Asus’ education-focused Chromebooks should withstand some abuse

Asus

  • Asus announced four new education-focused Chromebooks.
  • The four Chromebooks include the CT100, Asus’ first Chrome OS-powered tablet.
  • Asus will announce pricing and specific launch dates in the coming months.

With CES 2019 right around the corner, Asus unveiled four new rugged Chromebooks which include the company’s first Chrome OS-powered tablet.

Starting with the tablet, the CT100 features a 9.7-inch display with QXGA resolution (2,048 x 1,536), a USB Type-C port, the hexa-core OP1 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 35Wh battery. As a nice bonus, the tablet features a built-in stylus to use on the display.

Editor’s Pick

The tablet also features a 2MP selfie camera and 5MP rear camera. Finally, the CT100’s rugged build helps it withstand drops up to 100 centimeters (~39 inches).

Moving to the Chromebook C204, the laptop features a 180-degree hinge to lay it flat, an 11.6-inch display with HD resolution (1,366 x 768), Intel’s dual-core Celeron N4000 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 32GB of storage, and a 50Wh battery.

Again, the C204’s rugged build helps it survive falls up to 120 centimeters (~47 inches) when dropped flat and up to 80 centimeters (~31 inches) when dropped on its sides. Finally, schools can outfit the C204 with either a non-touch or touchscreen anti-glare display.




Next up is the Chromebook C214, which features a few differences relative to the C204. The 360-degree hinge turns the C214 into a hefty 2.6-pound tablet, though the smaller 45Wh battery cuts down the runtime a bit.

Schools can outfit the C214 with either the Intel Celeron N4000 or N4100 processor. Schools can also configure the C214 with an 11.6-inch display that supports Wacom EMR and Gorilla Glass 3. The resolution remains the same as the display on the C204.

Finally, the C214 goes up to 64GB of storage and puts the outward-facing camera on the bottom-right corner of the palm rest area.

Editor’s Pick

Last up is the Chromebook C403, which sports a 180-degree hinge, 14-inch display with HD resolution (1,366 x 768), Intel’s dual-core Celeron N3350 processor, up to 4GB of RAM, up to 32GB of storage, and a 45Wh battery that should deliver up to 11 hours of use.

The C403 also features two USB Type-C ports and two regular USB ports.

The C214 and C403 will launch sometime during the spring. The C204 goes on sale “later this year,” while Asus remained quiet on the CT100’s availability. We might learn more about pricing and availability during CES 2019.

NEXT: How to setup Chromebook parental controls

Best upcoming Android phones of 2019

Honor View20 screen

After a sluggish few years in the Android world, 2019 is set to be a smash-hit for smartphone fans. Folding phones are on the horizon, display hole (punch hole) cameras are coming to make displays even bigger, and goodness knows how many cameras we’re going to see.

If you want to know more about the kinds of phones you can look forward to, check out our list of the top upcoming handsets arriving in the first half of the year below.

Samsung Galaxy S10 and folding phone

Samsung’s folding phone is probably the most exciting phone we’re going to see in early 2019 — if not the whole year. We know it’s well into development, we’ve already seen how it works, but we’re yet to learn what the final product will look like and how exactly it will operate.

But it’s an exciting prospect. It’s set to include an outward-facing display as well as an inner display that can fold out into something like a small tablet. It will be unlike anything we’ve ever encountered on Android, though all that cool will come at a cost. It’s going to be expensive, so for those who want something slightly cheaper, Samsung has another potentially super handset in the works: the Galaxy S10.

Editor’s Pick

Samsung’s new S-series flagship is tipped to arrive with an Infinity-O display, as many as three rear cameras, and possibly a vibrating display for audio. There’s likely be a few variations of it too, including a Plus model and a 5G model.

Both the S10 and Samsung’s foldable phone are going to be big talking points in 2019 and the best news is we may only have a couple of months to wait before they arrive: current speculation suggests they may arrive at MWC 2019 in February.

Launch ETA: February

Samsung Foldable Phone

A render of Samsung’s folding phone prototype.

Huawei P30 and folding phone

Samsung isn’t the only manufacturer developing folding phones and phones with punch hole displays. Huawei just launched the display-hole wielding Nova 4 in mid-December, and it’s also tipped to have a folding phone out in 2019.

We don’t know exactly when — in fact, we know even less about Huawei’s folding phone than we do about Samsung’s. However, current speculation suggests it will land at MWC 2019 around the same time as Samsung’s folding phone. What a matchup that will be!

Editor’s Pick

Meanwhile, Huawei will likely release new flagship sequels to the P20 and P20 Pro, potentially called the P30 and P30 Pro. Given Huawei was among the first manufacturers to take on dual and later triple camera setups, there’s potential for the P30 Pro to adopt four rear cameras in 2019. Further, the handsets will probably use the Mate 20’s Kirin 980 chipset, just as the Huawei P20 series used the earlier Mate 10’s chipset, the Kirin 970.

Launch ETA: March

Honor View 20 and Honor 8A

The Honor View 20 (seen at the top of the page and below) will launch globally in January 21. We’ve already gotten a good look at this phone and it’s going to be one of the first to feature a punch hole display, which we expect to trend in 2019. That’s not its only interesting feature though: it’s packing a supposedly super fast charging 4,000 mAh battery and a unique design.

Honor may also launch a new phone in its budget A-series early next year, the Honor 8A. This passed through the FCC recently looking something like an iPhone 6 with a notch. It could be another budget wonder from the Huawei sub-brand.

The standard Honor View 20 launches in Chinese markets for 2,999 yuan (~$435) and you can read some of our early thoughts on it in our hands-on coverage here.

Launch ETA: Already launched (View 20), April (Honor 8A)

Honor View20 back

The Honor View 20.

OnePlus 7

From the outside, it looks like OnePlus had a very successful 2018. The Chinese firm had its best smartphone launch yet with the OnePlus 6T and secured a potentially lucrative sales partnership with T-Mobile to sell it.

Since we’re betting on more display hole cameras on 2019 flagships, we wouldn’t be surprised if OnePlus had one too.

The OnePlus 7 is surely in the works, and should arrive before the end of June 2019 (the OnePlus 3, 5, and 6 launched in May, June, and April respectively). Based on OnePlus’ history, there are a couple of guesses we can make about the direction the OnePlus 7 might take.

OnePlus has recently followed industry trends on display notches, headphone ports, and in-screen fingerprint sensors. Since we’re betting on more display hole cameras on 2019 flagships, we wouldn’t be surprised if OnePlus had one too.

Additionally, the flagship will probably have 10GB RAM or more (the OnePlus 6T McClaren has 10GB), the latest Qualcomm platform (Snapdragon 855), and cost more than the $550 OnePlus 6T. Don’t expect a OnePlus folding phone next year, though — it’s still early days for a small company like OnePlus to enter this race.

Launch ETA: May

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition

Google Pixel 3 Lite

Google’s Pixel phones are the darlings of Android but they’re not exactly easy on the wallet. The latest model, the Pixel 3, begins at $799, while the larger Pixel 3 XL costs $899. The good news for budget-minded folks is there’s a strong chance Google has a solution for you coming in the first half of 2019.

A couple of sources, including the typically reliable @OnLeaks, have hinted that Google is working on ‘Lite’ versions of the Google Pixel 3 and the Google Pixel 3 XL. We don’t have much to go on, but supposed render images of these suggest they’re well into development — we wouldn’t see rumors that we have for a Google Pixel phone launching next October (the usual Pixel timeframe).

The standard Pixel 3 Lite is rumored to carry a Snapdragon 670 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 12MP main camera, and an 8MP selfie camera. The Pixel 3 Lite XL will likely offer similar specs with a larger display and battery.

Possibly most exciting of all, both of these Pixel 3s may come with a headphone port. Jackpot.

Launch ETA: Spring

A comparison between the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.

The supposed Google Pixel 3 XL Lite (left) and Google Pixel 3 Lite.

91Mobiles/OnLeaks

Sony Xperia XZ4, Xperia XZ4 Compact, XA3, XA3 Ultra

Sony hasn’t announced its upcoming XZ and XA phones yet, but they’re expected early in the new year and we’ve seen a couple of recent leaks regarding them.

As interesting as the XZ and XA series look, they’re probably going to struggle without a more aggressive price strategy from Sony.

We have potential Xperia XZ4 and Xperia XZ4 Compact renders from the reliable @OnLeaks. These flagships would possibly arrive at MWC in February, seeing as the Xperia XZ2 appeared there in 2018, ahead of the XZ3 later that year. The XZ4 series phones are among the many Android’s tipped to feature triple rear cameras and Snapdragon 855 chips in 2019; the leaked renders suggest they’re going to be pretty slick.

Sony may also launch new phones in its midrange XA series this January: we’ve seen leaks concerning both the standard XA3 and the XA3 Ultra.

Sony’s smartphones are often well-regarded yet fail to capture the hearts of consumers due to several factors (steep pricing among them). As interesting as the XZ and XA series look, they’re probably going to struggle commercially without a more aggressive price strategy from Sony.

Launch ETA: February (XZ4, XZ4 Compact), January (XA3, XA3 Ultra)

An unofficial render of the Sony Xperia XZ4.

A render allegedly depicting the Sony Xperia XZ4.

MySmartPrice

Xiaomi Mi 9 and Mi Mix 3S

The Xiaomi Mi 8 was one of the most impressive phones we saw in 2018. It wasn’t necessarily the most inventive smartphone, but it was hard to argue with the specs and usability quality it offered at its price. Now, all eyes on Xiaomi to deliver again with the Mi 9.

This would no doubt be another comparatively low-cost Xiaomi phone. And probably its best yet.

The Mi 9 is said to arrive with a 6.4-inch display, Snapdragon 855 chipset, a triple rear camera, and as much as 10GB of RAM. Despite the premium spec sheet, this would no doubt be another comparatively low-cost Xiaomi phone. And probably its best yet.

Meanwhile, rumors are already circulating about Xiaomi’s next major Mi Mix device. The Mi Mix 4 would also apparently feature a Snapdragon 855 and triple camera setup; however, it’s possible the speculation regarding this phone actually relates to the Mi Mix 3S.

The Mi Mix 2S arrived last April as an upgraded version of the Mix 2, featuring an upgraded chipset and an extra camera on the back. As the Mix 3 arrived with a Snapdragon 845 and dual rear cameras, one might expect the Mix 3S to feature the aforementioned upgrades. As for whether the next major Mi Mix phone will fold — as has been hinted at — we doubt it, though the series is known for its progressive display efforts.

ETA: June (Mi 9). Spring (Mi Mix 3S).

A supposed render of the Xiaomi Mi 9.

A supposed render of the Xiaomi Mi 9.

Pocket-Lint

HMD Global Nokia 9 PureView

HMD Global has done brilliant things with the Nokia brand since it acquired it a couple of years ago now and the Nokia 9 PureView might be its most anticipated device yet. We’ve encountered numerous leaks about the phone (though HMD hasn’t announced it), the latest of which included a leaked video offering some potential specs.

Editor’s Pick

The Nokia 9 is set to come with a 6-inch, 2K, HDR 10 display, Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage space, and an in-display fingerprint sensor.

It’s a compelling specs sheet, but it’s the rear of the handset that’s causing the biggest stir, as it’s set to come with five cameras. While these may not necessarily lead to best-ever smartphone photo quality, they should offer some neat tricks, as well as superior low-light performance.

Launch ETA: January

A leaked render of the Nokia 9 PureView.

91Mobiles/OnLeaks

LG G8 ThinQ and LG folding phone

LG is another OEM which tends to release an H1 flagship and it’s possible we’ll see the LG G8 ThinQ before July next year (if indeed it will be called that).

Twitter leaker Ice Universe (@UniverseIce) tips it for a 4K LCD display and, as a major TV manufacturer, LG is likely to put an impressive screen on its flagship phone. Whether or not that truly means 4K resolution we’ll have to wait and see.

Editor’s Pick

We haven’t heard much else about this phone yet; however, LG has confirmed it’s working on another major handset you may be interested in.

LG says it has a folding phone already in development but also that it won’t be first to market with such a product. If Samsung or Huawei produce a foldy by February, that would put the phone’s release more than a couple of months away. With that in mind, ever-reliable leaker Evan Blass suggests it might be unveiled in January.

Launch ETA: June (LG G8 ThinQ), January (Folding phone)

LG V40 vs LG V30 close up of camera lenses

The LG V30 (left) and LG V40 (right).

Lenovo Z5 Pro GT, Moto Z4, and Moto G7 series

Lenovo has already announced the Z5 Pro GT and it looks like an incredible handset from the off. The sliding phone packs up to 12GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 855 chip, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and four cameras.

Best of all, it has a near bezel-less, notch-free, 6.4-inch display.

The Z5 Pro is also relatively well-priced in China, the 12GB of RAM + 512GB ROM model costs 4,398 Chinese yuan (~$635). This one may not see a wider release though.

Best of all, it has a near bezel-less, notch-free, 6.4-inch display.

Other notable upcoming phones under Lenovo’s watch include the rumored Moto Z4 (codenamed Odin), which may launch with a 5G Moto mod and Snapdragon 855, and the Moto G7 range of low-cost handsets. The standard G7 variant is said to come with a 6-inch, Full HD+ display, 64GB of internal storage, and dual 16MP + 5MP rear cameras.

Launch ETA: Already launched (Z5 Pro GT), H1, (Moto Z4), April (Moto G7 series)

An official promotional image of the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT.

The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT.

An upgraded HTC U12 Plus?

HTC’s Taiwan president recently spoke about the direction of its next phones, and it looks like we may not get a true HTC U12 Plus successor in the first half of next year.

Apparently, HTC’s current plan is to “extend” the U12 Plus range. Though HTC didn’t give us any further details on that when we reached out to it, it could mean a slightly upgraded U12 Plus is set for H1 next year.

Launch ETA: H1 2019


This isn’t a comprehensive list of upcoming Android phones, just a taste of what’s to come in 2019. Let us know if we’ve missed any big ones and tell us the handset you’re most excited for in the comments.

Best phones with 8GB of RAM — what are your current options?

It wasn’t that long ago that 8GB of RAM was considered a pretty sizeable capacity, even for a computer. Now, phones with 8GB of RAM are a thing – in fact, phones are even starting to offer 10GB of RAM! While that’s arguably an overkill, more RAM is never a bad thing, especially if you plan to keep your handset for several years. More RAM doesn’t necessarily mean you’re totally future proof, but it certainly helps.

If you’re in the market for a phone with 8GB of RAM, you’ll be happy to hear there are already quite a few of them to choose from — check out the five best ones below.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

phones with 8GB of RAM

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was announced in August and is currently one of the best smartphones you can get your hands on. We here at Android Authority named it the smartphone of the year. It comes with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, although a version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is also available.

The flagship sports a 6.4-inch display with QHD+ resolution and is powered by the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset, depending on the region. There’s a dual-camera setup on the back with two 12MP sensors featuring dual aperture and scene recognition. It’s IP68 rated for protection against water and dust, has an 8MP selfie snapper, and packs a massive 4,000mAh battery.

Read next: Best Samsung phones you can buy right now

The handset also comes with the S Pen, which is a signature feature of the Note series. It now supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) that lets you remotely control the camera with the button on the stylus. Samsung’s flagship is quite expensive, with the version sporting 8GB of RAM retailing for $1,250.

Specs

  • 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display with 2,960 x 1,440 resolution, 516ppi
  • Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset — depending on the region
  • 6/8GB of RAM
  • 128/512GB of storage, microSD expansion up to 512GB
  • Dual 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm, 201g

Read more


OnePlus 6T

OnePLus 6t large display

The OnePlus 6T features 8GB of RAM paired with either 128 or 256GB of storage. However, a cheaper variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is also available.

Editor’s Pick

The device sports a 6.41-inch Full HD+ display with a notch and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 845 chipset and has a dual-camera setup at the back with 16 and 20MP sensors. Other specs and features include a 3,700mAh battery, a 16MP front-facing camera, and Android 9.0 Pie with the popular OxygenOS skin on top.

What makes the OnePlus 6T so popular is its price. The 128GB variant can be yours for $580, while the 256GB model retails for $630. This is a great deal, but keep in mind that the device is missing a few flagship features like an IP rating and wireless charging, to name a few. There’s also no headphone jack on board.

Specs

  • 6.41-inch AMOLED display with 2,340 x 1,080 resolution, 402ppi
  • Snapdragon 845 chipset
  • 6/8GB of RAM
  • 128/256GB of storage, non-expandable
  • 16 and 20MP rear cameras, 16MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,700mAh battery
  • Android 9.0 Pie
  • 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm, 185g

Read more


Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro in-display fingerprint sensor

The Mate 20 Pro is the best phone in Huawei’s lineup, as well as one of the best phones you can get. It comes with high-end specs, a gorgeous design, and a few extra bells and whistles you won’t find on any of its competitors.

The Mate 20 Pro sports a curved display, a triple-camera setup, and a massive 4,200mAh battery.

The flagship sports a large 6.39-inch screen with curved edges, similar to the ones found on the Galaxy S9 series. It has an in-display fingerprint scanner, a triple-camera setup on the back, and 3D facial recognition. There even a feature called reverse wireless charging on board that allows the phone to double as a wireless charger — learn more here.

The Mate 20 Pro is the class leader when it comes to battery life thanks to its a massive 4,200mAh cell. It’s also IP68 rated for protection against water and dust and supports expandable storage via Huawei’s new Nano Memory standard. The 6GB RAM version of the handset launched with a price tag of 900 pounds in the U.K and 1,000 euros (~$1,145) in the rest of Europe, but you can get it from around 850 euros at the moment — depending on where you buy it. The variant with 8GB of RAM is exclusive to certain markets and is a bit harder to track down — but you can get the international model on Amazon for around $1,200.

Specs

  • 6.39-inch AMOLED display with 3,120 x 1,440 resolution, 538ppi
  • Kirin 980 chipset
  • 6/8GB of RAM
  • 128/256GB of storage, expandable up to 256GB via NM (nano memory)
  • 40, 8, 20MP rear cameras, 24MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,200mAh battery
  • Android 9.0 Pie
  • 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm, 189g

Read more


Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

The front of Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro has top-of-the-line specs including the Snapdragon 845 chipset and 8GB of RAM. It also sports a dual-camera setup on the back, a 6.21-inch Full HD+ display, and 128GB of storage. 

Editor’s Pick

The phone has an in-display fingerprint scanner, allowing you to unlock it by placing your finger on a specific part of the screen. But in his review, our very own Oliver Cragg said it only worked maybe 40 percent of the time.

Xiaomi’s flagship has an eye-catching design thanks to its transparent back, which allows you to see the internals of the device — kind of. Other specs include a 3,000mAh battery, dual-SIM support, and Android Oreo with the company’s MIUI skin on top.

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro was announced in September and is available in a number of European markets. In the U.K., you can currently get it for 480 pounds (~$605), which isn’t a bad deal. 

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro -- one of the best phones with 8GB of RAM

Specs

  • 6.21-inch Super AMOLED display with 2,248 x 1,080 resolution, 402ppi
  • Snapdragon 845 chipset
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB of storage, non-expandable
  • Dual 12MP rear cameras, 20MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • 154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6mm, 177g

Read more


Asus ROG Phone

Asus ROG Phone display

This is a gaming phone. In addition to high-end specs, which include the Snapdragon 845 chipset and 8GB of RAM, it sports an attention-grabbing design with a customizable RGB logo at the back.

You can get the Asus ROG Phone with a range of accessories.

The phone comes with a range of accessories that improve the gaming experience. These include a TwinView handheld dock with a secondary display and 6,000mAh battery, a third-party GameVice controller with WiGig functionality so you can play on an external display, and more. The flagship even sports a performance mode called X Mode, which raises the minimum clock speed and restricts tasks to the four fastest cores.

Other specs and features of the handset include a 6.0-inch display, a massive 4,000mAh battery, and dual front-facing speakers. The entry-level version with 128GB of space can be yours for $900, while the 512GB variant will set you back $1,100.

The back of the Asus ROG Phone.

Specs

  • 6.0-inch AMOLED display with 2,160 x 1,080 resolution, 402ppi
  • Snapdragon 845 chipset
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128/512GB of storage, non-expandable
  • 12 and 8MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • 158.8 x 76.2 x 8.3 mm, 200g

Read more


There you have it, folks. These are our picks for the five best phones with 8GB of RAM, although there are quite a few others out there to choose from. These include the Oppo Find X, Asus Zenfone 5z, and the Huawei P20 Pro. Then there’s also the Pocophone F1, but the version with 8GB of RAM is exclusive to certain markets and kind of hard to get. Let’s not forget about the Honor View 20 that recently made its debut in China, with the global announcement scheduled for January 22. Which ones would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

Asus CEO resigns, mobile strategy revamp could mean loss of ZenFone (Updated)

Update, 12/14/2018, 09:30 ET: Asus has confirmed its ZenFone line will not be abandoned as part of its internal restructuring and new mobile strategy. In a statement to Gadgets360, Asus said:

“With regard to doubts raised by some on the continuation of the ZenFone brand, we confirm that we will continue to develop the ZenFone series, while also aiming to expand the gaming smartphone market. We will focus on perfecting solutions for gamers and power users.”

Questions over the series’ continuation were raised yesterday when Asus announced its CEO, Jerry Shen, was resigning after 11 years at Asus’ helm.

The most recent ZenFone we reviewed was the ZenFone 5Z and we’d gladly see a sequel to that handset. In our coverage, we called it the “flagship killer” killer. Hit the previous link to find out more on that.

Asus Zenfone 5Z

Original story, 12/13/2018 13:31 ET: Today, Asus announced that its longtime CEO Jerry Shen will be stepping down, via Engadget. Shen has been the head of Asus for the past 11 years. His resignation takes effect on January 1, 2019.

Shen will be replaced by two acting CEOs — PC business lead S.Y. Hsu and global customer service lead Samson Hu. It is not clear if those roles will be permanent or temporary.

Along with the announcement of Shen’s departure, Asus also revealed it will be revamping its mobile strategy going forward. According to Asus, more emphasis will be placed on gaming industry products and devices for power users — which means less emphasis on general consumer devices like the Asus ZenFone.

Editor’s Pick

Although Asus didn’t make any clear declarations in regard to the ZenFone line, ASUS chairman Jonney Shih described the general consumer mobile market as a “bloody battlefield” in his interview with Business Next. Asus is primarily known as a PC/gaming company, so it makes sense to focus more on making gaming phones than it does ZenFones.

A change in mobile strategy at this point is a necessity, as Asus just had to list a one-time loss of 6 billion new Taiwan dollars (~$195 million) to cover “loss of inventory, royalties, production costs, and organizational adjustment expenses” in its mobile arm.

The most notable Asus smartphone of the year is the Asus ROG Phone, which is getting good reviews. Its wide-ranging line of accessories make it a versatile device, and is the most “gamer-centric” gaming phone of the year, as compared to the Razer Phone 2 and the Xiaomi Black Shark.

Click below to see how these gaming phones stack up against each other:

NEXT: Asus ROG Phone vs Razer Phone 2 vs Xiaomi Black Shark: Gaming smartphone deathmatch

Best of Android 2018: the best audio

We’ve subjected the best Android devices of 2018 to a slew of testing and can confidently inform you of what the best sounding phone is, as well as list other standout products with excellent audio. While we’ve only highlighted one phone, a handful of options produce perceptually perfect audio when it comes to noise and dynamic range. Aside from the models that are virtually indistinguishable from each other, we’ll also address a few other phones that perform well but not perfectly.

What makes something the best sounding phone?

Best sounding phone: Red Hydrogen One headphone jack

As more and more flagships drop the headphone jack, its presence has become a sought-after feature for audio junkies and is required to be crowned the best sounding phone.

As writers from our sister site SoundGuys will tell you, audio is both a subjective and objective experience. While the subjective, experiential part is valid, we’re here to highlight some of the more scientific bits to get you on your way.

When looking for a phone that produces excellent sound quality, there are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • Noise levels should be under -96.6dB for CD-quality music.
  • Dynamic range should similarly be at or over 96.6dB.
  • Frequency response shouldn’t ever deviate from 0dB in either direction, but you won’t hear it if it’s less than 0.5dB.
  • Smartphone speakers suck.
  • Headphone jacks are the only way to ensure high-quality audio.

Only three phones tested exhibited audible errors

If you were to take a look at our huge, color-coded results spreadsheet, you’d notice right away how most smartphones in 2018 exhibit no audible flaws. When it comes to figuring out which smartphone is better than others for audio quality, only two things separate them: features (like a headphone jack), and Bluetooth.

We don’t like shaming phones around here, but these are the offending models:

  1. RED Hydrogen One
  2. Huawei P20
  3. Huawei P20 Pro

SoundGuys noted some irregularities with the Huawei phones when it came to AAC, but also noted every Android phone has errors with that finicky codec. The phones listed here can handle SBC, LDAC, aptX, and aptX HD on-spec. Additionally, the errors exhibited by those phones are unlikely to be heard by over 70 percent of the population, so be sure to temper outrage on that front.

However, the RED Hydrogen phone has frequency response errors of over 7dB, meaning you’ll absolutely hear it affect your music. It’s the lone “bad” phone for audio here.

The tests tell a very rosy story

We were surprised to find that noise wasn’t really a factor in differentiating phones, as most phones did a great job with it, however, there were a few shortcomings in other areas that thinned the herd considerably.

Dynamic Range

Higher is better

While it’s important for smartphone audio to minimize noise, high dynamic range is just as crucial. Although we’re accustomed to seeing the acronym “HDR” in photography, auditory dynamic range is the ratio of the quietest sound to the loudest sound a device can produce.

Dynamic Range

Higher is better

Speaker loudness might mostly serve to annoy the crap out of everyone around you, but sometimes you need a little boom in your mobile to catch a call or watch a YouTube video with a group. This purely tested how loud a given smartphone’s speaker can get and didn’t take into account distortion. We see quite a bit of difference between our top contenders, with the Nokia 7.1 and LG V40 ThinQ leading the pack.

Speaker Loudness

Higher is better

A fourth metric brings us back to the fundamentals of audio: frequency response. Although consumer headphones and earbuds tend to alter sound with a brand’s specific “house signature,” if you’re looking for accuracy, you want a device’s frequency response to be as neutral as possible. Though much hay is made over the high-end DAC assemblies of the LG V40 and Samsung phones, the truth is most handsets can decode and output a decent enough signal for even picky listeners. Only five phones crossed our +/- 0.5dB barrier, three of which are listed above. 

This is particularly pertinent, as it applies to the best sounding phone. By producing a neutral frequency response, a smartphone minimizes harmonic distortion at the source. Any issues with the DAC’s ability to reproduce an accurate, high-fidelity response may be amplified down the line when you plug your headphones in.

An accurate, neutral-leaning frequency response is imperative for any phone to be considered as the best sounding phone.

Most phones deviate less than 0.5dB in either direction, and score nearly perfect in this regard. Any of the phones listed today are essentially indistinguishable from one another performance-wise, making each smartphone an excellent choice when considering audio quality. While we can easily get lost nitpicking smartphone audio performance, the fact of the matter is smartphones handle audio exceptionally well. Generally speaking, you’re not going to be able to tell the difference between the top 10 smartphones for audio.

However, that brings us to a funny artifact of our scoring: only phones with a headphone jack could top our list. Dongles are a death sentence for our awards.

The current state of smartphone audio

Best sounding phone: The LG V40 ThinQ and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 standing next to each other on a shelf.

Smartphone audio has come a long way, and we’re confident that any of the notable phones mentioned today will be satisfactory.

Listen to the SoundGuys podcast: The state of smartphone audio

Yes, 10 phones is a lot of models to be indistinguishable — it serves as a testament to how far smartphone audio quality has come. Now, what makes each phone a top contender is its ability to exceed the limits of human hearing.

Human hearing ranges from 20Hz-20kHz — hence why you see that range brandished all over headphone packaging — but this range assumes a young age and unsullied ear mechanics. Most of our hearing abilities degrade naturally by the time we hit our early- to- mid-twenties, which you can put to the test here. If you find that you can’t hear a few of those files, try applying a filter in your phone’s settings (found in Samsung, LG phones). You might be surprised at the improvements you can get.

What’s more, if you’re streaming over Bluetooth, even the highest quality codec can’t keep step with wired listening. In fact, LDAC 330kbps showed itself less reliable than SBC, the lowest-common-denominator of codecs. So, the assumed codec pecking order been skewed up until now. AAC diminishes audio quality a bit when streamed over an Android device, and aptX is what listeners should be sticking to. Even then, however, wired remains king of quality.  

The LG V40 ThinQ has the best sound quality of any handset in 2018

After subjecting each of the 30 contenders to a battery of tests and analyzing the data through our in-house scoring algorithms, the LG V40 ThinQ narrowly reigned victor over the Asus ROG Phone and Samsung Galaxy phones. These phones actually beat out the V40 in some cases, but because many of those measurements lie outside the realm of human perception, they didn’t give those phones an edge with our scoring methods. The LG V40 ThinQ’s headphone jack, Quad DAC, and internal amplifier is a winning combination that’s yet to be bested.

Best sounding phone: LG V40 ThinQ camera

The LG V40’s 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC in tandem with the retention of the headphone jack makes it the best sounding smartphone of 2018.

It’s that internal amplifier that makes the LG V40 ThinQ a special phone. Where LG’s V-series has had it for a long time now, no other phones offer a 2V output, which means you can use power-hungry high-end headphones without breaking a sweat. Though it’s probably not the most practical idea to listen to a pair of planar magnetic headphones on the town, the fact is the LG V40 ThinQ is the only phone that’s going to let you do that. The Quad-DAC certainly sounds flashy, but the power behind the headphone jack is what makes the LG V40 ThinQthe best phone for audio. 

Editor’s Pick

Although it’s important to acknowledge the winner’s weaknesses, we tip our headphones to the LG V40. It — along with the Asus ROG Phone, Vivo NEX, and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — outperforms its smartphone brethren in dynamic range. Additionally, the V40 frequency response deviates just 0.07dB, outperforming all other potential picks.

Although the V40 can’t outperform its competition in every metric, the top-notch power output makes it the best sounding smartphone of the year.

This year, there’s a wide selection of excellent phones out there for listeners who prioritize audio quality. All of the listed candidates are within a few meager points of one another and remain perceptually indistinguishable — unless you have a set of high-impedance headphones that require a lot of juice.

  1. LG V40 ThinQ
  2. Asus ROG Phone
  3. Nokia 7.1
  4. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
  5. LG G7 ThinQ
  6. Samsung Galaxy S9
  7. Vivo X21
  8. Vivo Nex
  9. Xiaomi Pocophone
  10. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

One more thing about testing

Best sounding phone: focusrite scarlett 2i2 connected to a smartphone.

We use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 to conduct our smartphone audio tests.

Any of the nine alternatives are very close to the LG V40. We understand if you want a more financially viable choice, or a battery that’s not going to quit after a few hours. In that case, the Xiaomi Pocophone, and Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus remains standout performers. Though they’re technically not the best sounding phones, they’re sure to satisfy any enthusiast’s ears. We’ll have future comparisons coming down the line to help inform you on future smartphone-related decisions.

Although we’re not yet publishing our internal scoring, we implore our readers to learn about how we conducted our testing, and the philosophy behind it. We want to ensure our data tells a story and informs our audience of relevant information. What’s more, we want our data to be accessible to a wide array of readers, be it the computer engineer or the average consumer.

Come back throughout the week for more Best of Android 2018 coverage as we have plenty more to share with you.

Next: Best of Android 2018: The best displays