The LifeProof AQUAPHONICS AQ10 Portable Bluetooth Speaker feels, looks, and sounds good.
In terms of build, the speaker seems solidly built. It’s actually drop-proof up to 1.2 meters. At about 1 3/4 pounds, it is not terribly heavy, but it feels solid. I like that the ends are squared off; this allows you to place the speaker vertically (on end) as well as horizontally (on bottom).
Presentation is good. LifeProof did a nice job with packaging. Mine came in a sturdy, attractive housing.
However, be warned, instructions are on the skimpy side. The instructions that are present are in very small print. I have numerous BT speakers, but I initially had a hard time getting this one to work. When it first connected to my phone, it wouldn’t play music through the speaker. As I tried to make it work, I apparently hit the “Source” button (which looks more like a skip song button). If there had been any useful directions, I may have figured that out quickly. But since there weren’t, it took rebooting everything and trying again several times with different phones before I realized what was going on.
Part of the issue is that it didn’t work quite as the instructions said (mine never blinked to indicate it was ready to pair). But it did eventually work. That first pairing was hard, but subsequent pairings were easy. I think it works well; it just didn’t work quite as described and there wasn’t any help for how to overcome the issue.
To pair, simply hit the BT button for a half second or so. Release. Initiate pairing on your source device. That should work. Don’t hold the BT button on the speaker waiting for it to flash. And don’t press other flashing buttons on the device – especially the source button. Connection is via BT 4.2, which is good.
If desired, there is also an audio-in port, so you can plug a device directly into the speaker without using BT. I struggled to find a use for that, but it’s there if you need it.
Once paired, it holds the signal well and offers good sound quality. I compared it side-by-side with another waterproof BT speaker I use, and the A10 had clearly superior sound. You can tell the dual front-facing drivers and dual passive radiators do their jobs. This little speaker can crank up to 94 dB.
The speaker is actually waterproof, not just water-resistant. If you have everything closed up the way you’re supposed to, it can be dunked in up to 1 meter of water. It can actually float, too, if dropped in water. It can also be sealed against dust, dirt, and snow.
There is a small water-tight drybox to store items when using the speaker around water. The drybox is a bit more shallow and narrow than I had hoped. It won’t hold a wallet, full-size phone, or some key fobs, for instance; but it can hold some cash or other small items.
It has a microphone, which works well enough for calls in a pinch; but I don’t really recommend using it for calls unless you really need to.
Continuing a trend I’ve noticed in recent electronic devices, the wall plug seems unnecessarily bulky. I wish it were smaller. I also wish the speaker charged via USB-C or micro USB instead of the proprietary charger it uses. Better make sure you don’t lose that charger while on vacation!
The charging port is placed on one end of the speaker. The power button is placed on the opposite end. I guess that makes sense, but in practice, it can the speaker just a little bit more difficult to use if you want to just leave it plugged up somewhere, as I do. OTOH, the speaker is rated for 13 hours of playback, so I may be the only one who finds the button placement inconvenient.
If the size of the AQ10 isn’t your thing, there is a smaller AQ9 version and a larger AQ11 version.
- Good sound and range.
- Attractive appearance.
- Solid feel.
- Decent battery life.
- Propriety charging port; would have greatly preferred USB-C or micro-USB.
- Minimal documentation. This made setup more difficult than necessary.
Overall, I recommend this speaker. Once I got past the setup issue, it was really good. It is a bit on the pricey side for the market, and I’m not sure the features make it all that much better. But it’s not absurdly high, has good sound, and has nice features. Definitely a strong first entrant into the BT speaker market by LifeProof, and it has become my primary personal BT speaker.