Top 4 Best External Microphones For Android Smartphones


Smartphones (which typically use the Android operating system) all have built-in microphones, though these mics are not of the highest quality. Fortunately there is a market for external smartphone microphones. Here are my top 4 recommendations for external android smartphone mics:

Note that the above microphones are my top choices when connecting directly to Android smartphones. With the proper adapters, it is possible to connect pretty much any microphone to a smartphone. And microphones that sound much better than the ones mentioned in this article, at that. But for this article, we’ll look at the top 4 mic choices designed for smartphones.

For more information on connecting external microphones to iPhones, check out my articles:
How To Connect An External Microphone To A Smartphone
How To Connect A Wireless Microphone To A Computer (+ Bluetooth Mics)

For more information on the built-in microphones of the iPhone, check out What Kind Of Microphones Are Used In Cell Phones?


Criteria Of A Great External Microphone For Android Smartphones

Let’s list out the criteria that make up a great external Android smartphone mic:

  • Physical connection: how well does the microphone attach to or otherwise connect to the smartphone? Will the microphone fit on the smartphone if there is a protective case around it?
  • Electrical connection: the transfer of audio, whether analog or digital, is critical when connecting an external mic to a smartphone. How reliable and clean is the electrical connection for proper signal transfer?
  • Audio quality: how accurate is the microphone transducer at converting sound into audio? In the case of digital connections (USB), how effective is the analog-to-digital converter and what specs does the mic output digital audio?
  • Durability: is the microphone built to last or is it designed with cheap materials that break easily?
  • Overall functionality: how easy is the mic to use and what software, if any, is necessary for the mic to function properly with the android Smartphone? Does the microphone offer multiple functions (polar patterns, headphone monitoring, digital signal processing, etc.)?

We’ll discuss each of the top 4 external microphones for Android with these criteria in mind in this article!

Be sure to check out My New Microphone’s article How Do Microphones Work? (The Ultimate Illustrated Guide)!


A Note On Android Smartphone Audio Inputs

It’s critical to note that Android is an operating system created by Google rather than a specific type of smartphone. So an “Android smartphone” is really any phone that has the Android OS.

Though the operating system may be the same, Android smartphone have great variations from one manufacturer to another and between the individual models of each manufacturer.

So do they have different methods of inputting audio?

In general, there are 3 main methods for smartphones to accept audio:

  1. Headphone jack.
  2. Charging port.
  3. Bluetooth.

Headphone Jack

The headphone jacks on smartphones are designed as 3.5 mm TRRS jacks.

In newer smartphones, the standard is CTIA:

  • Tip: Left headphone
  • Ring: Right headphone
  • Ring: Ground
  • Sleeve: Microphone

In older smartphones, the standard was OMTP:

  • Tip: Left headphone
  • Ring: Right headphone
  • Ring: Microphone
  • Sleeve: Ground

Since Apple decided to rid of the headphone jack in their iPhones beginning in 2016 (with the iPhone 7), many manufacturers have followed suit. New smartphones are often designed without headphone jacks at all.

That being said, there are still a lot of Android smartphones in circulation that have a headphone jack and so we’ll mention a few “TRRS microphones” in this list. Additionally, there are adapters that will take 3.5 TRRS at their input and output a digital format with a charger port connector.

To read more detailed information on headphone jacks, check out my article How Do Headphone Jacks And Plugs Work? (+ Wiring Diagrams).

The Benfei 3.5 mm TRRS to USB-C adapter (link to check price on Amazon) is one such example of this type of adapter.

To read more into the differences between analog and digital audio in microphones, check out my article Are Microphones Analog Or Digital Devices? (Mic Output Designs).

Charging Port

Speaking of charging port connections, this is now the most common method of hardwiring mics to smartphones. This is because, as mentioned above, many smartphones do not have analog headphone jacks anymore.

The typical charging port of an Android smartphone is the USB C-Type.

This USB-C is a 24-pin system with a two-fold rotationally-symmetrical connector. It looks like Apple’s Lightning connector and the two are often confused.

The USB-C connector transfers digital audio and so external smartphone mics with USB-C outputs are designed with built-in analog-to-digital converters.

Note that the micro-USB is also common, but mostly in older smartphones that typically have a headphone jack.

Bluetooth

Finally, there is Bluetooth, but many Bluetooth microphones have the regular transmitter/receiver setup where the receiver must be hardwired into the smartphone.

A popular Bluetooth microphone that connects directly without a receiver is the Hey Mic! (link to check the price on Amazon). Although the Hey Mic! is effective at transferring audio wirelessly, it has fairly low-quality audio and will not be discussed in further detail in this article.

Hey Mic!

You can purchase the Hey Mic! directly from their online store at a 10% discount by using the promo code mynewmicrophone

To read more about bluetooth microphones, consider reading my article How To Connect A Wireless Microphone To A Computer (+ Bluetooth Mics).

With those quick notes out of the way, let’s get into the top 4 best external microphones for Android smartphones!


Shure MV5

The Shure MV5 is a standalone USB electret condenser microphone with a 16 mm capsule and cardioid polar pattern. It outputs digital audio up to 24-bit/48 kHz.

ProsCons
Sound quality (up to 24-bit/48 kHz).Requires an OTG (on-the-go) cable to connect to Android smartphones.
Ease of use.Cheap plastic body.
3 DSP preset modes (Vocals, Flat, Instrument).Not all Android devices are compatible.
Built-in headphone output for real-time monitoring.

Shure MV5 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Shure is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The Shure MV5 does not physically attach directly to the smartphone. It stands on its own and connects only by its audio/USB cable.

The microphone itself is the upper ball-shaped piece. The desktop stand comes with the MV5 and is easily attachable and removable from the mic piece.

The mic body and stand are both made of plastic and feel cheaply built. This microphone scores relatively low in terms of durability due to its outer body and stand.

As for the electrical connection, the MV5 doesn’t actually come stock with a cable to connect to Android phones. Rather, when using the Shure MV5, we should get ourselves an OTG (On-The-Go) cable to properly adapt the cable to our Android smartphone. Here are my recommendations:

In terms of audio quality, the MV5 performs well above its price point. In the frequency response below, we see that the MV5 is fairly neutral in the mid-frequencies with a slight boost in the upper presence range and a roll-off of high frequencies.

This helps to show that the MV5 will capture sound pretty naturally, though the audio will be somewhat coloured.

For more info on microphone frequency response, please consider reading my article Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples).

Shure’s MV5 also outputs professional spec digital audio (up to 24-bit/48 kHz).

As for functionality, the MV5 offers a headphone output for direct monitoring and 3 DSP preset modes (Vocals, Flat, Instrument). It is easy to use and set up.

Shure is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use
Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World


Rode smartLav+

The Rode smartLav+ is a miniature electret condenser lavalier/body microphone with an omnidirectional polar pattern. It is wired and connects to smartphone headphone jacks via 3.5 mm TRRS (CTIA standard).

ProsCons
Small size.Poor app design.
118 cm (46.5") kevlar-reinforced cable.Cheap plastic body.
Omnidirectional polar pattern.Not compatible with all Android devices (see full list at smartlav.com).

Rode smartLav+ (link to check the price on Amazon).

Rode is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The Rode smartLav+ connects to a smartphone’s 3.5 mm headphone jack and does not require any other physical attachment to the phone.

If your Android smartphone does not have a headphone jack, do not worry! The smartLav+ only needs a simple adapter to connect to your phone’s USB-C charger port. My recommendations is the Benfei (link to check the price on Amazon).

Note that the Android smartphones that have discontinued the headphone jack are typically newer and use the superior USB-C over the micro-USB for their charging ports. Therefore, I do not have a recommendation for a 3.5 mm TRRS to micro-USB adapter. With the older “micro-USB Android phones” use the headphone jack to connect the smartLav+.

In terms of audio quality, the relatively flat frequency response, omnidirectional polar pattern, and high sensitivity of the smartLav+ makes it sound great. Of course, lavalier microphones have their downsides in terms of audio capturing, but the smartLav+ sounds great considering!

For an in-depth look into the omnidirectional polar pattern, check out my article What Is An Omnidirectional Microphone? (Polar Pattern + Mic Examples).

The smartLav+ features a durable kevlar-reinforced cable that can handle a bit of stress. The miniature microphone itself is also quite durable. As with all lavalier microphones, I recommend being as gentle as possible with the mic clip to keep it from breaking.

Rode’s smartLav+ is my go-to lav mic for connecting to any smartphone (whether iOS or Android and whether via a headphone jack or charging port). However, the microphone isn’t overly versatile. Most lavaliers are one trick ponies, and the Rode smartLav+ is no different.

For more info on lavalier mics, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
How And Where To Attach A Lavalier/Lapel Microphone
Do Actors Wear Microphones? (Film, Theatre, And Other Performances)

As a final criticism of the smartLav+, I’ll say that the stock app is pretty poorly designed. Of course, we do not absolutely need to use the stock software application. In fact, I’d argue against it.

Rode is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use


Rode VideoMic Me

The Rode VideoMic Me is an attachable smartphone microphone that connects via 3.5 mm TRRS (CTIA standard). It is an electret condenser microphone with a 1/2″ capsule and cardioid polar pattern.

ProsCons
Flexible mounting bracket attaches to a wide range of Android smartphones.Does not fit most battery cases.
Unidirectional cardioid polar pattern.Poor performance when using smartphone data.
Built-in headphone output for real-time monitoring.Cheap plastic body.
Not compatible with all Android devices.

Rode VideoMic Me (link to check the price on Amazon).

What I like most about the Rode VideoMic Me is its ability to physically attach to smartphones even when they are inside of their protective cases. Most microphones that are designed to attache to smartphones can only do so when the phone is outside its case.

The VideoMic Me can also be positioned so it points forward (in the same direction as the front camera) or backward (in the same direction as the rear camera). This is important for versatility.

The cons of this design is that some Android smartphones are designed with the camera near the headphone jack. In these cases, the VideoMic Me is likely to interfere with filming and be positioned in the shot.

Another criticism worth mentioning is that, even though this mic is versatile in terms of attaching to different mic shapes, sizes, and protective cases, it likely will not fit over full battery cases (which are too bulky).

As for the electrical connection, the RodeMic Me is typically fairly good at connecting to the phone, even while attached to a protective case.

However, and this likely due to poor quality control on Rode’s part, the mic sometimes has issues with interference when the smartphone is connected to the internet.

This means that it would be impractical to use this mic for live streaming of any kind, assuming this is an issue with your VideoMic. That being said, this typically isn’t as issue.

The audio quality of the VideoMic Me is decent and a big upgrade over the built-in microphones of Android smartphones. Although this microphone has a cardioid polar pattern, it acts somewhat like a shotgun mic, focusing in on sounds in the direction that it points while rejecting much of the other noise. This is great when filming!

To read more about the cardioid and shotgun mic polar patterns, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
What Is A Cardioid Microphone? (Polar Pattern + Mic Examples)
.
The Lobar/Shotgun Microphone Polar Pattern (With Mic Examples)
.

When talking about durability, the cheap plastic body and moving parts of the VideoMic are somewhat lacklustre. I would not call this microphone durable.

The VideoMic Me does feature a headphone output for direct monitoring. However, this output is difficult to use without the app and because the app is disliked, many users forgo using this feature whatsoever.

But with all the criticisms of this microphone, it still manages to get on most bloggers’ “top smartphone microphones” lists.

This is partly due to the fact that there aren’t many good external microphones for smartphones.

However, it’s also because this microphone really is a great mic, especially when used for video audio in smartphone recordings. It sounds great; it’s versatile; and for the price, it performs very nicely.


Blue Microphones Raspberry Premium

The Blue Raspberry Premium is a standalone USB electret small-diaphragm condenser microphone. It has a cardioid polar pattern and outputs digital audio at 16/24-bit and 44.1/48 kHz.

ProsCons
Ease of use.Requires an OTG (on-the-go) cable to connect to android smartphones.
Audio quality (16-bit/24-bit 44.1/48 kHz).Not compatible with all Android devices.
Built-in headphone output for real-time monitoring.Legacy product (no longer in production).
Mute button.

Blue Raspberry Premium (link to check the price on Amazon).

Blue is yet another brand featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The Blue Raspberry Premium is a standalone microphone, meaning that unlike the Rode VideoMic Me mentioned above, it does not attache directly to the smartphone. Rather, it sits on it own desktop stand or can be attached to another type of microphone stand.

The Blue Raspberry microphone outputs via USB and requires an adapter to connect to the typical Android smartphone. My recommendations for adapters, once again, are:

When it comes to audio quality, the Blue Raspberry sounds better than the other 3 microphones on this list. It outputs digital audio at 16-bit/24-bit 44.1/48 kHz and its small-diaphragm condenser capsule picks up audio fairly naturally considering the mic’s price.

Below is the frequency response of the Raspberry:

Yes there are quite a few peaks a valleys and this response is by no means flat. However, as we see here, there isn’t a great deal of variation in the sensitivity to different frequencies along the audible spectrum.

On top of good audio quality, the Blue Raspberry is pretty durable. Of course, I wouldn’t advise any rough play with the mic, but considering it’s both a microphone and an audio interface, it holds up well to tough situations.

This microphone features a headphone output for direct monitoring, which is important for video chatting and for simply monitoring yourself when recording into your Android smartphone.

Blue is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use

Recent Content