Most of us have an innate ability to hear and enjoy music, but how we experience it differs from person to person. Some love grooving to funk or jazz while others bang to heavy metal. But we all rely on music to get us through the day. And thanks to breakthroughs in mobile technology, finding the best smartphone for playing music and getting tunes into your brain has never been easier.
Discovering a phone that delivers an otherworldly feeling and the best overall audio experience is not as easy as you might think, but we are good at what we do. We’ve made a list of candidates for the best smartphone for music lovers. These phones are dramatically better at music playback than others – and almost certainly better than the phone you’re using now.
- Great internal speakers
- Top wireless headphone support
- Superb screen resolution
- Dolby Atmos-powered speakers
- Fantastic display
- Includes a headphone jack
- Budget version of premium phones
- Pixel Android experience
- Compact, easy to use
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
We know the Apple drill – every September, there’s a new iPhone. In 2019, Apple pushed our limits with three new models: iPhone 11, iPhone Max, and iPhone 11 Pro – all three designed to be the ultimate iPhone. The best smartphone for music lovers arrived: In addition to exciting updates to display screens and processing speed, Apple upgraded audio quality too.
“Refined” is probably the best way to describe the iPhone 11 Pro’s audio delivery. These phones are known to deliver crisp and highly distinctive sound, but Apple gave the iPhone 11 Pro – already one of the best phones of 2019 – another level of sophistication. The company tweaked settings to improve low-level dynamics and added “extra drama” in quieter playbacks. You can expect fresh tonal lightness to the 11 Pro’s sound delivery.
Apple has made much of its top-quality internal speakers. But is the 11 Pro the best smartphone for listening to music with headphones too?
Like all newer iPhones, the 11 Pro lacks a headphone adapter. The company delivers superb sound via Bluetooth headphones, but if you are an old-school type, you’ll need to set aside a few dollars for an adapter that plugs into the Lightning port and gives you a place to plug in headphones.
Even without headphones, the 11 Pro’s sound has been significantly improved with upgrade speakers that include spatial audio support for Dolby Atmos. This upgrade gives you a more spacious and atmospheric sound than ever before.
After you have appreciated the iPhone 11 Pro’s instantly familiar design, curved metal edges, and OLED display, the next thing you will notice is an improvement in battery life. One of the industry’s best new smartphones is even better because it’s powered by the largest battery Apple has put in an iPhone to date – a 3,979 mAh Li-ion cell. This model will refill 50% of its battery in 30 minutes, and a full charge within an hour. Moreover, the iPhone 11 Pro supports 100 W wireless charging.
As the best smartphone for music storage, the 11 Pro offers three storage configurations: 64, 256, and 512 GB. The 64 GB you get with the base model is manageable, but just barely.
The iPhone 11 Pro delivers excellent performance in a compact package. Triple rear cameras are fun, and powerful stereo speakers deliver the most refined spatial audio you can get with a phone. If you can afford it, the iPhone 11 Pro is the phone to buy. It’s the best smartphone for the money. We heartily recommend it.
Samsung Galaxy S10+
Samsung’s Galaxy S10+ was engineered to be a real conversation-starter among 2019 phones. The S10+ is a powerful and attractive phone even compared to its successor, the Galaxy S20. This powerful phone is Samsung’s best sounding smartphone for music, and it remains the champ even after the S20’s introduction.
The Galaxy S10+ has a phenomenal active-matrix OLED screen, loads of useful camera tools, and monster battery life. Samsung has settled on an optimum design with recent releases, but the company did its best to distinguish this model with its remarkable features, including a “hole punch” for camera lenses at the top right of the screen. The screen is wider and longer than its predecessor’s, as light and manageable as you can get with a big-screen smartphone. Samsung was one of the first manufacturers to move the fingerprint sensor underneath the display. It’s a big improvement over the conventional placement below the screen, which wastes precious real estate.
Did we mention that the Galaxy S10+ comes with a headphone jack? Thanks to this feature, we rate the S10+ as the best smartphone for listening to music on. Many people prefer the 3.5 mm jack because you can use wired headphones without an adapter. Unfortunately, this model comes bundled with AKG earphones, which are harsh and thin: We do not recommend them for the best overall audio experience.
When it comes to listening to high-fidelity music, the Samsung Galaxy S10+ improves upon its predecessors, adding a surprising amount of scale and space to the sound. It strikes a pleasant sonic balance, revealing dynamic and detailed highs. Music fans were thrilled with the S9, and it is safe to say that the S10+ is a welcome improvement.
If you are looking for the best smartphone for music and sound quality, look no further. Music sounds dynamic on the Galaxy S10+, with lots of bass. The speakers provide plenty of volume, and the phone provides Dolby Atmos support for a spacious and dynamic sound.
The S10+ comes with one of the biggest and most powerful batteries on the market. This phone provides a fantastic 12 hours and 35 minutes of battery life when web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness, making it a strong candidate for the industry’s best Android smartphone even without the hi-fi music features. The battery has so much capacity, you may even find yourself charging other devices using the S10+. The Wireless PowerShare feature allows you to charge other phones that support the Qi Wireless standard – including the iPhone. As for storage capacity, this is definitely the best smartphone for music storage – the S10+ starts with 128 GB of storage. You can opt for an upgraded model with 1 TB storage and 12 GB of RAM – but at a much higher price.
If your ego doesn’t require that you be seen in public with the absolute latest, greatest, most expensive phone … if you’re sure what you really want is the best smartphone for headphone music … this year-old flagship is a solid choice. It’s a top-rated device that will still be competitive when 2020’s launches have been obsoleted by newer, faster options. Best of all, since the S10+ is a year old, you can probably pick one up at a good discount.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G
The V50 ThinQ 5G served as LG’s first foray into the 5G ecosystem. The LG V50 ThinQ is essentially an upgraded LG V40. LG added a second screen, which has an interesting appeal to users. Some are excited about additional screens for the way they support a better gaming experience, while others note that the screen consumes a lot of power unnecessarily. Can this be the best smartphone for music quality too?
You can attach headphones or speakers via the USB-C port on the bottom of the LG V50 or by plugging in to the 3.5 mm headphone jack.
LG is very serious about providing a wide, bright screen with perfect color accuracy. This model, the best LG phone of 2019, has a huge 6.4-inch OLED display with sharp resolution, so playing games using this device is a joy. The screen is bright enough to see even in sunny conditions.
LG music support includes a 32-bit hi-fi quad DAC and support for the DTS:X 3D Surround system. At 93 decibels, this will be the best smartphone for music listening – the sound will be loud enough to fill a room with a superb quality. The sound is clean and spacious, but there have been some complaints about the woofer on the bottom of the device – it is significantly louder than the one on the previous model, so the sound isn’t perfectly balanced. But if you decide to watch YouTube clips and put your phone at a reasonable distance, you will enjoy true surround sound. The LG V50 is definitely one of the best sounding smartphones for music currently on the market.
The V50 has a significantly larger 4000mAh battery than its predecessor, and it supports both wired and basic wireless charging. You can expect this top cell phone to work for approximately eight to 10 hours at full charge. With heavier usage (5G network or dual display usage) it will drop much faster.
Our main complaint with this device is that LG has done little to set itself apart with design improvements. In addition, users say the second screen doesn’t add real value – just bulk, weight, and battery drain.
But if you have been looking for the best LG phone of 2019 to make your gameplay or binge watching a more pleasant experience – LG will make or break your purchasing decision by being the best smartphone for audiophiles coming from this renowned manufacturer.
OnePlus 7 Pro
The OnePlus 7 Pro comes with a few surprises that Apple and Samsung can’t match. Not only has this model proved to be a strong candidate for best smartphone for music listeners, but it will also help you capture your best-ever selfie with its novel pop-up front-facing camera. And then it will dazzle you with its truly unblemished all-screen display.
The 7 Pro was one of the best smartphones introduced in 2019, with an immersive 6.7-inch screen that ditches the ugly bezel outline for a more fluid gaming and scrolling experience. This is the first OnePlus phone with Quad HD+ resolution, and it was worth the wait. Colors look fantastic thanks to the AMOLED panel, resulting in a super-immersive visual experience.
Unfortunately, the OnePlus 7 Pro does not have a headphone jack. Manufacturers were aware that this can be a disadvantage to many users, so they included two stereo speakers. There is no need to worry about sound quality: Even without a headphone jack, this is the best smartphone for Bluetooth music. As for the quality of the speakers, both are Dolby Atmos certified, so you can be assured that your 7 Pro will provide excellent sound at high volumes.
What we really like is that the bottom edge speaker is now on the right side, so you are less likely to cover it up when you’re gaming. Whether you are watching a movie or playing your favorite game, OnePlus ensures that you’ll experience top sound – much better than the mediocre sound reproduction of earlier OnePlus models. In fact, you can comfortably use it to play music in a small room. The bass is not far-reaching, but OnePlus created a credible competitor for the title of best smartphone for music lovers. It will fill your room with crisp highs and punchy notes.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is packed with a huge 4,000 mAh battery cell, and it can make through entire days with 25-30% of its battery life remaining. Video streaming and gaming will reduce the remaining power to 10-15% – which is more than solid performance. If you add the fact that your 7 Pro can be charged from 0-50% in only 20 minutes, you have to agree this may be the best smartphone for listening to music.
The OnePlus 7 Pro is a stellar deal when you compare it to other manufacturers’ flagship phones of 2019. Compared to them, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a value-oriented smartphone. It comes with top-notch UI, incredible camera, great battery life, and excellent stereo sound – for much less than you’d pay from another manufacturer.
Google Pixel 3a
Weight 5.19 ounces (147 g)
Operating system: Android 9.0, upgradable to 10.0
Screen size: 5.6 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,220 pixels
CPU: Octa-core (two 2.0 GHz Kryo 360 Gold, six 1.7 GHz Kryo 360 Silver)
Storage: 64 GB
Single camera: 48 MP
Dolby Atmos, DAC built-in
The pitch for the Pixel 3a is simple: everything that made the high-end Pixel 3 sound good, but at a lower price. At first glance, it is not obvious what Google changed in comparison to its predecessor. The subtle differences are in the details.
This is one of the industry’s top phones with the best audio features. Google created it by removing the front-facing stereo speakers and the dual selfie camera from the Pixel 3, leaving a more basic look for the Pixel’s front. One of the best budget phones of 2019, the Pixel 3a comes with a 5.6-inch OLED screen of excellent quality considering the price point – honestly, it’s about as good as what you get with the Samsung Galaxy 10+ or Huawei P30 Pro. This is a lightweight device that is easy to hold and use one-handed.
Sound quality is not out of this world, but at this price you can hope for balanced sound throughout the range and perfectly respectable specs. The bottom stereo speakers are Dolby certified, so this model can be justifiably described as the best smartphone for music playing at an affordable price. It will deliver loud-and-clear sound with minimal distortion. If you love the dirty rattles of bass guitar strings, you will be disappointed. This phone delivers high tones at all volume levels, but a strong bass is not something you should expect from the Pixel 3a.
The Pixel 3a headphone jack has made a glorious return, after being removed with the Pixel 2. Many consider it odd to see the cheaper Pixel offering more options than its pricier counterparts, but who’s complaining? Anyone who decides to take a leap of faith with this cheaper model will get the best mid-range smartphone for music with headphones.
The Pixel 3a comes with a 3,000 mAh battery that will get the job done. The battery life comes in at just under 16 hours between charges, and if you turn off the always-on display feature, you can boost the phone’s stamina by three extra hours. There is no wireless charging, but you can recharge your Pixel within an hour.
With three years of software updates, a better display than its similarly priced competitors, and powerful stereo speakers, this is surely one of the top-rated cell phones of 2019 and a strong option for music lovers on a budget.
Razer Phone 2
Razer is building some of the best smartphones for music experience. The company is clearly channeling its inner Apple or Samsung, with bold confidence and original design. Razer grabbed attention for its rectangular design and 120Hz screen in early models, but it lacked many high-end features and was ultimately viewed as misfit.
The company has now stepped up its game without losing the soul of the original. Its blocky design won’t suit every taste, but it is unique and refreshing. Razer phone 2 ticks most of the boxes – it has one of the fastest processors around, plenty of file storage, dual rear cameras, and an extra-long display.
The biggest change is the addition of gesture controls. Razer’s best new cell phones are implementing simplified swipe controls that feel just about perfect. The biggest drawback is definitely the camera – it has features that make it functional, yet uninspiring at best.
Ignore the embarrassingly basic camera features. The Razer Phone 2 may well be the very best Android smartphone for music, as it offers the most impressive features for buyers with smaller budgets.
The bottom of the phone houses two loudspeakers. When you’re ready to rock out, just tap on the Dolby button, select your song, and you are good to go. Razer Phone 2 has built-in Dolby Atmos surround sound, giving you the most spacious sound across all volume levels. Moreover, the Razer Phone 2 has earned its stripes as a candidate best smartphone for music output by virtue of being the first and only phone to receive official certification from Netflix for HDR video and Dolby Surround 5.1 for audio.
Playing a game of Fortnite on Razer’s best smartphone of 2019 is delightful. You will surely appreciate the surround-sound features. You will be able to almost pick out sounds coming from different directions, increasing the sense of immersion.
Unfortunately, even though this may be the best smartphone for hi-fi music, the battery life doesn’t stretch past a day. If you don’t play too many games, you will be satisfied with the Razer Phone 2’s life. However, this phone was tailored for audiophiles and gamers, so its merely average battery life is a serious drawback.
The company redeems itself with a Gorilla Glass 5 back that allows wireless charging, and if you buy the manufacturer’s wireless charging dock you can enjoy watching the edges of the base light up the room.
If you live on a diet of movies and games, if you consider luxuries like a 120Hz display and true surround sound a necessity, then there is a solid chance Razer Phone 2 will push your buttons. It comes at a more reasonable price than its competitors, and unlike its predecessor, this is a best smartphone for music lovers candidate that doesn’t cut corners to hit its low price point.
Our Buyer’s Guide
The smartphone with the best audio quality could justifiably be considered a necessity, not a luxury. We live in an age when the average American spends nearly three hours a day using a smartphone. These gadgets play a central role in our everyday reality.
There’s nothing quite like unpacking a new phone and exploring its capabilities. We love to discover the advanced features of the market’s best new phones. We’re like kids on Christmas morning as we exclaim over screen resolution, camera specifications, battery life, and more. It’s exhilarating to get a flagship-quality phone. Manufacturers encourage our love affairs with tech by duking it out, competing to bring unique new features to the table.
Technical advances in the last decade have brought lots of hi-fi phone options to the market. And if they shop carefully, buyers no longer have to compromise on any aspect of the device.
Until recently, the words “high-fidelity” and “smartphone” didn’t go together. But today’s smartphone manufacturers offer devices that are capable of reproducing hi-fi sound with a high signal-to-noise ratio, low stereo crosstalk interference, and accurate frequency response. Harmonic and intermodulation distortion are no longer science fiction; you can easily find a device that combines aficionado-class electronics with software-enabled level boosts and customization features sufficient to satisfy any music lover. Even the smallest smartphones out there can offer superb sound quality for the price.
We have conducted comprehensive research in our quest to determine the best audio smartphone with the best software features and high-functioning hardware. This article will take you through the criteria we’ve used to rate the best smartphones for music lovers plus a list of the devices we have identified as the best of the best: the top-rated Android phones and iPhones.
If you still believe you can’t expect top audio performance from a smartphone, get ready. You’re going to be as surprised as we were upon testing these remarkable devices against the most demanding audio standards.
Most people would say that compared to camera specifications or battery life, audio output is a luxury – not a key feature in selecting a smartphone. But for an audiophile, audio output is not an insignificant part of making the purchase decision. High audio quality is a common feature nowadays, and there are even smartphones for kids with superb sound. However, since we’re interested only in the cream of the crop, We’ve looked for the best phone for audiophiles, phones that feature high-quality audio components that deliver full-scale sound even when the volume is pushed to the maximum. This means we looked for the best cell phones with superior digital-analog conversion features and Dolby Atmos certification for advanced sound production. We demanded – and found – cinema-level audio production packed into tiny smartphones.
Advances in battery technology have not kept up with the power demands of advanced smartphone features. As consumers, we have grown accustomed to accepting shorter operating hours with each new smartphone.
Even so, battery life is and should be a top priority when purchasing any smartphone – including a hi-fi phone. Rapid battery drain could drop what is otherwise the market’s best audio phone to second or third place – or off our list entirely. Our reviews include head-to-head comparisons of battery power for the best best smartphones for music lovers.
Wired or Wireless
Audiophiles all over the world debate the merits of wired versus wireless headphones. We’re not going to resolve that argument here. But we will splash combatants on both sides with a cold bucket of icy facts. Yes, wireless headphones generally have inferior audio quality compared to their wired counterparts – but this also depends on the price. If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can get superior performance from wireless headphones.
Some of the strongest candidates for best phone for audiophiles have no headphone jacks. If you can’t afford or don’t want to pay for top-quality wireless headphones, then you may be better off with a different phone. Ultimately, it depends on your lifestyle and your budget.
We made sure that the wireless smartphones we added to our list of recommended products don’t compromise on audio quality. With top-shelf wireless headphones, they deliver. Our standard is simple: If you choose a smartphone we recommend, you’ll get top audio performance with wired or wireless headphones.
Price and Value
You rely on your smartphone for communication, for entertainment, and for organizing your life. We looked through the best audio phone deals, and we must share the painful truth that if you are looking for top-quality audio, it will cost you.
You can save a few dollars by choosing phones that aren’t on our list, but there are reasons they didn’t make the cut. The manufacturers made unacceptable compromises on audio quality, or the battery life is simply too short to be acceptable, or some other component of the phone is weak or poorly made.
We found a few good cheap phones with excellent audio output, but as for the rest of the products on our list – be prepared to open your wallet. Quality has a price.
Top 6 Best Smartphones for Music Lovers
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy S10+
- LG V50 ThinQ 5G
- OnePlus 7 Pro
- Google Pixel 3a
- Razer Phone 2
Which smartphone has the best audio quality?
Of all the smartphones we’ve reviewed, we have a top product that ticks all of the boxes. The iPhone 11 Pro provides the best audio quality on a smartphone thanks to great internal speakers and top-rated wireless headphone support.
What is the best Android phone for music?
At the moment, the best Android phones for music are Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Razer Phone 2, as they provide the most immersive sound experience.
What is the loudest phone for music?
The loudest phone for music is the iPhone 11 Pro thanks to its superb internal speakers. The second spot goes to Razer Phone 2. Its speakers seem made for gaming and they have certified Dolby Atmos surround sound.
Which phone is the best 2021?
Xiaomi Mi 10 & Mi 10 Pro are great examples of the upcoming generation of smartphones for real music lovers, with the Mi 10 Pro being slightly more advanced.
How can I make my phone sound better?
Here are a few tips that can help you improve sound quality and increase volume on your Android smartphone:
- Check your settings and personalize them to your liking
- Get a better music app
- Use a speaker booster/volume booster app
- Get an EQ
- Know your speaker placement
- Make sure your case isn’t blocking a speaker
- Use headphones
- Use a smart speaker
Does sound quality depend on phone?
The most significant factor in sound quality is the quality of the digital file. If you are listening to MP3s, the quality will always be below-average.
The next is the quality of the headphones, either wired or wireless. As long as the phone is able to play the file and has sufficient power to drive the headphones, your mobile device should not pose any problem.
But if you are listening to music via speakers, then you should look for high-quality internal speakers that employ audio compression technology like Dolby Digital.
Which smartphone has Dolby Atmos?
It’s not really the best smartphone for music if it doesn’t have Dolby inside. Here are the phones to check out:
- iPhone 11 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy S10+
- LG V50 ThinQ 5G
- OnePlus 7 Pro
- Razer Phone 2