In many ways, Jawbone had a big part to play in the current proliferation of portable Bluetooth speakers. Its original Jambox – and the subsequent Big Jambox – were some of the most popular Bluetooth peripherals of the past few years, combining iconic style with impressive sound in a portable package.
The Mini Jambox brings Jawbone’s approach for striking design to a truly pocket-sized package. While the Bose SoundLink Mini speaker brings superb audio quality to a small speaker design, the Mini Jambox is positively diminutive, at just over 15cm (6 inches) long, 2.4cm (0.96 inches) wide and just under 6cm (2.28 inches) high.
Like its larger brethren, the Mini Jambox is cast from a single piece of anodized aluminum, and available in a selection of nine different bright, vibrant colors, with five different patterns drilled into the grill across the front of the speaker.
The Mini Jambox’s frame doubles as the speaker’s enclosure, ensuring that it is both extremely rigid, and that the acoustic cavity is maximized for a surprisingly robust sound quality.
In the hand, the speaker feels incredibly solid, yet deceptively lightweight. It’s relatively sparse on buttons – there are the fairly iconic volume and play/pause buttons on the top of the device, with smaller, more discreet power and pairing buttons on the side next to a USB charging port and a 3.5mm line in jack.
Given Jawbone’s history as a Bluetooth focused company, you’d expect the device to pair to your phone effortlessly – and it does. Clear audio voice prompts make the entire process simple. You can pair up to eight devices to the speaker, two of them connected simultaneously.
If we have a complaint about the speaker, it’s that those voice prompts are seemingly locked at a stupidly loud volume, even if the actual volume is set to low.
Better news is that the speaker sounds pretty great. Testing the Mini Jambox with a selection of music, from Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel soundtrack to John Butler Trio’s acoustic rock and a spot of Lily Allen, among other artists, the speaker does a good job of keeping everything in check, even at high volumes.
Jawbone has calibrated the EQ settings, which probably helps the speaker from avoiding distortion. While it seems like it might be lacking a bit in the mid–to-low range, when you factor in the size of the speaker, you can hardly walk away disappointed.
Especially when the speaker offers you 10 hours worth of battery life. It may not sound like a lot, but given that you’re unlikely to use it for 10 hours straight, the speaker lasted for about a week of regular listening before we needed to plug it in again.
One thing that Jawbone has done with the release of the Mini Jambox is launch a dedicated iOS app. The app allows you to customize the function buttons on the speaker, change the voice the speaker uses and manage the devices you pair to.
It also plugs into the music on your iPhone or iPad, and accesses playlists from music services like Rdio, Spotify and Deezer, with a unique circle-based UI.
Truth be told, you probably won’t use the app for navigating your tunes. It works well, but the individual apps are better and more versatile, not restricting you to pre-selected playlists.
It’s a very solid little speaker. Build quality is fantastic, and the anodized aluminium is beautiful to look at. Combine that with solid acoustics – especially for such a small speaker – and simple connectivity and this is a very solid option for anyone looking to get more from their mobile audio.
Honestly, this is probably a short list. Bass was never going to be as good as a larger speaker, but it holds its own pretty well given the speaker’s size. The music control aspect of the Jawbone app, which offers control for the different functions of the speaker, doesn’t seem to offer anything better than the different apps it tries to replace. But it does look nice, so there’s that.
It’s not the cheapest portable Bluetooth speaker on the market, but it’s not ridiculously overpriced either. The combination of iconic design, solid audio quality and compact size make the Mini Jambox a solid choice for a portable speaker.