Why don't mobile phones have better voice quality?

Q. I read with interest your most-recent mobile phone reviews and Ratings, and noticed that none of them scored Very Good or Excellent for voice quality. Why is that? One would think that with all of the processing power and precision parts in mobile phones, they could capture and reproduce audio quality as well as their landline counterparts.—Richard Stuart, Lewiston, ID
A. Cell phones have tiny microphones and speakers that use voice-compression technology, and signals travel a long, winding road between callers. Carriers are beginning to use one of the more promising developments for improving voice quality: high-definition (HD) voice, which transmits calls over wider frequency ranges at a higher number of audio samples carried per second. In the meantime, try one of the following.              

  • Max out the volume on your phone app (not the same as the “sound” volume for multimedia playback, which won’t raise call volume).                        
  • Check your phone’s Settings menu and trying options such as “noise reduction,” “personal call settings,” and “HD Voice” or “VoLTE.”                        
  • Find the sweet spot of your microphone and your earpiece. It’ll help both sides of a conversation.

For more helpful tips and information check our cell phones and services buying guide, and watch our video below. 

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This article also appeared in the June 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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