We've seen some pretty unusual case releases for the iPhone but this has to be one of the most ambitious. What we have for you today is the Kubxlab Ampjacket acoustic amplifier case for the iPhone 5. It includes moulded internal channels that are supposed to amplify the iPhone's speaker volume on a scale of 2X, without the need of batteries or any silicone chips. Is it a replacement for mini portable speakers such as the X-mini series though, we investigate?
Right off the bat the design is unusual, the protruding X shaped rear that is cutout either side leaving the iPhone's aluminium back visible is rather striking. It looks far more absurd than it feels to hold though. The iPhone 5 is weirdly comfortable to use within the Ampjacket case. The rounded edges, soft in touch rubber plastic body and noteworthy lightness, create an ergonomic design. One incorporation we would have liked to of seen, is a stand for upright viewing. When the case is sat on a level flat surface the X shaped rear wobbles and it has been an annoyance on more than one occasion.
The rear camera, LED flash, volume rockers, mute switch and sleep/ wake button are all cutout of the case and are easy to locate and use. The bottom lightning connector and auxiliary input are also cutout, however the cases shell cover protrudes over the rear speaker so that it can channel the audio and amplify it, this means the iPhone is un-dockable due to this. A decent lineup of colours are currently available, these are white, black, grey, red, orange, blue, green, and pink.
Attaching the Kubxlab Ampjacket onto the iPhone 5 is plain sailing. Removing it most definitely isn't. This case is really tight and the shape and build make it doubly tricky to get it off the iPhone 5. So this isn't the sort of case that can be whisked on and off for purposes such as docking, which should definitely be taken into account.
So how does it work? The design within this area is utterly brilliant. The interior of the case has curved moulded plastic channels that guide the sound waves from the rear speaker grill which is totally covered via the Ampjacket. The audio is then amplified within this journey and sound is released via the two top cutouts within the cases shell. This isn't the first time we've come into contact with a passive amplification product, the en&is Megaphone for the iPhone and iPod touch shares the exact same concept on a greatly grander scale.
Audio output is loud, abundantly louder than the default iPhone 5 speaker and when the volume is fully cranked it easily sounds twice as loud. It's the ideal solution for conveniently showing videos or playing music to friends in noisy environments, listening to music in the garden or kitchen and to just generally have a more powerful volume output. However the Ampjacket doesn't help the audio quality, it just makes the audio louder. And unfortunately at times this added loudness can off set the quality, generally audio is far more acoustic than that of the iPhone 5 speaker directly. Something interesting we discovered about the Ampjacket was that it sounds better when the iPhone's screen is faced down on flat surface. However we rarely listened to the iPhone 5 in this manner and most of our amplification usage has been presented whilst holding it. Something we genuinely wondered was whether this would challenge a dedicated portable speaker in the audio quality department but it simply doesn't, it is more convenient though.
As a shell styled case it offers decent amount of protection. Adequate for pocket usage but not perfect. The cutout sides of the cases rear that obviously serve a purpose in terms of amplification, also leave the rear of the iPhone vulnerable to scratches. It's unlikely a drop within the case could cause such damage here but it's not impossible, drops that land on the rear should be tackled quite easily with from the protruding X shaped design. These cutout zones are also dust magnets and the case will need to be removed if a proper clean is undertaken and as we've mentioned it's no easy task. The audio output sounds better if the iPhone is faced down on a flat surface, however the cases bezel lip barely overlaps the iPhone's screen. Another cause for concern if frequently used faced down and if the iPhone happens to be dropped and land face down.
Overall we really like where Kubxlab have gone with the Ampjacket. It's not perfect and definite room for evolution is here, but what we've been presented with presently is a credible solution to achieve a louder audio output from the iPhone 5.