Bose Portable Smart Speaker review: full of features with serious sound

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker can be used with Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is a crowd-pleaser - the sound is excellent, the design is modern and the extra smarts mean you can use it as a home speaker as well. The battery won't last you for days on end but it's still worth the eye-watering price tag.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Doubles up as a smart speaker

  • +

    Powerful sound

  • +

    Connects using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Average battery life

  • -

    Quite big for a portable speaker

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If you’ve landed on this Bose Portable Smart Speaker review, chances are you’re in the market for an all-singing, all-dancing portable speaker. You’ve definitely come to the right place for that. 

Bose is one of the, if not the, most trusted audio brands there is. They’ve ruled the world of Bluetooth speakers, home speakers and headphones for a long time now. Combining smart minimalist designs with innovative features and top-tier sound, Bose products rarely disappoint. 

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is the most expensive of their portables range so it won’t be for everyone, but for those who don’t mind splashing out, it’s one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy right now. 

In this Bose Portable Smart Speaker review, I'll go through everything you need to know about it, from the design and setup to its performance and extra features. 

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review: price and availability  

You can buy the Bose Portable Smart Speaker now directly from the Bose website for $399 in the US, £380 in the UK and AU$550 in Australia. Make sure you browse our Bose discount codes to see if you can save on your order. 

To see where else you can pick one up, take a look at the widgets on this page. 

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review: design and setup 

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review

(Image credit: Future)

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker has a very distinctive tower-shaped design - the flat rubber panel at the top holds all of the buttons while the rounded base packs in the bulk of the speaker tech. There’s a sophisticated array of microphones built-in, a sleek LED circle of light and it has a flexible handle to carry it around with. 

You can buy the Bose Portable Smart Speaker in Triple Black or Luxe Silver, both look mature and elegant. I tested out the black version, it’s made from a sturdy matte black plastic that wraps seamlessly around most of the device with an aluminium speaker grille on the bottom. 

Weighing just over 1kg and measuring 19.15 x 11.9 x 10.4cm, the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is small and light enough to take out and about with you but it’s bigger than a lot of other portable speakers. It will take up a fair amount of space in your bag so I would say this is edges more on a home speaker than a properly portable speaker but the handle does help to make it more plausible. 

Thanks to the IPX4 rating, you won’t have to worry about damaging it outside because it should be protected against splashes of water. It won’t survive a dunk in a pool but it should be fine if you get caught in light rain. Do bear in mind that it isn’t protected against dust though. 

Setting up the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is easy enough. You can either use Bluetooth or, to make use of all of the features, you can connect via Wi-Fi through the Bose Music App available for both iOS and Android. There you’ll be able to link it with your music streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Prime Music as well as with your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. There's no 3.5mm input here so you'll only be able to play music wirelessly. 

There are music controls on the top panel so you don’t need to reach for your phone each time, those include a play/pause button and volume controls. You’ll also be able to skip through tracks by double pressing the volume up and down buttons. Other controls include the usual power and Bluetooth buttons as well as a  microphone mute key and an Action button to call upon your voice assistant. 

The LED light around the top doesn’t just look good, it actually turns different colours to let you know the status of the speaker and it’ll even show you the volume level. Just like a standard smart speaker, it illuminates when you use the wake words. 

The battery should last about 12 hours of music, which is plenty of time for hosting a party although won’t quite be long enough to last a whole weekend away. When you do go to recharge it, you could be waiting a while because it takes up to 4 hours to get back up to 100%. 

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review: performance and features 

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review

(Image credit: Future)

360-degree sound is the main benefit of the Bose Portable Smart Speaker’s design. Wherever you stand in relation to the speaker you’ll get the same experience because the audio is distributed evenly from its body. That alongside its impressive volume capabilities make it the perfect party speaker because you can place it anywhere in the room. 

When it comes to the actual quality of the sound, you won’t be disappointed. While it won’t shake the walls necessarily, the bass is warm and rich even when you play more thumping tracks. You get plenty of balance across the mids and treble as well, the sound is clear and accurate, you can hear every lyric and instrument with no problem at all. Through the Bose Music app, you’ll even be able to adjust the bass and treble to suit your personal taste.

For the size of the thing, you won’t be hard done by but if you want even more power then it might be worth looking towards something a little bigger like the Sonos Move for instance. 

Doubling up as an Alexa or Google Assistant speaker, you can use the Bose Portable Smart Speaker to answer your questions and control your smart home, as well as control your music by voice. You’ll even be able to set it to be always-on, so when it’s plugged in it's always ready to listen. 

As you would with any other smart speaker, you just need to use the wake word and the speaker will hear you. I tested it out with Alexa and it worked just as well you would expect it to. The microphone array is very sophisticated, I found it picked up my voice even when music was playing and I was standing on the other side of the room. You’ll need to be connected to Wi-Fi to use this functionality though, so while you can make the most of these smarts around the house, it won’t work when you’re out and about. 

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review: verdict 

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review

(Image credit: Bose)

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker might be expensive, but it’s worth it. If you want a sleek, portable device with sophisticated features and fantastic sound, you won’t find much better than this. 

I loved the fact that it doubles up as an Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker - it makes it easier than ever to control the music even if you do need to be connected to Wi-Fi for that to work.

While it’s not the perfect piece of kit because the battery life could be improved, the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is certainly up there amongst the most accomplished Bluetooth speakers you can buy. 

Bose Portable Smart Speaker review: also consider 

If you’re after something a little more compact, check out the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen. It’s a fair amount cheaper than this and will be much easier to slip into your bag, but that’s not to say you have to sacrifice on sound quality because this speaker performs well across the board. 

Looking for a big party speaker that you can take anywhere? The JBL Xtreme 3 might be more your style. It’s a booming Bluetooth speaker that is seriously rugged and completely waterproof so it’ll survive just about any type of weather you could throw at it. 

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.