If you’ve got one of Nokia’s new Lumia Windows Phones — the 520, the 620, the 720, the 820, or the 920 — then you’re able to use a huge range of Nokia and third-party accessories. JBL’s PowerUp is a speaker dock with built-in NFC and a wireless charging coil, so every new Lumia (except the 520) can be made to work with it entirely wirelessly.
The JBL PowerUp is a Bluetooth speaker, so technically it can be paired with any smartphone that’s got Bluetooth built-in — and that’s almost any phone made within the last decade. This makes it suitable for a far wider range of devices than only Nokia Lumia phones.
The PowerUp comes in three different colours — white, black, and an electric blue. All three look good, as does the design of the speaker itself. Finished in a rubberised plastic, the PowerUp is a simple oval-shaped shape that’s reminiscent of an old-school clock radio. The box’s front is a colour-coded metal grille, hiding stereo 2.5-inch full-range speakers.
If you’ve got a phone that has both NFC and wireless charging &8212; ideally one of Nokia’s new Lumias with inbuilt wireless charging or a wireless charging cover — all you need to do is place your phone on the top of the JBL PowerUp. The phone and speaker will do the rest — wireless charging starts straight away, and NFC sets up a direct Bluetooth connection for music and audio playback.
There are a few caveats here. We tested the system with another NFC- and wireless charging-compatible smartphone, the Google Nexus 4, and found that wireless charging wouldn’t work. It’s likely that JBL and Nokia have collaborated on a wireless charging that isn’t exactly compliant with the QI standard. NFC and Bluetooth worked just fine though.
From our time with the JBL PowerUp, it sounds pretty good for a speaker of its small size. It’s got a fair bit of low-end punch thanks to the full-range speakers, and reasonable clarity for high-frequency notes. Being a predominantly wireless speaker playing over the lossy Bluetooth codec, it isn’t going to be as clear as an analog-3.5mm-connected speaker, or one playing music over Wi-Fi, but it’s more than enough for a bedroom or office cubicle.