Bose was originally known for its home theater sound system but faded to the background with the advent of smart home speaker systems and soundbars. Attempting to carve a foothold in small, portable smart speakers, how do two years’ worth of Bose speakers—specifically the Bose Portable Smart Speaker and the Soundlink Revolve+—stack up?
The Bose Soundlink Revolve+ stands out against the regular Bose Portable Smart Speaker. However, it’s actually two years older than the newer Resolve and lacks the latter’s onboard voice assistants and app functionality.
That’s not to say that the Revolve+ is a bad portable speaker by any means. Both Bose systems have their pros and cons. Neither speaker does much to separate itself from the gamut of affordable, portable speakers amassed throughout the online marketplace. With that said, let’s look at each speaker and what makes them suitable choices for consumers.
Both portable speakers resemble one of those new-age coffee thermoses you often see in the “as seen on TV” aisle. It’s the sort of device you expect to see from the newbie, joining the construction crew for the first time and showing off their coffee-holding thumper.
While the Soundlink Revolve+ is encased in aluminum, the newer Portable Smart Speaker minimized the aluminum to the bottom half only. The top section resembles the feel of an Amazon Echo Gen 1.
Both speakers feature a similar shape and structure. However, there’s no mistaking which one is the newest generation. In terms of sound and features, the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is closer to being up on the times.
|Bose Portable Smart Speaker||Bose Soundlink Resolve+|
|Voice Assistants Built-In||Alexa and Google Assistant||Google Assistant and Siri only with a phone.|
|Power||AC and Battery||Battery Only|
|Charging Source||USB-C||Micro USB|
|Dynamics||3½ out of 5||3 out of 5|
|Wireless Connection||Bluetooth and WiFi||Bluetooth Only|
Both devices tend to distort at loud volumes, with the Bose Portable Smart Speaker only a little more clear. However, with a $400 price point, you would think that the Portable Smart Speaker could have achieved a better IP rating.
The thing that is mystifying about the Bose Portable Smart Speaker is its price point. You have to know that $400 is primarily for the Bose name because although it’s a good device, there’s nothing mind-blowing or innovative over other products of a similar vein.
The distortion at loud volumes and the terrible IP rating for a speaker that’s seemingly designed to be taken outside are a little head-scratching.
|Solid sound at mid-range volumes|
Adjustable bass and treble in the companion app
Built-in smart assistants12-hour battery life
WiFi and Bluetooth and operates great with a portable hotspot
Faster charging USB-C
Speakerphone and mic for calls
|Poor weather rating for a portable|
Distortion at peak volumes
Since the Bose Portable Smart Speaker was released in 2020, we can’t use the cell phone market shares from the later 2020 quarters and 2021. However, in Q1 of 2020, Apple had 46% of the smartphone market share. The runner-up was Samsung at 32%. Quarter 2 was more of the same with 46% Apple to 25% for Samsung.
The point being, it’s inexcusable to not include a voice assistant from one of the most dominant forces in the cell phone market, especially if your device is going to spend a lot of time connected to your phone.
Fortunately, there’s a lot more to like than dislike here. Bose went with a faster charging connection, and their omnidirectional sound works really well—just don’t max out the volume. With solid battery life, WiFi and Bluetooth, and a decently long-lasting battery, it’s hard to beat.
Being an older device, some of the positives of the later Portable Smart Speaker either weren’t available in 2017 or would have pushed the price point to the extreme. However, what the Resolve+ does well, it really does well.
The Bluetooth-only connection is slightly aggravating since it’s not as if WiFi and personal hotspots didn’t exist in 2017. However, it has an excellent Bluetooth connection with very little interference unless you walk too far out of range.
|Great sound at mid-range volumes|
Omnidirectional sound16-hour battery life
Reasonable weather protection for a portable
Speakerphone and mic for calls
Distortion at peak volumes
No sound adjustments
It’s hard to knock a device that’s now four years old. But the Soundlinlk Revolve+ still holds up well with outstanding sound performance. Just don’t crank up the volume too loud, or it tends to have a lot of distortion problems.
It also has a great battery life compared to its newer competition, along with a better weather rating. It’s disappointing that the Revolve+ has no options for adjusting the audio settings, but it makes up for it with its interconnectivity.
No Alexa is a painful reminder that devices continue to eschew major voice assistants; however, the Revolve+ can connect with multiple speakers—including Echo devices—for multi-sound, multi-room audio.
Combining with multiple speakers when you already have omnidirectional sound makes for a great party atmosphere or just room-filling audio, especially when combined with Bose or similarly quality devices.
Both the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ and the Bose Portable Smart Speaker don’t do anything to trounce on the Bose name. They’re both great devices with exceptional sound. They both suffer from distortion effects at high volumes, with the Revolve+ getting the worst of the effect.
The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is simply a newer device embracing the latest technology, and it does it better than the Soundlink Revolve+. But, there are a few caveats with the Portable Smart Speaker—such as an inexplicable lack of Siri and a poor IP rating.
Ultimately, the Portable Smart Speaker is a better speaker when you take in all of the features available between the two. However, it may not be worth the upgrade, so you should also consider the Soundlink Revolve+ Series II.