Top 5 Music Playing Phones

If you’re a big fan of music or an active user of Spotify and SoundCloud then finding a smartphone with excellent audio playback is a must! We have listed the top 5 best phones for listening to music, giving you the ultimate scoop on which smartphones are the finest for streaming your favourite podcasts!

 

Last updated: 10th Jun 2019 at 11:10am

If you’re a big music enthusiast, then there are a few key features to consider when choosing your next smartphone.

What Should I Look For?

First of all the nitty-gritty technical stuff! When shopping for a smartphone that has great audio, you should be looking for the following features:

DAC This term means ‘Digital-to-analog’ converter and allows the phone’s audio files to be sent to your headphones and converted into sound. A 32-bit DAC is better than a 16-bit DAC as it provides higher quality audio playback.
Headphone Amp With a more powerful amplifier, louder output volumes can be pushed into your headphones.
Hi-Fi Playback This stands for High fidelity. Generally, the higher the bits and frequency in the DAC (mentioned above), the higher the quality of music that's being pushed to your headphones.
Headphone Jack This is down to personal preference if you are not a supporter of wireless headphones than we recommend you look for a phone/music player with a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack.

​​​Now that you are an audio guru, let's take a look at great audio phones!

Samsung Galaxy S9 | LG V30 | Apple iPhone X | Google Pixel 2 XL | Nokia 8 | HTC 10

Samsung Galaxy S9

  • Good quality Dolby Atmos speakers? ✔
  • Good DAC? ✘
  • Headphone jack ✔
  • Feels great for big phone ✔

The Samsung S9 and S9 Plus were in 2018’s list of flagship phones. When it comes to music playback Samsung have kindly reserved the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack, meaning you can keep your favourite pair of wired headphones!

The headphone jack is a feature many of us miss from modern smartphones. Jack-less phones might come with adapters, but honestly, they can be annoying and extremely easy to lose. Furthermore, wireless headphones can be unreliable, often echoing the dreaded sound of ‘battery low’ just as you’re about to leave the house.

Samsung has worked with AKG to improve the sound quality within their speakers which are loud and powerful. The only downside to the S9’s audio quality is the device is missing a turbo-charged quad DAC.  However, we wouldn't let this put you off, the S9 is an excellent phone and is priced at around £620.

LG V30

  • Stunning Audio ✔
  • Has a good (32.Bit Hi-Fi Quad) DAC ✔
  • Screen a bit of a letdown ✘
  • Headphone Jack ✔

The LG V30 is another great audio phone that supports the headphone jack. This phone supports 32-bit audio and has an AMP that can power high-end headphones. Not only does the V30 have a great audio experience but it also has many great features that were definitely ahead of their time.

This LG flagship was released in 2017 and has present-day features that Apple has only recently started using in their designs notably; water and dust resistance, a fingerprint scanner, a wide angle camera, Snapdragon 835 processors and a 6-inch screen. With the LG V30, you can get all of this for just £450. If you’re looking for an even cheaper alternative there is the LG V10 for £195 which also has great audio, featuring a 32-Bit, ESS SABRE DAC, headphone amp, and Hi-Fi playback capabilities.

Apple iPhone X

  • Impressive audio ✔
  • Great design and OS ✔
  • Headphone jack ✘
  • Very expensive at £800 ✘

Apple rarely boasts about its audio speakers, however, If you don’t mind iOS, the Apple iPhone X also has a marvellous audio output. You can pick up an iPhone X for around £799, which although isn't as expensive as their latest range (iPhone XR and XS) is still expensive compared to most Android phones.

The iPhone X is a great all-rounder for audio, with loud balanced dual drivers. However, like most of the latest iPhones, it does not have a headphone jack, the DAC lives in your wireless/lightning wired headphones.

Another thing to note about iPhone’s is you need to use iTunes to store music and it can be tricky to transfer your audio files over; it is worth keeping this in mind if you have a large collection of music files.

However, music lovers can always download the music app Spotify as an alternative. Streaming services like this will allow you to listen to as much music as you want without clogging up too much of your memory for a small fee per month. See our best music streaming apps here.

Google Pixel 2 XL  

  • Scores highly on audio quality ✔
  • Headphone jack ✘
  • Supports all major Bluetooth codec ✔
  • Great camera too ✔

The Google Pixel 2 scores exceptionally well on its front-facing speakers which are amongst the loudest on the market at around 75dB. Unfortunately, Google’s Pixel 2 XL doesn't have a headphone jack. However, this smartphone provides an outstanding listening experience by including a USB Type-C port (so you can use headphones if you wish). Alternatively, if you prefer wireless headphones the Pixel 2 XL supports all major Bluetooth codecs including aptX HD which supports High-Resolution Bluetooth headphones, for even better musical clarity.

Speaker quality isn't the only thing that Google Pixel 2 boasts. This smartphone has a stunning camera and feels great to hold. The stunning 12-megapixel camera has fresh features such as a wider aperture for better low-light shots and a new Portrait mode for effectively blurring backgrounds. You can pick up one of these for around £480.

Nokia 8

  • Decent audio and DAC ✔
  • Headphone jack ✔
  • Relatively Cheap at £400 ✔

Despite the low price tag, the Nokia 8 actually has decent audio! It has impressive speakers that are louder than the LGV30 and Samsung Galaxy 9. Not only this, but it also has a headphone jack with hardly any noise flaw and the DAC is decent quality.

This flagship phone is currently running Android 7 but can be updated to Android Oreo. It is also packing the high-grade Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, which was a major success in the Samsung Galaxy S8. This smartphone also includes brand-new features such as, a fingerprint scanner and a duel sensor rear camera that can capture bokeh images.

The price for the Nokia 8 is around £400, which is nearly half the price of the Samsung S9 and iPhone X.

HTC 10  

  • Impressive audio ✔
  • File Storage on Google Play Music ✘
  • Headphone jack ✔
  • Cheap ✔

HTC has released a number of audio-related flagship phones, one of which is the HTC 10 released in 2016.

The HTC 10 only has a 24-bit DAC, this is substantially less than the other models listed within this article, however, the audio is of similar quality, due to a strong AMP and HTC’s great audio software. Since the release of their own audio software called 'BoomSound' HTC are now well-known globally for their good quality audio. ‘BoomSound’ is essentially an audio profile which enhances crystal-clear highs, smooth vocals, and deep bass.

Additionally, the HTC 10 comes with Dolby Audio which tailors itself to the type of headphones you’re using, to improve your music experience even further.

The main downfall with HTC models is the restriction of only being able to use Google Play Music for storing audio files. However, you can download streaming services apps to avoid this such as Spotify from the Google Play Store.

If you’re looking to improve your current phones audio output, why not invest in some high-quality headphones or some stereo speakers.

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