Good portable Bluetooth speakers deliver full sound and features like ruggedness without being too big; the best ones do all that and don't cost much. Fugoo's latest model, the $140 Style-S, manages to check almost all of those boxes. This slick and durable speaker hits the sweet spot of price and performance, while sounding almost as good as speakers that cost $200 or more.
At 8.3 x 2.9 x 2.5 inches, the Style-S is slightly bigger than the 6.5 x 2.6 x 2.1-inch Fugoo Style (a great deal at the current price of $90), but nowhere near as large as the 11.33 x 4.52 x 3.81-inch Fugoo Style XL.
The Style-S shares the aesthetics of the Style line: a tan mesh fabric encloses the drivers, while black plastic seals the ends and bottom. It lacks the variety of colors that the Style offers, though.
On top, there are just three buttons: +, - and O. As expected, + raises the volume and - lowers it. The O button can pause and play a track, as well as engage Siri or Google Assistant. You can use combinations for additional functions, like pressing + and O, to advance to the next song.
The right side features the power and Bluetooth pairing buttons, as well as an LED indicator for power status. Under a flap on the left, you'll find the micro USB port to charge the battery and a 3.5-millimeter auxiliary input for a wired connection.
Like other Fugoo speakers, the Style-S can handle a lot of abuse. It's got an IP67 rating, which means it's waterproof (it can be submerged in water) and dustproof; it also can withstand being dropped.
I set it in a sinkful of water for several minutes and dropped it from table height to the floor, and it continued to play without issue.
The Style-S delivers well-balanced sound across the spectrum — treble, midrange and bass — making it a versatile performer. It bests the original Style in all areas and even rivals more expensive speakers like the $200 UE Boom 2. While not as bassy as the $150 JBL Charge 3, it produces enough low end to drive the beat.
On St. Vincent's "Los Ageless," the Style-S produced satisfying oomph on the bass line, while the details in the distorted guitar could be easily heard. The Charge 3 generated slightly more rumble, but the guitars were harder to make out.
The Style-S deftly handled the many layers of sound on the War on Drugs' "Up All Night"; the same song on the Charge 3 lacked crisp treble. The Style-S also does a good job bringing vocals forward and making them stand out against the rhythm on songs like Demi Lovato's "Sorry Not Sorry."
The Style S' sound quality tops the original Style in all areas and even rivals more expensive speakers.
The Style-S performs well on acoustic music, too. The horns on Charles Mingus' jazz classic "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" were both warm and sharp; the guitars on Big Star's "Thirteen" sounded precise, and I could easily make out multiple guitars — some Bluetooth speakers of this size make them sound like a single instrument.
The unit gets impressively loud without distorting. At its highest volume setting, I measured it at about 94 decibels — more than the Charge 3 or Boom 2.
Wireless and Setup
I connected easily through Bluetooth to the Style-S. More impressively, the speaker quickly reconnected with my phone every time I started it. The Style-S has a wireless range of 100 feet, and it maintained a strong connection from over 50 feet indoors.
You can't tweak the sound too much, as Fugoo doesn't offer a mobile app like UE or JBL does. You can switch to Outdoor mode, which adds more bass to the sound.
You can pair the Style-S with another of the same model to either mirror the sound or use the two speakers as a left-right system. I paired two speakers without trouble by pressing + and Bluetooth on one speaker and - and Bluetooth on the other; however, UE's app makes this process easier.
Fugoo offers a variety of accessories you can attach to the speaker, including a bike mount and a strap mount.
The Style-S can also serve as a speakerphone, though it's average at best. While this makes it easier to hear the voices on the other end of the call, people I spoke with said my voice was muffled compared to using the iPhone's built-in speakerphone.
Fugoo says you can get 15 hours of playtime from the Style-S, and my testing matched that. It's disappointing, though, since the Style gets 40 hours on a full charge. The Style-S also has less battery life than the JBL Charge 3, which can play for 20 hours.
To check the battery status, push the power button while the speaker is on and the voice prompt will tell you if it is full, three-quarters, half, a quarter or low.
For the money, you won't find a speaker that sounds better or has more features than the Fugoo Style-S. While only slightly larger than the Style, the Style-S has more bass and bigger sound. It sounds almost as good as the much more expensive UE Boom 2. And it's as tough as any wireless speaker you'll find.
The battery life is the biggest downside to the model; it offers less play time than the JBL Charge 3 and far less than the original Style. But if you don't need extended play time before recharging, the Style-S is one of the best outdoor speakers you can buy.