I feel like Apple’s iPhones up until the iPhone 6S made a compelling argument for sounding good on-the-go, making their iPod line almost redundant unless you wanted a cheap device for kids without a monthly payment. I had $50-$80 discrete DAC/amp gear that sounded like a downgrade from my iPhone 5S or 6S (and you had to spend even more to get a DAP with a meaningful improvement), and Android phones offered below flagship quality would sound about the same as a laptop: functional but dull or even fatiguing.
Around the time of the 6S though, Apple was starting to fall behind due to the lack of expandable storage, and of course the iPhone 7 generation completely changed my perception to where Apple wasn’t enough. Sure, the $9 included dongle sounds pretty good, but it’s an extra piece easily damaged or lost, blocking the charging port. Suddenly, everyone cared more about Bluetooth, which also meant the phone didn’t dictate the reproduction quality. Apple had halted iPod development a few years prior. MicroSD prices were falling drastically for larger storage size, and suddenly paying $100 to jump from 16GB to 32GB or another $100 on top of that to get 64GB seemed completely asinine in the face of 32GB MicroSD cards for about $30 (now it’s like 256GB for the same price, even greater disparity). Apple also saw subscription services as a way to regularly make more money ($120/year vs about $30-$50 year buying songs and albums), and so promoted a 180° turn on the stance Steve Jobs fought for. They’ve also stayed married to the 256 kbps AAC format (why not have an Apple Lossless Store?). It’s superior to a 256kbps MP3, but inferior to Spotify’s 320 Ogg Vorbis file format, and AAC as a Bluetooth codec is only “OK” (Apple relies on Airplay for loss-less Wireless). I worked at the Genius Bar at the time, so I felt obliged to demo the service personally... and I’ll never forgive Apple Music for deleting all my music once my trial ended; all of my playlists, downloaded music, and CD rips, and synced that Armageddon to my home computer as well.
Long story short, Apple went from the computer company that understood the market and latest tech capabilities, almost singlehandedly saving the business of music from collapsing (would it have been better if it had, and musicians found more direct sales methods from the ashes?), to now being very out of touch with the music market and work in the concept that they don’t have to offer significant advantages other than ride their brand loyalty base. The bright side is I’m finally exploring Android through DAPs that don’t share the Apple idiosyncrasies, and getting an “iPod killer” that keeps up with the times. I won’t put my hope into LG phones keeping their audiophile hardware, and besides I’ve grown to know why I missed having a dedicated music-only device.
Which discussion thread am I in again? Oh. Yeah, the Sony will sound good on any phone because of the wireless, great on-the-go, while the HD 6XX is a great home reference choice of heirloom quality, just skip using a phone and you’ll enjoy decades of use out of it (easily outlive a smartphone or even the battery in the Sony).