Of note is that I haven't included an iPhone - these now come with stereo speakers too, but I didn't have one to hand. Plus the iPhone's off on its own anyway, in that anyone who's thinking about an iPhone will get one, anyone who doesn't like iOS won't get one and rarely the twain shall meet. So, in this regard, the stereo speaker 'prize' is to be won from the world of Android - and possibly Windows 10 Mobile, each running more open operating and file systems.
Also note that the old Marshall London is included more as a reference than a recommendation - that phone is now so old that it struggles to run Android - but its speakers are still amazing, so they're the old 'gold standard' from my previous article back in 2016.
Demonstrated in the video then are, in order:
- Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro (2017, Windows 10 Mobile)
- Razer Phone (2017, Android 7)
- ZTE Axon 7 (2016, Android 7)
- Google Pixel 2 XL (2017, Android 8)
- Marshall London (2015, Android 5)
The test video was shot on the Nokia Lumia 1020, which offers true high amplitude stereo capture. I used three videos with very different audio characteristics. Firstly electronic rock, secondly classical symphonic, and thirdly part of a Dolby test/promo piece.
Make sure you listen with good headphones or similar, if you want to discern the EQ and stereo differences:
- Don't worry too much about video quality, focus or lighting. My priority here was to capture the stereo image from the phone speakers with my 1020 (technically, I should have lined up the phones end to end, i.e. speakers nearest to each 1020 mic, but that would have looked bizarrely offset on screen....) All phones were held at the same distance (around 6").
- There's a small knock noise in the final Marshall clip - I think this was my fingers near one of the mic holes, so ignore that.
Audio is always subjective, so I attempted to do some scoring along the way, each out of 10, for bottom end (bass fidelity), top end (treble clarity), and volume:
|Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro||7||10||9||6||7||7||7||8||9||70|
|ZTE Axon 7||7||10||9||6||8||8||7||9||9||73|
|Pixel 2 XL||8||8||9||7||5||7||7||6||8||65|
Overall then, the Razer Phone comes off very well indeed for stereo speaker quality and volume, I was impressed. The only Windows-running phone here, the IDOL 4 Pro, didn't do badly, you can hear its output for yourself above, but the extra Dolby Atmos processing on the Razer and Axon 7 adds extra clarity and volume that makes the IDOL 4 Pro's JBL-branded speakers seem just a tiny bit less impressive.
Comments welcome. I wanted to shoot this comparison anyway, and thought that AAWP readers would be interested, hence the table and this short article!