What you need to know

  • DxOMark has turned its hand to sound testing.
  • Five phones were tested in the first batch.
  • iPhone 11 Pro came in third.

DxOMark is best known for its in-depth reviews of the cameras built into smartphones. But now it wants to be known as the place to go to for audio testing, too. It's out the gate with iPhone 11 Pro and four more handsets, and it's come up with some interesting observations.

By kicking things off with five phones on day one DxOMark has been able to get a few scores out into the wild for comparison sake. It's no good having a score for iPhone 11 Pro if there's nothing to tell you whether it's good or bad. But most importantly DxOMark wants to make sure people have enough information when making a buying choice. And with people using cameras more and more, that's a good place to start. The comapny outlined its reasoning in a blog post.

Display size and quality as well as camera features and performance have for a long time been—and still are—major criteria for consumer smartphone buying. However, with users recording and consuming more and more video and audio content on their mobile devices, the importance of audio quality has greatly increased in recent years.

People use smartphones to record videos of family and friends, to shoot selfie videos, and to film concerts and other events. On the consumption side of things, they listen to music and watch their own videos as well as purchased content on their devices. The variation in audio quality between devices for both recording and output is huge, however, and there has been little guidance and information available for consumers who care about audio quality.

This is why we are introducing DXOMARK Audio—to provide comprehensive, neutral, and reliable test data about smartphone audio recording and output quality to consumers and other interested parties. We have developed a set of protocols for mirroring the ways consumers use their smartphones to record and consume audio content, along with a testing and benchmarking methodology that measures results in a reliable and repeatable way.

There's a lot goes into coming up with these ratings, and you can get the rundown in the aforementioned blog post and the video above. But it's the initial results that make for the most interesting reading here.

Huawei's Mate 20 X came out in top spot, followed by iPhone XS Max and then iPhone 11 Pro. That might not be the order you expected, but there are reasons.

The Mate 20 X features the largest dimensions, and unlike other tested smartphones, it has stereo microphones, leading to a score of 75 points and putting it into the top spot in the ranking by one point. At 74 and 71 points respectively the iPhone XS Max and 11 Pro Max occupy the podium positions – and interestingly enough, the newer device has a lower score than the older model. The iPhones are followed by the Samsung duo Note10+ and S10+ which are only separated by one point. The Honor 20 Pro at 53 points and the Sony Xperia X1 at 45 lag somewhat behind the competition.

So there we have it. We'll be interested to see this new round of tests carried out on phones from here on out.