Nokia JBL PlayUp speakers reviewed!
The review of the Nokia JBL PlayUp comes hot on the heels of the Purity HD headphones review, which we posted just yesterday. The Nokia JBL PlayUp speaker is an interesting accessory to have.
The portable speaker concept has started catching up amongst people who are looking to get more out of their phone when in their homes or outside. Nokia realized this niche market requirement and had released the Play360 speakers and even upgraded them also. Then almost when it was not expected, they came out with the PlayUp speakers. Nokia has been having success with co-branding its accessories with more established players in the field of music, the Monster partnership has yielded good results, so to partner with JBL for producing two accessories shouldn’t sound too new.
The PlayUp Speakers from the Nokia JBL alliance brands the Play360 speakers and creates a whole new product. The successor of the Play360 speakers, the PlayUp builds on that premise and offers a much more superior product. The speakers are bigger and they sound different too in addition having improved battery life.
Before we start with our review, here’s the unboxing of the PlayUp speakers.
Design wise, the Nokia JBL PlayUp speakers looks and feel quite different from the Play 360 speakers. It chucks away the metal buttons and body for a plastic body with a rubberized finish which makes the speaker easy to hold and carry. The PlayUp speakers are also a bit larger than the Play360 speakers and are rounded on the top as opposed to the the older versions.
The PlayUp speakers adds a little battery indicator along with the volume keys on the top near the lip of the speakers. at the side, there’s the little air duct which is for the woofer. At the back one will find the power button and MicroUSB slot along with a 3.5mm audio port. The MicroUSB slot allows for the battery to be charged and for the speaker to be used as a wired speaker. The 3.5mm audio port is basically a line out for connecting other phones via a 3.5mm audio cable.
The cable and the battery are hidden away underneath the base of the phone. Nokia has thought of everything thing when it came to designing this product. The PlayUp speakers are truly usable with every music device. From phones, to players, to even music systems!
A Bluetooth button in the front helps with the Bluetooth connectivity and if your phone is NFC capable, then you need t simply tap the area which says Nokia and the speakers and phone will automatically do the rest.
When we looked at the speakers, the first thing that caught our eye was that it was bigger than the Play360. Clearly Nokia wanted JBL to do its magic with audio and this seems to have worked well. The placement of the buttons also is pretty good. A power button at the rear hides it away from accidental presses and ensures that the focus is not on switching it on and off. The Bluetooth button and volume button placements too have been well thought of. By placing the Bluetooth button at the bottom, it makes it visible (obviously, since there’s a glowing LED circle surrounding the button) and yet at the same time makes it go out of your focus once connected. The volume keys are at the top just where you want them to be, because that’s the area as a user you will be looking at most often. A small battery sign in between the two joined buttons gives you the battery status. The battery indicator worked only when you were charging the battery or when the battery had gone low.
While it might seem a bit odd, since people are likely to be worried about battery life. Nokia and JBL, it seems have consciously decided that the music experience is what should be of paramount importance and not battery life. We see nothing wrong with it since the speakers come with the BL5J battery which gives it 1430mAh of juice. That’s enough to last the speaker for a 10 hour music session.
Available in 4 colours, the speakers are every bit as funky as the Lumia line up. The speakers are a premium offering, the JBL branding isn’t just for show as we’ll tell you later on in the review.
Overall, we found that the design of the PlayUp speakers was well thought of. It’s designed to look elegant and young in a home and sporty enough for that party outside with the barbecue or at the beach even.
The PlayUp speaker is a serious accessory to have. It’s not just another set of portable speakers. No sir! The speakers have been designed to give an excellent music experience. The JBL branding on it means that the two have worked on the audio aspects of the product and not just at branding it and adding a bit of JBL goodness. The design is very much Nokia, but the quality of sound and the thump seems very much JBL.
We had the chance to test the speakers in a couple of generic environments, two places where a speaker like this will most likely see action, a room and the outdoors. In both the places the speaker performed admirably. We never used this with a wired charger plugged in since we wanted to see how good was the performance on battery. Inside the room, the sound was loud, at no point in time did the music sound flat or distorted. Both the companies have ensured that full volume never causes the speakers to tear while delivering the best possible sound quality. We tried various kinds of music and the quality was always top notch. There was no distortion at the top, no instances where the music sounded flat or even too bass heavy.
If used indoors, the PlayUp speakers are quite loud. One is more than enough to fill up the entire room with music. If you listen to your music via your phone, one of these in the living room or the bedroom is sufficient for it. The smaller the room, the more louder the speakers will sound.
In the outdoors, the PlayUp speaker did not disappoint at all. We had a Bose portable speaker along with us and that sounded almost perfect. The JBL though not close to that, was more than capable of standing its ground and delivering a performance that made everyone shake their heads in acceptance. The PlayUp speakers had delivered where it mattered most. In the outdoors if the music is not loud enough to be heard and not good enough, then you know what you’ve bought is good only for indoors. The PlayUp is one of the speakers that needs to be used in the outdoors more often. The quality of sound coupled with great battery life means that it’s the perfect companion for those beach parties!
Battery life on the PlayUp did not disappoint, While we never pushed it to the 10 hour mark, we did manage to run this for a good 8 hours spread across 3 days and it never whimpered or sputtered. We honestly think that the 10 hour mark is a realistic figure given as opposed to just some no achieved in ‘ideal test conditions’. Charging time isn’t too bad either, we were able to charge it in under two hours to a full charge.
Connectivity wise, there’s Bluetooth, pairing it is easy and just so that you don’t forget how it’s done, Nokia has put the details down at the bottom of the speaker. There’s NFC too, and we found that using it via NFC was the best way to connect to it. Tapping the phone to connect and disconnect is just more natural and simpler. The actual pairing took a bit of time. This initially worried me as I thought something was wrong. Once you get used to it, it won’t matter. However, I do hope Nokia can work on this and improve it.
Whether wired or wireless, the speakers delivery the same consistent level of quality that one expects from JBL. JBL has it’s own Bluetooth speaker accessory, and while that sounds louder, the PlayUp seems like a better choice because it offers that thump you are looking for in a song and also for the amazing battery life.
Nokia has been making expensive, high quality accessories fro a while, but it is only recently that Nokia has become all to serious with making sure that it has some of the best accessories for its phones. The PlayUp speakers are one such product. It just can’t be compared in the same league as other music accessories Nokia has or even with third party speakers, unless they are from respected audio brands. The PlayUp speakers are a quality product which is worth spending money on!
The speaker is available in the UAE for just AED695, which is the same price the Play360 speakers were selling for. While the price may be a bit steep, but after having used one for a almost 20 days, it’s definitely a speaker worth investing in if you have an active lifestyle.
In the Box:
The PlayUp speaker comes with a MicroUSB wall charger – the wall charger plug and a MicroUSB cable, a small pouch to carry the pouch along with you, The Nokia BL5J battery and the 3.5mm male to male audio cable. All of these bits make the speaker, a truly versatile accessory to have.
We think that the Nokia JBL PlayUp speakers are an excellent accessory to have and certainly one meant for a niche audience that’s particular about it’s music. The design is well thought of. The sound quality is excellent and so is the battery life. It’s a bit heavy but not so much that it needs to be lugged instead of carried. We think that price might be a bit too high though and may put of people who are looking for a speaker accessory to go with their Lumia smartphone. Nokia and JBL have definitely made this product with all sincerity. We would have no problems in recommending this product to people who are looking for portable speakers, as far as good quality portable speakers go, this one is definitely one of the best that’s available in the market!