It’s safe to prejudge any smartphone as having lousy speakers. It’s a matter of size – small and complex mobile devices just don’t have enough room for room-filling rich audio. The folks at iFrogz seemingly agree with this premise and have an answer in the form of the iFrogz Boost NearField Audio Amplifying Speaker.
With iTunes, iCloud, Google Music, Spotify, and an ever-growing number of music apps, we have access to a ton of tunes on our mobile devices. Can the iFrogz Boost speaker do them justice?
Build & Design
Simple, that’s the best way to describe the iFrogz Boost Speaker. It ships as a standalone unit. There are no wires or cables needed in order for the speaker to function, just AA batteries and you’re ready to go. In less than 20 seconds, you can remove the speaker from the package, plug in three batteries, and start listening to your favorite tunes.
The speaker is not like any other speaker in the market today. It uses what iFrogz calls NearField technology to have the sound amplified throughout the device. Basically, the dock has a small microphone stored at the top of the device and uses the vibrations from the smartphone speaker and amplifies the sound.
The iFrogz Boost Speaker has one button in the front for power and two hubs in the back for an audio-in jack for a direct line (and better sound output) and a microUSB connection for optional DC power. The actual speakers itself are conveniently located on the side of the device.
It is covered in a matte black finish that is sleek and holds a mobile device well. And while the device may slip and slide while on the speaker, it does a good job keeping a device steady when moved slightly.
The surface area of the speaker is slightly larger than that of an iPhone 4 (the mobile device used to test the speaker). iFrogz has also specifically stated on the box that the Boost NearField Audio Speaker is optimized for Apple Devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch. It also states that it will work with other smartphones and MP3 players with external speakers as well.
That being said, the speaker is pretty thick. It measures 4.9 x 2.6 x 1.55-inches (LWD) and weighs a little less than an iPhone 4 with batteries, so it’s bigger than any smartphone available today. You wouldn’t necessarily carry it around in your pocket, but it is definitely mobile enough to carry around in any sort of bag.
To start using the iFrogz Boost Speaker, all you have to do is click the power button: once to put it into standby mode, and twice to turn it on completely. In stand-by mode, the device will stay on for 10 seconds and wait for any audio signals on the speaker. If it cannot find anything, it will go to sleep mode until it picks up some sound waves. In stand-by mode, the speaker will take a few seconds to pick up audio in order to amplify the sound.
Within that 10-second window, it will pick up any sound instantly and will amplify it once the sound is close enough to the speaker. To distinguish the difference between the modes, a blue light on top of the speaker will either flash occasionally when it’s on stand-by mode and will stay steady when it’s completely on.
Once placing a device, in this case an iPhone 4, on top of the speaker, it picks up sounds fairly quickly and increases the volume of the song being played significantly. In a small to medium sized room, even the lowest of volume can easily be heard. When the volume is turned up all the way on the mobile device, the sound quality doesn’t take a major hit, even the bass retains its quality.
There are no volume controls on the speaker itself; all volume is controlled through the mobile device. But the iFrogz Boost Speaker picks up even the slightest volume change.
To get the most out of the speaker, the mobile device should be placed as centered on the speaker as possible, with the bottom of the phone lined up with the power button. Any slight movement can alter the output and negatively affect the sound quality.
Of course, all that is moot with the line-in option. The sound is fuller and richer, though muddled at the higher volumes.
For a speaker running on three AA batteries, the life of the device is quite impressive. When fully powered up, the speaker can last up to 15 hours, good enough for a party or an event. When the iFrogz Boost Speaker is on stand-by, it can last up to 6 months on a single set of batteries.That said, three AA batteries is a bit excessive for a mobile device. The optional DC input is a nice touch, but the Boost should have a rechargeable battery.
After countless hours of jamming to Rush, grooving to Boston, and shouting out lyrics to Journey, the iFrogz Boost NearField Audio Speaker is definitely something to consider the next time you’re looking for a speaker. For $40, it’s not the cheapest accessory, but even the most casual music goer can enjoy their favorite songs amplified as easy as a push of a button. Is it a nicely built speaker? Yes. But is it perfect? Unfortunately, no.
The iPhone 4 fits perfectly on the speaker and the music quality is great. The speaker increases the volume, but doesn’t fool around with the sound quality too much. However, other larger devices like the iPad don’t quite work on this device, despite being optimized for Apple products. Outside of the line-in option, other smartphones such as the original Motorola Droid and the Motorola Droid II will work on the speaker, but not as well as the iPhone. The volume for these phones isn’t amplified enough to be heard in a medium-sized room. And still some devices, like the HTC Thunderbolt, don’t work at all. It all depends on the mobile device speaker placement.
All-in-all, this is a great product to use and it is somewhat accessible. If you own an iPhone and are looking for a speaker, give the iFrogz Boost NearField Audio Speaker a close look.