JBL OnBeat Micro Lightning Speaker and Dock for iPhone 5 Review

Here they come, the first round of iPhone 5 and lightning cable accessories. Sure, we’re not happy about having to upgrade, but it’s about time we see some accessories! JBL took a smart approach with their OnBeat Micro iPhone 5 speaker dock; they stuck to basics and delivered a beautiful and simplistic docking station with quality speakers and a few surprising features.

Simplicity is a beautiful thing. This is very apparent with the JBL OnBeat Micro. Rather than mucking up their design with all sorts of buttons, LEDs, and other non-necessities they stuck to basics. Volume buttons, a power button, a dock connector and 360 degrees of speaker.

The appearance is super sleek and the build quality is palpable. As a night stand accessory, it’s a great size; not too big and not too small. It’s heavy with a grippy footing, so it’s capable of standing its ground. As a travel accessory, it’s definitely sleek enough for easy packing. On the back of the device is the port for the AC adapter, an auxiliary cable input for playing music from non-lightning devices, and a USB port for (also) playing music and even charging anything you want (we love this!).

The USB charging port on the back was a great surprise, another great surprise is the ability to use batteries with the OnBeat. It’s a great little speaker, so why tether it to the wall?! It runs on 4 AAA batteries and can run for up to 5 hours on battery (no charging).

The lightning docking port tilts to accommodate different cases and devices. The sunken dock is too narrow for iPad and iPad mini, but it will accommodate any lightning iPhone or iPod. I’ve tested iPhone 5 with a few different cases and found that bulkier cases will not work, but the thinner cases work just fine.

As a portable speaker, the audio quality and loudness is great. The audio quality is near comparable to the JBL Flip portable bluetooth speaker which we really loved. However, while it delivers detailed mids and highs with some decent bass, it still sounds like a portable speaker. We found it to be very directional and not so warm. As a bed-side speaker it could be better, but as a portable speaker for cranking party tunes, it does a solid job.

Verdict

We’re ecstatic to finally have an iPhone 5 charger that doesn’t leave our device laying on a surface. Considering this is just round one of speaker docks, we’re extremely satisfied and impressed with the JBL OnBeat. Even though the audio quality is not amazing, it’s still very good and the features and sleek appearance make up for it. We love that it fits iPhone 5 with thin cases too. The USB port on the back is super convenient for our other bed-side accessories and when we want to crank tunes out of iPad. The JBL OnBeat Micro retails for $99.95, we’d say it’s worth it.

The Good: Great Size and Design, Doesn’t move around surface, Simple, USB port, Aux port, Can run on batteries, Loud, Fits iPhone with thin case
The Bad: Audio lacks warmth, Distortion at loud volumes, Gets confused when there’s both a docked iOS device and a USB iOS device, No rechargeable batteries, Won’t fit iPhone with thicker cases