Best smartphones for music (2014 edition)

Best phones for music
It’s amazing to see how quickly the way we consume music has changed. First, we bought cassettes back in the 80s, then came the CDs of the 90s, the first flash drives and MP3 players of the 2000s, and starting from around 2010 with the mass adoption of smartphones, it seems that our phone has finally taken over all other dedicated music storage devices.

Not only that, but we’ve gone from buying physical CDs to shopping for music online, to finally reach the era of music streaming where services like Spotify put all the music in the world on your phone for $10 a month.

But what is the best smartphone to enjoy music on the go? It depends, some may say. Do you listen to music straight from your phone? If so, you’d need top-notch speakers with clean and loud audio. Do you hook up your phone to your stereo system at home, or to your car? If so, you’d need a device that has a strong output from the 3.5mm mic jack. Or finally, do you prefer to listen via headphones? If so, you’d want not just the strong output, but also some quality earbuds right in the box.

It’s hard to please everyone, as you can see how music consumption may differ so much, but one thing that we can do is show you the results from our sound tests to let you decide which smartphone is the best fit for your music needs. 

Headphone output: plug it to a speaker, turn the volume up

This benchmark shows how much power your phone outputs from the 3.5mm headset jack. The higher the number, the more power you have, and the louder your tunes will sound when you plug your phone to a stereo system, be it at home, or in your car. Not just that, though, this value also shows how much power your headphones will get. Let us make it clear, though, that power does not mean quality - it just means how loud your tunes can sound, not how clean.

The higher the number is, the louder the sound through the connected headphones is going to be.

Volts Higher is better
Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia Lumia 525
Nokia Lumia 1020
LG G Pro 2
Sony Xperia Z1
Sony Xperia Z2
Motorola Moto G
HTC One (M8)
Apple iPhone 5s
Samsung Galaxy Note3
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S5

Loudspeaker loudness: a phone can sound pretty loud, it turns out

If, however, you plan on using just your phone to play music, you want it to be as loud as possible. The higher the number below, the louder the music will sound from the loudspeakers in your phone.

Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Nokia Lumia 1520 77
Nokia Lumia 525 79
Nokia Lumia 1020 77
LG G Pro 2 78
LG G2 66
Sony Xperia Z1 68
Sony Xperia Z2 71
Motorola Moto G 87
HTC One 78
HTC One (M8) 75.2
Apple iPhone 5s 74
Samsung Galaxy Note3 76
Samsung Galaxy S4 77
Samsung Galaxy S5 81

These benchmarks are pretty revealing, but they don't cannot give you an idea about how clean and rich music sounds - they can just tell how loud it is. That's why we've rounded up our 5 favorite smartphones for music, giving you the reasons why we picked each one in the slideshow below. Take a look.

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