One of the reasons why I bought the HTC One M8 rather than the Samsung Galaxy S5 is because whilst I am the son of a Royal Air Force Navigator, I did not inherit my father's sense of direction. Sometimes, it's not so much that I get lost, more I never knew where I was in the first place! I use my smartphone as a navigation tool in a variety of different vehicles often enough to appreciate having front facing speakers, so that a cradle doesn't muffle the sound and here, the HTC One excels whereas the Samsung devices put a speaker on the back. This is still true of the latest and greatest Samsung device, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, even though Samsung put a speaker on the bottom edge of the Note 3, which is an improvement. Perhaps there simply wasn't the space in the Note 4 chassis? Regardless, an ingenious developer over at the XDA Forums, sshafranko, has modified his Galaxy Note Edge to convert the front earpiece into a speaker. The modification requires a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or Note Edge and works on T-Mobile USA and Sprint variants of these devices; at the time of writing it's not clear if it'll work on other variants of the devices around the world.
You'll need a rooted device in order to make these changes and as with all similar modifications, user beware: here be dragons! Neither I, nor Android Headlines, nor XDA Forums or sshafranko can be responsible in any capacity if you brick your handset, blow your speaker up or cause an international diplomatic event though following the instructions at the source (see below). You'll need to flash one of three ZIP files from the source thread, with a fourth designed to return your device back to stock if you don't like the change. These three files give you different volume levels for the front earpiece. Those owners who have tried the modification report that the devices may now deliver "almost surround sound," but it's not clear how the code modifies the timing of the speaker outputs to produce genuine surround sound.
If the front earpiece is as capable as a speaker, I have to wonder why Samsung didn't dump the rear speaker components and simply use one on the front? It is only a small change but one that makes a big difference for people using that gorgeous, 5.7-inch display for watching media. This leads me to believe that there is a good reason why Samsung haven't implemented the change; the front earpiece may be a lesser able component compared with the back, or perhaps their market researched showed that people prefer a speaker on the rear of the device and this is why they relocated the bottom-edge speaker between the Note 3 and the Note 4 generation? Whatever the reason, the change to the front speaker ought to be a good one so if you give the modification a try, let us know how you get on!