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The ReviewGist pick for the smartphone with the best audio for early 2017 is the Samsung Galaxy S6. The S6 has been tested by GSMArena to have the highest signal-to-noise ratio of 95.6 dB and stereo crosstalk of 94.5 dB. The S6 has also been reviewed to have a great sound quality by experts at PCMag, GSMArena and PocketLink which has made it our pick for the smartphone with the best sound quality.

Our Research Methodology to locate the Best Audio Smartphone
Testing results that objectively measure the audio quality of smartphones are hard to come by. Currently, only GSMArena does an actual test of the sound quality of every smartphone and we have relied heavily on this data to pick the best. GSMArena puts out two specs to measure audio: Noise Ratio and Stereo Crosstalk.

  • Noise Ratio, short for Signal-to-Noise ratio, is a measure of how accurately cell phone can reproduce a sound signal. Noise Ratio measures range from -100 dB to 0 with -100 dB indicating the highest signal-to-noise ratio and consequently the best possible noise reproduction.
  • Stereo Crosstalk is an indication of the stereo capability of the phones sound system. The Stereo capability is the ability to cleanly reproduce sounds from both high and low channels - the better the stereo ability, the more the sound clarity. Again it ranges from -100 dB to 0 with -100 dB indication a near perfect stereo capability and highest sound clarity.

For our primary filter to pick out the cellphone with best sound quality we limited our Noise Ratio levels to be atleast -94 dB and Stereo Crosstalk to atleast -90 dB. Note that both these values are in the negative, so all our picks have a range of Noise Ratio from -100 dB to -94 dB and Stereo Crosstalk from -100 dB to -90 dB.

All CellPhones with Noise atleast -94dB and Crosstalk atleast -90dB »

Note that both Noise Ratio and Stereo Crosstalk figures taken for this research refer to the sound quality produced by the cellphone as measured using a standardized headphone. This results in an accurate assessment of the relative sound capability of each device.

After we applied our primary filters to measure sound quality we got a list of around 30 smartphones released in the recent past. We then went about looking through the reviews for each one to see how they have been rated by experts for their sound quality. Note that very few reviewers are able to accurately pass judgement on the sound quality of a cellphone as this is very subjective measure, even more so when comparing between cellphones. What we looked for instead, was if a reviewer has flagged any smartphone from our list to have a clearly subpar sound quality and if so, removed it from our selection.

Our selection of the Samsung Galaxy S6 as the cellphone with the best sound quality was cemented by what the following experts said:

  • 'The ear speaker to the top of the phone sounds good, so we had no problem making and receiving calls, although the reception isn't the strongest around. - PocketLint
  • 'Call quality is good, if not great.' - PCMag
  • 'the speaker is crisp and clear despite being shoved into such a slim body.' - NDTV


Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6


Comparison of the Top 5 Audio Cell Phones - 2017

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

Samsung Galaxy S6
Huawei P9
Xiaomi Mi 5
Huawei Mate 8
Sony Xperia Z5
Samsung Galaxy S6
Huawei P9
Xiaomi Mi 5
Huawei Mate 8
Sony Xperia Z5
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Release Date
Mar 2015
Apr 2016
Mar 2016
Jan 2016
Sep 2015
Stereo Crosstalk
-94.5 dB
-96.2 dB
-95.4 dB
-97.3 dB
-94.8 dB
Noise Level
-95.6 dB
-97.3 dB
-95.3 dB
-97.8 dB
-95.5 dB
Digital Camera Resolution
16.0 MP
12.0 MP
16.0 MP
16.0 MP
23.0 MP
Installed RAM (GB)
3.0 GB
3.0 GB
4.0 GB
3.0 GB
3.0 GB
Screen Size(Diagonal)
5.1 inch
5.2 inch
5.15 inch
6.0 inch
5.2 inch
Front Webcam Resolution
5.0 MP
8.0 MP
4.0 MP
8.0 MP
5.0 MP
Processor Type
Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57
Quad-core 2.5 GHz Cortex-A72 & quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53, 1.8GHz  octa-core, HiSilicon Kirin 955
Dual-core 1.8 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.36 GHz Kryo - Standard edition, Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo - other editions, 1.3GHz  quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Quad-core 2.3 GHz Cortex-A72 + quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex A53
Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Battery Capacity
2550.0 mAh
3000.0 mAh
3000.0 mAh
4000.0 mAh
2900.0 mAh
Operating System
Android OS, v5.0.2 (Lollipop)
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow), Android 6.0
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow), Android 6.0
Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Android OS, v5.1.1 (Lollipop), planned upgrade to v6.0 (Marshmallow), Android 5.1.1
Carrier
Verizon, AT-T, T-Mobile, Sprint

The S6's lead over other Android-powered devices is really significant, and I see this as a potential problem for Qualcomm and its customers.

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No NFC for 64GB and dual-SIM models.

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The Xiaomi Mi 5 is a fantastic phone, with one major downside.

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Huawei's Mate 8 is a fantastic phone.

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The Xperia Z5 is the best phone Sony has ever produced and it's up there as one of the best Android phones on the market right now.

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