The London. Some reviewers are already dissing the specs on this surprise smartphone from the Marshall guitar amp company, but I think it’s got some cool things going for it.
The London looks like an amp (duh), but a thin and sleek black one. The gold dials and buttons also fit nicely in the Marshall stack design aesthetic.
And there are a couple of new wrinkles here. I have yet to use the phone, but there is a very conspicuous gold button (the M Button) right on top of the phone that can be programmed for “single-push” launching of various apps and services. Cool.
The dual speakers on the front make the London one of just a few stereo smartphones out there. It’s also very loud; Marshall says the London is the loudest smartphone on the market. I’m inclined to believe them. Reports that it “goes to 11” are unconfirmed.
Marshall put a Wolfson WM8281 soundcard inside the phone, which plays back all kinds of audio files — including uncompressed files like FLAC — at a higher resolution.
You also get two microphones to make stereo recordings. Other stuff: a 4.7-inch 720p IPS LCD display, quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 8MP camera, removable 2500mAh battery, and a MicroSD slot. You can find the full details and specs here.
I even like the dual headphone jacks on the top of the phone. With a couple pairs of Marshall headphones plugged in it just looks cool. It’s also a nice callback to the first wave of personal music players, when the Sony Walkman provided two headphone jacks so you could listen to music with your pal. People really did that back in the ’80s. (People also wore stonewashed jeans tucked into the tops of white high-tops and proudly and unironically sported mullet haircuts, though.)
Yes, I agree that the London is a little pricey at roughly $590, but then again I doubt that Marshall is betting its business on the mass-market appeal of this phone. It’s probably meant for musicians (it’s got several pro audio recording apps onboard), and maybe older folks who still crank AC/DC in the car on the way to work in the morning.
If this were just another company trying to cash in on some leftover brand equity from its core business I would be yawning, but Marshall is doing some cool stuff. They obviously have a sense of humor and fun about the way they’re extending the look and feel of their classic amps into unexpected places like refrigerators and phones.
So rock on. Next stop: Marshall selfie stick.