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Bose SoundLink Flex Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Nov 18, 2021 at 10:19 am
Bose SoundLink Flex Picture
6.3
Music
5.7
Videos/Movies
7.5
Podcasts
6.2
Voice Assistant
7.0
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
Yes

The Bose SoundLink Flex is a small portable Bluetooth speaker with a small thick strap built into its side. It's well-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning it's certified to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. Out-of-the-box, and when it's standing horizontally, it has a neutral sound profile with a touch of extra boom and warmth in the high-bass range, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. Unfortunately, like most speakers its size, it lacks a thumpy and rumbling low-bass, and it doesn't get very loud.

Our Verdict

6.3 Music

The Bose SoundLink Flex is passable for music. Out-of-the-box, and when standing horizontally, this small speaker has a neutral sound profile with a touch of extra boom and warmth in the high-bass range, suitable for listening to a wide range of music genres. That said, like most small speakers, it lacks low bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any sound customization features like a graphic EQ or presets to tweak its sound. It also doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression present at max volume, so your audio doesn't sound as clean at louder volume levels.

Pros
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Requires two units for stereo audio.
5.7 Videos/Movies

The Bose SoundLink Flex is middling for watching videos and movies. Out-of-the-box, it has a balanced mid-range, so dialogue in your videos sounds clear and present in the mix. However, it lacks low bass, so you can't feel the thump and rumble in action-packed movie scenes. It has low Bluetooth latency with Android devices, so the visuals you see are mostly in sync with the audio you hear. Unfortunately, it has high latency with iOS devices, though some apps compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience may differ.

Pros
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ or presets.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
7.5 Podcasts

The Bose SoundLink Flex is good for podcasts. This incredibly portable speaker has a neutral overall sound profile out-of-the-box, with a balanced mid-range that ensures voices and lead instruments are accurately reproduced in the mix, making it suitable for dialogue-centric content like podcasts and audiobooks. That said, when standing horizontally, the speaker's directivity is just okay, so your audio may not sound as clear from all angles.

Pros
  • Outstandingly portable.
  • Can be paired to two devices at once.
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ or presets.
6.2 Voice Assistant

The Bose SoundLink Flex is passable for voice assistants. While it doesn't have any voice assistants built-in, it uses those available on your smartphone and does an excellent job understanding your commands from far away and in noisier settings. That said, when standing horizontally, its directivity is just okay, so you may not hear your voice assistant as clearly from all angles.

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

The Bose SoundLink Flex is decent for outdoor use. This portable, battery-powered speaker is well-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, so it's certified to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression present at max volume, so your audio doesn't sound as clean at louder volumes. It also lacks some low bass, so you can't feel the thump and rumble in bass-heavy music.

Pros
  • IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.
  • Outstandingly portable.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ or presets.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • 6.3 Music
  • 5.7 Videos/Movies
  • 7.5 Podcasts
  • 6.2 Voice Assistant
  • 7.0 Outdoors
  1. Updated Nov 18, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Nov 15, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Bose SoundLink Flex is 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

The Bose SoundLink Flex is remarkably portable. It's small, lightweight, and easy to carry with one hand. It comes with 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

The Bose SoundLink Flex has excellent build quality. 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 you can use to suspend it from a hook or attach it to a bag. Its 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 speaker is advertised to be 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 you can 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 speaker
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Start Here guide

Sound
6.8
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's frequency response accuracy is alright. Out-of-the-box, it offers a neutral sound profile with a touch of extra boom and warmth in the high-bass range, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. However, like most speakers its size, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like hip-hop and EDM. Unfortunately, there aren't any sound customization features like a graphic EQ or presets to customize its sound to your liking. The manufacturer advertises that the speaker comes with PositionIQ technology which automatically adjusts the speaker's EQ according to its orientation.

Note: We performed our sound tests with the speaker placed standing horizontally.

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

The Bose SoundLink Flex's soundstage performance is middling. Its directivity is just okay, so its soundstage may be perceived 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.

Note: We performed our sound tests with the speaker placed standing horizontally, which may affect its directivity.

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

The Bose SoundLink Flex has passable dynamics. It doesn't get very loud, and there's some compression present at max volume, so your audio doesn't sound as clean during louder listening sessions.

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

The Bose SoundLink Flex has a decent battery performance. It's advertised to last around 12 hours from a single four-hour charge. However, it only lasted seven hours in our tests and took 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)
Siri
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Excellent

The Bose SoundLink Flex doesn't have any built-in voice assistants, so it uses those available on your smartphone. That said, it does an excellent job of understanding your commands from far away, as well as in noisy environments.

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 SoundLink Flex's companion app is alright. It's 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

The Bose SoundLink Flex doesn't have any inputs. There's only a USB-C port for charging the speaker.

8.0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
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 SoundLink Flex offers great Bluetooth connectivity. It supports two devices at once, 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. That said, 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
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Bose SoundLink Flex comes in three color variants: Black, White Smoke, and Stone Blue. We tested the 'Black' variant, you can find its label here.

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 SoundLink Flex is a small, portable speaker similarly designed to the Bose SoundLink Micro and the Anker Soundcore 3. That said, it's better-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, which certifies it to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. 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.

See our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best waterproof speakers, and the best speakers under $100.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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