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Sonos Move Speaker: Hands-On Review

This $399 battery-powered smart speaker is a portable audio beast.

For

  • Contemporary design
  • Built-in Automatic TruePlay technology
  • Easy WiFi-to-Bluetooth connection conversion
  • Comprehensive durability

Against

  • Pricey
  • No HomeKit support

This summer’s rumors about a portable device from audio overlord Sonos proved true: the Sonos Move is here, and it’s a beast of a smart speaker. Not only does the Move produce expected Sonos-quality sound, but its built-in battery makes one of the only indoor-outdoor smart speakers we’ve seen. It packs Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, making it a useful companion wherever you want to take it.

The Sonos Move ($399) also supports a new feature called Auto TruePlay, Bluetooth control, and 10 hours of battery life, but is it a worthy evolution of its excellent Sonos One predecessor? We went hands-on with it to find out.

Sonos Move price and release date 

The Sonos Move will cost $399 (UK: £399) and will be available on Sept. 24. You can pre-order it now, though, if you’d like. It comes in just one color: shadow black.

Contemporary design 

Compared to the Sonos One, the Sonos Move is the coolest cousin in the speaker lineup. Its matte, almost-black finish and grille combination is stylish enough for a modern space without hiding its purpose. It’s tall and broad, but slimmed down on the side so it’s not quite circular. 

A respectable two-thirds of the exterior holds the speaker grille, while the back panel features a up-facing claw grip handle, power button, Wi-Fi-to-Bluetooth switcher, and button for connecting the Move to other Sonos speakers in your sound system. The top has volume, pause, and play controls, as well as a status light. The Move’s four individual microphones are also found on the top of the device.

Auto TruePlay

(Image credit: Future)

If you have a Sonos speaker, you may have used TruePlay via your smartphone to synchronize the device for the space it sits in. The Move replaces that manual configuration with Auto TruePlay, a new technology from Sonos that lets the speaker automatically tune itself through built-in microphones. 

Not all outdoor spaces have the same acoustics, so Auto TruePlay is supposed to adjust sound settings to best fit your surroundings. Whether you’re at a packed backyard party, open-aired beachfront, or tiny balcony, the Sonos Move should be able to deliver a balanced audio experience. When I saw the device relocate from a TV stand to a boxed cabinet, the bass lowered automatically after a few seconds to counter the echo chamber. Then, when the device accompanied me outside to a rooftop patio, it amped up its sound to drown out the blaring New York City streets below.

Stunning Sound 

When it comes to engineering speakers, Sonos has a stellar track record. From what I heard, the Move is right on par, offering a melodic listening experiencing with its tweeter, woofer, and two amplifiers. Depending on your preference, the speaker can provide subtle background noise, booming dance bass, and everything in between. Even at its loudest, the Sonos Move sounded balanced thumping Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.”

As for listening options, the Sonos Move offers 100 streaming services controlled from the Sonos App, using voice, with Apple AirPlay 2, or direct from music service apps.

Wi-Fi-to-Bluetooth switching 

Most smart speakers need Wi-Fi to work, so they become less than useful once you’re outside the range of a network. Sonos solved this quandary by installing a switch in the Move that lets users choose whether they’d like the operate the speaker over a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. Pressing the switch button overrides the standard Wi-Fi control so that a user may pair their smartphone to the Move. 

Charging and battery life 

Sonos claims the Move will last up to ten hours on a charge. When it’s out of juice, you can either recharge the Move by setting in on the ring power base or by using a compatible USB-C travel charger. The Move also switches to suspend mode when it’s not being used, allowing it to preserve battery life for up to 120 hours. However, unlike some other portable Bluetooth speakers, you can’t use the Move’s battery to charge up other devices.  

Durability

(Image credit: Future)

With any portable speaker, durability is a must. The great outdoors aren’t always tech-friendly, so you’ll want to know if your device can withstand weather and roughhousing before you bring it out of the house. With an IP56 rating, the Move is dust-proof and water-proof enough to withstand coarse sand or a rainy night forgotten outside. 

Outlook 

There is a best portable smart speaker title to be earned, and the Sonos Move wants it. It’s up against the bucket-handled Bose Portable Home Speaker ($349, available September 19), which also has built-in support for Alexa and Google Assistant. The stationary Sonos One is still a better option as an in-house smart speaker, but the Move adds a long-demanded dynamic alternative to the Sonos lineup. Stay tuned for our full review of the Sonos Move.