The Retro Touch Speaker for iPhone is kitschy, cute and, in the right circumstances, a nice audio booster for your iPhone. Unfortunately, the perfect circumstances are pretty restrictive. Stay tuned at the end of this review, as we're giving away our demo unit!
My unit arrived about a week ago and I was charmed by it right away. It looks and feels like something from a 1950's American diner, both in styling and the color palate. There's a simple power/volume knob on the front, two 2-watt speakers on top, three ports on the back (aux out, mini USB and "USB out") and a battery compartment on the bottom.
Also in the box I found instructions in several languages, two cute "Thumbs Up" stickers and a mini USB-to-USB cable for charging. Well, that's that. Let's turn the baby on and see what it can do.
The box calls it a "bedside smartphone speaker," so naturally I first tried it out on the table next to my bed. There's a shelf on the front of the Retro Touch that holds an iPhone 5S or a 5c perfectly. Other models won't fit perfectly. You position the phone so that its speaker is on the left. Then, fire up some music, switch on the speaker and off you go.
The thing works by conducting the sound from the phone into the device and through the speakers. At a moderate volume level, it's...OK. It provides enough of a boost that you can enjoy music or other audio while in a small, quiet room quite nicely. I listened to a few podcasts while getting ready in the mornings and it was enjoyable. The problem is when you try to crank it up.
As soon as the volume goes past the halfway point, the sound starts to distort. Go beyond that, and it cuts in and out. Adjusting the volume on the iPhone itself helps, but that defeats the purpose of having a speaker in the first place.
While it worked well in my quiet bedroom, it was marginally better than the iPhone's built-in speaker while outdoors. But that's not what it's meant to do, so the jury should disregard that last statement.
As I said at the start, the Retro Touch Speaker works well in the right conditions. Those whose needs match those criteria will enjoy using it. Plus, it's got a charming, retro-cool look. However, if you're looking to blast some tunes while grilling in the yard, the Retro Touch is not for you.
The barely-used demo unit that I tested can be yours! One lucky reader from the US or Canada (except Quebec) will get this wonderful case, valued at £22.95. To enter, fill out the entry form below before 11:59 PM ET on May 18, 2015. Note that this will place you on our subscriber list and you may receive occasional emails from us as a result — you may unsubscribe at any time.