Here are the handsets with the best smartphone speakers

smartphone speakers

Smartphones have evolved considerably in recent times in terms of processing power and even build materials, but one area that arguably hasn’t advanced nearly as fast is onboard speaker quality. While there are some handsets that pay more attention to audio, there are still plenty out there that have nothing more than a small slit at the bottom of the phone that produces very little audio prowess.

To be fair, there’s really only so much audio performance that you can pack into a small handset. That’s part of the reason why Bluetooth wireless speakers have become so popular for owners who want to play their song list on their phone, but also want to hear it at a higher and better sound fidelity. But what if you don’t want to always have to bring a stand alone speaker to play your tunes or podcasts on your smartphone? The good news is there are a few handsets out there that actually offer pretty solid audio performance for those times when you want to leave your headphones or blue speakers at home.

So what are the handsets with the best smartphone speakers? Let’s jump right in and find out!

Editor’s note: We looked into out own reviews of the most recent smartphones to help create this list, along with some additional research and team collaboration. Also keep in mind the phones are not placed in any particular order in this list. 


Google Pixel XL

smartphone speakers

In our look at the best audio in Android smartphones for 2016, the Google Pixel XL came out on top as the phone that had the loudest speakers, with a decibel reading of  77.8dB. That’s actually pretty impressive considering that the phone only has a single speaker on the bottom of its case, along with an adaptive audio amplifier. Of course being loud isn’t the same thing as being one of the best smartphone speakers. Thankfully, the Pixel’s sound quality is also pretty decent though it certainly won’t come anywhere close to competing with most Bluetooth speakers.

While we would have preferred that Google put in front-firing speakers, like the company did on the older Nexus 6P, it’s clear that it wants owners to have a good audio experience out of the box without the need to use external speakers or headphones.  It’s  worth noting that there were some reported problems with the audio on the Pixel XL when it was first released in the fall of 2016, specifically with static distortion when the volume went up to its three highest levels. However, Google released a software update that fixed those issues in February.

It’s not just great smartphone speakers here, you’ll also find high-end specs including a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB RAM, a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, and one of the best camera setups on the market.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 32/128 GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • 12.3 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,450 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6 mm, 168 g

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ZTE Axon 7

smartphone speakers
The ZTE Axon 7 may be a mid-range phone that was first released in 2015, but the company decided to pack in some serious speakers inside its body.
The Axon 7 has dual front-facing speakers that support the Dolby Atmos surround sound technology. In our review of the phone, we stated that the Axon 7 offered an “extraordinary” listening experience, with clear and loud sound coming from its two speakers. Indeed, in our 2016 picks for best audio in Android, the Axon 7 was the second loudest phone, just behind the Pixel XL. It’s more than just being loud though, what makes the Axon 7’s smartphone speakers shine is that the dual configuration which simply produces a richer, higher-caliber sound than you get with a single bottom-facing smartphone speaker.
Moving past the smartphone speakers, the Axon 7 is still an excellent phone with solid specs at a reasonable price for an unlocked device, and it recently received its update to Android 7.1 Nougat.. If you are looking for a handset that offers an excellent audio experience from its speakers, and are not looking to spend a ton of money, the ZTE Axon 7 is definitely something to check out.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 538 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4/6 GB of RAM
  • 64/128 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 20 MP front camera, 8 MP rear camera
  • Non-removable 3,250 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 151.7 x 75 x 7.9 mm, 175 g

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smartphone speakers
While the LG G6 may not have been a huge sales hit, it is still an excellent smartphone.  In addition to all of its other impressive hardware features, it had some solid audio options. While the single speaker on the phone may not be extremely loud (our own testing recorded a level of 63.2dB), it still offers clear audio clarity. We’d say that the clarity is actually a tad above that of the Pixel, even if it isn’t as loud. It also goes to show that judging a phone just with cold tech numbers doesn’t always tell the entire story.
As with the Pixel XL, we do wish that the LG G6 had a dual speaker set-up. However, out experience with the phone still gave us a solid audio experience with its single speaker. Perhaps the best part is that, because the phone has not been a huge sales success, you can now purchase the LG for a pretty reasonable price thanks to some deep cuts, even though it launched in the US just three months ago.
Looking past the smartphone speakers, you also find tons of high-end components such as a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB RAM, and a beautiful 5.7-inch IPS LCD that offers a unique 18:9 aspect ratio that helps it stand out from the crowd.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with 2880 x 1440 resolution, 564 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 32/64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • Dual 13 MP rear cameras, 5 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,300 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm, 163 g

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HTC U11

smartphone speakers
The HTC U11 is the most recent flagship phone from a company that has long gone out of its way to make sure its handsets include solid audio hardware. Many of its previous flagships have featured dual stereo speakers in the past, but the HTC 10 was the first to have one of those speakers serve as a woofer while the other was a tweeter. The HTC U11 also has this similar setup, but our review stated that the company put in some improvements, with better volume and clarity from the speaker audio in its new smartphone compared to the HTC 10.

In fact, HTC says the entire U11 serves as an acoustic chamber that allows the higher and middle volume sounds from the speaker to sound richer and better.  The woofer speaker, which is on the bottom of the phone, has some improvements in its magnetic circuit design for better bass tones, according to the company. In our review, we were impressed at how we were able to “literally feel the audio resonate through the device when holding it in your hand.” The HTC U11 continues the company’s tradition of giving owners a premium speaker audio experience.

When it comes to best smartphone speakers, we’d say the speaker in the HTC U11 is probably one of the best, if not the best, you’re going to find in today’s flagships.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 4/6 GB of RAM
  • 64/128 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 16 MP front camera
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm, 169 g

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While most onboard speakers in smartphones still don’t offer high-end hardware, this list shows there are a few handsets on the market that at least try to offer a better audio experience for owners who don’t want to use headphones or a wireless speaker set-up. However, we want to hear from you on this subject. Are there other current smartphones that you believe should be on this list? Let us know what your opinions are in the comments!



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