We put the HTC One up against the Galaxy Note 2, Nexus 4 and HTC One X in a basic test
As we've been prone to do with recent phones, we're doing more speaker comparisons. This is unscientific, to be sure. What we hear may be a little different than what you hear. And while it may be cliche, you really do have to hear some of these phones in person to get the full effect.
That's especially true for the HTC One. The "BoomSound" feature is a combination of hardware and software that eventually shoots from the stereo speakers (again, two is better than one here) from the front of the phone. The placement of the speakers makes as much a difference as maybe any of the other tweaks, Beats Audio included. We've seen that in tablets, previously, with speakers on the side as well as the front. (Switching from a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to the Nexus 7, and thus switching to a rear speaker again, took some getting used to.)
The idea of front-facing speakers on a phone isn't exactly a new one, either. HTC went with a slider setup on the Windows Phone-powered HTC Surround. An interesting idea but not nearly the same as what's on the HTC One.
Here's what our own Alex Dobie had to say in our HTC One review:
This combination of larger speakers, more advanced membranes and Beats Audio results in the loudest and bassiest sound experience we’ve heard on any smartphone, without sacrificing clarity. For music and video content, that’s great. But on anything but the lowest volume setting, it’s almost too loud for regular notifications and ringtones. Powering on the HTC One for the first time, you’re assaulted by the full force of BoomSound in HTC jingle form. And the first phone call you receive on the device will be equally terrifying if it strikes you unprepared.
I tend to agree with most of that, especially on the low end, which is better than any smartphone I've ever used. The high-end is a little easier to get away with. As you'll hear in the comparisons below, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 handles that pretty well. Maybe even better. It does decently on volume, too, but the HTC One just has a much fuller sound. It's not quite properly conveyed here, I believe. But you'll get the idea.
The stereo effect from the HTC One's dual speakers is noticeable, but there's also something a little ... odd ... about it. Almost like it's some digital effect more than stereophonic sound. It's not bad, just ... not quite the same.
Alex and I have both mentioned the HTC One can be too loud for normal notification sounds, and you also might need to keep an eye on how loudly you play music. At full blast, I get some cracking on mine, particularly in the high end.
Toggling Beats Audio makes a huge difference. The bass all but disappears. Chances are you'll want to leave Beats on all the time.
For spoken word -- podcasts, talk radio, etc. -- the HTC One is damn near perfect. Sounds great.
It's also worth mentioning that this may be the first phone I've actually wanted a kickstand on. Accessories should help with that, though.
Anyhoo. On to the comparison. This is more to get a feel for how the speakers compare at full blast. To get the real effect of BoomSound on the HTC One, you've got to hear it in person. Period.