The majority of us are more than used to carrying a large selection of our favourite music with us wherever we go on our phones – and thanks to smartphone-compatible music streaming services such as Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify and the hi-res audio sounds of Tidal, listening to your most-loved albums and playlists whenever and wherever you want has never been easier. But, to make the most of this on-the-go audio experience you'll need one of the best phones for music for things to truly sound great. That's where our dedicated guide comes in.
The best phones for music right now:
1. LG G8S ThinQ
2. Samsung Galaxy S20
3. Apple iPhone 11 Pro
4. Huawei Mate 20 X 5G
5. Razer Phone 2
6. Nokia 3310 Phone
7. Apple iPhone X
8. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
This round-up is specifically tailored to music fans who want the best mobile phone for listening to music, as well as delivering other desirable features such as battery life and quality performance for apps and games.
So, if you've been asking questions like which smartphone has the best audio quality? Or which smartphone has the best speakers, this guide to the best phones for music has all the answers for you.
With a decent enough data connection you can even enjoy your top tracks in High-Res Audio (HRA) quality. So the only thing left to think about, other than decent headphones, including wireless headphones and cheap noise cancelling headphones, is which of our best phones for music hits all the right notes.
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Each generation innovates and we all get a slew of new features to enjoy, as well as faster processing speeds so we can do what we want on our phones much faster and with greater ease. In this guide we're covering the very latest handsets from big brands including Samsung, Apple and LG.
In a rush and want to discover what our best phones for music are? Here you go...
What is the best phone for music today?
Of all the phone options out there, we have a top two that tick a lot of boxes. The first is the LG G8S ThinQ, thanks to its onboard 32-bit Quad HiFi DAC which makes for some of the best audio you'll likely hear on a smartphone, also thanks to the inclusion of a good old headphone port.
The second is the Samsung Galaxy S20, thanks to its great quality audio, masses of storage, microSD expansion and, of course, superb display, camera and battery performance.
The best phones for music: buying advice
Wired or wireless listening?
The first big choice you have to make is about how you're going to listen: wired headphones or wire-free? If you've already invested in a decent pair of true wireless earbuds, or you've shopped our best wireless headphones guide, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone port on a phone likely won't bother you.
But if you're committed to that DAC and always need a wire, that's going to immediately narrow down your choice. Since Apple ditched the headphone port a few phone generations ago, plenty of other manufacturers have followed suit. A few remain, but as wireless audio becomes higher quality, the demand for classic 3.5mm ports is dropping.
If you need wired then phones like the Google Pixel 3a or Huawei P30 have got you covered. If you're Team Apple then you can get an adapter for that iPhone port but expect to pay extra for it.
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For the best possible audio quality you already know about lossless audio and tend to download files for listening rather than going for streaming. Although Tidal is a great option for Master quality streaming on the go. Either way you'll likely want offline music so that means thinking about storage, so bear that in mind when selecting a handset that works for you.
Several Android phones still offer microSD ports – and this is a cheap and handy way of expanding how many songs you'll be able to hold. However, for an iPhone be prepared to pay more for every memory jump you make. Options include the Moto Z4, LG G8 ThinQ and budget Nokia 7.1.
If you've made the decision to go totally wireless, a 5G phone with unlimited data could be the perfect choice. That way, you'll always have high-quality audio at your fingertips when you need it – without using up storage space.
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Battery life is always important to consider when taking the plunge for a new phone – especially if you find yourself listening to a lot of music throughout the course of your day. If that's the case, you may want to consider a phone with a giant battery, something lots of manufacturers are now offering. Options like the Moto G7 Power and Huawei Mate 20 Pro, to name just a couple.
How much should I spend on a new phone?
Budget largely comes down to what you can manage. If you're Team Wired then you'll need to go for either an iPhone with adapter and spend a chunk or a top end Samsung. If you're a proud member of Team Wireless, you have a greater range of options, but you may need to think about more storage or splashing out more on an unlimited streaming data plan.
Now, let's take a look at the best phones for music on the market right now. Our price comparison widgets have also found the best prices and deals online right now.
The best phones for music you can buy right now
When it comes to pure sound clarity, the LG G8S ThinQ stands-out from the rest thanks to it packing in a hefty 32-bit HiFi Quad DAC onboard and DTS:X 3D Sound System for movies too. That means less distortion, less noise and a wider dynamic range than the competition.
The fact that it also uses a headphone port means you can pair it with the best over-ear headphones for an audio experience that is as high quality as you can get on the move.
All that audio prowess and it's a top-performing smartphone too, with a 6.1-inch QHD+ notch display, dual cameras, Snapdragon 855 CPU backed by 6GB of RAM and an IP68 water-resistance rating.
Our favourite extra is the Air Motion feature. This lets you control volume and more with Jedi-like hand gestures. Now that's pretty neat, right?
The Samsung Galaxy S20 comes with a pair of specifically tuned AKG USB-C earbuds which means you get the maximum quality in your ears right from the heart of this phone. And that heart is a strong one when it comes to audio thanks to masses of high-quality format support.
Not only do you get Dolby Atmos support but this will also playback the likes of ultra-high-end formats like DSD 64/128 and 32-bit PCM. The Atmos part means psychoacoustic processing to create a wider soundstage in your ears – making it great for movies and gigs alike.
Pop out the earbuds and the speakers on this smartphone will continue to pump out rounded sounds with lower mids which make vocals clearer, plus weightier bass for instrument punchiness. Add the Dolby Atmos smarts and this phone becomes a viable speaker in itself.
If you're on team Apple then you're probably already expecting a steep price tag, so that may not be such a negative. It'll also likely be justified when you look at the iPhone 11 Pro as a source of music. This is largely thanks to the Apple H1 or W1 chip.
The chipset, when paired with Apple AirPods Pro or Beats Solo Pro wireless earphones, offers bespoke audio over the air. This is, of course, very high quality but also means a reliable flawless stability. Or use Lighting port headphones for digital signal audio that allows the headphones to determine how the audio is balanced.
The speakers in the phone are also worth a mention as they will perform well, meaning you can use this as a stand-alone speaker when without headphones or in a group. This is thanks to stereo drivers which are also backed by Dolby Atmos smarts for the best possible immersion in a wide soundspace.
Streaming high-quality music through services like Tidal is great when you have access to Wi-Fi, but it's the power of 5G that will make this the future. 5G means instant access to the highest quality audio wherever you are – apart from underground without connection, of course. Although with 5G you could quickly save an entire album offline in seconds before going underground.
The Mate 20 X 5G also offers the latest Kirin 980 CPU for super speeds, a stunning and massive 7.2-inch OLED screen with stylus, 4,200mAh battery to back it all up and a triple lens Leica camera that's arguably one of the best out there on a phone. The 256GB storage is a nice extra but with 5G you'll likely struggle to fill it.
While the Razer Phone 2 may not be the best looking of smartphones, what it lacks for the eyes it more than makes up for in the ears. This is one of the best phones for music when it comes to speaker audio thanks to lots of loud audio power.
The speakers sit above and below the screen for true front-firing stereo immersion. Rather than relying on the driver size, Razer has created a bit of extra acoustic space in the speaker enclosure which boosts the power of the audio. That means this is loud enough to work as a proper speaker even over the noise of activities like cooking or showering.
There isn't a headphone port but the included 3.5mm adapter comes with a 24-bit DAC for great quality audio through any headphones you connect.
Not only does it have a compact and pretty cool retro look, but the refreshed 3310 keeps your tunes blasting for days. The phone’s 1200mAh battery isn't the biggest, sure,but wrapped within this glorified feature phone it offers an unbelievable 51 hours of continuous music playback. Fifty. One. Hours!
Want something smaller? Want to upgrade your parents' old Nokias? Or just after a spare phone that can keep the tunes coming as your main phone’s battery circles the drain? Then this is the phone for you.
Loud and balanced dual drivers make this still a stunning sounding iPhone and since it's a bit older now, you can get it for less. There's one speaker on the bottom edge, and the earpiece speaker outputs sound for better dispersal when you hold the phone in front of your face.
But there are negatives too. It doesn't have a headphone jack, which means the DAC lives in your wireless/Lightning headphones. Use a Lightning to 3.5mm socket adapter and that little thing actually has a DAC chip inside.
If your music collection is still a mass of files rather than based in the cloud, an iPhone makes it a bit trickier to get on the phone than Android. Spotify will still work fine, but everything is easier if you use iTunes/Apple Music – worth keeping in mind if you've never used an iPhone before.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is still a great phone despite it no longer being the newest and shiniest offering from the South Korean manufacturer. So if you've got a great pair of headphones and need a headphone jack-toting phone for less, this is a great option.
Samsung has held firm and kept the handy 3.5mm jack in the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. Not only that, it's also worked with AKG to improve the quality of the speakers. There's also a driver on the bottom, and the earpiece speaker now outputs audio too, avoiding the lopsided effect of a single driver array.