The best smartphone for watching video

Big sound makes a big difference to the viewing experience

The HTC One (M8) may not have the best screen compared to other current-generation smartphones, but it's still a very good one for watching locally stored or streaming video content. It's Full HD, it gives a bright and vibrant picture, and it's especially good looking while watching in dark environments.

Better sound than the competition

But the HTC One (M8) has one feature that trumps basically every other current-gen smartphone: high quality speakers. HTC calls its audio technology BoomSound, and it's comprised of two speakers at the top and at the bottom (with the bottom speaker being a little bigger than the top), and it has added plenty of height to the One (M8) to accommodate them. Some people find it too big because of this, but you can't have good sound without having decent-sized speaker chambers.

The HTC One (M8) is better than its competitors because its stereo speakers are located on the front of the smartphone, and not the rear. And because they are prominently positioned, they are not at all easy to muffle as you cup the unit with your hands. The fact that the speakers are each boosted by their own amplifier means that the volume level is enjoyable to listen to without headphones, and they give the One (M8) the best audio performance in its class.

The big, powered speakers on the front are great not only for music, they also enhance the video viewing experience.
The big, powered speakers on the front are great not only for music, they also enhance the video viewing experience.
Read more: HTC One M8 Android smartphone review

It's the perfect smartphone to just leave sitting on your bed or couch as it plays music while you lounge around. On the other hand, if kids get a hold of this audio capability, they could use it to annoy people by listening to loud music on public transport, but that's not the fault of HTC; parents need to teach their kids some manners.

Better sound makes for better video viewing

Now back to the reason why the One (M8) is the best smartphone for video: it's the position and quality of the speakers, which means you don't always have to wear headphones. You can easily cup the One (M8) in both hands and still get a clear, loud and unmuffled sound that is enjoyable to listen to, rather than sounding tinny or poorly balanced. We think it's great for firing up music videos on YouTube, and even for watching TV shows or movies you've downloaded. You can also plonk the thing down on the bed or on your couch and still get the full effect of the speakers, because they are not on the rear and firing down into your furniture.

We used the HTC One (M8) extensively with the NBA Game Time app, which allows us to stream American basketball games in very good definition. We could sit anywhere at home and just pull out the HTC One (M8) to start watching. The commentary and sound effects from the games were heard with delicious clarity. We even used the speakers while outdoors, sitting under a tree at Coogee beach, and under a bigger tree in Sydney's Botanic Garden. (We made sure we weren't too close to others so that the sounds didn't annoy them).

So there you have it, a simple feature like very good speakers ends up making the difference when it comes to the overall video-watching experience in a smartphone. The location, power, clarity, and the fact they are stereo speakers, all play a part. It means you don't always have to contend with using headphones every time you want to enjoy a YouTube video or any longer-form video content.

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Elias Plastiras
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