iClever Bluetooth Wireless Speaker review: generic name, one-of-a-kind performance

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There are approximately one hundred thousand billion Bluetooth speakers on the market.* They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, from tiny cubes to oversized pills and proper freestanding speakers. Today, we’re looking at the smaller end of the market, at a little cube called the iClever Bluetooth Wireless Speaker aka the IC-BTS02. Its metal facade and £20 price point makes it immediately cooler than many of its brethren, but is it just as outstanding inside as out?

*I checked this number and it appears to be accurate.

 

Manufacturer Features & Specifications

  • 5W Bluetooth 4.0 speaker (fully backward compatible)
  • Built-in rechargeable battery for 8-12 hours playtime
  • Outstanding connection range of 33 feet
  • Built-in microphone with 2 feet pickup range
  • Automatically connects to last device when turned on
  • 3.5mm port for non-Bluetooth devices
  • Unique polished Zinc alloy shell with high gloss plating
 

Design

The iClever is a slightly rounded cube, with dimensions around 7cm in each dimension. That means it fits easily within your fist, but it would be a bit big to cram into a pocket.

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Unlike most speakers, the iClever’s build includes metal (apparently a Zinc alloy) in addition to the usual plastic. That gives it a solid, durable feel despite a quite man-portable weight of 260 grams.

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However, the glossy metal also ensures that fingerprints appear within seconds of use; you’ll need to keep brushing this speaker down to keep it looking its best. You can see the front of the unit includes the Bluetooth multi-function button, allowing you to pair and answer phone calls.

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The base of the unit is ringed with a rubbery material which keeps it from sliding around on slick surfaces. Inside the ring, you’ll find a couple of small playback controls – play/pause, skip forward, skip back – and a power switch.

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The back of the speaker has the two ports – charging and 3.5mm audio in – that you might need. Overall, it’s a nice, interesting look that nonetheless won’t draw too much attention.

 

Box contents

  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Micro USB charging cable
  • 3.5mm audio cable
  • Hisgadget warranty card
  • User manual

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Testing

In order to test out the iClever, we used it for about a week for music and the occasional phone call.

We found that the unit produced a surprisingly loud and full sound for its small stature, with the upwards-firing speaker satisfactorily filling our medium-size living room. Mids and highs were better reproduced than lower ranges as expected, but the speaker sounded reasonable for a range of genres including K-Pop, rock, metal, classical and jazz. Turning up the speaker as high as it could go introduced a bit of distortion, but it was easy to keep this at manageable levels with a more moderate volume setting.

Using the speaker was quite straightforward; simply hold the button until the blue LED ring starts to flash, then select the speaker from your phone. Once connected, you can choose songs or music as normal. The inclusion of NFC would be a nice addition for high-end Android phones for one-tap pairing, but it’s not essential at this price point.

Accessing playback controls was a little harder than normal. Of course you can do this on your phone, but sometimes it’s nice to make a quick adjustment on the Bluetooth speaker directly. As the controls are on the bottom of the unit, you have to flip it upside down. You can see the reasoning for this placement – there’s no space on the top, and you don’t want to ruin the metal facade on the sides – but it’s still a bit annoying.

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Conclusion

iClever’s speaker comes with a generic name that belies its outstanding performance and stylish design. While it has some foibles – hidden playback controls, no NFC and a surface that attracts fingerprints like no other – it’s still a damn good Bluetooth speaker for the money. For that reason, we’re happy to award it our Editor’s Choice Award and a strong 9 of 10 score!

Pros

  • Impressive sound for its size
  • Feels solid, weighty and durable
  • Metal and blue plastic design looks great
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Glossy metal surface shows fingerprints very easily
  • Playback controls are hidden on the bottom of the cube

Score

score9

Links

About William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @Expert_Will or on G+.

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