Editor’s Note: This article originally ran on our sister site Tom’s Guide. Their smart home expert editors will be keeping an eye out for any new information about the next Sonos smart speaker in the coming months. Visit their article here for updates.
While we don’t have a name or any officially-confirmed details on this new Sonos speaker, similarities to the Move in the giveaway FCC filing make for an exciting new product. It’s not that the Move is in drastic need of a rework — in fact, it’s one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy. But the notion of Sonos-level sound quality in a lighter, more portable package is highly intriguing. Here’s everything we know so far about the new Sonos speaker, including potential price, specs and release date information.
New Sonos speaker price and release date
There’s no hint of the new Sonos speaker’s price in the FCC filing, nor any hint towards its planned release date. However, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said in a recent earnings call — transcribed by Seeking Alpha — that the company would “introduce our newest product next month.” March 2021, in other words.
This could of course be something from the more housebound Sonos One series, a new soundbar or soundbase, or even something completely different. Still, there’s a good chance this could be the leaked Sonos Move follow-up: the only other alleged Sonos product that’s yet to formally launch is a pair of Sonos headphones, and those rumors largely dried up in 2020.
Furthermore, you can at least expect this new speaker to cost less than the $399 Sonos Move. That’s because it appears to adopt a smaller, lower-power design — more on that shortly — although since Sonos is all about building high-end speakers for serious audio fans, it likely won’t be cheap either. Somewhere in the $250-$300 range seems feasible.
New Sonos speaker design
While the Sonos Move is one of the best outdoor speakers, it’s not as portable as most of its wireless rivals. It weights more than 6 pounds, is 10 inches tall and a little over 6 inches wide; not ideal for stashing in a bag.
The new Sonos speaker doesn’t have weight or dimensions specs available, but we can tell from the filing that it’s likely to be much smaller, with a more cylindrical design akin to the class-leading UE Megaboom 3 (pictured above). Firstly, its rated power usage is lower than that of the Move, indicating smaller or fewer drivers.
Second, the filing includes a diagram of laser-etched labelling that would appear on the speaker’s underside. This labelling forms a tight circular shape, suggesting it would run around the rounded edge of the design, leaving space for buttons or ports in the middle.
Finally, another diagram depicts the device on top of a wireless charging base. This is a very simplified image so isn’t intended to accurately reflect the exact size and proportions, but it is clearly a thinner design than that of the Move.
This speaker probably will also follow the IP56-rated Sonos Move in offering protection against dust and water damage. The exact extent of its waterproofing, however, remains to be seen.
New Sonos speaker features
We know the new Sonos speaker is related to the Sonos Move because its listed product number, S27, is so close to the Move’s S17 code. That means that even if the form factor changes, we can expect most or all of the Move’s big features to copy over as well.
The most significant of these is likely its smart speaker functionality. The Sonos Move is unusual among wireless speakers in that it can connect to Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth, offering Alexa and Google Assistant in the process.
The new Sonos speaker also has Wi-Fi connectivity, according to the FCC filing, so these voice assistants could easily be involved again. Not to mention other internet-enabled features, like access to over 100 streaming services and AirPlay 2 support. Given Sonos’ multi-room expertise it’s highly likely that the new speaker could form part of a speaker network as well.
In fact, the filing reveals that this speakers’ wireless capabilities are an upgrade over those of the Sonos Move. Specifically, it supports the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, which allows for better performance at range than the Move’s 802.11n. This, along with improved portability, could make it an even better outdoor speaker by allowing you to take it further from your home router (or any other 802.11ac Wi-Fi source) without losing connection.
Judging from the aforementioned diagram, the new Sonos speaker will also support charging over a wireless charging base. This is something the Move can do as well.
New Sonos speaker: What we want
There’s still plenty of specs and details to be revealed, and plenty of potential changes we’re hoping to see from the new Sonos speaker.
Sound quality: Obviously we’d hope that Sonos’s signature audio quality is maintained across the move to smaller drivers; a smaller, lower-power speaker wouldn’t be able to go as loud as the Move but it could still give the Megaboom 3 a tough time on sound balance, clarity and detail.
Better waterproofing: Speaking of the Megaboom 3, if Sonos really wants to compete with the best it should look at upping the IP rating to IPX7. This would make the new speaker fully waterproof, or at least able to survive a dunk in the pool or bath. The IP56-rated Move can endure heavy rainfall, but not full submersion like the Megaboom 3 and UE Wonderboom 2 can.
Longer battery life: Battery life could also do with a tune up. The Move is rated for 10 hours of playback, and our own testing confirmed this, but the Megaboom can last for twice as long. Hopefully the lower power draw will mean this new Sonos speaker can keep playing for longer.
Lower price: Again, the Sonos Move is $399, which is serious cash for a smart speaker — even a wireless one. The new Sonos speaker should really bring this down if it’s more of a lightweight model, though Sonos faces a tough task balancing high-end features with a more affordable asking price. Hopefully, the simple act of slimming down is enough to make big dents in the build costs.
This article originally ran on tomsguide.com.
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