Bluetooth speakers are a bit controversial these days: If you just keep them for yourself and use them at your own convenience, nobody will bat an eye. But if you start using them playing loudly while cruising on your bike or when you are in public transportation, you may end up with a lot of irritated stares (at least). The newer released speakers in the latter situation are also getting bigger and louder. The Xiaomi Square Box II is on the other side of the spectrum: it is a gentle 2 x 2.5 Watt speaker that even fits in your pocket. It should last up to 10 hours when you put the volume on 40% of the max. But is it worth the hassle to get this Bluetooth speaker from China?
Specs of the Square Box II as found on Banggood:
- Brand Name: Xiaomi
- Product Name: Square Box II
- Color: White
- Net Weight (g): 155g
- Dimensions (mm): 154.5mm x 60mm x 25.5mm
- Microphone: Yes
- Connectivity: 3.5mm line-in, bluetooth connection
- Bluetooth Version: V4.2
- Transmission Distance: ≤10m
- Support Audio Protocol: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP
- Output Power: 2.5W*2
- Speaker Impedance: 3Ω
- Frequency Response: 100Hz-18kHz
- Frequency: 2402MHz-2480MHz
- Battery Capacity: 1200mAh
- Input Voltage: 5V 1A
- Working Time (h): About 10 hours (40% volume)
A while ago we reviewed a couple of other Bluetooth speakers. Not only the Bluedio BS-6 but also a Xiaomi branded predecessor of the Square Box II. Where the Square Box has Bluetooth 4.2, the Bluedio is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0. Could this be because the Bluedio is in a higher price segment?
As for every Xiaomi product we test, we expect a great product for a reasonable price. For some of the segments, the new products seem to be a bit higher priced than in the years before. But fortunately this is not the case for this Bluetooth speaker. Although it still is not dead cheap, we expect value for the price we paid.
The Square Box is neatly fitted into a white box that slides open to the side. It is packed very efficiently, the outer box takes less than a centimeter more space than the product in both width and depth, and less than half a centimeter in height. The whole branding on the packaging is in Chinese.
What’s in the box
The packaging of the Xiaomi Square Box Ⅱ contains the following:
- Xiaomi Square Box Ⅱ Speaker
- Chinese Manual
On Banggood the following features of the Square Box Ⅱ are stated. We had a good laugh on the efforts of the Xiaomi marketing department, because they did a lot of effort to describe how it enhances your life (we only wrote down the headers, on the product page some of the texts are even more hilarious):
- Dual acoustic units, deliver classic sound.
- It is easy to carry out, enjoy the outdoor landscape.
- Take a rest, tea smell and music.
- Built-in microphone, answer every important call easily.
- Music always accompany you.
- Add AUX line-in port, use Bluetooth 4.2 chip.
Build Quality & Design
The design of the Square Box Ⅱ is as we can expect from a Xiaomi branded product: it is sufficiently stylish to put it as an eye catcher in a primary spot in your living room. The aluminum finish on the outside combined with PP hard plastics speaker grill and back look and feel premium. As always, Xiaomi has also thought about the little details: from the LED indicator that is hidden in the grill to the rubber stands on the bottom to prevent the aluminum from scratching.
Next the feel of the product: it fits right into my hand and at about 150 grams it is very, very light. It looks and feels distinguished and should also be treated as such: it feels solid enough to withstand day-to-day use and is to a certain degree scratch and bump resistant, but it is definitely not ruggedized or dust and water proof.
The layout of the Square Box is simple: it is a square box (duh!) with a LED indicator and the microphone hidden in the front speaker grill. On the top side you can find the On / off button and the volume buttons. Located on the back are a micro USB port for charging and an auxiliary port to connect your non-Bluetooth device to the speaker. Both the micro USB and aux cables are not included.
After you unbox a new device, you usually charge up its battery. But in this case is no micro USB cable included (it did not fit in the box). Luckily we live in an era where even my grandma has a micro USB charging cable laying around (we are planning to buy her a USB-C cable for her next birthday). After charging up the 1200 mAh battery you are ready to connect and play some music.
Connecting your smart phone over Bluetooth can be done just like with any Bluetooth device: you power on the device (it will play a four chord chime, just like when you switch it off) and the indication LED will start blinking red and blue. The device can now be detected by your smart phone (or another audio source that can connect over Bluetooth). The Square Box will broadcast the Bluetooth device name ‘XMFHZ02’. After you connect the LED will turn blue and you are ready to play some music or use the calling function. As an alternative, you can use the 3.5 inch auxiliary port in the back of the to connect your none-Bluetooth devices. However, there is no way to disable Bluetooth.
I played some of my favorite songs through the Square Box Ⅱ, and played songs from various genres to test the output and feel of the sounds the speaker produces. The sound quality can be described as pleasant in the ear. To be a bit nitpicky: It is in general well balanced, but if your turn the volume way up the bass will fade a bit and the higher tones will stand out more. This is a bit out of balance but can be easily prevented by keeping the volume down a bit. All in all, the sound is much better than what is produced by the speakers of a modern day smart phone. And there is a lot of volume in this little Square Box.
Regarding the 1200 mAh battery: according to the specs it will last up to 10 hours, but that is when you keep the volume down at 40%. I have not timed it exactly, but I tend to play it a bit louder and this affected the stated battery life. I can safely state it will last more than 6 hours at nearly full volume. But if you want to enjoy the Square Box Ⅱ a full day when you are on the road, just be safe and pack a power bank to connect it to the speaker when it runs out of juice.
Calling with the Box
Receiving calls with the Square Box is easy: you can pick up and hang up by briefly pressing the power button. When you want to make a call you need to start it on the connected phone. As you probably expected you can also alter the volume by pressing the volume buttons. The speaker has Clear Voice Capture (cvc) noise cancelling technology which really reduces ambient sound when calling using the speaker. This makes the speaker also well suited for telephone conferences with multiple persons.
Square Box Ⅱ compared to previous version
From a distance the Square Box Ⅱ looks very similar to its predecessor. But there are some clear differences, which makes Square Box Ⅱ look better: the indication LED is nicely hidden in the grill of the speaker. Next, the buttons have been placed on top of the speaker instead on the side and the USB and aux port are now located on the back. These change improves the overall aesthetics of the speaker. There are also some lost features: the most obvious one is the missing Micro SD slot. As a direct result of this some of the buttons also have also been remove (e.g. previous / next track). Some other minor changes are the slightly reduced battery size (which was probably possible by using Bluetooth 4.2 instead of 4.0) and the change in shape (the Square Box Ⅱ is about a third wider). Unless you use the Micro SD slot, you can safely upgrade to the newer version. On the other hand: the differences are not that big to justify this upgrade from the older version.
pro and cons of the Xiaomi Square Box Ⅱ
- Very portable: nice format and light weight.
- Slick design.
- Good audio and call quality.
- No charging cable included.
- Comes with Bluetooth 4.2, which is not as energy efficient as 5.0.
- Lacks a bit of bass when on full volume.
The Xiaomi Square Box II is pretty Bluetooth speaker that can serve you very well: the audio quality when playing music or call through the box is excellent, but the bass will fade a bit when you put the volume to the max. If you keep the volume a bit lower, it will also extend the battery life up to 8 hours. The battery life would even been better if they used Bluetooth 5.0 instead of 4.2. But the key question remains: Is it a good purchase? Certainly! Its good and high quality product which feels and is much more durable than most of the other speakers in this price segment.
where to buy?