Beats Audio. Whatphone looks at what Beats Audio means to Smartphone users

Beats Audio by Dr. Dre

What is Beats Audio ?

In the never ending competitive battle for market share leadership, the different major Smartphone manufacturers, Samsung, HTC and Apple, are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves.

Each new device release brings with it bigger, better screens with higher resolution pixel density, smarter GUI ( Graphical User Interfaces, the software which sits on top of the Apple IOS or Android operating systems ) and, in some cases, better sound.

Beats Audio is one of HTC’s attempts to do just that, to positively differentiate themselves, focusing on the Smartphone music experience. And it seems to have worked.

In August 2011, HTC paid around $300m ( USD ) for a controlling ( 51% ) share in the Beats electronics company. Beats Electronics was ( and is ) a company set up by celebrity rap artist Dr. Dre in 2006. The goal of the company, working with an electronics manufacturer which helped them build high quality earphones, was to provide an improvement in an end to end music experience for listeners.

Practically, this involved producing earphones and working with electronics manufacturers ( including, at some points Hewlett-Packard ) to produce equipment which provided music delivered to emulate exactly what the recording artist heard when they listened to the track at the studio.

Originally, starting with the HTC Sensation in late calendar 2011, Beats headphones were shipped as standard with new HTC smartphones. This has now stopped although some telcos ( telcos are just telecommunications companies like Telstra, Optus, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone ) around the world are bundling Beats earphones with Smartphone purchases as promotional items.

However, the Beats Audio brand is still there on some HTC products. Turn your HTC One X over and you’ll see the logo on the back of that Smartphone.

What does Beats Audio mean to you ?

In practical terms, in the opinion of Whatphone, the purchase and inclusion of Beats Audio in your Smartphone should not be something that sways you from one device to another.

To use beats audio, you need to have a set of the Beats Audio earphones ! These retail from around $150. Sometimes, the telcos offer these as a nice incentive to pick up a particular plan.

Having heard the audio on ( sound from ) both Beats Audio enabled Smartphones the benefits are marginal at least and, some Whatphone staff members couldn’t tell the difference at all.

Where the Beats Audio inclusion has made a difference is in the marketing of the product. To Smartphone buyers and many Whatphone visitors, Beats Audio seems like something else, something nice, on top of the core Smartphone purchase that you only get when you buy HTC. All other thing being equal and especially if you’re in to music, why wouldn’t you buy the Beats Audio enabled device ?

What Whatphone, we take a dim view of marketing. We just want you to make the right decision on the right Smartphone for you and then get you back to your real life. But, if you love music, you’re a fan or Dr Dre and you find elements of the brand that appeal to you, that’s cool by us. Just don’t expect honey to pour from the speakers because this marketing promise is mostly fluff !


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.