Moondrop MIAD01 review: What was I made for?

It's a smartphone from an audio brand. What could go wrong?

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So today I’ve brought you guys my review of the Moondrop MIAD01, which might just be the most unique smartphone in the world right. I know you might be thinking what’s so special about it except this… sorta funky design but trust me, this is not another one of those phones trying to stand out with its design and nothing else. Just look what we have here… two headphone jacks!

Moondrop MIAD01 - Headphone jacks

I absolutely love how good wireless earbuds have gotten lately but if someone asked me to choose between a wired and a wireless earphone, I’d still go with the wired ones. Easy.

There’s just… something about the reliability of wired earphones that I haven’t been able to move on from even after all these years. So when I found out that Moondrop was launching its very first smartphone (with an obvious attention on the audio experience) I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Moondrop MIAD01 Review: Specifications

  • Display: 6.7-inch AMOLED screen, FHD+, 120Hz refresh rate
  • Chipset: MediaTek Dimensity 7050 5G (6nm mobile platform)
  • Memory: 12GB RAM, 256GB storage (expandable)
  • Software & UI: Android 13
  • Rear Camera: Dual (64MP primary, 8MP ultrawide)
  • Front Camera: 32MP sensor (hole-punch)
  • Security: Fingerprint sensor (optical in-display)
  • Connectivity: Hybrid Dual-SIM (Nano), WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5, GPS, USB Type-C, NFC
  • Network Bands: 
    • GSM: B2 / 3 / 5 / 8
    • WCDMA: B1 / 2 / 4 / 5 / 8
    • LTE: B1 / 2 / 3 /4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 17 / 20 / 28 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 66
    • 5G: N1 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 20 / 28 / 41 / 77 / 78
  • Battery: 5000mAh with 33W fast charging (power adapter not provided)
  • Price in Nepal: N/A (USD 399 internationally)

Moondrop MIAD01 Review:

Okay — before I start going on about the phone — I feel like I need to talk a little about Moondrop itself first. Because even though it’s a pretty well-known name in the audiophile community, Moondrop isn’t exactly a household name in the audio world like Sony and JBL. The company is especially known for its affordable in-ear monitors (IEMs) and headphones, and perhaps also the anime art you’ll find on most of its packaging.

Like the one on this phone. I don’t care for it at all, and I must say the unboxing experience of the MIAD01 is nothing extraordinary either. You open up to the phone itself, a nice, braided USB-C cable, and a user manual. Which… I have no idea what it says since it’s all in Chinese.

Design and Build

  • Glass front, plastic back/frames
  • No IP rating

But I gotta give props to Moondrop for this design.

I mean, at a time when smartphones have started to look and feel so utterly dull, the MIAD01’s bold aesthetics is refreshing, to say the least. That sharp, serious look topped off with a playful orange accent for the buttons certainly adds a lot to the phone’s personality.

Moondrop MIAD01 - Design 2

Although when I actually hold this guy in my hand, I’m immediately turned off by how it feels. I’m perfectly okay with the plastic build that Moondrop decided to go with but the MIAD01 is just so awkwardly sharp hold. I really don’t see why they couldn’t have curved the edges at the back a bit to make it more comfortable yet here we are. And it sucks that you don’t get a protective case inside the box or that you can’t buy one off the shelf either.

To be fair, Moondrop does have this file you can download to 3D print a case by yourself but that’s simply not a feasible solution for most folks. There’s also no mention of IP rating so I’ve had to be super careful with it during these rainy Kathmandu days. But perhaps the thing I’m most disappointed with the MIAD01 — as far as the design is concerned — is that it doesn’t have any additional mechanical buttons for playback control and whatnot.

For a phone that’s purpose-built for high-quality audio playback, that’s the least I was expecting to be honest. So all in all, the Moondrop MIAD01’s design gets top points from me for the way it looks but the actual execution leaves a lo…t to be desired.

Display

  • 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED panel
  • 120Hz refresh rate, 120Hz touch sampling rate

And it’s kinda the same story with the display too. You’re looking at a big 6.7” AMOLED panel with a Full HD resolution and a smooth 120Hz refresh rate which looks pretty dang nice. The colors are vibrant and punchy — and while it’s not the brightest display I’ve seen on a midrange phone — I can’t complain much in terms of outdoor visibility either.

This pre-applied screen protector is surprisingly good too but the thing is, interacting with this display is a total pain in the butt because the MIAD01 has the slowest touch response I’ve used on a phone in a long, long time.

Moondrop MIAD01 - Display

Just a 120Hz touch sampling rate is simply not quick enough in 2024, so it’s no wonder my friends have been questioning my typing skills as I’ve been daily driving this guy. And its haptic feedback is way too weak to make that awful typing experience any better as well.

As you can see this is also a curved screen which is… not something I’m fond of. Then again, the Moondrop MIAD01 isn’t that good at media consumption. It only has Widevine L3 certification so it can’t stream high-res videos and it also has trouble playing HDR videos. At least its stereo speakers don’t sound all too bad — with decent loudness and clarity — so there you go.

Performance

  • MediaTek Dimensity 7050 5G chip (6nm)
  • 12GB LPDDR4x RAM, 256GB UFS 3.1 storage (expandable)
  • Android 13 (near stock)

Alright, let’s talk about the performance now. So for its very first smartphone, Moondrop went with MediaTek’s Dimensity 7050 processor, helped by 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage. While you can add up to 2 terabytes of storage via a microSD card too.

I’ve used and tested this MediaTek chip in a bu…nch of budget and midrange phones so I already knew what I should be expecting here.

Moondrop MIAD01 - UI

And for what it’s worth, I didn’t have any trouble going through my everyday work on the Moondrop MIAD01. It has clean, near stock Android software, and unlike what I’ve seen from most Chinese smartphone vendors, it’s not overly aggressive with memory management. That means I can rest assured that Moondrop isn’t going to kill my background app just to save battery.

And that also means multitasking is an absolute cakewalk on the MIAD01.

How’s the battery life?

On that note, its battery life is a strict B+ only. Moondrop has fitted in a big 5000mAh battery here but under my regular usage — which now includes listening to a lot of high-res music via the headphone jack as well — I’ve only been getting like 6 hours of screen time on average. And with a power brick that supports 33W PD charging, the MIAD01 can go from 0 to 100% in around 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Okay, gaming on this thing is not too bad though.

Moondrop MIAD01 - Gaming Test

It definitely doesn’t have the best cooling system to handle all the heat but I was getting decent fps numbers in almost all the games I tried. Including a near 60 fps average on PUBG Mobile. But I did notice frame drop issues in some graphically demanding titles like Genshin Impact and Mech Arena after like 10 – 15 minutes into the game.

You might also be wondering if it has any trouble running Google apps since this is running a China ROM after all, right? Don’t worry, they all work perfectly fine. Just turn on “Google Basic Services” from the settings, enable Play Store, and you’re good to go.

Having said that, I can’t get most apps that require location services like Google Maps or ride-hailing apps to work well on the MIAD01 for some reason.

And I really don’t like how Moondrop has essentially forced me to use its default launcher as well. Because no matter what third-party launcher I try, they all mess with the system stability in one way or the other. The navigation gesture doesn’t work sometimes, while other times, the control center becomes unresponsive all of a sudden.

No update on updates

I think Moondrop could solve this with a software update but “software update” is one of the things that worries me about the MIAD01, actually.

First of all, Moondrop hasn’t said anything about how long it plans to offer software support for this thing. Both in terms of version upgrades and security patches. And as much as I love that stock Android experience, the fact that it’s still on Android 13 is rather disappointing. So if timely software updates is important to you, then Moondrop is gonna disappoint big time here.

Cameras

  • Dual camera setup at the back
  • (64MP main, 8MP ultrawide)
  • 32MP selfie camera (hole-punch cutout)

MoondropMIAD01 - Cameras

As for the cameras, the MIAD01 brings a 64MP primary, an 8MP ultrawide, and a 32MP selfie shooter. And yeah… the camera is easily the weakest aspect of this phone. Even if I absolutely love how Moondrop has been so refreshingly honest about the camera capabilities of the MIAD01. Saying things like “it’s not good, but it works” on the official product page itself.

With that in mind, I went out to take some photos with this guy and you know what?

When there’s ample lighting, you can actually get some pretty good-looking photos here. And when it works, its HDR processing is also not that bad. But as I started to dig a little deeper into the shots, I immediately noticed the one thing its cameras thoroughly struggle with. Details.

Even the images from that 64MP main camera are soft and noisy during the day, so you can already imagine how things are with the ultrawide shooter. Or how horrible things are when it gets dark. It also fails to properly focus on the subject time and again, and I found its post-processing and shutter speed to be rather slow too.

But when it comes to human subjects, its selfie and portrait game definitely deserves some credit at least. The way it handles details can be a hit or miss, but yeah.

Although there’s this weird bug with the 2x portraits where the images occasionally turn out way too underexposed somehow.

What about videos?

You can shoot up to 4K 30 fps from the primary and 1080 / 30 fps videos from the ultrawide and the selfie camera, and the MIAD01’s videography capabilities are nothing too exciting either. With decent stabilization but poor exposure control, details, and audio pickup. I don’t know what’s going on but in a couple of videos I shot outside, there’s also this really weird, swirly artifact that I’ve never seen before from any phone as well.

So it goes without saying that I definitely don’t trust the Moondrop MIAD01 for its cameras. Even though it has pretty capable camera hardware and anything, the software side of things is the one to blame here. No doubt.

Audio

  • 3.5mm + 4.4mm “balanced” headphone jack
  • Dual Cirrus Logic MasterHiFi DAC

And that brings me to the audio section of the Moondrop MIAD01 review. And this is where the mystery about its cryptic name gets resolved as well. So MIAD is short for “Mobile Internet Audio Device” while “01” is an obvious nod to the fact that this is Moondrop’s first ever smartphone. Aka “MIAD01”.

MoondropMIAD01 - Music playback

Anyway, like I said before, the only reason the Moondrop MIAD01 exists is to offer a hi-fi audio experience with the versatility of a smartphone, right? Since a headphone jack is pretty rare in modern smartphones. And even on the handful of phones that do have a 3.5mm plug, you don’t get a high-quality audio processor. Aka DAC (Digital Analog Converter).

Now, using an external perfectly fine solution, don’t get me wrong. But you can see how it isn’t exactly an elegant one since you now need to plug in an external device to the phone. Although that hassle goes away with the MIAD01 since it has a couple of flagship DACs built in.

And besides a regular 3.5mm headphone jack, the MIAD01 also has a 4.4mm “balanced” plug, making it the first smartphone ever with a 4.4mm output.

So without getting into too much detail, a 4.4mm balanced connection is basically less open to electromagnetic interference noise and has better signal strength compared to the “unbalanced” 3.5mm plug. It’s mostly useful when your audio gear needs to be routed through long cables or something like that but some people swear by superior audio quality from a 4.4mm connection itself.

MoondropMIAD01 - Cables

Despite all this — I gotta say — Moondrop wasn’t messing about its audio quality at all.

I tested a bunch of IEMs and headphones here, including the Moondrop Blessing 3, Letshuoer S15, 7Hz Salnotes Zero, Kiwi Ears Quintet, Simgot EM6L, Truthear x Crinacle Zero, Arctis Nova Pro, and even the Sony MDR-7506 studio headphone.

Great sound

And after shuffling it through my Spotify playlists and a bunch of my local high-bitrate music, I found its audio to be exactly as I expected.

Just clean, neutral sound with no noise or distortion, a wide soundstage, excellent clarity, and a playfully slight extension in the mid-bass region. It sounded a bit smeared, a bit muddy at first but after I disabled the spatial audio thing from Moondrop’s “Audio Console” app, the MIAD01 sounds absolutely wonderful.

Now, some of those IEMs and headphones I just mentioned also have relatively high impedance. Meaning a sub-par DAC wouldn’t be able to play or “drive” them properly, but that wasn’t a problem at all for the MIAD01. And I never even dared to push the volume higher than 70 – 80% here.

Which reminds me, I really like the super granular 100-step volume control on this thing as well. Compared to how most Android phones have 15 – 20 step volume adjustment only. Some sort of numerical indicator on the UI itself would’ve been even better, but I can live with the way things are right now.

Moondrop MIAD01 Review: Conclusion

Al…right.

I guess I better wrap up my Moondrop MIAD01 review now. So after testing this guy for all this time, the one thing I can confidently tell you is that if you plan on buying it as your primary phone, don’t. I won’t suggest that at all. No matter how impressive its audio quality is because, above all, the MIAD01 is not a reliable smartphone that I’d be comfortable daily driving in the first place.

MoondropMIAD01 - Design 1

From the mediocre cameras to that slow display, questionable software support, and all the quality control issues I mentioned before, its shortcomings significantly outweigh its strengths. And what about the after-sales service? That’s definitely a big question mark as well considering Moondrop is a total noob in the smartphone industry.

Having said that, if you really, really care about that audio experience and are willing to take a gamble on Moondrop’s first smartphone, then the MIAD01 might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. Maybe you plan on using it as a secondary phone solely for listening to music, that makes perfect sense.

Just make sure that this thing supports all the network bands your carrier uses, and then you’ve got a portable hi-fi music player… that can also make phone calls and all.

Moondrop MIAD01 Review: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
• Great wired audio experience • Forgettable cameras
• Unique design • No IP rating
• Decent everyday performance • Frustratingly slow touch response
• Runs on Android 13
• No word on software updates
  • Watch our video review of Moondrop MIAD01
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design and build
6.5
Display
7
Performance
6.5
Back cameras
5
Front camera
4.5
Software and UI
7.5
Battery
7.5
Audio (wired)
9
Value for money
5.5
moondrop-miad01-reviewI'm glad that the Moondrop MIAD01 is not a concept phone. But something you and I can buy right away. It solves the very inconvenient hassle of playing music through a wired earphone on modern smartphones, where a headphone jack has become increasingly impossible to find. And while it achieves that goal perfectly with a couple of great-sounding DACs built-in, the Moondrop MIAD01 fails to impress at the one thing it was made for. Being a smartphone.