There's a new high-end Android phone on the market from a rather unusual source. Marshall, a company more famous for making amps and speakers for rock concerts, has released a smartphone promising high-quality audio for music lovers.
The London from Marshall is a nice-looking phone with the matte black and metallic gold trim that you might expect to see on a Marshall amp or set of high-end headphones. The phone's specs are fairly standard (4G LTE, a 4.7-inch 720p display, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, microSD card slot, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-MP front-facing camera, a removable 2,500 mAh Li Ion battery and Android Lollipop 5.0.2 with customized music applicatons) until you get to the audio.
Enhanced volume and bass in the two forward-facing speakers make it the loudest phone on the market, according to Marshall. There are two stereo jacks, one for the Marshall Mode in-ear headphones that come with the London and the other for a friend to listen in, if you don't have a splitter handy. Between the jacks along the top of the phone for easy access, there's a special M button that gives users one-click access to their music. The brass button lets users control their music on top of whatever else happens to be open on their screen. The volume control is a tactile gold scroll wheel on the side that allows you to pick your ideal sound level with more precision.
Under the hood the London has a special Wolfson WM8281 Audio Hub soundcard that allows it to play music at a higher resolution and in uncompressed formats like FLAC. There's also a built-in equalizer and Bluetooth aptX for higher quality audio to your wireless devices - aptX is a proprietary audio coding that delivers CD-like quality audio wirelessly over Bluetooth.
For the more creative, there are two stereo microphones with noise reduction if you want to record your own tunes on the special DJ app or the preinstalled Loopstack app which allows you to record four tracks independently. Alternatively, I guess the mics will come in handy for making a call on speakerphone.
Since we listen to most of our music on phones these days it makes sense for an audio company to get into the smartphone business, though it's a bit of a stretch to believe that the phone has been developed entirely by Marshall. It hasn't mentioned a technology partner as yet. The London is launching in the U.K., Scandinavia and the Baltic states initially. It is already available for preorder on the Swedish website for 4,995 Krona (roughly $585), with an expected delivery date of Aug. 17.