Can Android Phones Play AMR Files?

By Shea Laverty

Audio engineer
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The Android operating system features a built-in media player, which supports numerous audio formats including AMR. The AMR format isn't as widely known as MP3 or AAC, but still fills a valuable niche in audio recording: speech recording. Android devices can play this format without difficulty, even when using a third-party media player.

Adaptive Multi-Rate Audio Codec

AMR is an audio recording codec primarily used for recording speech. The format is optimized specifically for spoken audio, and therefore isn't well-suited to other audio media like music. The AMR format comes in two additional varieties: AMR Wideband (AMR-WB) and Extended AMR Wideband (AMR-WB+). AMR-WB provides higher-quality audio than AMR, with AMR-WB+ providing even better quality and support for stereo signals and higher sampling rates. The original AMR format was adopted for use in GSM and UMTS mobile telecommunications systems by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project in 1998.

GSM Android Use

While all Android devices are compatible with AMR audio and can make use of it, GSM models make greater use than their CDMA counterparts. GSM phones encode all outgoing and incoming voice audio for phone calls using AMR, while CDMA phones instead use the Enhanced Variable Rate Coder Revision B or EVRC-B codec for calls. AMR and its wideband subtypes are still the primary format for GSM Android devices as of October 2013.

Other Uses

AMR voice encoding is used for more than just voice encoding on GSM Android devices. There are several apps, including Voice Recorder and Easy Voice Recorder, which can also record audio clips like dictation, meetings and other voice clips in the AMR format. These clips can be transferred to your computer, converted to other formats or used directly from your phone for easier note-taking, reminders and other information.

Third-Party Support

The default media player app preinstalled in the Android operating system isn't the only one that can make use of AMR files. Voice Recorder and Easy Voice Recorder both make use of the format for recording and playback. You can also play AMR files on most third-party media players like Winamp, RealPlayer and VLC.