Mobility

Android rocks out with a new Marshall smartphone for music lovers

Android and guitar amp juggernaut Marshall have teamed up to create what might be the greatest sounding smartphone ever. Jack Wallen gives you the scoop.

londonhero.jpg

I'm an audiophile. To date, no smartphone has fully appeased my aural sensibilities. Some (like the HTC One M8) have come close. As for the music apps, most fall far short. So, when I found out that the greatest manufacturer of guitar amps was coming out with a smartphone for music lovers, I naturally did a double take.

Ladies and gents, the Marshall London.

First, let's get this out of the way. How does a music-centric device benefit an IT pro or business owner? Directly, it may have no impact. Indirectly, however, you can't deny the power of music. Let's face it, the business is filled with daily stressors that do their best to take you (and your servers and bottom line) down. When that happens, for some, the best escape is music.

So, why not escape with style and quality? If you've ever cranked up a Marshall amp (proud owner of one here), you know their products rarely (if ever) disappoint.

Now, before we get into what's really important with this device, let's talk specs. The Marshall "London" isn't a powerhouse. Here are some of the specs:

  • Display: 4.7-inch (720p/IPS)
  • Storage: 16 GB of internal storage (expandable via SD card)
  • CPU: Snapdragon 410 chip (1.4 GHz, quad-core)
  • Cameras: 8 and 2 megapixel cameras
  • Audio: Wolfson WM8281 Audio Hub, dual front-facing speakers

Okay, minus the addition of the Wolfson Audio Hub (which means the device has a dedicated processor for sound, so it can play sound at a higher resolution), the specs are a bit mid-range. It's not until you get a glimpse of the "London" that the specs fade away into the realm of rock to have you tossing devil horn salutes left and right. Marshall did the design exactly how you'd expect it:

  • Flat, rectangular handset
  • Faux leather finish
  • Knurled, gold-plated buttons (including the "M" button, shown in Figure A,which gives you one-click access to your music)
  • Gold-plated scroll wheel in place of volume up and down buttons
  • And, of course, the famous Marshall logo

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Marshall
The Marshall "M" button on display and dual stereo headphone jacks.

But how about this device's bread and butter? Music! The first thing to note is the dual headphone jacks. Out of the box, you can share your tunes (in full stereo) with someone. And if you're recording, the device happens to include dual mics.

Marshall also has something very special to deliver—a single app that pulls all your music sources (Spotify, local library, etc) into one, convenient interface. It includes pre-installed Loopstack (a four-channel recorder), a DJ app, a global EQ to fine-tune your sound (which applies regardless of what music player you use), and built-in FLAC support. Ultimately, this device is a mobile music lover's dream come true.

According to the Marshall website, the London will be the loudest smartphone on the planet. In fact, Marshall claims that you'll be able to easily enjoy your music without the help of headphones... it's that loud. This of course, could also benefit those who tend to take their calls in audio speaker mode. Rock out during those conference calls!

The London will also come with a set of Marshall Mode in-ear headphones, so you don't have to worry about the quality of sound diminishing when you switch from the device's dual speakers to headphones.

At $499.00 (USD), will the London be worth it when it arrives mid-August? If you're an audiophile looking for the best sound possible (in a smartphone), the answer is probably "yes." If you're a massive fan of Marshall, the answer is probably a resounding "yes." If you think Apple earbuds or Beats headphones are the jam, then the Marshall London is probably not for you.

Even IT pros and business owners deserve high quality audio to help them escape the pain and rigors of the daily grind. Why not do it up with style and serious sound? Pop in your ear buds, kick your feet up on that failing server, put on your favorite tune, and turn this baby up to eleven. The Marshall London will rock.

How important a role does audio quality play when you're shopping for a new smartphone? Let us know how it rates in the discussion thread below.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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