The smartphone world is ruled by several smartphones, each category known for its own specialty. Some select their phones based on the display, while others favor the battery life more. And the lists change a lot when we attach ourselves to specific categories such as this.
Generally, when I review a smartphone, I keep 6 things in check: The design, display, performance, camera, battery life and of course, the price. But what if we focus on something which is most often underrated?
What if we list smartphones based on their audio prowess? This is how I would stack 5 out of this world's vast offerings, rank wise:
Rank #5 - OnePlus 5
This thing keeps popping up on all the top lists, doesn't it? It has every right to do so, as the OP5 is one of the best devices out this year. This position would've taken by the iPhone 6s Plus for similar audio output, save for one thing: 32-bit un-truncated audio playback!
That's right! Our beloved OP5 (along with a bunch of other SD835 devices this year) is able to play true 32 bit audio files with ease. It's DAC is powerful enough to drive even higher rated headphones, with good stereo separation and little to no crosstalk.
You'll love the sound through this guy as it noticeably outperforms the iPhone 7 and 8 with their dongles. Score 1 for the headphone jack!
Rank #4 - HTC U11
This phone was the first flagship to come with a built-in 32 bit DAC and the one which can support Hi-rez audio recording. Sadly, that mode forces you to use a rather unfriendly MKV video encoding format, which is NOT cool. But it's cool to have it regardless!
The audio output from the USB port of this gorgeous beast is superb. HTC's tuning through their custom software is amazingly intuitive, specifically setting the equalizer to your hearing pattern and taste. It's the best automatic audio adaptation I've yet seen.
Quality numbers through this headphone jack-impaired thing remain significantly higher than the competition. Sadly, you'll have to use the headphones provided with the packaging if you want that acoustic noise cancellation on board. If you lose or misplace it, it's #donglelife to you too!
It's a drawback of not having a headphone jack. Android USB audio hasn't come tell evolved yet. But that's a debate for another day! Moving on...
Rank #3 - ZTE Axon 7
This one is the most affordable offering in this list. The ZTE Axon 7 was an excellent budget phone of 2016 and still remains significant today. The excellent front firing speakers and the booming loud DAC will make sure it stays audiophile quality for many more days to come.
This phone doesn't do too well in the camera department, which is why I criticised it back in the day. But its audio capabilities still punch way above its price tag.
This was the absolute best, the GOD of smartphone audio. Notice that I said "was". This thing produces output numbers more than an external USB DAC. That fact alone should justify the monstrous audio prowess of the V20.
Though the battery life took a hit, the cameras and the audio technology still remain second best. You will still be the undefeated champ with a smartphone powerful enough to easily drive even studio headphones unless your competitor has the next phone on the list.
*Spoiler* it's the successor to this beast!
Rank #1 - LG V30
Yup! This here is hands down, the most powerful audio-centric smartphone in the history of mankind! The only thing that could possibly challenge a monster such as the V20, has to be the V30.
We see some slight improvements on quality numbers and also improvements to the noise floors than the predecessor. The dynamic range sees a bump up and yes, this phone too can drive high impedance headphones without breaking a sweat! These phones defy the limitations of what a smartphone can do and supposedly can't-do, in the audio game.
What do you think? Do you agree with me or not? Let me know in the comments below, and come hang out with me on Twitter. Tweet to I'm @thehopelessgeek or Mr. Phone to get answers to all your phone queries.
If you liked this article you should check out our article on the 10 niche phones released till date.