With the sheer volume of speakers to choose from, choosing the best one to suit your needs isn’t as easy as it sounds. Aside from the sound quality, there are lots of factors to consider: battery life, connectivity, and, of course, the price. There are lots of things to love about Bluetooth speakers, but a big one is seamless and wireless compatibility with your devices. But they’re not all created equal. When making a purchasing decision, it can be very useful to hear from someone who has hands-on experience with the speaker in question. And that’s exactly what you’re getting here. I’ve got to grips with the SoundLink Flex from Bose, so strap yourselves in for a deep dive into the good and bad this speaker has to offer.
The Battery Life Is Amazing
Typical of most modern speakers, the reported battery life for the SoundLink Flex is up to 12 hours. But I found that this was substantially more accurate with the Flex than some other products I’ve tried (namely, the JBL Pulse). Because the speaker is relatively no-frills compared to flashier models, the battery life is pleasantly close to 12 hours, even at fairly loud volumes. All in all, I’m extremely happy with the playtime that you get from the Flex. It’s long enough to last through a hangout, a night of partying, or most of the day simply listening at home (especially if you’re forgetful about charging your devices like I am).
Charging Is as Easy as 1-2-3
The charging process is paramount to any portable speaker, as we tend to use them on-the-go more frequently. Fortunately, the SoundLink Flex charges simply and quickly. A wall charger isn’t included; this is pretty standard for most modern devices, so plan for this ahead of time. However, a USB-C charger is included, which will fit into pretty much any adapter with a USB slot. The simplicity and versatility of this are great, but the charging time is amazing, too. Around three to four hours of charging nets you a full battery charge and, essentially, a full day of portable listening. You could easily get away with a half charge for most outings, though, so flexibility is the name of the game here.
You Won’t Be Disappointed With the Sound
Now we get to the most important bit: how does the SoundLink Flex sound? It’s great to have a speaker with all the bells and whistles. But if the audio quality isn’t up to scratch, it’s hard to be thrilled with your purchase. Luckily, the Flex doesn’t fall short here. You may think the audio would be underwhelming due to the small size. Thanks to the dual radiators, though, the Flex blasts out some surprisingly powerful sound. Some speakers can produce an unpleasant distortion at higher volumes, but this isn’t much of an issue with this speaker, except at the maximum volume. There’s a good balance between bass and other frequencies, and voices stand out particularly. This is awesome if you tend to listen to vocals just as much as instrumentals and if you like to use your speaker for voice calls.
If I had to say anything bad about the Flex, it’d be that there can seem to be a mild disconnect between the various instruments on a track. Added to this, the bass isn’t quite as powerful as some other speakers designed for this purpose. However, if your space isn’t huge and your music taste is eclectic, the Flex is a great choice to satisfy your needs.
Flexibility Is in the Name
Oftentimes, speakers don’t live up to the hype, let alone their own name. But this isn’t the case with the SoundLink Flex. The speaker feels sturdy in whatever position you’re using it in, which can be one of a good few. Typically, you’ll lay the speaker horizontally or completely flat, as these are the most stable positions. Chances are, if you’re hosting a party or hopping on a voice call, you’re going to use one of these orientations. However, the Flex comes with a handy loop attached. This means you can hang it easily wherever you like—from a picture hook or even a tree.
The great thing about this versatility is that the technology automatically optimizes the sound output according to the position of the speaker. This means that you’re getting that great Bose sound no matter what. The not-so-great part is that, while the Flex comes with a loop, it doesn’t include a carabiner. If you plan to use the speaker vertically a lot of the time, it’s probably a good idea to invest in one of these for added protection.
Pick Up and Play
I find that one of the most annoying things about some speakers is that they’re simply awkward to use. Pairing takes forever, and you have an overly complicated app to get to grips with. Although there is the Bose Connect app, using it is an option rather than a necessity. There aren’t too many features in the app, the most significant probably being the battery life monitor. Some will find this useful, but honestly, I rarely find myself hopping on the app.
Once you’ve paired your devices with the speaker, listening is as simple as pressing the power button. Both my MacBook and Samsung smartphone pair almost instantly with the Flex. Switching between the two is as simple as pausing one device. Plus, you get an update on the battery life whenever you turn on the speaker. I usually resort to this to find out how much charge I have left. Switching the Flex off and on again is likely quicker than loading up the app.
The situation may be different, however, if you have more than one Bose speaker. Using Bose Connect, you can mix and match by connecting any two Bose speakers. Ideally, you’d pair two Flexes to achieve premium stereo sound. However, any combo will work wonders to fill out your space.
Another element I always consider when buying a Bluetooth speaker is how durable it is. This is more important with a portable product. You don’t want to end up damaging your speaker before you’ve gotten much use out of it. Fortunately, the Flex is as dust- and water-resistant as it claims. There aren’t any fiddly port covers to contend with. Therefore, you can splash around and dunk the Flex as much as you desire. Of course, the sound will be muffled when the speaker’s completely submerged (I can attest to this), but that’s the nature of water, after all.
Although cylindrical speakers can be sturdier than they look, I prefer the more simplistic design of the Flex, as it just feels more protective to me. The combination of soft silicone and coated steel offers a lot of durability in a small package.
Is the Bose SoundLink Flex Worth It?
I can’t fault the SoundLink Flex on many points, especially considering the budget-friendly cost. As far as more affordable speakers go, I’m tempted to place this model at the top of the list. You won’t be getting quite as much bass or as many showy features as some other options. But you will be getting a significantly lower price. The battery life and charging time are also extremely difficult to beat in this price range.
The sound quality overall is pretty great for a speaker of this size, and you can improve it even more by pairing it with another Bose speaker. But in a medium- to small-sized room or garden, I find that one speaker does the job well. The sturdiness and water resistance are highlights too. I just don’t feel comfortable taking pricier and heftier speakers out and about as much as the Flex.
All in all, the Flex won’t fulfill all of your audiophile fantasies. If you want the most well-rounded sound possible, you may be inclined to go with the Revolve II instead (although this speaker has its own drawbacks). But if you’re looking for an easy-to-use budget speaker that’s a bit better than a jack of all trades, you can’t go wrong here.