10 Best Phones for Music: Carry Your Music Everywhere [2020 Update]

It is much easier today to take your music with you wherever you go. Remember the Walkman and CD players from ten years ago? At the time, they were highly portable and popular. Funny to think about now.

These days we have everything in the palm of our hands and that includes music. We don’t even need separate devices since smartphones offer so many functions. To add to that, we now have a ton of memory to store our media in. I remember when I was in high school and wanted an iPod but my father wouldn’t let me have one. So later, he bought me a Samsung phone (E250) which supported a 1GB memory card and I was ecstatic (1GB was a big deal 11 years ago). I got my phone and my music.

This is exactly what smartphone companies have done in the past few years. That being said, some companies have concentrated on that function and there is a huge pile to choose from today. Keep reading to find out what we think are the best smartphones for music lovers.

best phones for music

Know What To Look For

Just because a brand releases its latest model with a lot of advanced features does not mean it will be the best smartphone for music as well. You can always understand sound quality (at least a little) by just listening. So trust your ears if you physically buy your device from a store. Since many people prefer to shop online now, below are some details to keep in mind.

We may not be experts, but we have put together a few tips you can use as a guide to help you buy the best phone with this particular feature. Not all music enthusiasts know or understand these specifics. Don’t feel bad if some of this information goes over your head.

The following are a few things you can check in phone specs and easily understand:

  • Codec – Codec is software that encodes and decodes data into the music you hear. Usually what kind of codec you have installed will determine which files you will be able to play. For example, MP3 is a popular codec that allows you to play mp3 files. Many of the recently developed codecs support multiple file types. Most updated Android versions these days include this kind of codec. This allows you to play various (not all) types of files without worrying about the kind of software you have.
  • -bit – Audio bit depth is written using bit. Bit depth is the number of bits of information per sample, somewhat like the resolution of images. Just like higher resolution means a clearer picture, higher bit equals better sound. For example, CDs use 16-bits per sample. The latest audio players can even play 32-bit audio.
  • Frequency – This is measured in hertz (Hz) or kilohertz (kHz). This is the rate at which audio is analyzed and recorded. What you need to remember is that the higher the rate, the clearer the sound.
  • DAC – Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) is what converts data in your device to sound. Essentially, all devices that play music including Bluetooth headphones have a DAC. When using wireless headphones, the DAC on your headphone plays a greater role than wired ones. Having a better DAC will mean getting a cleaner sound.
  • Dolby Atmos/ DTS – This is a sound technology developed by Dolby Laboratories that you can find on many phones. Dolby Atmos in a smartphone makes surround sound and 3D audio on your headphones possible. This is not always something you might need, but it definitely will improve your music experience. One of their competitors that have become exceedingly popular is DTS (Digital Theatre Systems), which is said to be a better alternative since it can compress audio to a much higher bit rate.
  • Headphone jack (totally your preference) – You know what this is and chances are, you don’t care for it. I, for one, prefer wired earphones over Bluetooth/ wireless ones. Like Apple, many other companies tend not to include a headphone jack these days, so check before you buy.
  • Speaker positioning – Although you may not use the speakers on your phone as often, it’s good to know how the device plays without headphones. For example, top or side positioned speakers are much louder than the ones on the bottom. Also, it may be useful to check specifications on whether you are getting single or double speakers (it isn’t always obvious from the outset).

These days there is additional software often built into high-end smartphones that helps improve audio quality. However, that does not mean the software can independently improve the sound in any device. Some are more suited to play music than others.

Our Picks

As mentioned, we are not experts but we love music too. So we did some research to find which smartphone has the best music quality. Here are our top picks:

You should always turn to LG if you are looking for an android phone with best audio quality. Released in 2019, this phone has a 6.1” (155 mm) OLED display, 6GB RAM and 128GB internal memory. There is a 3500mAh battery that means you can play your music all day long. They have come up with amazing technology which makes the entire screen work like a speaker. This makes the surround sound experience even better.

What you get from it:

  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 32-bit/ 192kHz audio
  • Crystal sound OLED speaker & Boombox speaker
  • DTS:X surround sound
LG G8 ThinQ 128GB Smartphone GSM+CDMA Factory Unlocked All Carriers (ATT, Verizon, Sprint and Tmobile) - Black (US Warranty)
Works with ALL CARRIERS ( ATT, TMOBILE, VERIZON, SPRINT); 6GB RAM, 128GB ROM STORAGE, Snapdragon 855

HTC has not been known for its audio but this model is an exception. This phone has a 6GB RAM and 128GB internal memory with a 3500mAh battery. Hence, there is no need to worry about running out of space or battery. It was released in 2018 and the music quality on this device is surprisingly good. The high-frequency audio output is mostly pleasant. However, some distortion was observed at the highest volume levels. Since there is no headphone jack, a pair of good quality wireless headphones can solve this issue.

What you get from it:

  • No headphone jack
  • Front-facing speakers
  • 32-bit/ 384kHz audio
  • Supports up to 11 different audio formats (playback)

This amazing phone comes with a variation of 6GB or 8GB RAM and 128GB internal memory. It has an even larger battery of 4200mAh, which has up to 90 hours of audio playback. Even with a single speaker, this phone gets pretty loud. Music is often crisp and smooth on this device. However, at high volume levels, there is some slight distortion. But that is not a deal-breaker.

What you get from it:

  • No headphone jack
  • 32-bit/384kHz audio
  • Dolby Atmos surround sound
  • Supports up to 9 different audio file formats (playback)

The OnePlus phones have been quite a hit since they entered the market. This premium device has a variation of 6GB, 8GB or 12GB RAM with a 4000mAh battery and 128GB internal memory. The unusual speaker position means it won’t be covered by your hand when you hold the phone in landscape mode. This is one of those phones that produce very crisp sounds even at low volume levels. The battery life is great overall, so this phone is ideal to carry on a trip.

What you get from it:

  • No headphone jack
  • Dual speakers with Dolby Atmos surround sound
  • Speakers positioned on the top edge (midway between back and front of the body)
  • Supports up to 16 different audio file formats (playback)

The Samsung S series is often a fan favorite and this model was quite a hit in 2018. It has 4GB RAM and up to 256GB internal memory as well as a 3000mAh battery. The sound quality was not the reason for its success, but this particular set has done quite well with its sound technology. Even without setting the volume to a maximum, the speakers get quite loud. The high frequency makes music clear and full without cracking.

What you get from it:

  • 3.5mm headphone jack, speakers at the bottom
  • 32-bit/384kHz audio
  • Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound
  • Supports over 20 different audio file formats (playback)
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Samsung Galaxy S9 G960U 64GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Phone w/ 12MP Camera - Midnight Black
Infinity Display: edge to edge immersive screen, enhancing your entertainment experience; IP68 rating: withstands splashes, spills, and rain so it can take a dip, worry free

In 2019, Samsung came up with more updates for the S10. This phone has 8GB RAM and up to 512GB internal memory. The 3400mAh battery provides up to 81 hours of audio playback. It has mostly been praised for its user interface and overall features. Sound technology is not as great as some of its competitors but the speakers perform well at high volumes, with clear sound and minimum distortion. If you happen to misplace your headphones, this is the phone with the best speaker.

What you get from it:

  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 32-bit/384kHz audio
  • Stereo speakers at the bottom
  • Supports over 20 different audio file formats (playback)
SAM Galaxy S10 128GB 8GB RAM SM G973F Dual Sim LTE Factory Unlocked Smartphone Prism - Black
8GB RAM; 128GB ROM; 6.1" Display Size, Unlocked Smartphone, Gorilla Glass

With 6GB RAM and 128GB internal memory, this LG phone is quite the looker. It has a sleek metal design and speakers at the top and bottom. It has a 4000mAh battery with fast charging and a Quad DAC that produces crisp, full sound. The speakers get quite loud and the top and bottom positioning help with that.

What you get from it:

  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 32-bit/192kHz audio
  • Boombox speakers
  • DTS:X virtual surround sound
  • Supports about 15 different audio file formats (playback)

*This phone is currently unavailable on Amazon. But you can find it on eBay.

Phones with front-facing speakers are highly underrated and we’re glad Apple took care of that. With 4GB RAM and an internal memory of up to 512GB, Apple has pumped up their game with this device. The battery is 3046mAh. It is not the largest in the market, but gives about 65 hours of audio playback, which is what we’re here for. Sound quality is crisp and louder than in previous models. Even at low volume levels, the sound is quite clear, which works great for gaming as well.

What you get from it:

  • No headphone jack, but earpods with lightning jack comes in the box
  • Maximum volume limit can be configured (unique feature)
  • Up to 65 hours of audio playback
  • Supports about 6 different audio file formats (playback)
Simple Mobile Prepaid - Apple iPhone 11 Pro (64GB) - Space Gray [Locked to Carrier – Simple Mobile]
5. 8-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display; Water and dust resistant (4 meters for up to 30 minutes, IP68)

We can’t talk about music without a mention of Sony. With 3GB RAM and 32GB internal memory, this phone has lived up to the brand’s reputation. It may not be the best in every aspect, but it is the best phone for audio. It has a 3100mAh battery that allows audio playback up to 130 hours. The overall performance of the phone is decent, but it handles hi-resolution music very well. It includes a software called DSEE HX (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) that enhances the sound and frequency.

What you get from it:

  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Stereo speakers
  • Audio playback up to 130 hours
  • DSEE HX (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine)
  • Supports up to 20 different audio file formats (playback)
Sony XPERIA Z3 D6653 4G LTE (FACTORY UNLOCKED) (Silver Green) - International Version No Warranty
LTE 700 / 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 - D6653; Android OS, v4.4.4 (KitKat); 20.7 MP, 5248 х 3936 pixels, autofocus, LED flash

This is a budget phone. Motorola has done a pretty good job with this one. It has a 3/4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory. The best part is its huge 5000mAh battery. It comes with an expandable memory, so both battery life and memory are in your favor. It has a front-facing speaker and a built-in amplifier that produces clear sounds with above-average loudness. Audio quality is great but it works best with headphones. At the current price, this phone is a great catch.

What you get from it:

  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Stereo speakers
  • Audio playback up to 80 hours

All these phones have overall great features but are most noteworthy for their audio quality. If you don’t want to spend a lot, you can always filter your search based on your budget (now that you have an idea of what to look for). You can always trust brands like LG and Motorola to produce some good quality devices for a budget.

Having your favorite music on your phone has its perks. If you make a sudden weekend plan, you may forget to take other devices, but you would definitely carry your phone.

We would love to know what you think. Do we still need iPods and MP3 players these days? Is there a phone we should have included? Leave us a comment below!


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