These MPOW Armor Plus speakers boast a rugged design, long battery life and excellent sound quality. Sometimes these online descriptions are more than a little generous, so let’s see how closely they match up.
Summary and score
These MPOW speakers offer excellent sound quality, easy controls and lots of extras. They’re heavy and hence a little less portable, but still a great way to listen to music all day, no matter where you are. It’s a shame that they’re let down by poor Bluetooth connectivity.
Features & Specifications
- Dual 8W drivers and passive radiator for strong bass
- Outdoor and indoor listening modes
- Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity (A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP)
- Built-in microphone
- Rugged iron shell, IPX5 water resistance
- 22-hour battery life from 5200mAh battery
- 2A USB port for charging phones
- 212x 82 x 56mm, 1.009 kilograms
- Comes with pouch, pocket strap, 3.5mm cable, micro USB cable
Let’s take a closer look at the MPOW Armor Plus.
There are two 8W drivers facing forward (the side with the MPOW logo), with a passive bass radiator in the other direction. That means sound is more directional than a cylindrical design like Logitech’s UE Boom, but it’s not a major concern.
The top of the speaker has a row of buttons, seven in all: power, skip back, volume down, play/pause, volume up, skip forward and answer call, in that order. The order makes reasonable sense, but you’ll find it harder to use this speaker without looking compared to speakers with four or fewer buttons. Of course, you can still control things from your phone, although it’s worth noting that the speaker and your phone have independent volume controls.
The left side of the MPOW speaker has a piece of metal for you to attach the strap to, if you’d like to hang the speaker off your backpack, car or what-have-you.
The right side has a water-resistant flap, beneath which you’ll find the speaker’s ports: micro USB for charging the speaker, full-size USB for charging other devices and 3.5mm for connecting to non-Bluetooth devices. You get all the cables you need in the box, which is nice. There’s also a quartet of LEDs for indicating the current charge level and a tiny reset button.
The bottom of the speaker has no features worth discussing.
The MPOW speaker is a little larger than Logitech’s UE Boom 2, another Bluetooth speaker we have hanging around at XSReviews HQ.
We tested the speaker by connecting it to a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and playing music from Google Music. Connecting was easy (although NFC would have made this a bit faster), with no annoying noises played when the speaker was powered on and pairing (just a neutral voice saying what was happening).
We were impressed with the speaker’s loudness; you could easily place this in the centre of a crowded room during a party and still hear it easily. There’s some distortion noticeable when both your smartphone and the speaker are set to their highest volume levels (and hiss at its lowest), but going for a slightly more moderate volume fixes this issue.
The MPOW is fairly large for a portable speaker, but it still doesn’t provide a whole lot of bass. Music doesn’t feel empty because of it, but you certainly won’t be shaking in your seats. This is about as much as can be expected; if you want good bass then you should pick up a larger speaker.
Bluetooth reception was the biggest problem with the speaker; I often walked into a different room with the phone and the speaker dropped out in response. Even people walking between the speaker and your phone can cause a quick drop. Generally you’ll want to stay in the same room; don’t expect to go wandering throughout the house and still have a perfect connection.
The MPOW claims to support both indoor and outdoor playback with different EQ settings, available by pressing the Call button. The outdoor mode seems to sport a slightly wider sound stage, but there’s not much in it. There’s no way to see which mode the speaker is set to, but have a listen to both options and pick the one that sounds better to you.
Compared to the Logitech UE Boom 2, the MPOW’s sound quality was largely similar. Listening to the two running off the same output, the Logitech speakers were perhaps marginally better, but the difference was much smaller than the £70 price difference would suggest. The only real difference in quality was that the MPOW produced slightly treblier tones. The Logitech also sports less directional sound, making it better when placed at the centre of a room, while the MPOW is better suited to being placed towards a wall.
The MPOW also impressed in terms of durability. XSReviews Port Reporter Ross managed to drop the speaker down metal stairs during his review period, but the speakers didn’t suffer any damage — indeed, a chunk of drywall was dislodged from the stairwell! The speaker also held up well in damp environments, pumping out the jams while in the shower with aplomb.
These MPOW Armor Plus speakers have some flaws, but you still get a heck of a lot of speaker for your money — particularly if you grab ’em while they’re on sale. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker that emphasises music quality, durability and battery life over portability (or connection quality), these are a great choice.
Note: These speakers are called ‘Bluetooth Speakers, Mpow Wireless Speakers Bluetooth 4.0 Waterproof Shockproof Portable Speakers with Enhanced Bass Dual 8W Drivers 5200mAh Power Bank 22Hrs Playtime Hands-free Calling for Outdoor Activities’ on Amazon, so I’m copying this to the page for ease of search. What a long-ass name.