Native Union Switch
- - Unique design
- - Acts as a power bank
- - 14-hour battery life
- - Conference calling
- - Not very portable
- - Lacks bass
Wireless Bluetooth speakers are not new products. But, different manufacturers put their own twists and features on speakers to make them, essentially, new products. Native Union recently sent us their take on the Bluetooth speaker, the Switch.
The Switch is a Bluetooth speaker which connects to almost any Bluetooth device capable of playing music. But, as well as other features, one specific thing that makes the Switch stand out from the over-populated market of Bluetooth speakers out there today – is it’s design.
The Switch is a large rectangular block with a dial on the top for volume control. The dial certainly gives it a unique flair and the overall design is very minimalistic and clean – which allows it to look good in any and every environment whether it be indoors or outdoors at a party.
One face of the Switch is just grilles and this is the side where the speakers are. The grilles occupy this whole face of the Switch but they are consistent with the design of the speaker – allowing them to contribute to the overall minimalist design of the speaker.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#108ad6″ class=”” size=””]”The design really does give it a unique look and helps it stand out from an overcrowded market of ugly speakers”[/pullquote]The way the Switch has been designed isn’t just to make it look pretty – it also brings added functionality. The shape of the speaker allows you to use it either vertically or horizontally. In either position, the Switch has a rubber material on the side which will be faced down – to prevent scratching and other marks. The dial is also functional in any of these positions. When horizontally positioned, the dial is on the side of the unit, but when vertically positioned, it is on the top. In either scenario, it is incredibly easy to use.
On the edge of one of the Switch’s faces is a small flap – which, once opened, gives access to the various ports on the speaker. The flap does a great job of concealing the ports which would otherwise ruin the clean and minimal look of the speaker.
On the bottom of the Switch, are five small lights with a small button. The button can be pressed and the lights will show the remaining battery life of the speaker. Again, these are placed out of sight to keep the speaker looking as clean as possible.
Overall, the design of the speaker is beautiful. The Switch looks incredible in any environment with it’s seamless body and contemporary, minimal design. The design really does give it a unique look and helps it stand out from an overcrowded market of ugly speakers.
Often, we see speakers that have beautiful design but they lack functionality – which just ruins the experience of using them. But, the Switch isn’t one of those speakers. In fact, it has more functionality than a regular portable Bluetooth speaker – which we’ll touch on later.
The Switch is a Bluetooth speaker, so it can connect to Bluetooth devices to play music. But, the Switch also has a 3.5mm AUX port for playback from older devices which may not have Bluetooth.
The top of the Switch, where the volume dial is located, is essentially the main command centre of the speaker. The volume dial is used to adjust the volume, but inside the dial, is a flat, circular button. This button can be used for various actions. Holding the button down can turn the Switch on or off, as well as putting the speaker into pairing mode to make it discoverable to nearby Bluetooth devices. When music is playing, this button can also be used to play/pause music with a simple press. The multi-functional button was incredibly useful as it meant that you spend less time getting your phone out to adjust volume and pause music.
The Switch also has a LED light near the volume dial. This indicates various things such as when the Switch is in pairing mode, when the battery is low, or when it is charged. The light is a simple, yet effective feature on the Switch.
The Switch is rechargeable via Micro-USB. Native Union state the speaker has 14-hours battery life and upon testing this we found it was true. The battery life of the speaker is incredible – it easily outperforms a lot of other speakers in its range – making it the perfect travel companion.
The charging port is found with the various other ports on the Switch. Initially, when looking at these ports, they look like everyday ports you would see on a speaker. But one jumps out – a full-sized USB port. This is used to charge your devices. Many speakers don’t offer this function and it really is a useful and convenient function. The Switch allows you to charge your device whilst playing music from it.
In addition to being used as a speaker, the Switch also has another main function – conference calling. The Switch has a a full-duplex speakerphone for conference call capability. This allows both parties to speak and be heard at once. When using this function, the experience was good however there were some sound issues when the other party was talking to us.
All in all, the Switch definitely has many features which make it an incredible speaker. The fact that it can also act as a power bank is certainly a game-changer and a feature that a lot of other speakers should also have.
Design and functionality may be good, but the real test of this speaker is of course, sound.
The Switch left us pleasantly surprised. Admittedly, we didn’t expect much from the Switch in terms of sound however it performed a lot better than we expected.
Where the Switch really shines is loudness. The Switch can achieve volumes similar to higher-end portable speakers – which is quite impressive for a speaker in the price range the Switch is in. The Switch could easily fill a room with music but it may not be as loud when used outdoors. For a portable speaker – it definitely holds its own in terms of sound.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#108ad6″ class=”” size=””]”possibly one of the best-sounding speakers in its price range”[/pullquote]
The loudness and detail in the sound is surprisingly good – but one area where it underperformed was bass. We tried all genres of music and when we tried rap or hip-hop music that had deep bass, the Switch didn’t give a true representation of the bass; it was just flat and underwhelming. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t sound good. Quite the contrary, in fact. The Switch is possibly one of the best-sounding speakers in its price range and you definitely won’t be disappointed with it’s sound.
Overall, the Switch by Native Union is a fantastic portable speaker. It has a clean, seamless and beautiful design but can also perform well when it comes to sound. The only drawback would have to be the bass, or the lack thereof, when listening to music with the speaker. On the other hand, the Switch also has the added functionality of being a power bank so it can charge your phone on the go – an incredibly useful feature for those of you who are always on the go. It has great battery life, intuitive controls, great build quality and conference calling abilities. For the price it’s currently at, you can’t really complain – it has everything you want in a portable speaker and more.
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