Better Audio for Cell Phones

“Can you hear me now?”

For many people, trying to hear a cell-phone conversation can be challenging. In Consumer Reports’ tests, no cell phone has received an excellent or even a very good rating for voice quality.

But there’s a promising new development in voice quality already available to some smartphone users: high definition voice. It’s very early in the roll-out stage right now and the technology has some limitations, but it’s promising. Consumer Reports’ preliminary tests have found a noticeable difference. Speech sounds fuller and is easier to understand.

All of the major carriers are starting to offer HD Voice. If it’s available, make sure it’s activated on your phone. It goes by various names. In addition to HD Voice, there’s “Voice over LTE,” and “Advanced Calling.” Or you’ll see “Voice and Data” on some phones.

If you don’t have HD Voice, there are several things you can do that might improve your audio right now. Try turning on the setting for noise reduction. You can also play around with other personal call sounds, like “Soft Sound” and “Clear Sound.”

The good news is that none of them –– including HD Voice –– cost extra. Yet.

Before you get too excited about HD Voice, be aware that there are some limitations. It works only between compatible phones within networks. For example, Sprint customers can’t have HD Voice-quality conversations with their Verizon friends.

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