JBL SoundBoost Speaker review: Add extra sound to your Moto Z family smartphone

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The JBL SoundBoost Speaker adds louder and better quality stereo sound to your Moto Z family smartphone, eliminating the need for an external Bluetooth speaker.

Let’s face it, smartphone speakers aren’t usually the loudest or best sounding speakers out there. JBL has teamed up with Motorola to produce one of the first Moto Mods for the new Moto Z family of smartphones. Our JBL SoundBoost Speaker review takes a look at one of four current mods available for the Moto Z smartphones, allowing consumers an easy way to add extra sound to their smartphone. In case you missed them, be sure to check out our Moto Z and Moto Z Play review, as well as our Incipio offGRID Power Pack, Hasselblad True Zoom, and Moto Insta-Share Projector reviews.

Specifications

The JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod has the following features and specifications:

  • High-quality JBL audio
  • Listen in a snap
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Built-in battery
  • Speakerphone
  • Number of speakers: 2 speakers @ 27 mm diameter, stereo sound
  • Speaker power: 3W per speaker, 6W total
  • Frequency response range: 200 Hz—20 kHz
  • Loudness: 80 dBSPL @ 0.5 m
  • Speakerphone support: Yes
  • Integrated battery: Yes
  • Battery size: 1000 mAh
  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • External charging: USB Type C
  • Charge rate: 1A, 5W
  • Dimensions: 152 x 73 x 13 mm
  • Weight: 145 g

What’s in the Box

  • 1x JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod
  • 1x User guide

Design

Like the other Moto Mods, the JBL SoundBoost Speaker design ties in pretty well with the Moto Z and Moto Z Play smartphones. The necessary cutout for the Moto Z/Moto Z Play camera is present and there are two speaker grilles split in the middle by an orange kickstand with the JBL logo near the bottom. On the end near the Moto Mods Connector, there’s a notch that is used to assist with removing the speaker from the phone when you’re done with it. It definitely adds thickness to your Moto Z or Moto Z Play, increasing the thickness to about three times that of the smartphone alone.

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JBL SoundBoost Speaker on Moto Z (top) and Moto Z Play (bottom).

The back of the JBL SoundBoost Speaker has the necessary Moto Mods Connector panel, a USB Type-C port for recharging it, and a charge level button for determining how much battery life you have left in it. Like the other Moto Mods, when the button is pressed the light will turn green for 51-99% charge left, orange for 16-50% charge left, and red for 6-15% charge left. While charging, the light will slowly blink green, and when fully charged will rapidly blink green or turn steady green.

Overall it’s a pretty simple design and it looks like a speaker for sure.

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The JBL SoundBoost Speaker looks like a speaker with the exception of the camera cutout.

Ease of Use

Simply place the JBL SoundBoost Speaker on the back of the Moto Z or Moto Z Play, and start playing music, videos, or any other audio content and it will play through the speaker. To change the volume, simply use the volume buttons on your Moto Z smartphone. Unlike with other Bluetooth speakers, no pairing is necessary. Once the speaker is attached to your phone, you’re ready to play.

Sound

With its dual 3W speakers, the JBL SoundBoost Speaker offers loud stereo sound that is pretty crisp and clear without being distorted when at full volume. The one thing that is lacking though is more range on the bass end, but overall the sound is very good for such a small speaker and most types of music, as well as videos, sound much better when listened to or viewed while using the JBL SoundBoost Speaker.

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The JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod on the Moto Z Play.

Call Quality

Because the speaker takes over the sound from your Moto Z smartphone, it can also be used as a speaker phone. The audio coming out is more than acceptable, and in our test call the other party didn’t have issues hearing me through the microphones on the phone.

Battery Life

JBL and Motorola claim the JBL SoundBoost Speaker gets about 10 hours of battery life before needing to be recharged. During our tests, this held up pretty true while using the speaker Moto Mod at between 50-75% volume. The nice thing about having its own battery supply is that it doesn’t wear down the battery on your Moto Z or Moto Z Play while in use.

Due to the placement of the USB-C charging port on the speaker, it can be charged while attached to the phone but is done by charging it through the phone. It would be nice if the USB-C port was on the side of the speaker like on the projector Moto Mod so you could charge it independently of the phone if you had to for whatever reason.

Price/Value

At $79.99USD ($99CAD), there are definitely Bluetooth speakers that you could get instead. For the price and given the sound quality, if you’re one who listens to a lot of music from their phone, it’s definitely nice to have a solution in which the speaker and phone are one unit instead of having to lug around an external Bluetooth speaker.

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The JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod on the Moto Z.

Wrap-up

The JBL SoundBoost Speaker definitely adds louder and better quality stereo sound to your Moto Z family smartphone, and eliminates the need to carry around a separate, bulkier Bluetooth speaker.

JBL SoundBoost Speaker
4.7 Out of 5
Nailed it
Great design, easy to use, loud, pretty decent sound, great battery life. Kickstand is a great addition for bouncing sound off of the table, counter, or wherever you've got your phone placed. No need to pair speaker with phone.
Needs Work
Needs more bass!
Bottom Line
The JBL SoundBoost Speaker definitely adds louder and better quality stereo sound to your Moto Z family smartphone, and eliminates the need to carry around a separate, bulkier Bluetooth speaker.
Design5.00
Ease of Use5.00
Sound4.50
Reception/Call Quality4.50
Battery Life4.75
Price/Value4.50
*We were sent a demo unit of the JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod for the purposes of this review.
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