mentioned before in this article, computers, e-readers, tablets, smartphones, and MP3 players can also be used with external speakers, and have become very popular because of their nice quality sound and greater volume.  

The 2020 Consumer Survey and 2019 Sales Survey Press Release by the Audio Publishers Association show that:

  • 60% of the people who participated in these surveys own a smart speaker
  • 46% of these smart speaker owners use it to listen to audiobooks

What Device Can Play Audiobooks in a Car?  

The most common devices to play audiobooks in a car are the built-in car infotainment system and standard car stereo systems.

  • Built-in infotainment systems
    • Apple Carplay came into the market in 2014 as a way to enable drivers to have access to their iPhone apps through their vehicle’s infotainment system. Since then, listening to audiobooks is just a screen tap away. 
  • Android Car was available just one year later in 2015 and it works the same way as Apple Carplay to listen to audiobooks. Having access to audiobook providers  is just a matter of downloading their app in the car audio system
  • Standard car stereo systems allows listening to your favorite audiobook titles by:
    • Turning on the bluetooth connection
    • Connecting a USB cable from the  smartphone to the USB car stereo input
    • Connecting a smartphone from its audio output  to the Auxiliary input of the car stereo system.
    • In some models the FM receiver can be enabled to listen the audio from a smartphone
    • MP3 players can also get connected to a car audio system through bluetooth, USB or the auxiliary input 

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