Review: Sony Clock Radio with Lightning Connector
January 31, 2014 — by Per Christensson
My old Sony clock radio served me well for many years. I used it every day – or night, I should say – as it was my iPhone 4's primary charging station. However, when I bought my iPhone 5 in September, 2012, I couldn't use it with my Sony clock radio, since it had the new lightning connector.
For awhile, it was impossible to even get an adapter from Apple (as some of you early adopters may remember), so I had to plug my iPhone into the wall each night. It was a major first world problem.
After a few months, I was finally able to get an adapter from Apple and connected my iPhone to the old clock radio via the aesthetically atrocious method shown at the bottom of this review.
This lasted a few months until Sony finally released an iPhone 5-compatible clock radio – model ICFCS15IPSILN. That's not the serial number, that is the model name. Sony might as well just name their electronics with Japanese characters, since that would be easier to remember. Whatever the case, I bought the Sony's latest clock radio and my iPhone 5 had a new home.
While it's taken me awhile to write a review of my the clock radio, I've been able to test it out for several months. Therefore my review is based on quite a bit of experience. I have to say I am very impressed with the features and performance of the device, especially for only $99.
It's easy to place the iPhone 5 in the lightning connector, with minimal amounts of fumbling around. (This is especially important when you are half asleep, trying to awkwardly place the phone in the dock in a dark room.) You can easily control the iPhone music using the clock radio buttons or the included remote. There is even an iPhone app designed for the clock radio that syncs the time between the two devices and can be used to configure sleep mode from the phone. It's nifty, but completely unnecessary, since you can control everything from the iPhone or clock radio itself.
The sound quality is pretty impressive and is definitely better than my previous model. The mid-tones are a bit boxy for my taste, but the base is decent for the speaker size and the sound is pretty clear overall. I am not a fan of the Mega Bass or Xpand features since they distort the bass tones, but they might be useful for certain types of music.
What I really like about this device is the small details. First of all, the device is meticulously designed. It looks great with or without the iPhone, and there are no sharp corners to jab your hand on in the dark. This model also has an extra dim setting for the display (making four total brightness levels), which my old model did not have. Besides the the lightning connector, this is the best feature of Sony's ICFCS15IPSILN model. My clock radio no longer lights up the entire room at night.
It's super easy to set either of the two alarms and you can even hold down the plus or minus buttons to quickly adjust the time by a few minutes, which is a nice touch. The all-important sleep button is nice and big and is conveniently located on the top of the device. It seems Sony took their previous model – which was already great – and made it even better.
Overall, I'm very pleased with the Sony ICFCS15IPSILN (better known as the Clock Radio with Lightning Connector). I think it will serve me well for many years, or at least until Apple changes their iPhone connector again.
My old Sony clock radio with the Dock Connector to Lightning adapter:
- great design
- decent sound
- seamless iPhone 5 integration
- extra dim brightness setting
- mid-tones sound a bit boxy