Jabra‘s Solemate Portable Speaker may have been on the market for a while now but that doesn’t mean the diminutive speaker still can’t run with the best of them. The Solemate boasts a unique sneaker-inspired design and incorporates several user-friendly features to maximize its utility when out and about. Whether you choose to use Bluetooth or the integrated 3.5mm audio cable, the Solemate promises to deliver expansive sound, but does it deliver? We put the Solemate through its paces to find out.
As mentioned above, Jabra went for a footwear-inspired look with the Solemate. That becomes evident right from the start thanks to the unique, non-slip rubber ripple sole and the heel tab-inspired carrying strap. Fortunately, these are more than just aesthetic additions and serve an actual purpose: the rubber sole ensures the speaker doesn’t slip or shake even at high volume and holds the included 3.5mm cord, and the carrying strap is securely anchored to the body, allowing users to easily carry the speaker. On the whole, the speaker’s design has been kept relatively minimal with just three buttons on top controlling the majority of functions. The panel on the right of the speaker houses a switch which turns the speaker on or off and controls the pairing mechanism for Bluetooth. In addition to the switch, the right side panel also houses the 3.5mm input and a Micro-USB port. The Solemate is available in either black or white but we think the white best highlights the unique design.
The Solemate has a premium feel to it thanks to the soft touch plastic, sturdy rubber “sole” and reassuring weight. Speaking of weight, the added heft of the Solemate ensures that the speaker won’t jump around at higher volumes like many portable speakers are apt to do. The three buttons embedded in the top of the speaker depress with an audible “click” and feel like they should hold up to repeated use. The included cables also feel hardy enough, particularly the fabric-covered 3.5 mm audio cable.
For a speaker as compact as the Solemate, it puts out a remarkable amount of sound due in part to the Dolby Digital Plus technology. We tested the speaker with an iPhone 4S, and when connected using the 3.5mm audio cable, the speaker performed well except at the highest levels of volume, which tends to be a problem with a lot of small speaker systems. Testing the speaker using the Bluetooth connection brought pretty much the same results — we preferred the sound with the wired connection but really, the differences were negligible. With battery life rated at a solid eight hours depending on volume, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the Solemate’s solid sound quality.
In addition to the impressive music playback, the Solemate also does double-duty as a speaker phone. This function was, admittedly, not frequently used during the review but on the rare occasions when it was tested, we found calls to be clear and easy to answer and end — a touch of center button is all that is needed to answer or end a call.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Solemate is the included sound bag. At first glance it looks just like any other carrying bag but the team at Jabra have put a lot of thought into this. In addition to acting as a carrying case, the bag will keep dirt, sand and moisture out while allowing sound to escape pretty much undistorted, thanks to the unique textured surface. That means you can keep the speaker in the bag while you’re out and about and still get great sound.
Forget the fact that the Solemate has already been out for a year because this is one of the better portable speakers we’ve had in the Hypebeast offices. Despite its small size, the Solemate put out enough sound to fill a medium-sized room and the unique shoe-inspired design proved to be more than just a gimmick. Considered details like the built-in storage for the 3.5 mm cable and the handy sound bag make the Solemate an easy recommendation for those looking for a portable speaker with the power to put out great sound. You can find out more information and order one for yourself over at Jabra.
“Jabra went for a footwear-inspired look with the Solemate. That becomes evident right from the start thanks to the unique, non-slip rubber ripple sole and the heel tab-inspired carrying strap.”
“Despite its small size, the Solemate put out enough sound to fill a medium-sized room and the unique shoe-inspired design proved to be more than just a gimmick.”