Taking your tunes to go doesn’t always need something big, and the BlueAnt X0i proves it, with a compact box that keeps the price down for your tunes wherever.
You don’t need to look too far to find a wireless speaker these days, because everyone has them. Nearly every store has something to choose, and quite a lot of manufacturers are making them, too.
These days, the wireless speaker has become something that you might come to rely on when you need a big burst of sound and your smartphone won’t do. But the size is where things can get complex.
Quite a lot of what’s out there is a good hand-held cylindrical thing, whether it’s the thick candle that is the UE Boom or the softened triangular prism equivalent that is the Sonos Roam. JBL even does a variation or two in-between that throws in flashing lights, and Sony builds something like that, as well.
Australia’s BlueAnt has been building itself quite a variety of speakers, too, ranging from the mic-equipped karaoke suitable X5 to gadgets much, much smaller, which is what the latest model is. Smaller in height than your phone but a whole lot chunkier, the BlueAnt X0i is what happens when you find a way for wireless speakers to get smaller and more affordable, but still manage to keep the feature set surprisingly solid. Is it worth $69?
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Design and features
Much smaller than the last BlueAnt speaker we checked out, the X0i is portable in every sense of the word.
Shorter than many phones but much thicker, the BlueAnt X0i is a compact speaker in every sense, packing in a 45mm driver and 6 watts of power behind a cage of plastic, fabric, and water resistance.
There’s a built-in microphone and support for whatever the main virtual assistant is on your phone, with something extra on the side to let you hold the speaker to your luggage easily enough: a fabric loop acts as an easy way to carry the speaker, connecting it to a part of your bag, or even just looping it on your fingers.
You’ll also find support for two speakers here, though they both need to be the X0i, unlike some of BlueAnt’s other duo-mode speakers. The X0i also comes with IP56 water resistance, and the whole thing is charged over Type C USB.
Another of the many, many, many Bluetooth speakers you can find about the place, using the BlueAnt X0i doesn’t require much skill, only a phone, tablet, or computer. Basically, anything that can send audio wirelessly to the speaker, controlling it with said device, or opting for the controls up top.
You’ll have three main physical controls if you choose to use them, with a volume up, volume down, and play and pause button in the middle, while power and Bluetooth syncing sit on the side. Some of the buttons can come off a little stiff and may require a more forceful push, so if they don’t respond immediately, just give it a more firm nudge.
Once you’ve pushed those buttons (quite literally, actually), it’s time to get stuck into performance, provided you’ve paired the speaker with your phone. We did, and with that, we were ready to go.
There’s no app from BlueAnt here, so don’t expect any extras here, but playback doesn’t need an app. You just need your phone or computer, or whichever Bluetooth-supported device you have, and then some tunes. As usual, we’re testing with the Pickr Sound Test, and we’re testing outside on a hot summer day next to a little water, because the X0i is water resistant. That means it’ll survive a splash or two, even when you’re playing music.
And playing some electronic, we encountered more bass than we expected, but none of the sub-bass you might yearn for. It’s a small speaker, so the sound is heftier than we expected, but the mids are withdrawn by comparison. It’s a deeper, more earthy sound that isn’t bright like the regular cheap speakers you might expect, though it does feel shallow.
From Tycho to Daft Punk to Mark Ronson and Ariana Grande, the sound delivered by a single BlueAnt X0i was manageable but not amazing. It’s what you might expect from an inexpensive speaker, just with a little more bass to work with.
Connect up a second speaker in duo mode, and the BlueAnt X0i really behind to shine.
The sense of depth becomes more pronounced and the whole problem of the single speaker being shallow practically disappears. With two compact speakers working together, the sound is actually bigger and clearer, though ti does lack detail.
With two X0is, the sound is large and almost in charge, albeit in a very small size. It’s really interesting seeing how different the sound profiles are for one speaker versus two.
There’s nothing wrong with noting that you get what you pay for with one BlueAnt X0i, but if you find yourself in possession of two, the experience is just that much better overall.
While the size may be small, the battery life is not, rocking a maximum of 13 hours, which given the compact form-factor seems rather crazy.
You’ll need to pull away the port cover to charge the X0i’s USB Type C port, and that’s there to deal with the water resistance side of things, but charging it is as easy as plugging in anything else in your life that’s USB-C. There’s so much these days, and with the next iPhone likely getting it, everyone will soon know what Type C is.
And in the same vein as the compact size, there’s also a diminutive price, delivering plenty for its $69 price tag.
That’s below what Amazon’s 5th-gen Echo Dot is priced at ($79), and one of the least expensive portable speakers we’ve seen. Given it comes with most of the features you’d expect on a big speaker, it’s a surprise, to say the least.
Granted, it’s not a total surprise; BlueAnt has a history of delivering audio products with solid value, so we’re not surprised at what the company is delivering here. But you probably will, because you don’t typically find this feature set for under $70.
What needs work?
It’s not all perfect, though, because BlueAnt has changed a few things from the previous model, the X0.
Both the X0 and the X0i sport the same 6 watts of power and even the same 13 hour battery maximum, but while the original X0 speaker offered an IP67 water resistance, the X0i pulls things back to a IP56. They’re both water resistant, but the older model is more water resistant, and is more likely to survive a quick dip in the pool than its newer sibling.
You also might find the X0i speaker volume fuzzes out and hits its peak volume around to 60 to 70 percent mark when played solo, though the whole thing sounds better when you bring two.
With two speakers, BlueAnt allows you to use the “Duo Mode” to connect the two speakers together wirelessly, which splits the sound and improves it, not only making it sound more full and larger than it should be, but also improving the volume output considerably. By itself, the X0i feels like it hits a wall before it should.
Final thoughts (TLDR)
While the sound could be improved, the price and size make for a compelling case when considering a speaker to go, because really, that’s what the BlueAnt X0i is made for.
This is a truly compact and cost-effective speaker for anyone going anywhere. You can really see people just latching it to luggage and carrying a speaker wherever they may need it. We must might bring it on our next walk, though we’ll clearly need to pack two for a proper party. Recommended.