What phone is best for music?

Music Matters to Smartphone Users

Music is an incredibly important part of many people’s smartphone use. According to surveys, 68% of smartphone users stream music on their devices at least once per day. Mobile music streaming now accounts for 92% of all music listening. With music being such an integral part of the smartphone experience for most users, choosing a phone that provides a great music listening experience is key.

In this article, we’ll compare some of the most popular smartphones across key features that impact music playback. By looking at audio quality, supported formats, storage space, battery life, and more, we’ll recommend the best smartphones for listening to music.

Audio Quality

When it comes to audio quality for music playback, much depends on the audio hardware inside the smartphone. According to SoundGuys, one key factor is the digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and amplifier (amp) inside the phone https://www.soundguys.com/best-smartphones-for-audio-16373/. The DAC converts the digital audio file into an analog signal, while the amp provides power and volume. Many recent smartphones, especially flagships, now include high-quality DACs and amps that can rival dedicated portable music players.

For example, the LG V60 ThinQ has a Quad DAC for excellent audio quality and very low distortion, while the Sony Xperia 1 II has a built-in amp that can drive high-impedance headphones https://www.whathifi.com/best-buys/best-smartphones. In comparison, most mid-range and budget smartphones have basic DACs and amps that may struggle with high-fidelity music playback.

The physical headphone jack and drivers (speakers) also impact audio quality. Smartphones with a 3.5mm headphone jack allow you to use wired headphones with dedicated amps built-in. High-end audiophile headphones usually require more power than a smartphone can provide through Bluetooth. The speakers also determine how clear and rich music sounds on the smartphone itself.

In summary, look for phones marketed specifically for audio quality, with advanced DACs, amps, headphone jacks, and speakers for the best music playback experience.

Formats Supported

To take full advantage of high-resolution audio, phones need to support codecs capable of transmitting the increased amount of data in Hi-Res files. Some key codecs to look for include LDAC, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, LHDC, AAC, and more. These advanced Bluetooth codecs can stream up to 24-bit/96kHz audio or higher over a wireless connection (source).

Phones should also support common lossless file formats like FLAC, ALAC, WAV, and DSD to play back uncompressed high-resolution music files. The ability to handle these lossless formats ensures you can listen to studio-master quality tracks in full resolution (source). Overall, look for support for both high-resolution wireless codecs as well as lossless audio files to enjoy an immersive, premium listening experience.

Storage Space

Storage space is an important consideration for a music phone, as you’ll want ample room to save your favorite playlists and albums.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max offers the most internal storage among current iPhone models at up to 1TB. The Galaxy S22 Ultra also provides generous internal storage at up to 1TB. The standard Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro max out at 256GB of internal storage.1

In terms of expandable storage via microSD card, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the clear winner, supporting up to 1TB cards. The iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 models do not support expandable storage. With a 1TB microSD card, the S22 Ultra can hold a music library potentially over 100,000 songs.2 Having the flexibility to add storage down the line makes the Galaxy a great choice for die-hard music fans building an extensive collection.

Audio Jack

Having a 3.5mm headphone jack allows you to plug in wired headphones or auxiliary cables to connect external speakers without the need for an adapter. However, some flagship phones like the iPhone and many Samsung Galaxy models have removed the headphone jack in favor of USB-C or wireless options. According to a survey by Ting, only 1% of US smartphone buyers think the headphone jack is a top priority when purchasing a new device (Source).

The main benefits of retaining the 3.5mm audio jack are compatibility, sound quality, and cost. Most wired headphones use this standard jack, so you don’t need an adapter. The jack also provides consistent high-quality audio output. Wireless and USB-C options usually cost more. However, manufacturers cite waterproofing, space savings, and wireless future as reasons to remove the port.

Overall, while headphone jacks are still preferred by many, most consumers are willing to adapt to dongles or wireless headphones. Factors like battery life, camera, and display tend to be higher priorities for smartphone buyers according to surveys (Source). If the headphone jack is a must-have for you, opt for phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21/S22, Google Pixel, or budget models that retain the 3.5mm port.

Battery Life

Battery life is crucial for music listeners who want to play audio on the go without having to frequently recharge. When comparing smartphones for music playback, larger battery capacities generally equate to longer playback times before needing to recharge.

According to Reddit discussions, playing offline music can drain about 5-10% battery per hour on average depending on volume and screen usage (source). So a 4000 mAh battery could last around 40-80 hours of continuous music playback. However, streaming music online tends to consume more battery.

Many modern flagship smartphones now support fast charging to quickly top up the battery when needed. For example, phones with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4+ can get up to 50% charge in 15 minutes. Fast charging capabilities may be an important consideration for heavy music listeners.

Extra Features

When choosing the best phone for music, it’s important to consider the extra audio features and enhancements offered. Many smartphones now include advanced sound technologies like Dolby Atmos, which can create a more immersive listening experience. Dolby Atmos aims to mimic a surround sound system by using audio processing to make music seem like it’s coming from all directions. This can greatly improve your music listening on headphones that support the format.

Customizable equalizers (EQs) are another useful extra for music phones. An EQ allows you to manually adjust different frequency ranges to customize the sound profile to your preferences. Many Android phones include built-in equalizers or support third party EQ apps. iPhones also allow limited EQ adjustments within settings. Preset options like bass boost can quickly tune the sound signature without manual tweaking.

Effects like reverb and 3D surround can further enhance music playback. Top music phones may also offer audio upscaling, which can take lower quality files and artificially improve the fidelity. Consider phones that allow granular control over audio settings versus ones that just have basic presets.


According to Statista, the average price of smartphones in the U.S. has steadily increased over the past decade, from $390 in 2013 to a projected $804 in 2027. Flagship phones from Apple and Samsung now regularly top $1,000. However, there are still quality budget options under $300 like the Samsung Galaxy A03s and TCL 30E. When looking for the best music phone within your budget, consider the total cost of ownership over 2-3 years, not just the upfront price.

For audiophiles wanting studio-quality music playback, higher-end models like the iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro deliver excellent audio but cost $700-$1,000. The Galaxy S22 and Pixel 7 provide nearly as good audio for hundreds less. Mid-range phones like the Galaxy A53 5G ($450) skimp on extras but have decent sound quality for the price. Entry-level models can still play high-res music but lack loud, full speakers. Compare audio reviews across your budget options to find the best value phone with solid music playback.


When looking for the best phone for music, a few key factors stand out. Audio quality is essential, with support for lossless formats like FLAC or high-res codecs providing the best listening experience. Phones with more internal storage space allow you to carry more offline music. An audio jack enables wired headphone use for higher quality sound. Good battery life lets you listen longer between charges. And features like expandable memory and headphone amps further enhance musical enjoyment.

Overall, based on these criteria, the top phones for music listening are the LG V60 ThinQ and Sony Xperia 1 III. The LG V60 offers superb audio through its Quad DAC and support for lossless formats. With its microSD slot providing expandable storage, audio jack for wired listening, large battery, and competitive price point, it’s an excellent value choice. Meanwhile, the Sony Xperia 1 III is a premium option with best-in-class audio and a unique 21:9 display ideal for videos. If budget allows, it provides an unparalleled musical experience.

In the end, choose the LG V60 if you want great audio at a reasonable cost, or the Sony Xperia 1 III for no-compromise sound quality and features. Both deliver an exceptional musical listening experience.


Here are some recommendations for the best phones for different types of music listeners:

For Audiophiles

If you want the absolute best audio quality and money is no object, go for the LG V40 ThinQ. It has a quad DAC for superior audio playback and supports all major high-resolution audio formats.

For Budget Buyers

The Motorola Moto G7 Power is a great budget option under $200. While it won’t blow audiophiles away, it still offers decent audio quality and long battery life to keep the music playing.

For Apple Fans

The iPhone XS Max has excellent audio capabilities powered by the A12 Bionic chip. It supports FLAC and can play back high-res audio up to 24-bit/48 kHz.

Tips for Enhancing Your Music Experience

– Use high-quality headphones or earbuds to get the most out of your phone’s audio hardware.

– Download a third-party music player app like Poweramp for more robust playback options.

– Turn off audio effects or EQ presets to hear the music as intended.

– Store music files at the highest quality possible – like FLAC instead of MP3.

– Try listening to Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) recordings for studio-quality sound.

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