When we reviewed iDevices’ iShower back in August 2012, we noted that few companies had “catered to the modestly challenging but potentially lucrative market for waterproof speakers,” a market that iShower addressed with a boxy, water-resistant wireless design at a mass-market $100 price point. Quite a few competitors have been released since then, including several top picks in the last 12 months alone, but only a few have been specifically designed to hang in your shower. iShower2 ($100) is the latest, a modest update to the original model with a nearly identical industrial design, feature set, and audio performance. While it’s better than the original model, so too are its competitors, and long-term reliability is an open question.
Measuring roughly 6.1” tall by 4” wide by 1.2” thick, iShower2 uses the same glossy white plastic and rounded box shape from iShower, with eight buttons and a hidden blue-lit display on the front. If the power’s on, the display can briefly show you the current time, as well as “Hi,” “Bye,” and several character-limited pairing status indications. On the back are a battery compartment for three included AA cells, two holes for wall mounting, and a large circular pattern for speaker output. A rubber ring around the edge provides anti-slip support in the event iShower2 stands upright on its own.
To keep iShower2 out of the way while you’re showering, two mounting solutions are included: an adhesive mount that lets you attach and detach the speaker from a wall as needed, and a flip-out hard plastic stand that rotates to hang iShower 2 from a showerhead. Unlike Braven’s Mira, our current top waterproof speaker pick, the stand is closed on all sides, so you won’t be able to hang it using the stand if you have an oversized showerhead. Thankfully, the wall mount is very secure, and separates iShower2’s rear-firing speaker enough from the wall to let sound reflect forward.
The single biggest knock against both iShower and iShower2 is only passable audio performance. What we said in our prior review continues to be true today: “iShower’s sonic performance is radio-like: flat, midrange-focused, and on the fine edge of B and C ratings — we’d only call it acceptable because of the speaker’s attractive pricing and unusual usage model. When a wireless speaker sells for under $100 and is designed to be used in an environment where the sound of loud rushing water will be competing against it, it’s hard to complain much about its omissions. However, if you’re thinking of using iShower outside of a shower, you’ll want to know about them. Unlike Atlantic’s long-gone waterproof speakers, iShower has only a single speaker inside and makes no attempt at stereo separation. At peak volumes — 9 to 10 on the 10-step digital volume meter — distortion becomes obvious in the audio, particularly in the bass. It’s not terrible, and not even necessarily audible if you’re directly under your showerhead, but it detracts from iShower’s ability to be used in other environments at higher volumes.”
Directly compared against Braven’s Mira, iShower2 didn’t have any sonic advantages, in part because its speaker fires backwards — a design decision that naturally reduces a speaker’s apparent treble performance when heard from the front. Their peak volume levels are roughly the same, but Mira’s multi-driver design offers superior clarity, more treble, and far less distortion when the volume’s turned up. iShower2 is just good enough to be used in the shower, albeit notably without the IPX5 water jet-safe certification Mira has. iDevices tells you that you can use iShower2 “without the fear of water damage,” but beyond disclaiming full submersibility doesn’t tell you what you can and can’t do with it.
iShower2 has a few other tricks up its sleeve, though. It continues to perform at a nearly 200-foot wireless distance from your iOS device, which is several times further away than Mira and most Bluetooth speakers, wireless or not. Additionally, it promises 25 hours of battery life to Mira’s 10, which is an improvement over the 15 hours promised with the original iShower. That said, the reliance on disposable batteries is now quite atypical for Bluetooth speakers; you’ll need to swap iShower2’s AA cells rather than just recharging them with a USB cable, a highly convenient alternative that Mira and other contemporary waterproof speakers rely upon.
As a last bonus, iShower2 adds speakerphone functionality, a feature that’s conspicuously missing from Mira. Callers described the front-mounted microphone as respectable, though a step or two down in intelligibility and gain/volume from the echo-canceling mic system built into iPhones. While it’s nice to answer the occasional phone call, being able to use Siri would give users greater music control, let them check the weather while waking up in the shower, and enable the voice-dialing of outbound phone calls. Unfortunately, iShower2 is pretty limited in this regard. Call answer and end buttons have been mapped onto track reverse and forward buttons, without any apparent way to initiate a call or trigger Siri from the speaker. If there’s a way to use Siri or make outbound calls, there’s no evidence of the capabilities in iShower2’s exceptionally brief manual or markings on the controls. On a related note, it bears brief mention that neither the controls nor the pairing process have otherwise been much improved from the original iShower, so this model remains trickier to initially pair with your iOS device than most Bluetooth speakers we’ve tested.
There’s one other factor worth mentioning here: long-term durability. Most of the speakers we’ve reviewed have continued to work for extended periods of time after initial testing, but the original iShower was an exception; after a relatively short period of use, it refused to turn back on again even with completely fresh batteries. We can’t speak to iShower2’s longevity yet, and wouldn’t want to judge the new model on its predecessor’s issues, but if this unit stops working, we’ll update this review and yank our rating in a flash.
For now, we’d say that iShower2 delivers just enough functionality to merit the same flat B rating as its predecessor, despite markedly improved competition in the waterproof speaker market. If you’re looking for something relatively small to hang in your shower and absolutely must have the ability to answer phone calls, iShower2 is a good option. But if limited speakerphone functionality isn’t critical, you’ll most likely appreciate the superior sonic performance, rechargeability, and hook design of Braven’s Mira for the same price. There’s little question that iShower2 hasn’t received enough of a redesign to merit true sequel status, but the improved run time and microphone keep it a viable alternative in a growing marketplace.
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Compatible: All iPads, iPhones, iPod touch 2G/3G/4G/5G