all the snapdragon devices are using the same dac built into the soc, so no difference there. you're storing the same digital files in the phones, so no difference there, either. i doubt the data i showed in post #6, above, has much meaning in terms of perceived SQ given the limitations on power shown in THIS post.
the only major difference among the phones is in the voltage driving the headphone out. i'm not discussing built-in speakers here. the only built-in speakers worth anything - according to the reviews - are those of the htc m8, and i doubt they would equal ANY, even the cheapest, of the headphones discussed at this site in terms of SQ.
the chart below is from
and shows headphone output voltage. the original chart actually has pretty, colored bars which go out to the numbers listed. somehow the copy function here didn't bring those over. nonetheless, you can see the numbers.
my translation- if you're using super light, super easy to drive portable buds or headset, you'll get pretty much the same sound from each, because the headset quality will define your SQ. bottom line- your ability to use anything other than an m8 as a portable source is totally dependent on - and limited by - your headset, not the phone.
edit- can't format the chart right, and the board won't let me paste a copy, so here's the data that counts:
HEADPHONE OUTPUT VOLTAGE
HTC ONE M8 1.28
LG G3 0.57
SAM S5 0.43
SONY Z2 0.29
if you want to be able to use better quality phones that might require some power to drive, then your only choice is the htc m8. i'm skeptical, however, that even the m8 will provide a source that can compete in SQ with a dedicated device. [i'd be interested in some comparisons by people who are not already committed to, and prejudiced by, the idea of simplifying their lives by using only 1 device for everything.]
i've decided to give up on the idea of using a phone as a portable source. i purchased an ibasso dx90. now i'll choose my phone based on other considerations entirely - i'm no longer going to worry about their utility as portable sources.
BTW- if you're interested in the other SQ as in, you know, actual phone calls, the M8 is supposed to be far superior to any of the others, because it uses one of its boom speakers as your earpiece.
Edited by jk47 - 6/16/14 at 11:51am