The best phones for music

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If you're looking for a new phone this Black Friday/Cyber Monday, you might want to consider which phones are best for music. 

Phones, after all, are becoming the device we most use to listen to music, whether it's commuting, driving or just around the house.

And there are a few factors to consider. Like audio quality – the last few years have the quality of phone speakers rise, and even the hardware that pushes out sound to your headphones. 

Then there's usability: do you need to use an adapter just to plug in some headphones? 

Does the phone have great internal speakers? Does it have the power and DAC quality to do justice to a truly great pair of headphones? 

Then you might want to consider where your music lives and how you listen to it: do you have years of playlists on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music Unlimited etc?

Our in-house experts at TechRadar got to grips with the best phones on the market and we've got all the best contract and SIM free deals on them too. 

Best phone deals right now:

Samsung Galaxy S9

1. Samsung Galaxy S9

Got a great paid of headphones and now your preferred phone make has sstarted phasing out the headphone jack out of their phones? We feel your pain.  

Sure, you can get an adapter for a jack-less phone, but it's another cost, and another thing to lose. 

Samsung have held firm and kept the handy 3.5mm jack in the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. Not only that, they also worked with AKG to improve the quality of their speakers. There's a driver on the bottom, and the earpiece speaker now outputs audio too, avoiding the lopsided effect of a single driver array. 

"It goes loud," say our guys on TechRadar. "So loud you'll only need max volume for a few scenarios. 

"The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus don't have a turbo-charged quad DAC, though, so this is a top choice for those after general music performance rather than a match for demanding audiophile headphones. "

LG V30

2. LG V30

The LG V30 also has a headphone jack. But what makes it really interesting technically is its 32-bit DAC. This is what turns digital audio files into the signal your earphones actually "play". To get specific, it's a 32bit ESS Sabre ES9218P DAC.

Means nothing to us either, so we asked TechRadar: "This reduces harmonic distortion in the signal, and can increase dynamic range," they say. "The LG V30 is also better at handling more power-hungry headphones than most, although these days there's a good chance your pair doesn't need a particularly powerful amp." 

The phone's speakers aren't amazing, but we're guessing you wouldn't use them much: especially as you also get a better-than-average pair of B&O earphones in the box.

Razer phone

3. Razer Phone

You might have heard of Razer, because of their gaming hardware and accessories. Now they're in phones too. 

The speaker quality is great, with larger-than-average drivers above and below the screen, delivering loud stereo sound. 

"For pure volume," say the TechRadar dudes, "the Razer Phone is yet to be beaten. It's super-loud. Dolby Atmos processing helps the Razer Phone sound big as well as loud too."

There's no headphone output, but its supplied adapter does have a 24-bit DAC built-in if you get bored of using those speakers or the people around you just want you to shut up.

iPhone X

4. iPhone X

Loud and balanced dual drivers make this the best-sounding iPhone yet. 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 an Android. Spotify etc 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. 

HTC U11 Plus

5. HTC U11 Plus

There was a time when HTC were renowned for having the best phone speakers. Even today, its BoomSound speakers are no slouches, with a treble driver by the earpiece, and a primary one on the bottom. 

Says TechRadar: "Their output isn't 100 per cent even, but they do sound good and HTC uses the body as a cavity for the top speaker to give it a bit more oomph." 

No headphone jack, but it does come with a great adapter cable with a high-quality DAC built in. For wireless pairing, the HTC U11 Plus supports aptX HD, reducing the quality loss of wireless streaming. 

ZTE Axon 7 Mini

6. ZTE Axon 7 Mini

For a budget phone, the ZTE Axon 7 Mini offers surprisingly powerful pseudo-3D stereo sound, thanks to a combination of Dolby Atmos technology and dual speakers at both ends of the phone, providing a more powerful bass and far less distortion than most similarly priced (and sized) phones.

TechRadar: "It has an AKM 4962 chip that combines the two separate audio processors to create beautiful well-rounded and surprisingly beefy sounds. So good your Bluetooth speaker will be resigned to life in the clutter cupboard."

Sony Xperia XZ2

7. Sony Xperia XZ2

Sony are no new-comers to music hardware, and were one of the original pioneers of stereo speakers in phones. They might have fallen behind a little, but the Xperia XZ2 is still a good all-rounder for music. 

In brief: the front speakers are pretty good; there's no headphone jack, but it supports LDAC, a high-resolution wireless standard seen in Sony's Bluetooth headphones. 

And it has one thing none of the others do: a dynamic vibration feature that fires off the vibrate motor in time with the music. Which is either a bit of fun or completely annoying, depending on your point of view.

New Nokia 3310 (2017)

8. Nokia 3310

Not only does it have a compact and coolly retro look, the new 3310 Keeps your tunes blasting for days.

The phone’s 1,200mAh battery isn't the biggest, but wrapped within this glorified feature phone it offers an unbelievable 51 hours of continuous music playback.

Want something small? Want to upgrade your parents' old Nokias? Are you a drug baron who wants a reliable burner phone? 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.