In our tests we found the Marshall London phone the best for overall audio quality, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S6 in second place and the Apple iPhone 6s in third. The Marshall London phone also topped our speaker quality tests, while the Galaxy S6 came out on top for internal audio quality.
We were impressed by most of the phones we tested, with a good overall sound reproduction in most cases. We only felt the OnePlus 2 had trouble reproducing an accurate, realistic sound.
It came to no surprise that the four phones with dual frontfacing speakers all sounded better than the single firing-designed speakers. This made the Google Nexus 6P, HTC One M9, Marshall London and Sony Xperia Z5 stand out from pack. Despite them all having different sound signatures and qualities, it was a much better listening experience with the speakers facing us, rather than the speakers being concealed at the back or at the bottom of the phone.
Overall, we felt the Marshall London had the best blend of low, mid and high frequencies to provide an impressive and yet powerful sound. If external speaker sound is important to you, then it should be the phone that’s top of your to-buy list.
Internal audio quality
The phone with the best internal audio quality is the Galaxy S6, due to its Wolfson Microelectronics WM1840 audio codec. The phone produced fantastic quality audio, with a very minimal amount of distortion and a good overall frequency reproduction through the lows, mids and highs. It should be noted that the Samsung has a slightly warmer tone over phones such as the iPhone 6s. However, due to its fantastic bass extension and its tonality, the Galaxy S6 is able to produce some of the best sound from a phone.
Most people will use their phones without an external headphone amplifier of any sort, which also bodes well with the Galaxy S6, as it was able to easily drive our earphones and most of our headphones to a reasonable level. In comparison, some phones, such as the Google Nexus 6P struggled to drive low impedance earphones, let alone slightly harder-to-drive headphones that had higher impedance. This is why the Samsung Galaxy S6 is our recommendation for its fantastic internal audio capabilities.