The iPhone produces quite reasonable sound, and when you’re on the go it can be a convenient option to be able to listen to your music collection through a pair of semi-decent speakers rather than headphones. For lazy summer days in the park, business trips away and many other situations, being able to crank up the volume enhances your listening pleasure.
These days, portable speakers needn’t cost the earth and can produce more than acceptable sound that really shows off the quality that’s possible – certainly good enough for most people. Portable speakers can be connected to your iPhone in a variety of ways such as with a 3.55 mm audio cable, or wirelessly using Bluetooth on the slightly more expensive systems (some high-end speakers even use AirPlay).
The portable speakers listed below are some of the best “budget” iPhone portable speakers, that cost anywhere up to around £150.
1. Braven 600
Connectors / specs: 12 hours’ battery life, 3W power, USB charger, 3.5 mm audio input, Bluetooth
Price: $149.99. Website: Braven
The Braven Bluetooth speakers not only look and sound good, but have the added advantage that you can also charge your portable devices via USB – quite handy if you’re not near a power outlet. Furthermore, several speakers can be daisy-chained together for a better and beefier sound and the range is up to 33 feet. They’re made from tough aluminium and the battery lasts up to 12 hours. Not only that, they look great (they come in red and silver) and should make for a great addition to your iPhone (or iPad).
2. Jawbone JAMBOX
Connectors / specs: 10 hours’ battery life, 3.5 mm audio input, Bluetooth
Price: £159.99. Website: Jawbone
Even though it can only just be considered a budget model, the JAMBOX has been very highly rated as one of the best sounding portable speakers on the market. The design is funky retro (it comes in four colours – Black Diamond, Blue Wave, Grey Hex and Red Dot) and has a tactile rubber coating, but it’s the sound where the JAMBOX really excels. Like many of the other iPhone speakers, it can be connected by Bluetooth with a range of around 33 feet. There are also various apps and feature enhancements that can be downloaded when it’s plugged into your computer. Portable music has never been this much fun. The JAMBOX can be found in-store at some Apple Stores.
3. iHome iHM79
Details: 3.5 mm audio input
Price: £39.95. Website: iHome Audio
These iHome speakers which are firmly in the budget price range are incredibly small (just 2.5″ x 2″ x 2.5″). They’re available in black and silver colours and generate a surprising amount of sound when you consider their compact size. They have a magnetic base so they can be attached to each other into a convenient pod shape when travelling, but with a simple twist can be extended to full size when in use. Connection to an iPhone is by the 3.5 mm jack (Bluetooth is not supported, unfortunately), and there’s a USB connector to charge them up. Considering the price, they’re pretty hard to beat and should satisfy all but the most critical of audiophiles.
4. SoundMatters FoxL v2 Bluetooth
Connectors / specs: 12 hours’ battery life, 3.5 mm audio input, Bluetooth
Price: $199. Website: SoundMatters
The FoxL is one of the best speakers for the iPhone in terms of the sound quality and size – they’re well made and are easily one of the most compact options in our list at just 5.6 x 2.2 x 1.4 inches . The sound quality from the FoxL is extremely rich and detailed, with a surprising amount of bass wen you consider the tiny size of the speaker. Connection to your phone is via Bluetooth (though there’s also a wired version available which retails for just $169), and it comes with a wall charger, USB charging cable, wrist strap and travel pouch.
If you want even better sound quality, spend an extra $30 for the PLATINUM edition which has superior audio quality. Apparently, the unique sound and technologies were developed by Dr. Godehard Guenther – a physicist and former NASA engineer!
5. WOWee ONE Classic
Connectors / specs: 20 hours’ battery life, 3.5 mm audio input
Price: £49.99. Website: WOWee ONE
Most portable speakers don’t tend to produce very good bass due to their small size, but the WOWee ONE uses some quite clever technology to turn any surface into a speaker for improved bass. It does this by vibrating and passing those low frequencies to any flat surface that it’s placed on. It has a built in rechargeable battery that provides up to 20 hours of playback. It can be connected to an iPhone or any other device that has a 3.5 mm audio jack. The WOWee can be placed on virtually any surface as it has a very grippy rubber pad on the underside which lets you place it on vertical surfaces such as windows or walls!
The only downside is that when the volume is turned right up the sound suffers quite noticeably, so you’re better off using it at lower levels. For the price however, the WOWee ONE Classic is a great piece of kit which comes in many colours, and there’s also a newer slim model at £79.99.