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Bose SoundLink Flex Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated Nov 14, 2022 at 03:47 pm
Bose SoundLink Flex Picture
6.3
Music
5.7
Videos/Movies
7.5
Podcasts
6.2
Voice Assistant
7.0
Outdoors

The Bose SoundLink Flex is a small portable Bluetooth speaker that's meant to be brought with you on the go. Its IP67 rating certifies it to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, meaning you can bring it outdoors without issue. Wherever you go, its PositionIQ technology adjusts the speaker's audio reproduction to meet the unique acoustics of your space.

Our Verdict

6.3 Music

The Bose SoundLink Flex is fair for music. Out-of-the-box, this small speaker reproduces voices and lead instruments with detail and clarity, ensuring that it's suitable for different genres. It gets loud enough to fill an average-sized room with sound, too. However, it lacks customization tools, so you can't switch up its sound. It doesn't get as loud as bigger speakers on the market, and it doesn't reproduce as much low-bass, either.

Pros
  • Good performance with dialogue.
Cons
  • Requires two units for stereo audio.
5.7 Videos/Movies

The Bose SoundLink Flex isn't designed for watching videos and movies. It's a small, simple speaker, and while it can reproduce dialogue with clarity, it doesn't bring a cinematic rumble in the bass like with bigger models on the market. Plus, it has some latency issues, especially when paired with iOS devices. You're likely to notice lip-synching issues, which takes away from the immersive feel.

Pros
  • Good performance with dialogue.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ or presets.
  • Compression at max volume.
7.5 Podcasts

The Bose SoundLink Flex is good for podcasts. You don't have any trouble following along with dialogue, thanks to its clear and accurate reproduction of voices in the mix. With its portable design, you can easily take your shows from room to room. Plus, it's loud enough to fill an average-sized room, though not quite loud enough to fill more open spaces like basements.

Pros
  • Outstandingly portable.
  • Can be paired to two devices at once.
  • Good performance with dialogue.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ or presets.
6.2 Voice Assistant

The Bose SoundLink Flex doesn't have built-in voice assistant support, but if you have a smartphone with Google Assistant or Siri, you can pair it to the speaker to control it with your voice. Amid a noisy party, it doesn't have any trouble hearing your commands, and it can also pick them up from further away.

Pros
  • Excellent far-field performance.
Cons
  • Voice assistants aren't built-in.
7.0 Outdoors

The Bose SoundLink Flex is decent for outdoor use. This small, lightweight speaker offers a portable design, and since it's battery-powered, you don't have to keep it plugged into an outlet to enjoy your favorite tunes. Its rated IP67, too, certifying it to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. You can bring it to the pool or the lake without worrying about long-term damage, which is nice. That said, it doesn't get as loud as bigger speakers on the market, so you can't fill your whole backyard with sound.

Pros
  • IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.
  • Outstandingly portable.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ or presets.
  • Compression at max volume.
  • 6.3 Music
  • 5.7 Videos/Movies
  • 7.5 Podcasts
  • 6.2 Voice Assistant
  • 7.0 Outdoors
  1. Updated Nov 14, 2022: Rewrote text for greater clarity. No changes in test results.
  2. Updated Jul 29, 2022: Added 'Carmine Red' color variant to 'Differences Between Sizes And Variants' box.
  3. Updated Nov 18, 2021: Review published.
  4. Updated Nov 15, 2021: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Bose SoundLink Flex comes in four color variants: Black, White Smoke, Stone Blue, and Carmine Red. This review represents the test results for the 'Black' variant, you can find its label here. The variants are expected to perform similarly.

If you come across any other variants of this speaker, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Bose Flex is a small, portable speaker similarly designed to the Bose SoundLink Micro and the Anker Soundcore 3. That said, it's better-built thanks to its solid and sturdy materials. Like other SoundLink speakers we've tested, the Flex supports voice assistants through your smartphone. That said, it does an excellent job of understanding your commands from far and in noisier settings.

You can also see our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best waterproof speakers, and the best speakers under $100.

JBL Flip 6

The Bose SoundLink Flex is more versatile than the JBL Flip 6. The Bose supports voice assistants through your smartphone and is excellent at hearing your commands from far and in noisier settings. It can also produce a more extended low-bass than the JBL. It also has a slightly longer-lasting battery life, though this varies depending on your usage habits. That said, the JBL comes with a graphic EQ to tweak its sound to your liking and offers a slightly wider-sounding soundstage.

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 and the Bose SoundLink Flex perform similarly. They both offer neutral sound profiles and are well-built with IP67 ratings for dust and water resistance. The JBL's battery lasts longer than the Bose, though this can vary depending on your usage. However, the Bose is a bit smaller in size and supports voice assistants through your smartphone.

Sonos Roam

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sonos Roam or the Bose SoundLink Flex. The Sonos is Wi-Fi enabled and offers fantastic voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. It also has a wider-sounding soundstage and is smaller in size. It also comes with bass and treble adjustments to tweak its sound to your liking. That said, the Bose can get a bit louder with less compression at max volume. It has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. Also, it has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can depend on your usage.

JBL Flip 5

The Bose SoundLink Flex is better than the JBL Flip 5 overall. The Bose offers a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass than the JBL. It's better built and can get a bit louder with less compression at max volume. It also supports voice assistants through your paired smartphone and is excellent at understanding your commands from far and in noisy settings. That said, the JBL is just a little bit smaller, and it has better directivity, so its soundstage is perceived as a bit wider than that of the Bose.

Marshall Emberton

The Bose SoundLink Flex is a bit better than the Marshall Emberton overall. The Bose is better built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. It can get louder with less compression at max volume and has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass than the Marshall. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone. However, The Marshall can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono and offers better directivity resulting in a wider and more immersive-sounding soundstage. Its battery also lasts a bit longer, though this can vary depending on your usage.

Ultimate Ears BOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 is slightly better than the Bose SoundLink Flex, though have different strengths. The Ultimate Ears can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, and its soundstage is perceived as wider and more open thanks to its 360-degree design. You can customize its sound thanks to the graphic EQ in its companion app, and it has a longer-lasting battery life of over 13 hours from a single charge, though this can depend on your usage habits. That said, the Bose offers a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass out-of-the-box. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Bose SoundLink Flex is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Micro overall. The Flex is better built and can get louder. It also offers a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass than the Micro. That said, the Micro is smaller and lighter, making it more portable. It also has lower Bluetooth latency with iOS and Android devices, though some apps compensate for latency differently, and your experience may differ.

Sony SRS-XB33

The Bose SoundLink Flex is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33, though they have different strengths. The Flex is smaller, making it more portable. It has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and has better directivity, so its soundstage sounds wider than that of the Sony. The Sony's sound profile is more customizable thanks to the graphic EQ in its companion app. It can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono and has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage.

Marshall Emberton II

The Marshall Emberton II is better than the Bose SoundLink Flex, though they have different strengths. The Marshall can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, resulting in a more immersive soundstage. Its soundstage is perceived as wider and more spacious. It also comes with EQ presets to tweak its sound to your liking and has longer-lasting battery life. That said, the Bose has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner-sounding audio at louder volume levels. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone and is excellent at hearing you from far away and in noisy environments.

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Flex, though they have different strengths. The Ultimate Ears offers a wider and more immersive soundstage. It comes with a graphic EQ and presets to customize its sound to your liking. It also has a longer-lasting battery life, making it better suited for long listening sessions. However, the Bose is smaller, making it more portable, and it supports voice assistants through your smartphone. It also offers a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box that can produce a more extended low-bass.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Anker Soundcore Motion+ and the Bose SoundLink Flex have different strengths. The Anker can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono and can get louder than the Bose. Its sound profile is more customizable thanks to the graphic EQ and presets featured in its companion app. It also has a longer-lasting battery life of over 15 hours, though this can vary depending on your usage. That said, the Bose is smaller, better built, and has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. It's also better for voice assistant support.

Bose SoundLink Revolve

You may prefer either the Bose SoundLink Revolve or the Bose SoundLink Flex, depending on your listening habits. The Revolve's 360-degree design ensures its soundstage is perceived as wide and spacious. It also has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage. That said, the Flex has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. It's better built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. It can also get a bit louder with a bit less compression present at max volume.

Bose SoundLink Color II

The Bose SoundLink Flex is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Color II overall. The Flex is better built and has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass than the Color. That said, the Color has a longer-lasting battery life of almost 10 hours, though this can vary depending on your usage.

Marshall Willen

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Bose SoundLink Flex or the Marshall Willen. They're both portable Bluetooth speakers with different strengths. The Bose supports voice assistants from your smartphone, unlike the Marshall, and it reproduces a more extended low-bass. As a result, you feel more rumble, especially with bass-heavy genres like EDM. The Marshall is more customizable, with EQ presets to help you control its sound, though it can't get a similar bass response to the Bose.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is better than the Bose SoundLink Flex, though they have different strengths. The Ultimate Ears is a stereo speaker with a more open and wide-sounding soundstage. It has less compression present at max volume and significantly longer-lasting battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage. However, the Bose can produce a more extended low-bass and supports voice assistants through your smartphone.

Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II

The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II and the Bose SoundLink Flex perform similarly. The Revolve+ II offers a wider and more natural-sounding soundstage, thanks to its 360-degree design. It also has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage. That said, the Flex is smaller, and voice assistants from your paired smartphone are better at understanding your commands from far and in noisy environments. It's better built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. Its sound profile is also a bit better built out-of-the-box.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II

The Bose SoundLink Revolve II and the Bose SoundLink Flex have different strengths. The Revolve II offers a wider and more natural-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design. It also has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage. That said, the Flex is better built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. It can also get a bit louder with a bit less compression present at max volume.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Flex, though they have different strengths. The Ultimate Ears offers a wider and more spacious sounding soundstage. It also plays stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which is more immersive. It has less compression at max volume, so your audio quality sounds cleaner when you blast the speaker. It also has a significantly longer-lasting battery life of over 22 hours from a single charge. The Bose SoundLink Flex can produce a more extended low-bass and supports voice assistants through your smartphone.

Bose Portable Smart Speaker

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Flex. The Smart Speaker offers a wider-sounding soundstage. It can produce a more extended low-bass and offers incredible voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. It also comes with bass and treble adjustments to tweak its sound to your liking. That said, the Flex is smaller and better built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. It has a bit less compression present at max volume, and you can pair it to two devices at once, so you can easily switch between audio sources.

Anker Soundcore 3

The Bose SoundLink Flex is a better speaker than the Anker Soundcore 3 overall. The Bose has a better-balanced, more neutral sound profile and can produce a more extended low-bass than the Anker. It can also get a bit louder with less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. However, the Anker has a longer-lasting battery life of over 13 hours. That said, battery life can vary depending on your usage, and your experience may differ.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2 is a slightly better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Flex overall. The Bang & Olufsen offers a wider-sounding soundstage and comes with a 'Beosonic' sound customization feature and presets to tweak its sound to your liking. It also has fantastic voice assistant support with Alexa built-in, though it relies on your paired smartphone's Wi-Fi connection to work. That said, the Bose offers a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and can get a bit louder. It also has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

It's a small and sleek-looking speaker that you can place standing horizontally or laying on its back. It also comes with a built-in strap you can use to suspend the speaker from a hook.

9.2
Design
Portability
Volume
57 inยณ (942 cmยณ)
Weight
1.3 lbs (0.6 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker is remarkably portable. It's small, lightweight, and easy to carry with one hand. It has a built-in carrying strap you can use to suspend it from a hook or attach it to your backpack when you're on the go.

8.7
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Yes (IK rating unspecified)
Floats In Water
Yes

This sturdy speaker is mostly covered by silicone rubber, and its drivers are protected by a black, powder-coated steel grille on its front and rear designed to withstand rust, so the paint doesn't flake off. It also comes with a small, thick strap on its side that you can use to suspend it from a hook or attach it to a bag. It's rated IP67, certifying it to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. While the manufacturer doesn't specify an IK rating for impact resistance, the manufacturer advertises the Flex as rugged and able to withstand being dropped on the floor.

8.4
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Okay
Feedback
Decent
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Physical)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
Yes (Physical)
Additional Controls
Yes

The Bose SoundLink Flex has a great selection of simple controls. There's a power button to turn the speaker on/off and + and - buttons to control its volume. There's a Bluetooth button to press to enable the speaker's pairing mode, and you can long-press it to disconnect it from all its paired devices. Also, it comes with a multifunction button you can press to play/pause your audio and answer a phone call. You can long-press it to decline a call and to activate your paired smartphone's voice assistant. You can also double-press to skip your track and triple-press it to backtrack.

When you turn the speaker on, it informs you of its current battery level and the devices it's connected to. That said, while the buttons are simple to use, they're a bit hard to press in comparison to the Bose SoundLink Micro and Bose SoundLink Color II's controls.

Design
In The Box

  • Bose SoundLink Flex
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Start Here guide

Sound
6.9
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
0.22
Std. Err.
2.85 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
60.8 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
15.6 kHz

The Bose SoundLink Flex comes with PositionIQ technology which automatically adjusts the speaker's EQ according to its orientation. We tested it horizontally and found that its frequency response accuracy is alright. Out-of-the-box, it offers a balanced sound, especially in the mids, where most voices and lead instruments reproduce. Dialogue is clear in podcasts and audiobooks, and music is detailed and accurate in its reproduction. Ultimately, this speaker is suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. However, if you listen to audio with a lot of bass mixed in, like EDM and hip-hop, you notice less rumble than with bigger speakers.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.5
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.59 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

Its soundstage performance is middling. Its directivity is just okay, meaning you might perceive its soundstage as fairly narrow and directional. It requires two units to play stereo audio and downmixes stereo content to mono when using it on its own, which isn't as immersive.

6.4
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
87.5 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.02 dB

It gets loud enough to fill an average-sized living room with sound. However, it's not suitable for listening in larger, more open spaces, and as you crank up the volume, there's some compression present that reduces the clarity of your audio.

Active Features
7.0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
7.2 hrs
Charge Time
2.7 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C
Battery Powered
Yes

It has a decent battery performance. It's advertised to last around 12 hours from a single four-hour charge. However, in practice, you'll get closer to seven hours of consistent playback, but on the upside, charging is even faster than advertised, at just under three hours to reach a full charge. That said, battery performance can vary depending on your usage, and your real-world experience may differ. There's also an 'Auto-Off Timer' power-saving feature you can enable and program to shut the speaker off automatically following 5, 20, 40, 60, or 180 minutes of inactivity.

5.7
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Speakerphone
Yes
Siri
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Voice Assistant
Yes
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Excellent

This speaker doesn't have any built-in voice assistants. If you want to control it with your voice, you need to pair a smartphone with Google Assistant or Siri to the device. It doesn't struggle to hear your commands, even if you're in the middle of a noisy party or if you're further away from the speaker itself.

6.6
Active Features
App
App Name
Bose Connect
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
No

The Bose Connect app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. You can use it to pair it to another Bose speaker to create a stereo pair or to multiple other Bose speakers and soundbars when you want your audio to fill a large room without increasing the volume. Unfortunately, it lacks sound customization features like a graphic EQ and presets, so you can't tweak its sound to better suit your preferences.

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

This speaker doesn't have any inputs. There's only a USB-C port to charge it.

8.0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Bluetooth iOS Latency
236 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
109 ms
Bluetooth Range
255.9 ft (78.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The Bose Flex offers great Bluetooth connectivity. It supports two devices simultaneously, which is handy for quickly switching between audio sources. It also has low latency with Android devices, making it suitable for watching videos and movies over this connection. However, it has higher latency with iOS devices, which can cause syncing issues between audio and visuals. Some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may differ.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi
No
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

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