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The ReviewGist pick for the smartphone with the best audio for August 2016 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.

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


Browse All Top Audio Cell Phones - 2016 »

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6


Top Contenders for the Best Audio Cell Phone - 2016 Compared:

#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
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 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

  • - Battery life could have been better.


  • The Galaxy S6 puts Samsung back on top with the best screen, processor, and body design of any Android-powered phone.

  • Rating Unavailable

    Excellent build quality, premium finish, very good grip, size easily pocketable.
    Best in-class Quad HD Super AMOLED display with the highest pixel-per-inch density to date. Its contrast ratio, viewing angles, and sunlight legibility are all chart-toppers.
    Battery life is above average but turned out noticeably worse than the S5.


  • The P9 is another accomplished smartphone from Huawei, with an innovative camera setup and plenty of power under the hood. But it's not perfect, and there are still issues with the heavy Emotion UI.


  • The best phone Huawei’s ever made, but it repeats old mistakes.


  • Huawei’s P9 is ready to rumble with it’s incredible Leica camera tech and sleek metal body.


  • The Xiaomi Mi 5 is a fantastic, affordable device that should have the big boys quaking in their boots.


  • Xiaomi may be better known for its budget smartphones, but with the Mi 5 it has shown that it is more than capable of building a competent premium device as well. Although a lot of people will have problems with the price and the general idea that Xiaomi is even trying to build something premium, we feel that it's time to move on and give the company the respect it deserves. The Mi 5 is a solid effort that succeeds in giving you a flagship smartphone experience at a price that we consider excellent for a phone of this quality.


  • - Camera keeps annoyingly refocusing while shooting videos.
    - The black finish is a grime magnet---fingerprints show up instantly.
    - High-resolution camera with four-axis optical image stabilization and 4K video capability.
    - The curved glass on the back looks and feels great, while the metal frame that goes all around bends on each side and adds a kind of premium feel.
    - The camera is among the best you’ll find in a mid-budget smartphone.


  • - The Mate 8 is a beautifully crafted, all-metal design with a subtle curve that employs many of the design characteristics we’re familiar seeing in the Mate series.


  • Huawei's Mate 8 might not be one of the best known phablets on the market, but it offers solid specs at a more affordable price than its competitors. It's not without faults, but the Mate 8 is one of the best choices if you want a larger Android phone.

  • Rating Unavailable

    Impressive build quality, premium look and feel;
    High-contrast display, which works well in the sun; maximum brightness could have been higher;
    Worldwide LTE support, dual-SIM slots (second one shared with the microSD), solid overall connectivity package;
    Exemplary battery life, 103h endurance rating, record-breaking longevity in our web-browsing test;
    EmotionUI v4.0 is rich in features and strong on customization, but knuckle gestures may be too quirky to actually use.


  • - Outdoor visibility is excellent with the Sony Xperia Z5.


  • The Xperia Z5 is a huge improvement on the Xperia Z3+ with a new fingerprint sensor and a sexy design, but there are still a few little issues stopping it from getting that perfect score.

  • Rating Unavailable

    The Xperia Z5 has superb build-quality. The exposed microUSB port is a lot more convenient than Sony's previous covered solution, but the volume keys is somewhat oddly positioned.
    The display offers above maximum levels of brightness at around 583 nits, but that is nowhere near as bright as what the Z3+ and Z5 Compact are capable of. Contrast is also average, despite the nice deep blacks. The same goes for color accuracy, which is not up there with the best. The resolution is still 1080p, same as last year's generation, but if you want more, there is the always the 4K Z5 Premium.


Top 5 audio cell phone - 2016:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S6
  2. Huawei P9
  3. Xiaomi Mi 5
  4. Huawei Mate 8
  5. Sony Xperia Z5