Sonic wars: iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 speakers compared in-depth


Well, folks, the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge have been out for a while and, sure enough, Samsung's Project Zero has apparently turned out to be a successful endeavor. The new flagships sure cross a lot of grief points that customers had with Sammy's top-shelf smartphones – starting with design upgrades, which finally boosted them in looks and feel, moving through camera improvements, and taking care of some of bloat around the interface, allowing for a more slimmed down version of TouchWiz.

So, yes, the Galaxy S6 sure looks, feels, and handles like a true flagship smartphone, but how does it sound? Back when design leaks showed that Sammy will be getting rid of that awkward, small speaker on the back of the phone, and will be replacing it with an awkward, wide one on its bottom, we wondered whether the engineers will be working on improving the depth and acoustics of the flagship's audio reproduction – let's be honest here, neither the Galaxy S series, nor the Note series are anywhere near exceptional in that regard.

Well, the short answer is – there sure is a notable improvement, but Sammy still hasn't hit the mark. We decided to compare the Galaxy S6's speaker to the one on the iPhone 6, the latter being, arguably, the best sounding single-speaker smartphone and an industry benchmark. Of course, we brought a microphone into play and recorded a couple of clips in our studio for you to hear – well, as best as we could, given the nature of the small speakers and their tendency to sound a bit tinny when recorded.

We have to say, the Galaxy S6 also managed to disappoint us with a compromise that it does, in order to reach its full volume level. But more on that later. First – check out the Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 audio comparison below, together with full song frequency response graphs, showing the differences between both phones.


So, note how the iPhone 6 manages to produce a slightly deeper sound, and has a more audible bass throughout. Of course, it's not perfect – there's noticeable over-compression and, sometimes, distortion, which are the necessary evils of the small speakers (the former is a bit hard to catch in a recording, but the latter is noticeable in our sample above). The Galaxy S6, on the other hand, sounds harsher, with a sharp hump in the highs, which is easily felt once the flute kicks in – the bass becomes less and less audible as the song progresses.

So, let's check what the frequency graph for both recordings looks like.


But wait! The Galaxy S6 can sound better than this!


We've found that the Galaxy S6 sounds much more pleasing when its volume is dialed to 90%. It is almost as if it reaches its speaker's optimal capabilities at this point. Pressing “volume +” one more time after this results in an unbalanced raising of its mid and high frequencies, which may end up in a louder volume, but is a much, much harsher sound. Our tip to Galaxy S6 owners is to always dial the volume up to max, then back it off with a single tap of the “volume –“ button.

Check the slideshow below to hear and see the differences between both volume levels. Naturally, the 90% volume recording will be a bit quieter, but take note of how deeper and well balanced it sounds!


Story timeline

Related phones

iPhone 6
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A8, Dual-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 1810 mAh(14h 3G talk time)
Galaxy S6
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 2100 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2550 mAh(23h 3G talk time)

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48 Comments

1. Saioofi

Posts: 342; Member since: May 23, 2014

The speakers on the iPhone 6 are so underrated tbh. I tested it with an M8 and I noticed that the iP's bass is much better and stronger but the M8 sounded louder. Not saying it's better than the M8 tho

6. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

I agree, I compared M8's speakers to 5S and I liked iPhone's better, much more audible bass, warmer sound, also I think boomspeakers are awesome but for me iPhone has better speaker

15. limporgyuk

Posts: 360; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

You think the iphone has a better speaker than the M8's, really, is that what you think??? Absolutely zero tech sites will agree with you

20. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Hey they also think beats by dr.dre are best headphones in the world lol

39. Super3310

Posts: 91; Member since: May 06, 2014

i think audio technica is better that beats by dr dre

7. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

The LG G3 must be the most underrated then, that thing gets loud and bassy, if you cup it it becomes unbearably loud.

10. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

I'm interested in it, because G2 had one of worst speakers ever.

33. DroidDaddyo

Posts: 35; Member since: Jan 18, 2015

I agree, when you turn over the lg g3 it's speaker beats my iphone 6 + and definitely beats my galaxy note edge (that's doesn't mean much though). It's the best single-speaker phone I've had since the Nokia Lumia 920. The iphone 6 + sounds like it's optimized to avoid getting "crackly" at high volumes, but that makes the sound very muffled/compressed at lower levels. I was pleasantly surprised that the MotoX/Moto Turbo, with a single, front-facing speaker sound very good. Not quite as nice as the LG G3 when the speaker is facing you, but better when the LG's speaker is not facing you. I have an officemate with the HTC M8, I don't think anything, not even the Nexus 6, beats those speakers for overall clarity, tone and volume.

35. HarysViewty

Posts: 62; Member since: Apr 04, 2015

In fact, LG G3 G4 are louder than Htc one or Xperia or Nexus6 at 1watt. It can even turn louder until 1.5watt when the surround sounds are so high (and the audio file quality is high enough). But yeah, it lacks the separation and depth, but excellent enough.

11. hellbread

Posts: 309; Member since: Nov 21, 2014

Iphone's have very good speakers. Too bad they have only one.

14. Ashoaib

Posts: 3282; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

try vivo xplay 3S and you will forget to talk anything about iphone's speaker. Vivo xplay 3S easily defeat htc m8 in clear beats of the music, however loss to m8 in max loudness. lg G3 or whatever doesnt even come close. Chinese are the one putting real efforts in speaker department

17. techloverNYC

Posts: 601; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

As an current user of the M8 I agree with you. I thought our phone's speakers are so much better but its not. Now I just feel the huge bezels pointless. My friends iphones and samsung phones has loud speakers. I felt HTC should have done better if the speakers were their main selling point. My next phone is going to be an iphone. Apple may not be the best in everything but they do everything just about right and the support is something Andriod will never have. Its not all about Specs, but the end user experiences and Apple have that on lock.

37. lamseunyau

Posts: 38; Member since: Apr 27, 2015

The one m8 may not have the loudest speakers, I'm currently using a one m8 and as I can judge, it produces a very good sounds, other smartphones can't compete with it's speaker clarity, but that doesn't mean it's louder. The better the sound, the quieter it gets. I compared it with a lot of phones lately, like the mate7, IPhone6, g3, s5

42. techloverNYC

Posts: 601; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

I understand that M8 is not the loudest speaker, but it should be. Why would I want to listen to music on such low volumes? Considering our phone has 2 speakers and other have only 1, why isn't our phone dramatically louder? Fact is their single speaker is better then our dual speakers. HTC boomsound speaker is just poor quality. You also should realized that other phone's main selling point wasn't their speakers but other features such as camera, screen ratio, color balance,spec etc. The main selling point for HTC one M8 was the dual front facing speakers. If its is only slight above average phone speakers then HTC have failed its purpose. As I stated above, the huge bezels should at least be justify with a beast boom sound speaker. Everything else about the HTC one M8 is just about average at best, not to mention the horrible camera HTC developed on M8. The ultrapixel on M8 is pure sh*t in comparison with any smart phone after 2013. When I meet with my friends I actually felt ashamed to take photos with my M8, their iphones and Samsung devices take much better picture. I can't even zoom in on mines. In conclusion HTC still need to catch up to Samsung and Apple.

46. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

"In conclusion HTC still need to catch up to Samsung and Apple." In conculusion you don't understand nothing about speakers, the other speakers are poor quality, the speakers on the M8 are just about the only ones on the market that don't crackle or hiss and have decent low frequencies, but the shrilling nasty loud sound is what you claim to be better, hillarious.

47. techloverNYC

Posts: 601; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

Answer me this: is Samsung or Apple not way more successful then HTC? Considering HTC started making Android devices before Samsung, its ashamed they are now this behind in terms of almost everything. This yr M9 vs S6 is not even a comparison. M9 got destroyed in almost every spec and detail. No wonder HTC is barely making profit. Listen to me for a sec. Basic simple logic if your phone have 2 speakers and every other phones only have 1 there is literally zero reason your 2 speakers should sound smaller then a single speaker at max volume. Regardless of the clarity level, it should be louder than all single speaker phones. I will be honest I don't know what type of speakers HTC used in M8, but I at least know it was definitely not as good as they claim it is.

48. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

One simple reason, brand recognition. You can't imply simple logic to someone like this, dual speakers aren't for double the volume (lol at the ignorance), and you're again talking about things you don't know, the other speakers sound tiny in comparison to the M8 but the M8 is far clearer and has a far wider soundstage and better low frequencies. And no it shouldn't, they use amps to prevent crackling and hissing, which apparently are your favorite features of the "single speaker loud phones".

2. lamseunyau

Posts: 38; Member since: Apr 27, 2015

Naaah. Boomsound FTW :)

3. gaming64 unregistered

Loudness/quality. Nuff said, Boomspeakers is the OG.

4. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

I barely care about the speakers on my tablet and I definitely don't care about them on my phone. I never use headphones either but I think I am in the minority there. Either way, HTC rules both apparently but that isn't saying much. It like Nokia ruling phone cameras at the expense of everything else, especially design with that ugly black bezel and a super tall form factor in the HTC and the huge unsightly camera hump on the Nokia. iPhone 6 is huge for a 4.7 inch phone too. The GS6 really is the most balanced phone while keeping the parameters of how big a 5.1 inch screened phone should be. Samsung really killed it this time like how they killed it with the GS2.

12. hellbread

Posts: 309; Member since: Nov 21, 2014

Gs5 had better size. Gs6 just looks better. Gs6 has even worst screen to body ratio than Xperia Z3... You know that gs6 has worst sales figures than gs5? Gs5 reached 10 mil ina 25 days while gs6 need 30.

21. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Whenever you talk, you reduce the IQ of the whole street. So keep your mouth shut. http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/business/2015/05/19/29/0503000000AEN20150519003300320F.html ^^ This is the source article. Never ever anyone said that S6 needed "30 days" to reach 10m mark. It clearly says - "S6 models surpassed 10 million units in about one month" "in about one month.." is never same as 30 days. And even if it actually needed exact '30 days', it still means nothing. S6 will sell a gazzalion lot more than any other Android phone, ever. It's a well known fact that Edge model is very hard to manufacture and is sold out everywhere. So, you don't need to worry about Samsung's financial health.

23. Slaughter

Posts: 27; Member since: Apr 29, 2015

Worst body to screen ration on S6 vs Z3, because of hardware key, include on screen button from you Z3 and do your math again, just to see. I really like having a usable 5.1" screen when I buy a 5.1" screen, don't you? You're comparing sales figure of the S5 that launch worldwilde the same day, with the S6 that launch on 20 markets at first? come on.

25. romeo1

Posts: 816; Member since: Jan 06, 2012

Who says it isn't usable with on screen buttons? When watching movies it disappears same with games. In menus it's easier to use with one hand.

32. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

The GS5 is fat and way bigger than the GS4. The GS6 is much closer to the GS4 than the GS5 but it added a lot. The only reason the GS6 has a slightly worst ratio than the Z3 because of the home button. If they used on screen buttons it would be 80% easily.

5. Iodine

Posts: 1480; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

iPhone 6 has a really great speaker. It's so loud I had to turn the volume down on my morning alarm, because it was too annoying. It's even better than iPhone 5S which considering it's a much thinner design is a big achivement. But the iPhone 6 Plus is supposedly even louder and more ballanced thanks to bigger chasis which is awesome. I am really excited about the iPhone 6S speakers, because I noticed that Apple improves their custom speaker design every year.

8. jove39

Posts: 2146; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Can you run comparison test with headphones as well? iphone 6 vs galaxy s6 vs one m9 vs oneplus one (maxx audio)

9. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Other than HTC Boomsound, all the flagship phones are about equal. There's not a whole lot you can do with such small drivers.

22. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Sorry, but you clearly don't have a clue what you're talking about. Samsung, SONY, Nokia and especially LG have pretty weak speakers. Loudness has kothing to do with quality, I myself care a lot about audio in smartphones, both on headphones and speakers and HTC and Apple have the best audio experience which quality matches dedicated audio players.

27. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Our ears cant determine quality on speaker phones, evem on earphones unless there is a difference on music file like 64kbps and 320kbps or FLAC. I only care about loudness of the speaker and btw I agree that iPhones has one of the best speakers on the market.

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