Which phone has the best speakers? iPhone vs Galaxy, OnePlus, LG, Pixel, ROG Phone II blind test

Which phone has the best speakers? iPhone vs Galaxy, OnePlus, LG, Pixel, ROG Phone II blind test
Simple beeps were the only sounds my first phone could produce. Having The Flintstones theme as my ringtone was pretty cool at the time, but playing actual music on that brick was practically impossible. Today, even the cheapest phones play audio of all sorts. In fact, most new models sound remarkably good given their size – and they should when a phone could be its owner's primary entertainment device.

But which phone has the best speakers? This is the question I wanted to answer, so I did my own experiment involving six of the top high-end phones you can get today: the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, the OnePlus 7T Pro, the LG G8X, the Google Pixel 4 XL, and the Asus ROG Phone II.

For the purpose of this test, I played the same 10 songs to 15 people and asked them to give each phone a score from 1 to 10. All songs were played at maximum volume through Spotify, and to avoid differences in bitrate that might occur when streaming audio, all tracks were downloaded offline at the highest quality setting. In case you're wondering, here's a list of the tracks I played to the participants:

  1. Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello - Señorita
  2. Daddy Yankee & Snow - Con Calma
  3. Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care
  4. Halestorm - I miss the misery
  5. The Cat Empire - Still Young
  6. Klaus Badelt - He's a pirate (The theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie)
  7. Skrillex - Bangarang
  8. Sting - Englishman in New York
  9. Norah Jones - Turn Me On
  10. Selah Sue - Alone

Yeah, it's my test so I get to pick the songs. Don't @ me.

The most important part of the test was that all participants were blindfolded for the duration of the listening session. In other words, they had no idea which phone they were listening to. They could only rate it based on its audio performance, unaffected by its brand name.

The results


Pixel
4 XL
iPhoneROG
Phone 2
Note 10OP 7T
Pro
LG
G8X
Participant 11098987
Participant 2979797
Participant 3879875
Participant 410109988
Participant 5968576
Participant 6887965
Participant 7896865
Participant 810910897
Participant 91099897
Participant 10769888
Participant 11966774
Participant 12887465
Participant 13876564
Participant 14875565
Participant 15943865
AVG. SCORE:8.77.57.47.27.25.9

The Google Pixel 4 XL is the winner of our blind test, and it's a well-deserved victory, I'd say. The phone produces balanced stereo sound with good clarity and ample bass. It's not comparable to a proper Bluetooth speaker, of course, but for a smartphone, the Pixel 4 XL sounds remarkably good.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max, which came in second place, was also ranked highly by the participants in the test. Its sound reproduction is very similar to that of the Pixel – music sounds full, balanced, with a good amount of bass for a phone.

The Asus ROG Phone II ranked third, slightly behind the iPhone. Personally, I expected it to score greater points since its front-firing stereo speakers get plenty loud. However, many people pointed out that the phone sounded a bit harsh to their ears.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and the OnePlus 7T Pro share the fourth place. I'm guessing the Note would have ranked higher if it had more bass, while the speakers on the 7T Pro, while loud, do not have the clearest sound.

In last place, the LG G8X didn't win the hearts of the audience. It's the best sounding yet compared to previous LG smartphones, but it can't quite challenge rivals from other brands. Clearer, more balanced sound with extra bass should do the trick.

A few interesting observations


Apparently, "good sound" is defined differently by different people. Many of the participants admitted that they ranked one phone higher than others primarily because it had more bass. However, a few people paid more attention particularly to how clear the vocals were.

Also, people rarely complained about a phone being too loud, but they did point out when one phone was quieter than others. In general, participants rarely mentioned volume in their comments, which leads me to believe that they didn't score a phone highly solely for being louder. But I often heard people liking a particular phone for sounding more balanced, as in the mids did not overpower the lows and the highs.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the great majority of people could easily hear the differences in audio quality. Only one person said that they had a hard time and that all phones sounded pretty much the same to them.

Surprised by the results? Let us know in the comments, and tell us what kind of blind tests you'd like to see us do next!

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21 Comments

1. torr310

Posts: 1724; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

The Huawei Mate 20 X has awesome stereo speakers. The DxOMark website honors Mate 20 X as the phone with the best speakers.

23. bucky

Posts: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

dont read DXOmark.

2. Donbenie

Posts: 263; Member since: Aug 04, 2013

That's an interesting test,for too long all we have are Camera tests.. Some of us can care less about a phone's camera..

3. LiveFaith

Posts: 517; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Cool test. Interesting. Still cupping my hand on my Note 8. LOL

4. maherk

Posts: 7054; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

That's a dope picture and the idea behind the test is fun and helpful at the same time. I have a question though, was the Note 10's dolby atmos turned on during this test?

5. User123456789

Posts: 1345; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Does Samsung has Dolby turned on by default or user has to do it?

13. geordie8t1

Posts: 320; Member since: Nov 16, 2015

dolby atmos is turned OFF by default when you open the samsung music app, which has to be downloaded from the play store

6. OneLove123

Posts: 1291; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

I have all of these phones, except ROG 2. From my experience, the regular galaxy s10 has the best speakers than all of these. It's louder and has a nice bass to it. I can play the phone speakers in my car and can hear it pretty good.

10. Georgio

Posts: 325; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

Get out of here man ; galaxy s10 has one the worse speakers in a phone.

11. Buttfrags

Posts: 15; Member since: Feb 28, 2019

Not true. Galaxy s10 plus is actually louder and has better quality than note 10+. It would've destroyed in this test.

12. maherk

Posts: 7054; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Don't mind the troll, he's notorious for hating on Samsung products, all while claiming he buys their products lol

15. dazed1

Posts: 811; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

Time to get of the internet.

7. AbhiD

Posts: 885; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

What's fundamentally wrong with this test is that audio is Subjective. Every person out there has their own individual preference. What sounds best to one might be the worst to another. Just like how some like to listen loud, some moderate, some even lesser. Some prefer bass, some mids, some treble and some completely neutral music. So these tests don't really have a point TBH. Technical measurements are far more of a neutral test in these measurements.

8. LouisMariano5

Posts: 64; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

i found when i had my samsung galaxy s10 that the volume output of music when connected to my car system was louder and stronger than my iPhone xs.... Another words i could have my samsung phone in the car playing a song on a volume of 29 and it was loud and strong verses on the iPhone xs at volume 29 it is not as loud and robust as the galaxy s10 was... just a observation... maybe because the galaxy s10 utilizes dolby atmos

9. handsomparis

Posts: 129; Member since: Jun 11, 2015

Yea my note 10 plus push more Bluetooth sound when connected to my car then my 11 pro Max

14. geordie8t1

Posts: 320; Member since: Nov 16, 2015

it doesnt push Dolby atmos by default, you have to turn it on, in my view Dobly atmos adds a few decibels of volume and a slight bass increase but not much else on the speaker from the phone, my guess is that if it was activated in may have bumped the phone upto 3rd place and nothing more, the sound increase is fairly minimal but noticable

16. redmd

Posts: 1961; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Pixel 4 coming on top cannot overcome most of its shortcomings.

17. senjido

Posts: 9; Member since: Sep 25, 2019

Legit test, but notebookcheck is really doing the "science" of this speaker tests

21. Zappo

Posts: 24; Member since: Oct 04, 2016

IMO all phones should have been set to the same volume instead of maximum volume.

22. inFla

Posts: 216; Member since: Aug 17, 2018

Using earphones the results would be quite different. Pixel wouldn't be on top.

24. caelironstaff

Posts: 21; Member since: Nov 02, 2018

Redo test, but include a ZTE Axon 7 and a Sony Xperia XZ2. Both have some of the best stereo speakers out there, particularly the Axon 7, it has ruined other phones for me.

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