The Griffin AirCurve is an odd and intriguing proposition- an iPhone dock that amplifies your iPhone’s speaker without any power whatsoever. Featuring a sound canal that looks rather like a human ear, it merely seals in the sound from the built-in speaker and passes it through a gradually expanding tunnel that increases its amplitude, Victrola style.
Although it does this admirably, producing a sound far louder than the speaker can manage alone, being happy with the results the AirCurve produces is a case of managing your expectations. Without any electrical element to the equation, the AirCurve is left simply expanding the understandably piddly sound from the iPhone’s speaker, warts-and-all. This expanded result ends up sounding more low-fi than listening to the iPhone on its own.
As the AirCurve can’t really blow-up what little bass the iPhone’s speaker pumps out, the sound is quite mid-range heavy, leading to a boxy sound. For this reason, the AirCurve shouldn’t be considered a replacement for a traditional speaker dock for anything but the most casual music listening.
It’s much more useful in other applications, though. Speech fares the journey through the AirCurve canal better, making it a good partner for podcasts or speech-based radio. The joy of the AirCurve is that it doesn’t have to rely on a power source, so you could easily take it outside- although its non-guerrilla looks don’t suit real outdoorsman action.
It’s even more useful as an alarm clock intensifier. Set your iPhone to full volume and, through the AirCurve, it’d wake the dead. Pair it up with a mains adaptor, not supplied with the dock, and you’d have a decent permanent bedside setup. At the bottom of the dock, there’s a ridge that allows you to fit in an iPhone charge cable, which then runs seamlessly up and under the iPhone.
Cast in clear plastic that shows off its internal curvy canal, the AirCurve’s looks initially belie its cheap price. On closer inspection, it looks a little closer to its RRP, but its design is striking enough to draw gazes. The transparency does highlight the AirCurve’s gimmick factor though.
If it was much more expensive, we’d hesitate recommending it since it obviously doesn’t compare to any half decent speaker dock. However, if you’re looking to amplify your iPhone for anything apart from listening to music, the AirCurve is a cheap dock that’s a guaranteed talking point. More importantly, it really does boost the volume of your iPhone to an impressive extent.
Griffin Aircurve Info
Typical price: £15
Doesn’t use power
Speech amplified well
Mid-ranges too overpowering
Verdict: A fantastic concept, but only really useful for casual music or listening to speech
More info: Griffin Website