How good can a mobile phone speaker be?
August 26, 2010 6:30 PM   Subscribe

How much could the speakers built into iPhones be auditorily improved if price were no object?

In other words: How good sounding a speaker can technologically be built into an otherwise normally functioning iPhone? Pentagon budget, if necessary.

I assume physics will stop you well before that. I'm just curious as to how much before.
posted by Joe Beese to Technology (4 answers total)
How do you define 'good'?

There's only so much you can get out of a tiny little speaker.
posted by jjb at 8:06 PM on August 26, 2010

Not a great deal better, and you're correct that physics is the limiting factor.

When creating a loudspeaker you have a choice: you can produce a small range of frequencies really well, or a wider range of frequencies not so well. That's why speaker sets have tweeters and woofers for high and low frequencies respectively. Apple could make the speaker larger, or incorporate two or more speakers, but that would make the phone bigger (and more expensive).
posted by alby at 2:31 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's a lot that can be done, regardless of how much money you want to spend on them. I highly doubt Apple is skimping on their components, and with the multi-hundred-dollar price point, they can probably afford to throw in about as good a speaker as currently exists.

If you want more volume, you need more power, and if you want more fidelity, you need more speakers, which means it needs to be bigger.

I think we're about where physics will let us go.
posted by valkyryn at 7:15 AM on August 27, 2010

Would you be willing to hold the iPhone speaker to your ear at all times? Good sound, lower volume.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:51 AM on August 27, 2010

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