London calling: Marshall rocks amp-inspired smartphone

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Marshall's smartphone might not be a big-hitter on the spec sheet, but it packs a bevy of great features

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Buying a smartphone in 2015 can be a pretty daunting and often humdrum task, with numerous flagships and ranges that all offer slight variations of the same general feature set. Well, if you're an audiophile and you fancy something a little out of the ordinary, then Marshall might just have the device for you. It's certainly not the most high-end handset we've seen, but it offers a host of features aimed squarely at music lovers and musicians.

Once upon a time, you'd only really find the Marshall logo on its range of highly respected guitar amplifiers. But times change, and the company is diversifying. It began with the release of some tasty headphones, followed by active speaker systems such as the Hanwell, Woburn and more recently, the comparatively diminutive Kilburn. Now the brand is moving into all new territory, releasing its first ever smartphone.

Let's get one thing out of the way – this isn't a flagship level handset. The device, known as the Marshall London, is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, paired with 2 GB of RAM, 16 of GB internal storage (expandable via a microSD card slot), and features a 4.7-inch 1,280 x 720 display.

If you're familiar with high-end smartphones in 2015, you'll be aware that those aren't exactly top shelf components. However, what the London lacks on the telephony spec sheet, it does its best to make up for with an audio-focused feature set.

For starters, there's a dedicated Wolfson WM8281 soundcard, allowing for high resolution, FLAC audio playback. There are dual front-facing speakers (which are said to “possibly” be the loudest on any mobile phone), as well as two stereo audio jacks with independent volume controls. Marshall is also putting a pair of its Mode in-ear headphones in every box.

Elsewhere, there's an old school touch in the form of a scroll wheel for adjusting volume, and an “M-Button” on the top of the handset that, when clicked, takes you straight to your music, complete with a global equalizer.

Some attention has been paid to the software side of things, too. The device runs on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, and comes pre-installed with DJApp and Loopstack – a four track recorder that allows for 44 kHz/16 bit recording. Of course, it'll also work with other third party music and recording software downloaded from the Google Play Store.

For many, the classic Marshall stylings alone might be enough to tempt them into a purchase. We can't help but wish that the core specs packed a little more punch, but the dedicated features make this an interesting handset with a very specific focus.

Marshall hasn't announced when you'll be able to get your hands on the London in the US, but it'll land in the UK for £399 (about US$600) next month.

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