The X7 II marks Fiio’s third Android based DAP with a modified version of Android lollipop (5.1.1 at the time of review) running on the same RK3188 SOC as the original X7. However, Fiio have clearly learned from past mistake, the hardware has been revised and the software has matured over the years creating a considerably more refined experience. As such, the new X7 is instantly the fastest Fiio device and perhaps the fastest Android based DAP I’ve used, and the improvement is much larger than the mild spec bump would suggest. Namely, Fiio have upgraded the RAM from 1GB to 2GB however, the X7 II is so much faster than other Android DAPs, I’m sure Fiio have done some other tweaks, perhaps refining the governors and memory management to achieve better performance. Whatever the reason, the X7 II no longer experiences freezes like the X5 III and X7 and feels very snappy to use if not Google Pixel or HTC 10 fast. The DAP also comfortably multitasks and both browsing and music streaming are much faster and smoother to navigate yet alone a combination of the two that would seize up an X7 completely. The X7 II does still suffer from the occasional stutter and hiccup, but for vast majority of my month of testing, the X7 II provided a fluid and responsive experience without any prolonged freezes.
And beyond basic hardware, that smoother UI now looks a lot better too, the screen on the X7 II is hugely improved over the original and X5 III as well. While not dedicated for video, I still think a good screen is imperative for what is inherently a visual based operating system and luckily, the new screen pops with much higher saturation, deeper blacks and notably improved max brightness. As such, album art is more discernible on the device’s smaller 4” 800×480 display and legibility when under direct sunlight is completely adequate. Videos are also well serviced in a pinch and the X7 II has impressive vibrancy and immediacy to visual elements. In addition, the touch screen itself supports multi-touch and was just as responsive as a modern smartphone in my testing, there was no latency like the AK Jr or Hidizs AP100. Of note, the X7 II actually forgoes a few of the lesser known features of the X7, no longer is the device equipped with an accelerometer and ambient light sensor so the screen has to be manually rotated and adjusted. I didn’t find this to really affect my experience with the device too much but it is something to consider if you’re upgrading from the X7 and appreciate this functionality.
Users with large music libraries will be delighted to hear that RAM isn’t the only component that’s been upgraded, the X7 II now comes with double the internal storage featuring 64GB of NAND flash (55GB user available) and two micro sd card slots. While I would have liked a faster storage solution, the X7 II is just slightly speedier than the X5 III in write performance but identical in read, I didn’t find the internal storage to bottleneck the device in any way and those faster write speeds did aid large file transfers from my laptop. What hasn’t improved are the Micro SD card slots which are just as sluggish as before. The slot barely reaches above 10MB/s so it’s a waste to purchase a faster card for the X7 II since it won’t be able to take advantage of that extra speed. However, again, the X7 II had no issue navigating my 100GB ~8000 file music library of 320kbps MP3’s and Lossless files. Fiio’s music app scans the device storage every time a music file is copied over, building up a cache that speeds up navigation. While it take a second for album arts to load, general usage was slick and smooth.
And on the note of Fiio’s music app, the app has been slightly revised though that could be brought to Fiio’s older players via a software update. It is mainly a cosmetic update though some functionality has been added such as an extended menu on the now playing screen. Otherwise, the app operates almost identically, albeit smoother on that revised hardware, with the same swipe based interface and layout.
The new skin does look cleaner though and I think Fiio’s player is one of my favourites amongst other Android based DAPs, especially Chinese ones which tend to be a bit convoluted. One new feature that I did notice, was that the new music player now remembers the user’s last position in an album/song list where on previous devices it would reset back to the beginning. The app also stays open in the background so music doesn’t stop if you accidentally close the service in the multi-tasker.
Perhaps the biggest reason why Android is so appealing is its wide application support, especially with regards to music and video streaming. Again, Fiio have made nice progress with the X7 II by implementing 5GHz WiFi. If your router support it, the X7 II will provide noticeably faster download speeds and lower latency when streaming since the 5GHz WiFi spectrum offers vastly lower interference than 2.4GHz in addition to potentially higher throughput. Potential buyers will also be delighted to hear that the X7 II is much better shielded from EMI noise; where the original X7 had some buzzing and fizzling when WiFi was active or a phone placed beside it, the X7 II experiences no such issues. I did notice the occasional blip though they were very low in volume and very infrequent, I only detected trace noises from my most sensitive IEMs. That being said, Fiio sent out a firmware update while I was testing the device that seems to have addressed that issue. Firmware is easily upgraded from the technical support app though users can also receive updates over the air.
And plugging the DAP into a computer reveals the same USB DAC functionality as the other Fiio DAPs. The X7 II isn’t plug and play, I was required to download a driver from Fiio’s website, but if you currently have a Fiio DAP, the X7 II will run just fine on the pre-installed driver. USB DAC functionality was reliable in my testing, the device quickly connected to my laptop and audio was routed through with no complications or glitches.
Battery life is actually reduced from the X7 and X5 III despite using a larger 3800mah battery. The X7 II is rated for around 8hrs of playback and 7hrs when running balanced. In normal use, primarily using the Fiio music app and Spotify, I was able to consistently achieve that 8hour figure though users could definitely exceed that by exclusively using Fiio’s app and disabling all wireless radios. The player also charges rapidly since it supports Qualcomm quick charge 2.0 like the X5 III, it did indeed top up a lot faster than the original X7 though a QC adapter is not included in the box. Apt-x Bluetooth also makes a return on the X7 II, unfortunately not 5.0 but that’s likely a limitation of the RK3188 chipset. The device paired quickly and maintained a reliable connection, range was also above average and latency when using an apt-x enabled headphone was minimal.
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