Portable speakers are really useful if you’re on the move and like your music. The problem for buyers is there are so many to choose from. BlueAnt is a brand we’ve had a bit to do with over the last couple of years and been impressed with just about everything they’ve delivered.
Early in November, we learned of plans to revamp several popular models, including the X0, which is a tiny device but mighty — for its size — in sound.
What is it?
This is, without becoming ridiculous, one of the smallest Bluetooth speakers I’ve used in the last few years. The physical dimensions are tiny, and the budget is very reasonable at just $69.00 retail. I’m also really happy to say that BlueAnt has updated the charging connection from MicroUSB, which was featured in a number of previous generation speakers, to USB-C.
There are a few pretty nifty features included for something that costs this little, including:
- IP56 Splashproof rating
- Carry Loop for easy transport
- Microphone for call handling and Google Assistant use
But enough with the specs, let’s talk about the experience now.
Setup and Controls
Given the near-universal usages of Bluetooth these days, a difficult connection process would be nothing short of a colossal failure. The BlueAnt X0i is quick and simple to set up, simply turn it on and pair it with your chosen device. Even changing paired devices was quick and easy; the speaker is instantly visible on nearby devices, and the pairing lock is quick when you select it. As soon as you’ve paired your device and speaker, you’re able to listen to your media via the small, but surprisingly impressive speaker.
The controls are as simple as they can get, with volume controls (+ and -) on top of the speaker and, between those, a play/pause button. On the left side is the power and Bluetooth (to switch paired devices) button, on the right is the charging port. That’s it, nothing more to it and even if they wanted to, there just isn’t room.
For a variety of reasons (primarily the Pixel Watch on my wrist now), I don’t tend to use Google Assistant via a portable speaker if I’m using one. That being said, I did make the conscious effort to do that while testing the XOi speakers, and it just works as you’d expect it to. A simple double tap of the play button triggers assistant and you can do whatever you need to via the speaker from there.
The use experience and sound quality
I want to preface some of the proceeding comments because they’re in context of the cost and physical size of the device. They’re not intended to compare a $69.00, pocket-sized speaker with something like a Sonos Move that is approximately ten times the cost.
Being such a physically small and lightweight (lighter than a lot of phones) device, it’s so easy just to drop it in your bag and forget it’s there. Provided you do remember it’s there; you’ll find more and more reasons to grab it and fire it up.
With a battery that will last you around 13 hours (at 50% volume), there’s plenty of time in the battery. While it was at a very low volume, I got almost 20 hours out of a single charge while at my work desk.
Onto the sound quality, which, for the physical size and cost, is honestly astounding. The mids are decent, the highs can be a bit piercing but aren’t bad, and there is a little bit of bass. Overall, a pretty good effort from a device with such small drivers.
When you wind the volume up towards the limits of the speaker, you’ll find that the sound quickly gets pretty muddy. The bass and mids blend into one another, but that’s not unexpected in this cost range, where to crank the volume, you’re sacrificing sound quality in the name of pure volume.
At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of metal in preparation for Knotfest in Melbourne next year, so as singular entities or a pair, the review units have had quite a workout!
What’s it good at and what’s lacking
While a bigger speaker with higher-quality audio is great, it’s not as practical or easy to carry. The portability of the X0i is an absolute highlight for me. I’ve dropped it in my bag, carried it to the park with the kids and slid it in my back pocket. It’s not the best sound for a portable speaker, it’s not the best battery life, and it doesn’t have the best features available, but it’s also not pretending to.
The BlueAnt X0i is an ultra-portable speaker with decent sounds that’s easy to use and can be paired with another identical speaker to give you a better bang for your buck quickly and easily.
There are some really cheap speakers out there, and if you’re shopping on budget alone, there are cheaper ones out there. This is a good option with solid sound, power, presentation and excellent portability. If you’re after something you can genuinely consider an everyday carry item, the BlueAnt X0i is a speaker — or pair of — I won’t hesitate to recommend as really good value.
You can these up through the BlueAnt website for $69.00
BlueAnt have not requested the return of the device following review.