Sonos Move vs. Bose Portable Home Speaker: Definitive Guide
I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing two portable speakers (Sonos Move vs. Bose Portable Home) while evaluating four categories: sound, design, power, and software.
Best For You
Bose Portable Home
Get Bose Portable Home if you want to overpay for a speaker that sounds far inferior to Sonos Move. Bose’s size is perfect and the sound quality is fine on its own, but speakers like UE Megablast and JBL Charge 4 are similar in sound quality and portability for half the price.
- Sound The sound is balanced with nice bass and adjusts based on its surroundings. It sounds amazing outdoors.
- Design It weighs 6.4 pounds. It's not ideal for travel but has a built-in handle. It's made with premium materials and looks amazing.
- Power You get 10 hours at 40%, 7 hours at 60%, and 4 hours at 85% volume. It comes with a charging dock.
- Software It works with AirPlay, Spotify Connect, and any cast-able service. You have hundreds of music options in the Sonos app too. It works with Alexa and Google.
Bose Portable Home
- Sound It sounds solid under 70% volume but lacks bass. It gets worse as the volume increases, and it's terrible outside.
- Design It weighs 2.3 pounds. It’s the perfect size for bringing anywhere and has a rope handle.
- Power You get 12 hours at 40%, 5 hours at 60%, and 2 hours at 85% volume. The charging cradle is sold separately for $29.
- Software It works with AirPlay and Spotify Connect. The Bose app works with Amazon Music and Pandora, but it’s a poor experience. It works with Alexa and Google.
Things To Know
- My Power Rankings have all the portable and home speakers that I’ve reviewed, ranked in order. The rankings give you a reference point as I talk about Bose and Sonos and how they relate to the market.
- Sonos has mocked Bluetooth for years, because Bluetooth speakers have lots of issues:
- Phone notifications and calls play through the speaker and interrupt music. There’s no greater vibe-killer than a call from grandma that gets broadcast to the entire room and stops the party.
- Pairing can be difficult. You’ll often need to go into Bluetooth settings to fix the connection by “forgetting” the device and repairing it.
- Sometimes calls unexpectedly play on the speaker because the speaker is still powered on.
- It’s not easy to switch DJs because each device needs to go through the Bluetooth pairing process.
- Things get messy if you have multiple Bluetooth devices because they all fight for the connection. You never know which device is connected.
- Playing music over WiFi fixes many Bluetooth issues.
- Anyone on the same WiFi as the speaker has music control.
- Except for AirPlay, your music plays independently of your phone and doesn’t need to be near the speaker. You can leave the house and your music will continue, and your phone’s notifications aren’t broadcast over the speaker.
- So, why do both of these speakers have WiFi and Bluetooth? Bluetooth is a great failsafe when you don’t have WiFi or you leave your house. There have been times when I wanted to bring Sonos speakers to a friend’s house, but couldn’t because I’d have to factory reset the Sonos and pair it to their WiFi, then repeat when I’m back home.
- Both speakers have mics for Alexa and Google.
- The smart assistants (Google and Alexa) need to be connected to your WiFI and are disabled when you’re in Bluetooth mode.
- Sonos Move sounds like its Sonos siblings by keeping the sound well-balanced. The vocals are crisp, and the bass is there when the songs need it but never takes over.
- Sonos Move is in a different league than Bose Portable Home. The sound feels more full and has depth. It’ll only take 10 seconds of listening to pick the winner. I’m confident that more than 95% of people would prefer Sonos Move.
- Sonos has “Auto Trueplay” that uses the mics to adjust the sound based on the speaker’s surroundings. Trueplay is subtle, but you can hear the difference in the sound after 45 seconds if you decide to carry the Move to a new location. Auto Trueplay is a huge step forward from the original Trueplay, which had to be manually configured each time you moved your speaker by waving your phone around the room as laser sounds blast in your ears. I won’t miss that process, and the new Auto Trueplay works for Android users too.
- I notice Trueplay most when I’m outdoors. Sonos Move opens up and plays music that plays loudly and cuts through outside distractions.
- Sonos doesn’t have omnidirectional sound like Bose, but you won’t notice when it’s against a wall and Trueplay is enabled.
- You can edit the bass and treble in the app, but I prefer the default sound.
- Here’s how it stacks up against other speakers (aside from Bose Portable Home):
- Sonos Five is the best speaker I’ve ever owned and the best WiFI speaker that $500 can buy. Five’s sound is crisper with better punch from the bass, and it sounds better as you add more volume. Five has three tweeters and three woofers compared to Move’s one woofer and one tweeter. Five is the king, and Sonos Move doesn’t dethrone it.
- I prefer HomePod’s sound by a thin margin because it has a more distinct bass.
- Move has the same two-driver configuration as Sonos One (one tweeter and one woofer), but Move produces a more powerful sound and gets louder. While Move doesn’t sound $200 better than One, it’s a price you pay for more portability.
- Some of the best pure Bluetooth speakers like JBL Charge 4 and UE Megaboom 3 can’t compete on sound quality.
- It weighs 6.61 pounds and it’s 9.4″ tall.
- It comes in matte black and white.
- It has a carrying handle that’s carved into the backside of the speaker.
- The aesthetics don’t differ much from Sonos One and Sonos Beam. Sonos Move is a beautiful hunk of art with a premium polycarbonate finish. It feels more rugged than Bose and has no moving parts on the top because the playback buttons are touch controls.
- It’s smaller than Sonos Five, but twice the size of Sonos One. It occupies the same spot in the product lineup that was held by Sonos Play:3, which has been discontinued.
- It takes up a similar amount of counter space as HomePod, but it’s a few inches taller. It’s a great size for kitchen counters.
- Sonos Move has been fairly criticized by other reviewers for not being portable. It’s about twice the volume and four pounds heavier than Bose Portable Home. And it’s three pounds heavier than other competitors like JBL Charge 4 and UE Megaboom 3. My thoughts on Sonos Move’s portability:
- I brought my Bose Portable Home with me to a friend’s house when both speakers were docked side-by-side and ready. If I didn’t have the option, I’d use Sonos Move without an issue.
- The marketing pictures for “portable speakers” always show people jamming with their speakers at pool parties. It’s a fun marketing image, but are frequent pool parties the main use case? Maybe. But not for me or the people that I know who’d be in the market for a $400 speaker.
- How often are you traveling or bringing a speaker with you? If you want to bring Sonos Move everywhere you go, the critics are right, and it’s not your best bet because it takes up too much space in a backpack or suitcase. But can you stick Move in your car to bring it to the campground or beach? Absolutely.
- If you want a speaker with a powerful sound, you need to make design compromises.
- The killer feature of portable speakers isn’t the waterproofing, size, or Bluetooth, it’s the lack of the power cord. Grabbing a docked Sonos Move (or Bose Portable Home) from one spot in your house and moving it to a different room without the music being interrupted is a delightful experience. When you’re moving Sonos Move just from room to room, the weight is no longer a concern.
- Due to its weight and thick silicone base, it won’t budge from the table without serious force, and it won’t tip over easily.
- Sonos Move has an LED light on the top that’s white when it’s in WiFi mode. When you switch to Bluetooth mode, it turns and stays blue. You never question which mode you’re in like you do with Bose.
- I felt like I’d do serious damage to the Sonos if I dropped it, but despite its size, Sonos Move is more durable than Bose Portable. It has an IP56 rating, and according to Sonos, it’ll withstand “falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust and dirt, UV and extreme temperatures.” Unlike Bose Portable Home, you can bring Sonos Move to the beach.
- The listed playback time for Sonos Move is 10 hours. It takes 2 hours to recharge. My real-world tests yielded these results:
- 10 hours with 40% volume.
- 7 hours with 60% volume.
- 4 hours with 85% volume.
- Move comes with a wireless charging ring that sits around it, and you can charge via the USB-C port too.
- If you keep Sonos Move on the dock, it stays on until you power it off. When Move isn’t docked and inactive for 30 minutes, it goes into a low-power mode to preserve battery. You’ll get five days of battery when Sonos is in low-power mode, but your smart assistant won’t work while in low-power mode.
- The Sonos app provides the best product setup in the tech industry, and music playing is excellent too. Sonos has been making WiFi speakers for longer than Bose and it shows.
- Sonos Move works with Google and Alexa. You choose which smart assistant you want, then the app walks you through the setup. The assistants work as they should.
- The capabilities and setup are identical to Bose.
- The six mics on Sonos Move are excellent at hearing the wake word (Alexa or Hey Google) when there’s no music playing.
- When you add music, the hearing capabilities are just so-so, while Bose’s hearing is first class with music playing.
- Sonos says Move has the best WiFi range of any Sonos speaker they’ve ever shipped, and it’s a massive understatement. Sonos Move stays on my network as far as my phone can reach (over 150 feet further than Bose). I can play music from five houses down.
- Switching to Bluetooth mode from WiFi is flawless. You tap the “Bluetooth/WiFi” button, and if your phone has been previously paired with Sonos Move, it automatically connects within five seconds.
- Five ways to listen:
- iOS users can AirPlay music to Sonos Move from any app that has the AirPlay icon. Most music services are AirPlay compatible.
- Android and iOS users can start music inside the Spotify app, then use Spotify Connect to send it to Sonos Move. The benefit of using Spotify Connect over AirPlay is that the music plays independent of your phone.
- Android users can cast music from any app that has the Cast icon. Most music services are castable.
- You can use the Sonos app to create a queue of songs with friends by adding songs from over 100 different music services. For example, you can have one queue with songs from Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Pandora jumbled together. The Sonos App has been a staple in my house for five years. My friends and I could each use our phones to take turns adding songs to the queue.
- As a last resort, you can use Bluetooth with your preferred music app. Any music service is compatible.
- Move can be paired with other speakers:
- On iOS, you can pair Sonos Move with other AirPlay-compatible speakers via AirPlay.
- In the Sonos app, you can group Sonos Move with an unlimited amount of Sonos speakers. All of the models are compatible.
- In the Sonos app, you can pair two Sonos Move speakers to create a stereo pair.
- I found Bose’s “360° sound” to sound the same regardless of your position relative to the speaker, while indoors.
- While indoors and under 70% volume, Bose provides crisp vocals and a pleasant overall sound. It doesn’t have much bass, but no one will complain about the sound and 70% volume can fill a room nicely. If you don’t know the price or what other speakers in this market sound like, you’ll be happy.
- When played side-by-side with Sonos Move, Bose sounds underpowered and hollow. The lack of bass and deeper sounds stick out.
- Bose Portable Home can get louder than Sonos Move, but it performs best at low-to-middle volumes. Due to the weak bass, Bose gets harsh on the ears and the music sounds distorted at volumes above 70%. PCMag agrees with me.
- The sound above 70% isn’t just bad relative to Sonos Move, it’s a bad sound on its own. You lose all balance of the song and get a muddled mess of sounds in your ear.
- In theory, Bose is ideal for outside listening because it’s portable, durable, and rainproof, but its performance is brutal because you need more volume than when you’re indoors. Something isn’t optimized correctly for outdoor use because Bose sounds underpowered and lacking even at 50% volume. If you add wind, traffic, or other external noises into the equation, Bose’s sound gets even worse.
- Bose lets you change the sound profile via the app by editing the bass and treble, but I wouldn’t. Bose’s default is the best you can get. An increase to the bass, makes the songs sound unnatural and boomy.
- Here’s how it stacks up against other speakers (aside from Sonos Move):
- UE Megaboom 3 are JBL Charge 4 are two amazing Bluetooth speakers that have similar sound quality with more durability and runtime. They’re both under $200.
- UE Megablast is a WiFi and Bluetooth combination speaker that’s compatible with Alexa, and it’s more durable than Bose Portable Home. The sound isn’t as crisp, but the bass is louder and it sounds better outdoors. Megablast is usually around $170 on Amazon.
- Bose Portable Home’s sound quality isn’t good enough to rival home speakers like Apple HomePod, Google Home Max, Sonos One, or Sonos Five. When listening side-by-side, Bose sounds like a tin can, relative to the others. It’s lacking serious depth.
- I can’t figure out who should buy Bose Portable Home. It’d make sense at $249, but $349 is a confusing price given the competition.
- It weighs 2.34 pounds and it’s 7.5″ tall. It’s an amazing size for traveling or bringing to someone’s house. I’d prefer to bring Bose Portable Home with me over Sonos Move because it’s four pounds lighter and fits in my backpack.
- It comes in two colors: Triple Black and Luxe Silver.
- It has a fabric rope handle for carrying. It reminds me of the handle on beach buckets used for building sandcastles. The handle flips down when you’re not carrying it. A rope handle is better than no handle, but it doesn’t look great. Also, I’m curious how it’ll hold up after getting wet.
- Bose doesn’t feel cheap, but it doesn’t give you the premium feeling that Sonos’ polycarbonate material gives you.
- The top of the speaker has tactile volume, playback, and Bluetooth buttons.
- It has an IPX4 rating, which means it’s splashproof. Bose’s site says that it should be able to withstand bumps and drops too.
- The listed playback time for Bose Portable Home is 12 hours. It takes 4 hours to recharge. My real-world tests yielded these results:
- 12 hours with 40% volume.
- 5 hours with 60% volume.
- 2 hours with 85% volume.
- It has a USB-C port for charging. For an additional $29, you can charge with the wireless Bose Charging Cradle.
- Bose goes into a standby mode when it hasn’t been used for 20 minutes, but it’s not nearly as good at persevering battery life. If you forget to power it down and leave it unplugged, it’ll be dead within 30 hours. But there’s a huge benefit to Bose’s power-using standby mode: your smart assistant, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect still work.
- I had to return my first Bose Portable Home speaker because it malfunctioned each time I AirPlayed music for more than 30 minutes. Bose makes millions of speakers so there are bound to be a few duds in the wild. I got one of the duds. I mention my issue because there’s a small chance that it becomes a widespread issue, but I’m not holding it against Bose in this review.
- I had issues connecting to the Bose app with my first and second speaker. The current app version (2.4.4) is working better for me, but Bose shipped Portable Home before the app was ready. Unfortunately, poor software at launch is the new norm for Bose.
- You can pick from Google Assistant or Alexa when the speaker is connected to WiFi. You can only pick one assistant, but you can disconnect and switch. Both assistants work as you’d expect.
- Bose’s smart assistant setup and functionality are identical on Sonos Move.
- Bose Portable’s mics are top-notch. With music playing loudly, it still hears you say the wake word (Alexa or Hey Google) without needing to scream. Bose’s mics are the best that I’ve seen since Siri on HomePod.
- Unlike Sonos, Portable Home stores up to 8 WiFi networks, which is great if you’re going to multiple houses or offices frequently.
- Switching from WiFi mode to Bluetooth is easy and works well, but I prefer Sonos’ indicator lights.
- The WiFi range isn’t nearly as good as Sonos’ range. The range was more than 150 feet shorter than Sonos for me. Ideally, you want to stay on your network wherever you bring the speaker to keep all the features.
- I have a premium mesh router system that gives a ridiculously good connection throughout my backyard, and the connection to my Bose was still spotty.
- Most homes won’t have the WiFi range to stay connected in the backyard.
- Bose’s range is worse than a smart phone’s range.
- Ways to listen:
- iOS users can use any music app, then AirPlay music to Portable Home.
- Android and iOS users can use the Spotify app, then use Spotify Connect to send it to Portable Home.
- In the Bose app, you can play Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and SiriusXM. It’s poorly done because there isn’t a viewable queue or a way to add songs up next. You pick a song, album, or station and let it play until it’s over.
- Unfortunately, if you’re an Android user who subscribes to any music service other than Spotify, you’ll need to use the Bose app.
- As a last resort, you can use Bluetooth with your preferred music app. Any music service is compatible. Android users who are Google Play Music and YouTube Music subscribers will need to use Bluetooth at all times.
- It can be paired with other speakers.
- On iOS devices, you can pair it with any AirPlay-compatible speaker via AirPlay.
- In the Bose App, Portable Home can be paired with the newer Bose speakers (Home Speaker 500, Home Speaker 300, Soundbar 500, and Soundbar 700), but it can’t be paired with any Bose SoundTouch speakers.