Bluetooth speakers are super handy for those times when the speakerphone on your iPhone just isn’t enough, but most speakers aren’t compact enough to carry with you at all times. Zagg’s Speaker Case for iPhone 6 or 6S, however, literally puts a portable speaker into the palm of your hand.
The Speaker Case is basically a bumper case with a removable Bluetooth speaker. It’s your typical plastic bumper case, but the cool thing is that you can use it with or without the speaker. The iPhone simply slides into the semi-flexible bumper, which protects against side impacts and drops. It sports a raised rubber lip on both sides of the frame, lifting your phone’s surfaces off tables and desks to avoid scratches while enhancing your grip on the phone. This bumper certainly isn’t a rugged case, but it should keep your phone safe from most minor accidents.
The cutouts for the ports, mic, and speaker are spot on and allow ample access for Lightning cables and headphones. The sleep and volume keys are covered by plastic pass-through buttons that are easy to press, but they’re slightly loose in the frame, so they rattle when you shake the phone.
The removable Bluetooth speaker has a flattened design, and it’s roughly the shape and size of the iPhone. The main bulk of the speaker is its 1,800mAh lithium ion battery, which will last you through 8-12 hours of playback depending on usage. The diagonal cutout at the top of the speaker lets you use the camera and flash without having to remove the speaker. On the back, the audio is pumped through a metal speaker grille along the bottom and controlled via three buttons just above it.
The speaker has a built-in microphone for hands-free phone calls, too. If you’re not using the speaker often, you can use its battery to charge your phone, thanks to the included full-size USB port in the bottom right corner. The speaker itself is charged via Micro USB, however, so if you want to charge both devices on the go, you’ll need to carry around two cables.
The speaker snaps effortlessly into the back of the bumper case and you can remove it with similar ease. That said, the speaker never accidentally detached from the case when we were carrying it around in a bag or our pockets. Connecting the iPhone to the speaker over Bluetooth was straightforward, and the connection stayed hiccup-free up to about 30 feet. After that point, we encountered occasional signal drops, but that’s to be expected from a Bluetooth speaker.
The audio quality is surprisingly decent for such a compact unit. It’s a definite improvement over the iPhone’s built-in speaker with louder overall volume and good audio accuracy. However, the speaker performs best at moderate volume levels. At max volume, there tends to be some distortion and graininess in the output.
The placement of the speaker grille doesn’t make it ideal for watching videos while holding the phone, though, because your hand often covers the speaker grille. You can put the phone face down for music playback, but the only control on the back is for playing or pausing your music, so you won’t be able to change volume or skip tracks without accessing the phone’s screen. More often than not, you’ll find yourself detaching the speaker from your phone to use it.
While the bumper case on its own is low profile, attaching the speaker roughly doubles the weight and thickness compared to the naked iPhone. It’s still compact enough to be pocket-friendly though, and if you don’t need the speaker, it can easily be removed and stowed elsewhere. Available now on Zagg’s website for $60, this case is a lightweight all-in-one accessory that combines the protection of a bumper case with the convenience of a portable speaker and an extra battery.