If you want one of the best phones for music then you've landed in the right spot. This guide is all about audio so you can keep the highest quality music on you, without needing to carry any device other than your trusty smartphone.
An audio focused smartphone isn't as common as you might think. But in recent years most manufacturers have heard our cry for better quality audio and now you'll find more smartphones that support higher quality audio than ever before. So if you want rich and spacious sound right from your device then a dedicated smartphone could be your best move.
Smartphones range widely in price from budget to premium, with brands like Apple and Samsung at the top-end while the likes of LG and OnePlus bring more affordable options. You may not want to sacrifice your smartphone's camera, screen or OS quality for audio specificity and thankfully in most cases you won't have to.
From the best music streaming services to lossless audio streaming, you'll find these phones can get you the highest quality output right into your ear canals. Yup, it's worth investing in the best headphones for music to get the most out of your device.
Some features considered in this guide include the best smartphone speakers, battery life, photography and more. Here are the very best phones for music lovers.
Best phones for music: The Louder Choice
Topping our list of the best phones for music is the Sony Xperia 1 III (opens in new tab). Yes, it's now in its third generation and as such is better than ever. Sony, being an audio specialist, helps here as this handset is built to offer the most refined audio out there on any smartphone device right now. It's also widely supported when it comes to headphones with a 3.5mm headphone port, Sony LDAC tech, Sony 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos all supported.
A great budget option is the slightly older Samsung Galaxy S20 (opens in new tab). It might not be the latest model but as such you can make a saving while getting a very recent flagship smartphone. That means a superb screen, stunning camera and a handset that's been tuned for audio quality and comes with AKG earbuds.
Best phones for music: Product guide
The Sony Xperia 1 III is a dedicated audio device built and tuned by Sony to offer some of the most expansive audio on a smartphone. The fact it comes with a 3.5mm audio port and support for Dolby Atmos, Sony LDAC and Sony 360 Reality Audio are also strong attractors here. This means most headphones are not only supported but can be pushed to their limits for quality.
This third generation model has had tougher glass added, a high-res 4K OLED display that now offers 120Hz refresh rate, plus a decent sized battery for long-life performance. The audio has also been tweaked and now offers tighter bass and superb dynamic range that make this stand out from any other phone out there right now in terms of audio performance.
While the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a big jump forward in specs when it comes to battery, camera and power – this model has ditched the 3.5mm headphone port. So if you need that then you may want to save a buck and roll back to the Samsung Galaxy S20.
Samsung has made the move to wireless audio well by offering support for high-end audio formats including DSD 64/128 and 32-bit PCM files. This handset also includes Bluetooth Dual Audio meaning you can share the music with your mates as this will send it to two Bluetooth devices at once.
The camera is also a stand-out feature with that quad setup and 108MP main shooter. All that means you get an eye-watering 100x zoom on this phone – making it perfect for stage shots at gigs, even when you're banished to the back. All that plus a stunning screen, massive battery and super speeds make this worth that steep price tag.
When it comes to pure sound clarity, the LG G8S ThinQ stands-out from the rest thanks to it packing in a hefty 32-bit HiFi Quad DAC onboard and DTS:X 3D Sound System for movies too. That means less distortion, less noise and a wider dynamic range than the competition.
The fact that the LG G8S ThinQ also uses a headphone port means you can pair it with the best over-ear headphones (opens in new tab) for an audio experience that is as high quality as you can get on the move.
All that audio prowess and it's the LG G8S ThinQ is a top-performing smartphone too, with a 6.1-inch QHD+ notch display, dual cameras, Snapdragon 855 CPU backed by 6GB of RAM and an IP68 water-resistance rating.
Our favourite extra is the Air Motion feature. This lets you control volume and more with Jedi-like hand gestures. Now that's pretty neat, right? Hands-down the best phone for music listening available right now.
The Apple iPhone 13 is a stunning phone, as you'd expect from the fruit giant. It's also the best option for anyone that's already into Apple Music. This comes with a buttery smooth A15 processor and latest iOS for a simple to use and very fast menu system that makes this a joy. The fact it's all displayed on that eye-popping 6.1-inch 120Hz OLED display does help too.
The cameras are impressive with a triple 12MP setup on the rear that uses super sensor smarts to offer features like Portrait mode but also excellent Night mode that's perfect for gigs, capturing the lighting as it's meant to be.
This isn't a cheap option but with that premium build, lots of features and a great musical audio sound that's recreated no matter the headphones you use – this is worth the extra.
Not only does it have a compact and pretty cool retro look, but the refreshed Nokia 3310 keeps your tunes blasting for days. The phone’s 1,200mAh battery isn't the biggest, sure, but wrapped within this glorified feature phone it offers an unbelievable 51 hours of continuous music playback. Fifty. One. Hours!
Want something smaller? Want to upgrade your parents' old Nokias? Or just after a spare phone that can keep the tunes coming as your main phone’s battery circles the drain? Then the Nokia 3310 is the best phone for music option for you.
LG is still fighting for the audio fan with its V60 ThinQ which is actually getting better with age. As more new phones ditch the headphone jack, this still offers support but goes further also packing in a quad-DAC for superb digital to analogue conversion. All that means you get a far more detailed audio reproduction as a result.
There is also a headphone amp built in meaning you can output the audio much louder than on most other smartphones – ideal for at festivals, on trains, in town and any other time you need to out-loud the outside world. You also get a massive 5,000mAh to go for longer, a clear 6.8-inch display and decent dual camera setup on the rear.
Loud and balanced dual drivers make this still a stunning sounding iPhone and since it's a bit older now, you can get the Apple iPhone X for less. There's one speaker on the bottom edge, and the earpiece speaker outputs sound for better dispersal when you hold the phone in front of your face.
But there are negatives too. The Apple iPhone X doesn't have a headphone jack, which means the DAC lives in your wireless/Lightning headphones. Use a Lightning to 3.5mm socket adapter and that little thing actually has a DAC chip inside.
If your music collection is still a mass of files rather than based in the cloud, an iPhone makes it a bit trickier to get on the phone than Android. Spotify will still work fine, but everything is easier if you use iTunes/Apple Music – worth keeping in mind if you've never used an iPhone before.
OnePlus has pushed the boundaries of what it calls flagship with this handset. From the powerful quad camera and high-res 120Hz AMOLED screen to the super-fast Warp Charge, this is crammed with features. But the audio stands out thanks to that Bluetooth 5.2 connection being backed with high-res audio support.
This handset offers aptX and aptX HD support with LDAC and AAC on this phone. That should mean if you have high-res wireless headphones you'll be able to get the most out of them using this smartphone. And if you're streaming using high-res streaming services then the 5G connectivity, super fast Snapdragon 888 CPU and WiFi 6 connectivity will have you enjoy it as a fast and seamless experience.
Best phones for music: Buying advice
How do you pick out one of the best phones for music? There are a few important factors you'll want to think about when deciding which is the ideal option for you.
Wired or wireless listening?
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The first big choice you have to make is about how you're going to listen to your music: wired headphones or wireless? If you've already invested in a decent pair of true wireless earbuds, or you've shopped our best budget wireless headphones guide, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone port on a phone likely won't phase you.
If you’re all about Bluetooth connectivity, you may want to look out for AptX support which offers higher quality streaming wirelessly to those headphones that support the feature.
But if you're committed to that DAC and always need a wire, that's going to immediately narrow your choices down. Since Apple ditched the headphone port several phone generations ago, plenty of other manufacturers have chosen to follow suit. A few still remain, but as wireless audio becomes higher quality, the demand for that classic 3.5mm port is dropping fast.
If you’re going down the wired route, then phones such as the Google Pixel 3a (opens in new tab) or Huawei P30 (opens in new tab) have you covered. If you're a member of Team Apple, you can always purchase an Apple lightning headphone jack adapter (opens in new tab) for that iPhone port so you can continue with your wired phone.
What about audio quality?
For the best possible audio quality you'll already be aware of lossless audio and probably tend to download files for listening rather than going for streaming. Tidal is a great option for master quality streaming on the go. Either way you'll likely want offline music so that means thinking about the storage you might need, so bear that in mind when selecting a handset.
Several Android phones still offer microSD ports – and this is an affordable and handy way of expanding how many songs you'll be able to hold. However, for an iPhone, be prepared to pay more for every memory jump you make, or an extra outlay for cloud storage. iPhone alternatives include the Moto Z4 (opens in new tab), LG G8 ThinQ (opens in new tab) and Nokia 7.1 (opens in new tab).
If you've made the decision to go totally wireless, a 5G phone with unlimited data could be the perfect choice. That way, you'll always have high-quality audio at your fingertips when you need it – without using up storage space.
What audio formats can I listen to on my phone?
There are quite a few high-end audio formats floating around out there these days, so you may want to look out for one that suits your needs. This can be for music as well as movie watching. From Dolby Atmos to DSD and Sony LDAC, know what you want based on your streaming service and headphones setup before you start to look for the smartphone to back them up.
How much storage space do I need?
You may be streaming your music but with options to store on the device for offline listening it's worth making sure you have enough space. Smartphones come in varying storage sizes where you'll find you pay a premium for the larger amounts. So work out how much you typically store offline so you can have enough without breaking the bank.
Some smartphones also offer microSD storage expansion which is a great way to get more storage without spending quite so much up front. Just keep in mind you will need to buy the card itself.
What battery life does a good phone for music offer?
Battery life is always an important consideration when taking the plunge for a new phone – especially if you find yourself listening to a lot of music throughout the day, or you spend a lot of time away from him and listen to music on the go. You can only keep listening for as long as your battery lasts. If you're streaming over data that battery life is going to take even more of a pounding. So it's worth looking out either for a device with a large battery or at least with a fast charging option to get you fuller faster.
How much do the best phones for music cost?
The price of smartphones varies wildly, depending on the brand, the features, the battery life, screen quality, and the amount of storage space. They are priced from a few hundred pounds/dollars but rise quickly.
What you spend largely comes down to what you can manage. If you're Team Wired then you'll need to go for either an iPhone with adapter and spend a chunk of cash, or opt for a top end Samsung.
If you're a proud member of Team Wireless, you have a greater range of options when it comes to choosing the best phone for music. In this case however you may need to think about more storage or splashing out more on an unlimited streaming data plan.
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