If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
From noise-canceling headphones to true wireless earbuds, Bose’s presence is everywhere in the audio space Nearly one and a half years after its release, the Bose Portable Smart Speaker continues to be a prized darling in the smart speaker space.
But why? Well, because it’s one of the few options with a built-in battery for on-the-go convenience. And guess what? I’ve finally managed to check it out in the flesh to experience what all the hype was about. Read on for my Bose portable smart speaker review.
- Dimensions: 4.09 x 4.69 x 7.56 inches
- Weight: 2.34 pounds
- Battery life: Up to 12 hours on average listening volume, 24 hours in standby mode
- Charging time: Approximately 4 hours
Included in the Box
- Bose Portable Smart Speaker
- Power cord
- AC power adapter
- Quick start guide
- Owner’s guide
Setup: Another App To Manage
Taking the Bose portable smart speaker out of the box and going through the setup routine, I was taken aback by the fact that I needed to download the Bose Music app. That’s because other smart speakers are typically set up through either the Google Home or Amazon Alexa apps. I’m not thrilled about having to use another app and making yet another account, but it’s necessary to go forward with setting up the speaker’s voice assistant.
Once that’s been taken care of, there’s just one more thing needed before setup is complete — and that’s choosing the voice assistant. Through the settings menu, you’ll be able to choose between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but you won’t be able to use both simultaneously. If you end up changing your mind, however, you just run through the voice assistant setup again.
Design: Portable indeed
I’ve known about the Bose Portable Smart Speaker for a long time, but I didn’t actually come across one until now. What surprised me the most was its size since the renders and images online make it out to be taller than what it really is in person. Needless to say, I was thrilled by its compact size.
It’s about just the same height as the Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) with its cylindrical shape. There’s a tough fabric that wraps around the handle, which I found to be a charming quality because it’s not something you’ll find in other smart speakers. I also love the premium construction, which pairs a mesh metal base with a polished plastic top housing to give the entire speaker a premium contrast.
Initially, I thought it was going to feel dense, but I was surprised to find it lightweight at 2.34 pounds. What makes it even more of a road warrior is the fact that it features an IPX4 water-resistant rating. So yeah, it’s something that can work even in the rain.
Superficially, it’s unmistakably a speaker, but Bose added enough of its premium touch to give it a slick look.
Software: Some Useful Settings
I didn’t intend on using the Bose app all that much after I was done setting it up for the first time, but I realized later on that it offers some useful details and settings I couldn’t get through the Google Home app. For example, I like how I can tweak the bass and treble through the Bose app.
There’s also an intuitive guide that helped me to add another Bluetooth-enabled speaker to it with Bose’s SimpleSync. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t even need to be another speaker from Bose, but any Bluetooth speaker you might already have.
While I appreciate the convenience, I found that there’s roughly a half-second delay — so the audio is never perfectly synchronized. The latency is noticeable indoors, but it’s not much of a problem outdoors when the speakers are far from one another.
Sound Quality: A Rich Balance
Bose knocks it out of the park in terms of sound quality. If you love listening to music, your ears will certainly appreciate the rich and vibrant tones the Bose portable smart speaker is able to achieve. Even though Bose doesn’t reveal what speaker driver is inside of its portable smart speaker, I’m still impressed by the outcome because it has plenty of bite.
The bass is complementary, which, unlike other bass-heavy speakers, doesn’t overwhelm the mids and highs. That way, the end result ensures that nothing ever gets drowned out. I was also impressed by its volume output, which sounded much better at the loudest setting than the Belkin SoundForm Elite.
Battery Life: Not Too Shabby
Bose claims that it has a 12-hour battery life per charge. In my testing, however, it fell a smidgen short of that tally — dropping on average by 3% every 20 minutes of music payback at about 25% volume level. That would put it on track to reach a little over 11 hours, which I think isn’t too shabby for a portable smart speaker.
As for recharging, Bose says it can take upwards of four hours, which is why I prefer to have it plugged in whenever I can. That way, it’ll be topped off and ready for use if I choose to bring it outside.
Bose Portable Smart Speaker Review: Our Verdict
I’m not surprised by the results because this is Bose we’re talking about. The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is without question the best portable smart speaker around. From its superb and rich audio performance to its versatility in choosing what voice assistant to use, and even the ability to pair other Bluetooth speakers to it, there are plenty of reasons to justify its $300 cost.
So Should You Buy it?
Yes, few smart speakers can match its versatility.
- Superb audio performance
- Clean sounding bass
- Adjustable sound settings
- Water-resistant design
- Supports Alexa and Google Assistant
- Latency delay when synchronizing two speakers
How Long Will It Last?
Much like its other products, the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is solidly constructed, so I feel confident it’s made to last. However, Bose does include a 1-year limited warranty that covers defects.
What Are Some Alternatives?
There are plenty of portable speakers for outdoor use, but there are even fewer options that have voice assistant support, so here are some alternatives to consider.
Cavalier Maverick Portable Wireless
Powered by Amazon Alexa and packing a rechargeable battery, the Cavalier Maverick Portable Wireless features a premium, compact design that also makes it an ideal smart speaker indoors.
JBL Flip 6
When it comes to having fun in the sun, the JBL Flip 6 is ready for all your outdoor excursions with its rich audio performance and rugged design.
Do you crave that home theater experience outdoors? The Sonos Move has the audio power to emulate the in-home experience, while still being a portable solution for outdoor use.
Looking for More from SPY?
- The 18 Best Alexa Devices for Turning Your House Into a Smart Home
- The Best iPhone Chargers
- These Portable Chargers Will Make Sure Your Smartphone Is Never Out of Action