Bose Portable Smart Speaker Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Mar 01, 2021 at 08:40 am
Bose Portable Smart Speaker Picture
6.9
Music
6.9
Videos/Movies
8.0
Podcasts
9.0
Voice Assistant
6.8
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
Yes

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is a fairly small speaker with outstanding voice assistant capabilities. It has Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, and it has no trouble understanding you even if you're far away or in a noisy room. It's incredibly portable, thanks to its lightweight design and carrying handle. However, its battery only lasts around five hours, and it doesn't get very loud. Out-of-the-box, its sound profile is fairly boomy, although its companion app has bass and treble sliders that let you tweak its sound. This versatile speaker is suitable for playing most audio content and can be a good addition to your home.

Our Verdict

6.9 Music

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is okay for music. Its sound profile is boomy, but it has a well-balanced mid-range, so vocals and lead instruments sound clear and present. Its companion app has bass and treble adjustments, so you can tweak its sound to your liking. Although it has to downmix stereo content into mono, it has good directivity thanks to its 360-design, resulting in a wide and spacious soundstage. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression present at max volume.

Pros
  • Bass and treble adjustments in its companion app.
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Has to downmix stereo content into mono.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
6.9 Videos/Movies

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is reasonable for watching videos and movies. It has low latency over Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay, although some apps compensate differently for this. It has good directivity, resulting in a wide and open soundstage. Unfortunately, it lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed movie scenes. It also doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Low latency over Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay.
  • Bass and treble adjustments in its companion app.
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
8.0 Podcasts

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is very good for podcasts. It has a well-balanced mid-range, so dialogue is reproduced clearly. It's also exceptionally portable, so you can listen to podcasts while on-the-go. Unfortunately, its battery only lasts around five hours, and you can only pair one device at a time, which might be disappointing if you like to frequently switch your audio source.

Pros
  • Exceptionally portable.
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
9.0 Voice Assistant

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is incredible for voice assistants. It has Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. It has no trouble understanding you, even if you're far away or in a noisy room. You can also mute the microphone if you don't want the speaker to hear you.

Pros
  • Alexa and Google Assistant built-in.
Cons
  • Short battery life.
6.8 Outdoors

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is fair for outdoor use. It's lightweight and incredibly portable, so you can easily bring it with you on-the-go. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has good directivity, resulting in an open and spacious soundstage. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and there's a lot of compression present at max volume. Also, its battery only lasts five hours, which may not be enough for long listening sessions.

Pros
  • IPX4 rating for water resistance.
  • Exceptionally portable.
Cons
  • Has to downmix stereo content into mono.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Short battery life.
  • 6.9 Music
  • 6.9 Videos/Movies
  • 8.0 Podcasts
  • 9.0 Voice Assistant
  • 6.8 Outdoors

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is a fairly small portable speaker that's meant to sit vertically. It has a sleek design with a built-in carrying handle that can be adjusted to the front or back. There's a thin light ring on top that indicates the volume and battery level and lights up when using the voice assistant. The bottom of the speaker is covered with an aluminum grille. It comes in two colors: 'Triple Black' and 'Luxe Silver'.

9.4
Design
Portability
Volume
148 in³ (2420 cm³)
Weight
2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)
Power Source
AC & Battery
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is exceptionally portable. It has a battery, so you can use it outside without having to find an outlet. It's lightweight, and you can carry it with one hand thanks to its carrying handle.

7.3
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
Water-resistant (IPx4)
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Bose Portable Home Speaker has a decent build quality. The bottom of the speaker is wrapped with an aluminum grille, while the top is made of silicone and plastic that has a soft touch. It sits on a rubber ring that gives it a good grip. This speaker doesn't have an advertised rating for dust or impact resistance, but it has an IPX4 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes
Microphone On/Off
Yes (Physical)
Additional Controls
Yes

The Bose Portable Home Speaker has very good controls. There's a light ring on top that indicates the volume and battery level. It also lights up when using the voice assistant. It has buttons located on the top, which are clicky but not texturized, so it's not clear which button you're pressing without looking. There's a power button, volume adjustment buttons, and a play/pause button, which you can press twice to skip a track or three times to go to the previous track. There's a voice action button as well as a mute mic button if you want it to stop listening to you. You can deactivate its Wi-Fi connection by holding the play/pause button and the Bluetooth button at the same time for 5 seconds. You can deactivate the Bluetooth connection by holding the Bluetooth button for 10 seconds. When using Alexa, you can directly call other Bose smart products, Amazon Echo products, or anyone in your contacts.

Design
In The Box

  • Bose Portable Smart Speaker
  • AC power adapter
  • USB-C to USB-C charge cable
  • User manual

Sound
7.1
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.63
Std. Err.
2.94 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
55.0 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.1 kHz

The Bose Portable Home Speaker has decent frequency response accuracy. Out-of-the-box, it has a slightly boomy sound profile, but its balanced mid-range can produce clear and present vocals and lead instruments. It struggles to produce a thumpy low-bass, which may disappoint fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop. Fortunately, its companion app lets you adjust the treble and bass to your liking.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
7.4
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
1.16 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The Bose Portable Home Speaker has a satisfactory soundstage. Its 360-design results in good directivity, so its soundstage is perceived as wide and spacious from all angles. However, it has to downmix stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound as immersive.

5.9
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
89.0 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
4.32 dB

The Bose Portable Home Speaker has sub-par dynamics. It doesn't get very loud, and there are a lot of compression artifacts present at max volume. Because of this, it may not be well-suited to playing audio in a large or crowded room.

Active Features
6.3
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
5.3 hrs
Charge Time
2.6 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

The Bose Portable Home Speaker has an unremarkable battery performance. While its battery is advertised to last for twelve hours, in our tests it only lasted around five hours. That being said, battery life can vary based on usage, so user experience may vary. Fortunately, it has power-saving features, turning off after 20 minutes of inactivity when it's not charging or connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. If it's connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, it will transition to standby mode after 20 minutes of inactivity.

9.4
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
Built-in (Wi-Fi Only)
Google Assistant
Built-in (Wi-Fi Only)
Siri
No
Voice Activation
Yes
Microphone Mute
Yes
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Great

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker has a fantastic voice assistant performance. It has both Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, which require a Wi-Fi connection to be used. They can understand you even if you're far away or in a noisy room. Using Alexa, you can make commands to other Bose smart products, Amazon Echo products, or anyone in your contacts list. There's also a mic mute button if you want the speaker to stop listening to you.

7.7
Active Features
App
App Name
Bose Music
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Bass/Treble
Stereo Pair Mode
No
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

The Bose Music app is good. It's compatible with both iOS and Android devices, and it includes bass and treble sliders for tweaking your speaker's sound profile. You can also pair several compatible Bose speakers to amplify your audio in a large space or play music between multiple rooms. However, you can't pair two units to create a stereo pair.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

You can't use the Bose Portable Smart Speaker wired as it has no audio input ports. You can charge it using its included USB-C cable.

8.4
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Bluetooth iOS Latency
-56 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
86 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker has impressive Bluetooth connectivity. It has very low latency with iOS and Android devices, making it suitable for watching videos. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your results may vary. This can also result in negative latency, as we saw in our tests with iOS devices, where the audio is played before the video. Unfortunately, it doesn't support multi-device pairing, so you can't pair more than one device at a time.

7.5
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
5GHz
Apple AirPlay
Yes
AirPlay Latency
28 ms
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is Wi-Fi compatible and it supports Apple AirPlay. It has low latency when connected via Apple AirPlay, which makes it suitable for streaming videos. Unfortunately, this speaker doesn't support Chromecast.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker comes in two color variants: 'Triple Black' and 'Luxe Silver'. We tested the 'Luxe Silver' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect both variants to perform similarly.

If you come across a variant not listed here, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Bose Portable Home Speaker is a lightweight and portable speaker with outstanding voice assistant capabilities. Like the Bose Home Speaker 300, it has Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, and it's compatible with the Bose Music app. However, its battery-powered design makes it more portable. Its soundstage is somewhat boomy, but it has a well-balanced mid-range that can clearly reproduce vocals and lead instruments. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud as some other Bose speakers, like the Bose S1 Pro System.

See also our recommendations for the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers, the best home speakers, and the best Bluetooth speakers.

Bose SoundLink Revolve

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Revolve. The Portable Smart Speaker has Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, while the SoundLink Revolve relies on the voice assistant from your paired smartphone. The Portable Smart Speaker is more customizable, thanks to the bass and treble adjustments in its companion app. However, the SoundLink Revolve is better built and lasts over twelve hours on a single charge, while the Portable Smart Speaker only lasts for around five hours.

Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM

The Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM is a better speaker than the Bose Portable Smart Speaker. The Ultimate Ears has a much longer battery life, and it can get louder without much compression at max volume. It also has a full graphic EQ in its companion app, while the Bose just comes with bass and treble sliders. However, only the Bose is compatible with voice assistants, and it comes with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in.

JBL Xtreme 2

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is a better speaker than the JBL Xtreme 2. The Bose has better voice assistant support since it has Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, while the JBL relies on the voice assistant from your paired smartphone. Although it's a bit boomy, the Bose has a better-balanced sound profile, and its soundstage is perceived as more open and spacious thanks to its 360-degree design. It's also more customizable since the Bose Music app has bass and treble adjustments. However, the JBL can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono, and it can get louder.

Sony SRS-XB43

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43. The Bose has Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, which can easily understand you, whereas the Sony relies on the voice assistant from your paired smartphone and struggles to understand you. The Bose is also smaller and more portable. However, the Sony has a full graphic EQ, while the Bose only comes with bass and treble sliders. The Sony's battery also lasts for fifteen hours, while the Bose has about a five-hour battery life.

Sonos One Gen 2

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is a better speaker than the Sonos One Gen 2. The Bose has better directivity, resulting in a more open soundstage. It's also suitable for outdoor use since it has a battery, while the Sonos needs to be plugged in to be used. Although both speakers have good voice assistant capabilities, the Sonos struggles to understand you in noisier environments.

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