Despite the current fascination with smart phone cameras, streamed content, games, and other apps, voice quality is likely to re-emerge as a critical feature simply because the U.S. population is aging and more people rely on their smart phones as the main phone in their households. As I pointed out in "3 Reasons Voice Quality on Smart Phones Still Sucks," smart phone makers have been dragging their feet on the road to better voice quality.
One of the most promising developments for improving voice quality is HD Voice, a technology that works by transmitting voice calls over wider frequency ranges at higher sampling rates. Sprint, which has HD Voice in about two dozen of its phones, demonstrated the technology for me at a press preview in New York City two years ago—and it seemed to work well. During the demo, it was as though the Sprint rep was speaking directly into my ear.
The other big carriers are set to roll out their own HD Voice networks and compatible phones over the next 12 months.
But before you get too excited, be aware that Sprint's HD Voice network currently reaches only a few million of its customers, though the carrier promises "nationwide coverage" by midyear. Also, even when HD Voice becomes more available, it will work only between compatible phones within a carrier's networks. So, for example, Sprint customers won't be able to have HD Voice-quality conversations with their Verizon friends.
It's uncertain when these drawbacks will be addressed, if ever. In the meantime, here are three steps you can try to make your conversations as clear as they can be.