The new version of the BTSO9 provides very little enhancement, save aesthetic changes.

As an Apple fan, I tend to religiously upgrade my phone every 1-2 years.  Patiently awaiting my iPhone X preorder, I continue to use my iPhone 7 Plus for nearly everything that I do.  It may seem funny, but I love the enhancement, the new features, and the bells/whistles.  Imagine my excitement when a previous model of a favorite iClever speaker was released.  I am not against purchasing similar devices, but they should provide something that my previous model did not have.  Aesthetic changes aside, even small changes can be significant.  Unfortunately, the changes that iClever made to the BTS09 speaker proved to decrease my enjoyment of the device.

The iClever BTS09 arrived in a 9 1/2 inches wide by 7 7/8 inches long by 6 1/2 inches tall black box.  The box was mildly more advanced than the typical iClever gear, normally shipped in plain brown cardboard boxes.  The company used a rather classy silver script overlying the matte black packaging.  Along the front cover, you will find an ink-diagram of the device, which has a very similar appearance to the previous version of the BTSO9 device.  The diagram has a mesh/fabric appearance to the diagram, whereas the previous model resembled metallic mesh. The sides of the box provide the company website, email, the product certifications, Made in China status and the SKU/UPC.  The top and bottom of the packaging are devoid of information.  The top has a simple white carry handle, just like the previous version of the device.  As stated in the previous review, there remains no pizzazz, no product specifications and unfortunately for the consumer, nothing provided catches your eye.

After you lift the top of the box, you can set the thin black foam sheet aside.  Under the sheet, you will find the speaker, wrapped in clear plastic and nestled in a cardboard cutout.  The setup remains unchanged for the device.  Along the bottom of the box, you will find the same accessories:  23 inches long 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, 23 inches long USB-A to USB-micro cable and an eight-panel User Manual and a Warranty Card (24 hour response times, 30-day money back guarantee, 18 months replacement warranty and lifetimes support guarantee).  To utilize the guarantee, you will need to register the product online. The eight-panel instruction manual is well written and does a great job at detailing the specifications of the product. The second page provides a table, listing the specifications of the speaker: Bluetooth/Aux-in/Memory card mode, Bluetooth 4.2 (A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP profiles), dual 10W speakers, 4000 mAh battery, 5V/1A input, 4.5 hour charging time, 12 hours of utility.  The device dimensions remain unchanged, weighing 29.5 ounces (1 lb 13.4 oz) and measuring 8 inches diameter for the speaker and 5 7/8 inches along the semicircle base. The third page may be the most useful, providing a diagram of the speaker/buttons: volume +, volume -, Play/Pause button, Bluetooth Button and Power Button  Underneath the device, you will find the USB charging port, TF card slot, and the 3.5mm Aux-in Port.  You will also find the same LED ring on the back of the speaker.

iClever BTS09 Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW
I was disappointed to see that there were so few changes made to the device.  iClever had an amazing opportunity to upgrade more than the mesh face and the design of the buttons.  The M button of the previous device has been replaced with a Bluetooth logo on the current iteration.  Both the volume up and down buttons also lost the next/previous arrows on the buttons.  I would have loved to see a quick charge feature built into the device and a larger internal battery.  Personally, an 8000-10,000 mAh battery would allow for a full week of usage with a single charge. Just like my tests of the previous model, I found that I could get roughly 4-5 days of use of this device with just a few hours per day. Charging the device overnight, I awoke to a fully charged speaker.  It will take roughly 5 hours to fully charge the device.  Luckily out of the box, it only took 1.5 hours to charge the device in full.

Just like the previous version of the speaker, the buttons are very straightforward and self-explanatory.  Press and hold the power button for 2-3 seconds, and you will hear a series of a few chimes from the speaker.  Navigate to settings on your device, find iClever BTS09 and select this.  The speaker will beep.  If you short press the power button again, the posterior LED rim will illuminate bright blue.  Press this again for medium, again for light and yet again to turn off the LED (3 total brightness levels).  If you press the Bluetooth button, it will cycle between the three modes (BT, Aux-in, TV mode).  The play/pause button will start/stop the music and if pressed twice will advance to the next song.  The volume buttons will no longer move to the next or previous tracks.  This is a major difference between the last model and this model and is a setback.  The phone conversation features remain the same as with the last years model.  Short press to answer a call and end a call and long press the play/pause button to reject a call.  Again, I feel that the listed changes lessen the feel/utility of the product. The main difference between the prior model and the current model is the front screen.  The front grey/black speckled cover feels like carpet, instead of the metallic feel of the previous model.  Both of the versions are visually appealing, and the shape of the overall speaker is very appealing/modern.

iClever BTS09 Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW
I hoped for enhanced features and sounds with the upgraded model.  I do not know why the company would have changed the few listed features, without enhancing the sound/battery output etc.  The aesthetic changes are nice but did not warrant the changes nor expenses.  As a consumer, why would I buy the upgraded model if I had the previous version?  I like the old model better. Starting out with, I still found the bass to be weaker than desired.  Humans can hear down to 20Hz and the iClever device has no sounds up until 40 Hz.  I found the upper range was audible at 15kHz, just like the previous model.  Remember that we lose upper range faster than lower range hearing and this is very age specific.  The speaker scored the same on all of my previous tests as the inner workings feel exactly the same.  The test track for the Darkness Rising Joker Theme “Why So serious,” was not as dynamic, nor was the opening for Star Wars Attack of the Clones as exciting as with other speakers.  To further assess the bass, I returned to the Gladiator soundtrack and found the mixed instrumental sounds to be reasonable.  The Far and Away and Braveheart soundtracks again showed the same quality instrumentals.  The mid sounds and upper sounds are actually pretty decent.  The speaker lacks the bass kick that would fully make this device exceptional.  To round out the testing, I listened to a variety of CCR songs, “Hotel California” from the Eagles, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

Just like with the previous testing, the speaker sounded pretty good up until about 3/4 volume.  Above this, the sound was rather harsh.  The 10 meter/30foot Bluetooth distance proved to be accurate and helped with the harsh sound.  Above the 3/4 mark on volume, I needed about 10-15 feet of distance to enjoy the sound again.  At about 20 feet, the sound was full enough to fill a room.  This device is perfect for a college student/dorm room for this very reason.   One change that I did enjoy was the lowest level of volume (1 click on the iPhone 7 plus) was actually a dimmer sound than on the previous model.  Previously, there was a huge difference between on/off and it was a rather abrupt change.  I actually enjoyed personal listening to Anthem Lights and Pentatonix music at about 2-3 volume clicks. You can plug in the 3;5mm jack to automatically switch to AUX mode and you can insert a microSD card to switch to memory card mode.

iClever BTS09 Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW
If you plug in the 3.5mm jack into the speaker and into your smart device, the iClever BTS09 will automatically switch to AUX mode.  You cannot control the volume of the device through this method, but you can control the volume on the speaker as you would a standalone speaker.  Also, if you plug in a micro-SD card, it will auto-detect this change and will switch to memory card mode.  If desired, you can short press the Bluetooth button to change between the modes. Similar to the previous model, the LED backlight does add to the overall feel of the device.  If you are worried about battery life, I would not use the light.  Also, I wish that the small blue LED along the top front of the speaker was removed to the base/underneath.  If I am using this device as a sleep aid, I do not want a blue light constantly in my face.  Blue light breaks down melatonin and can mess up your ability to fall asleep.  The light needs to be moved to the back of the speaker and needs to be a red LED, similar to the lights around the rim.  Red lights help to facilitate sleep and thus would be an improvement over the Blue LED.

I am really pleased that you can still use this device while charging.  This feature almost makes up for the fact that it still does not have rapid charging or the ability to QI charge through the base.  The ability to QI charge would be a huge advancement but would add significantly to the cost of the device and likely to the heft.  The base is very thin and the batarang (batman throwing tool) shape is aesthetically pleasing.  Unfortunately adding the ability to charge through conduction may require a base shape change.  The speaker is still a fun device and the shape/feel is quite modern.  As stated previously, the speaker would benefit from being a little taller to allow a modern Amazon Dot to fit beneath it. I tested this speaker, as previously, in the 3.5mm Aux-in mode, Bluetooth mode and used it to make/answer phone calls.  The addition of the phone call ability seems like an add-on and is likely not necessary.

iClever BTS09 Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW
For me to want to change from the previous version to this version, it really does need a few additional enhancements.  I think that the button configuration of this device is actually worse than the previous version.  The device needed better bass, which was not enhanced.  I do not see much difference other than aesthetic changes.  I rated the previous version of the speaker at 4/5 stars and I would rate this device at 3.5/5 stars.

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