Phone with headphones attached, sitting on top of a book

Best phones for playing music in 2022

If you’re an audio fanatic who loves listening to music, podcasts, or the radio, you’ll be on the hunt for a phone capable of producing the best quality sound. Here are the best smartphones for playing music and other forms of audio in 2022.

What should I look for?

If audio playback is the most important feature for you, you should be on the lookout for a few keywords when browsing phones.

 

Feature

What is it?

DAC

This abbreviation stands for ‘Digital-to-analog’ converter. It 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, so look out for a high DAC on the spec list.

PCM

This stands for ‘pulse-code modulation’ and is used to refer to the most standard type of audio file.

Headphone Amp

With a more powerful amplifier, louder output volumes can be pushed to your headphones. The better the amplifier, the louder and clearer the sound.

Hi-Fi Playback

Hi-Fi stands for ‘High Fidelity’. The higher the bits and frequency in the DAC, the higher the quality of music that’s being pushed through to your headphones.

Headphone Jack

The headphone jack allows you to plug in a 3.5mm cable to listen to music through wired earphones. It has been removed from iPhones (7 and beyond), but can still be found on a number of Android models.

 

Which high-performing audio phone is the right one for you? Browse our list or use the navigation below to jump between handsets.

 

LG G8S ThinQ

Price: £300 - £500

Audio features

32-bit HiFi Quad DAC

3D Sound System

Headphone jack

Bluetooth

Air Motion allows you to control the volume with hand gestures, rather than having to touch the screen

Specifications

Display

6.21 inches

Camera

Rear

12MP

12MP

13MP


Front

8MP

Battery life

3,550mAh

Storage

64GB or 128GB

5G compatibility

No

Summary

A solid and reliable choice, the LG G8S ThinQ supports both wired and wireless audio playback and comes with a hands-free option for controlling music. 

 

Sony Xperia 1 III

Price: £1,100

Audio features

Headphone jack

Wind filter on recorded audio

Hi-Res audio

24-bit audio

Dynamic vibration system

Stereo speakers

Bluetooth 5.2

Specifications

Display

6.5 inches

Camera

Rear

12MP

12MP

12MP

0.3MP


Front

8MP

Battery life

4,500mAh

Storage

256GB or 512GB

5G compatibility

Yes

Summary

The Sony Xperia 1 III is an expensive but feature-packed device. It has a large 4K display, perfect for displaying the most vivid detail. Its 5G compatibility makes for a speedy and buffer-free experience, and the addition of the 3.5mm headphone jack (missing from previous Sony modes) makes it an ideal choice for music lovers. 

 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Price: £1,144.99

Audio features

Stereo speakers

32-bit audio

Tuned by AKG headphones

Bluetooth 5.2

Bluetooth Dual Audio (play through two devices simultaneously)

32-bit PCM

Specifications

Display

6.8 inches

Camera

Rear

108MP

12MP

10MP

10MP


Front

40MP

Battery life

5,000mAh

Storage

128GB, 256GB, or 512GB

5G compatibility

Yes

Summary

With huge storage capacities for all your downloaded music, and fast 5G for streaming, this phone is perfect for wireless audio lovers - and offers quite a lot for the avid photographer too!

Not sure on the Galaxy S21 Ultra? Check out more Samsung smartphones to find the right one for you.

 

Apple iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro

Price: £997.99

Audio features

Dolby Atmos technology provides powerful bass and vibrations for a concert-like experience

Two speakers for inclusive 3D sound

Bluetooth

Specifications

Display

6.1 inches

Camera

Rear

12MP

12MP

12MP


Front 

12MP

Battery life

2,815mAh

Storage

128GB, 256GB, or 512GB

5G compatibility

Yes

Summary

For any iPhone lovers out there, the 12 Pro is one of the best options from Apple right now. The 3.5mm headphone jack was removed from iPhones 7 and above, but you can still plug in wired headphones with a Lightning port adapter. Its built-in H1 chipset makes for a speedy experience.

If you’re interested in other iPhone models, check out our top recommendations

 

LG V60 ThinQ

Price: £350

Audio features

Stereo speakers

32-bit audio

24-bit audio recording

Headphone jack

Bluetooth 5.1

Quad DAC mode

Specifications

Display

6.8 inches

Camera

Rear

64MP

13MP

0.3MP


Front

10MP

Battery life

5,000mAh

Storage

128GB or 256GB

5G compatibility

Yes

Summary

The LG V60 ThinQ has a huge (almost tablet-size) 6.8 inch display as well as a big battery capacity. With 5G data, multiple storage options, and wired or wireless audio capabilities, this phone is an ideal choice for someone on the hunt for a more affordable model. 

 

Google Pixel 4a

Price: £600 - £700

Audio features

Headphone jack

Bluetooth 5.0

Compatible with hearing aids

Stereo speakers

Specifications

Display

5.8 inches

Camera

Rear

12.2MP


Front

8MP

Battery life

3,140mAh

Storage

128GB

5G compatibility

No

Summary

The great middleman of the Pixel 4 range, the 4a has both the sought-after headphone jack and Bluetooth 5.0 support. Better yet, this model is compatible with hearing aids so no one is excluded.

If you want to take a look at what else Google has to offer, feel free to browse our recommendations.

 

Best headphones

Some other “Best of…” lists you may be interested in:

 

Now you’ve got your phone, but what about your headphones?

Check out some of our recommendations for wired and wireless

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more recommendations and guides.

 

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