Poll results: how much do you care about stereo speakers on a smartphone?



Up until this year, stereo speakers on a smartphone were kind of a niche feature. HTC used to offer it on the One series, but ditched it for the BoomSound Hi-Fi speaker setup on the HTC 10. Sony still has it on the Xperias, but it's not universally loved as the speakers continue to sound flat and tinny. Google used to have stereo speakers on the Nexus 6P, but phased them out with the Pixel and even Pixel XL. And, surprisingly, while others are abandoning the feature, Apple actually added stereo speakers on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

So, the feature comes and goes at a whim, apparently not perceived as being too important to the user, at least not at this stage. But we thought we'd ask you — how do you feel about stereo speakers on smartphones? Love 'em, don't care about 'em? Here's how the votes tallied up!

Do you care about stereo speakers on a smartphone?

Yes, I would pick a phone with stereo speakers over a regular one any day
48.68%
It's a nice plus, but not a feature that can sway my buying decision
42.6%
I don't really care for the speaker setup
8.72%

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36 Comments

1. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

front-facing stereo or no thanks

8. sgodsell

Posts: 7038; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

If a smartphone is going inside a VR headset, then front-facing stereo speakers are totally useless. Even bottom facing speakers are much better. Because front facing speakers will get muffled. Besides I listen to music via Bluetooth. So I don't care.

11. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

"If a smartphone is going inside a VR headset, then front-facing stereo speakers are totally useless." Totally relates to the statement OP made.......that's sarcasm if you couldn't tell.

26. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Perhaps the OP wasn't aware that FFS are a drawback if you use VR. They also don't work well if you leave your phone face down on something like a couch or chair, where a phone with a bottom mount speaker will. I do prefer dual FFS, but they aren't perfect in every situation, same as a rear mount FPS like on last year's Nexus phones and the Pixels if you leave them face up on a desk.

34. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

talking about VRheadset.. isn't it fell weird to use front+bottom facing speaker since the volume level isn't balanced between those two? not to mention that the bottom facing speaker facing to different direction :-/ I guess it will make difference since it's only an inch in front of your face... that's just what I'm thinking... there is no HTC10 around here to try that, lol... and I always use earphone/headphone for VR

12. Klinton

Posts: 1408; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

Front facing speakers for tiny thin device is acoustic-nonsense-BS. Even the TVs have no front-facing speakers anymore because of thin body.

15. Tuxedo

Posts: 356; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

Well said.

20. tedkord

Posts: 17198; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Some TVs do.

22. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Some laptops have a built in subwoofer too, but it doesn't mean it has decent bass reproduction. You need enough separation to get actual stereo sound. I like Front Facing Speakers because you're not picking up the sound off axis, but head on. That will always have the highest volume level and clarity vs off axis. But to call it stereo isn't accurate.

24. Klinton

Posts: 1408; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

Higher volume yes, but not better sound from tiny speakers in tiny box. They will only sound like tweeters if are pointed front. To have more bass you need to turn them backwards and reflect the sound with wall (TVs), or your hands( with phones).

27. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

My point was, you're not going to see any decent amount of bass reproduction from speakers that small. I had one laptop with a subwoofer, and the 2½” speaker could've been left out entirely and it wouldn't have changed the sound in any meaningful way. Most drivers that size don't even have the ability to reproduce anything below midbass, let alone actual bass frequencies. As for a TV, they could possibly make it work because they would have a larger chamber for lower frequencies, but again you're still talking midbass, not actual bass.

23. Klinton

Posts: 1408; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

Well, if there are few(I haven't seen) thin TVs with front speakers, bet on that the sound is worse than those that have speakers pointing down or back. Simple acoustic low.

33. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

While speakers facing away from you may have better "bass", they also won't be as clear as they would be front facing. TVs tend to focus on clarity rather than fuller sound, because you'll still never get a fuller sound with the speakers in the TV. So it makes sense to focus more on clarity and people who want a fuller sound can go the home theater route. Even a 6" speaker in the proper enclosure will give it at least a modicum of actual bass. But 2" speakers in a TV cabinet won't accomplish that in the same way a laptop with a 2 inch "subwoofer" will. I've had laptops with sound systems from Altec Lansing, Beats, a Toshiba Qosmio with a subwoofer, and none of them had the sound level of the first laptop with non branded speakers did. The problem is getting a decent amount of sound from such tiny speakers in a small enclosure.

32. lyndon420

Posts: 6606; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Yup. My Nexus 6 is still going strong thank goodness.

2. NoAllegiance unregistered

Since everyone has the earpiece and bottom firing speaker, they might as well enable stereo sound

13. Klinton

Posts: 1408; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

Stereo effect on small devices is questionable.

25. vincelongman

Posts: 5654; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Also the earpiece and bottom firing speaker are usually different e.g. iPhone 7 Bottom firing speakerhttps://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/kZZHnLIsQefebgpi.huge Earpiecehttps://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/TTaoJSEEYKkeMQiN.huge I think the HTC 10 has it best, where there's a stereo mode and a music mode

3. Xperia14

Posts: 1206; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

"Sony still has it on the Xperias, but it's not universally loved as the speakers continue to sound flat and tinny." PA really hates Sony lol. The ffs on the XZ are not the loudest, but definatetly loud and clean enough.

18. Brewski

Posts: 670; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

ffs=for fu¢ks sake?

35. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

front-facing speaker

4. zendeavour

Posts: 11; Member since: Nov 03, 2016

Stereo speakers are an absolute must -- and not just for music.

9. sgodsell

Posts: 7038; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

They are definitely not a must, especially with VR setups like Daydream VR, Gear VR, and Google's Cardboard.

5. sissy246

Posts: 7035; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

No way would I pick a phone just because it has stereo speakers.

6. jellmoo

Posts: 2544; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Quite possibly the least important thing for me when I'm evaluating new devices.

28. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

As long as they play fairly loud and clear, I'm not worried how many there are. But I will say pointing to the front is better for audio on calls and media consumption vs bottom or rear facing.

7. squishypanda8

Posts: 46; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

I wish the Pixels did.

10. Tizo101

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

stereo speakers may be nice but I can't remember using my mono speaker for anything either than ringing for notification and my phone is mostly on vibrate anyway - avarege user here

14. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

If all else were the same, I'd definitely go for the phone with stereo speakers. Otherwise, it's no deal breaker.

16. Tanii

Posts: 132; Member since: Apr 30, 2015

I would love good quality stereo speakers on my cellphone if it's 5.5" or larger... Otherwise not really but would definitely go for a stero enabled tablet.

17. bucky

Posts: 3774; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Didn't think it would make a big difference on a phone but using the iPhone 7 and then hearing the wife's 6s and I reply notice a difference in loudness.

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