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Sonos Move vs. Bose Portable Home Speaker: Which Portable Smart Speaker Wins?

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Bose and Sonos both unveiled their first portable smart speakers within weeks of each other, featuring similar features and similar prices. The Sonos Move ($399) and the Bose Portable Home Speaker ($349) both pack Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control and smart home integration, and both are battery-powered, so you can take them out of your house. But which one offers the best value?

We've put the Sonos Move and Bose Portable Home Speaker through a seven-round test to decide.

Sonos Move vs. Bose Home Portable Speaker: Specs compared

Sonos MoveBose Home Portable Speaker
Price$399$349
ColorsBlackTriple Black, Luxe Silver
What's in the boxSonos Move, charging baseBose Portable Home Speaker, USB-C power cord, wall charger
Size9.4 x 6.3 x 5 inches7.5 x 4.7 x 4.1 inches
Weight6.61 pounds2.34 pounds

Design

For the Move, Sonos digressed from the uniformity in its current offerings to design a speaker unlike anything else we've seen from the Santa Barbara-based company before. At 9.44 inches tall, the Move is a towering device. The all-black exterior and elliptical cylinder lend a sleek look, while the grille consumes an impressive amount of real estate.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But the Sonos Move's rear grip doesn't provide a comfortable carrying experience, and the device's 6.6-pound weight makes transporting the dense Move a two-handed job. The Bose Home Portable Speaker, by comparison, is truly designed for portability. Though its appearance isn't as seductive as the Move's, the 2.3-pound Bose Home Portable Speaker is effortless to carry with its convenient bucket handle. 

The Bose Home Portable Speaker also comes in two colors, Triple Black and Luxe Silver, presenting customers with aesthetic options that the Move does not.

Winner: Bose Home Portable Speaker

Sound

Both Sonos and Bose have excellent reputations for engineering high-quality listening experiences. But only one delivered an all-around outstanding sound in its first portable smart speaker.

(Image credit: Future)

The Sonos Move packs two amplifiers, one downward-facing tweeter and one midwoofer. This speaker also supports Auto Trueplay, an advanced version of the spatial-tuning technology from Sonos that lets the speaker automatically tune itself through its built-in microphones. Not all spaces have the same acoustics, so Auto Trueplay adjusts sound settings to best fit your surroundings. When I tested the Move's new feature on an outdoor rooftop, Auto Trueplay excelled. It drowned out the sound of traffic and trains below but didn't impede on face-to-face conversations just a few feet away from the speaker's position.

The Bose Portable Speaker struggled to stabilize its sound, even with its high-excursion  transducer and three passive radiators. Bose advertised 360-degree listening, and while it ultimately gets louder than the Move, I couldn't hear the person nearby speaking to me like I could when the Move was at full volume. 

MORE: Best Smart Speakers - Wi-Fi Speakers With Virtual Assistants

If you're a bass enthusiast, you'll be much more fulfilled by the Sonos Move. During our review of the Bose Portable Home Speaker, it took a few tries to find a song that provided a satisfying bass thump. And when I did, it sounded right only at a medium volume. The Sonos Move, rather, is bold and balanced at every volume level. When I played Kayne West and Jay-Z's "No Church in the Wild" on both speakers, only Sonos Move complemented the song's cinematic style.

Winner: Sonos Move

Smart features

What makes the Sonos Move and Bose Portable Home Speaker different from other wireless speakers is that they both support Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

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If you have a Sonos Move or Bose Portable Home Speaker, you can ask it to control your smart home gadgets, get a weather report, set reminders, play your favorite tracks and more. You can't make phone calls or use Drop In, but you'll get most of the features you expect out of a virtual home assistant — as long as the speaker is located within the perimeters of your home Wi-Fi network, that is.

MORE: Best Bluetooth Speaker - Great Sounding, Portable, Wireless

When they're not connected to Wi-Fi, both speakers lose their smart features. You can pair them to a mobile device via Bluetooth to control music. In other words, these devices aren't total road warriors, but they're useful for keeping your smart assistant close around your home or backyard.

Winner: Tie

Streaming services

Sonos has an undeniable edge with its music-streaming services. The Sonos app provides access to 100 platforms, so there's an option for every kind of listener. With your Sonos Move, you can use popular services like Spotify and Pandora, or more niche platforms like Bandcamp and SoundCloud. You'll also find services like Audible for audiobooks, Stitcher for podcasts and SiriusXM for radio.

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Bose Music also has an array of streaming options, though it's limited in comparison. The Bose Portable Home Speaker supports Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Deezer, TuneIn, iHeart Radio, and SiriusXM. It also works with Apple Music via AirPlay 2. You'll have to use your voice assistant to access other services like Audible.

Winner: Sonos Move

Battery life

These speakers are considered portable because they have built-in batteries that allow them to work wirelessly. On the Sonos Move, we were able to get 10 hours of battery life, which is exactly as Sonos advertised. The Move also switches to suspend mode when it's not being used, so it can preserve battery life for up to 120 hours, according to Sonos. This speaker can be charged on the go with a compatible USB-C travel charger, too.

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Bose promised 12 hours for its Portable Home Speaker, but during testing, it lasted a whopping 20 hours on the brand-new battery. Bose also says the Portable Home Speaker lasts over 24 hours in standby mode, which is when the device is not playing music but the microphone is on and listening for voice commands. If you power off the speaker entirely, it should still turn on after a month unused. It can also be juiced back up with a USB-C charger.

Bose definitely wins this one, but it's important to note that the Sonos Move comes with a charging base while the Bose Portable Home Speaker does not. If you'd like a permanent dock for the Bose speaker, you'll have to pay $30 for the Bose Portable Home Speaker charging cradle

Winner: Bose Portable Home Speaker

Durability

With any portable speaker, durability is a must. The speaker needs to withstand exposure to drops and spills if it's going to accompany you around. When Sonos unveiled the Move, the speaker promised durability as impressive as its audio quality. And it didn't disappoint. With its IP56 rating, it's weather resistant and can survive a rainy night forgotten outdoors.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Move is also rugged enough to live through accidental drops. During my review, I let it fall from my hand 3 feet above a concrete patio. Not only did it still work afterward, but it also showed miniscule signs of wear. 

MORE: Best Outdoor Speakers (2019) for Decks, Gardens and Patios

I did not conduct the same test with the Bose Portable Home Speaker, although Bose says it survived a 6 foot drop in its testing. It's rated IPX4, meaning it can withstand splashes. It feels more fragile than the Sonos Move, as if it begs to remain indoors. I also have concerns about the fabric handle getting moldy.

Winner: Sonos Move

Price

Neither of these smart speakers comes cheap. The Sonos Move will set you back $399, while the Bose Portable Speaker will cost you $349.

Audio devices from these companies are usually on the pricier end of the speaker spectrum, and the added voice-assistant functionalities only add to the cost.

Winner: Bose Portable Home Speaker

Sonos MoveBose Portable Home Speaker
Design (20)1418
Sound (25)2318
Smart features (15)1010
Streaming services (5)53
Battery life (10)810
Durability (15)147
Price (10)58
Total score (100)7974

Overall winner: Sonos Move

Although these portable smart speakers split the category wins, the Sonos Move outperformed where it matters most: sound. If you're going to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a respected brand-name speaker, it had better sound stellar. The Bose Portable Home Speaker just doesn't deliver the same entrancing audio experience as the Move. Plus, Auto Trueplay (or similar technology) is a new expectation for expensive speakers with built-in microphones.

So, while the Bose Portable Home Speaker has a superior design and lower price, the Sonos Move packs greater value with its streaming offerings, included home base and guaranteed durability. 

If only the Move hand a carrying handle, too.