Thanks to some new leaked images picked up by winfuture.de, there’s little room for doubt that we are looking at a soon-to-be-launched Bluetooth-capable speaker from Sonos — the first Sonos product to offer Bluetooth as a connection option. The speaker will be called the Sonos Move according to winfuture — an apt name considering its design as a truly portable and battery-powered device, and will most likely make its debut at IFA 2019 in Berlin.
First spotted by The Verge and Zatz Not Funny! — and backed up by an FCC filing — the new speaker, which bears a strong physical resemblance to the company’s Sonos One smart speaker, will use Bluetooth for both wireless audio and improved setup convenience.
It will be compatible with the rest of the Sonos ecosystem, and will feature Wi-Fi connections, too. One leaked photo of the speaker, which for now is simply known as the S17, shows the Sonos One’s touch-based control buttons, as well as what looks to be a microphone array. The speaker uses USB-C for power and has an internal rechargeable battery, which would make the S17 the company’s first truly portable device.
Some kind of charging stand is clearly visible in the lifestyle-oriented photo, which also gives us a sense of the scale of the S17: A little taller and possibly wider than a Sonos One or Play:1. Around the back is a physical switch for selecting between Sonos’ normal Wi-Fi mode and the new Bluetooth option. There has also been speculation that Sonos’s Trueplay app-based EQ software could be made fully automatic, much like the EQ on Apple’s HomePod.
The Move/S17 will also be a smart speaker according to The Verge, which reports that when connected via Wi-Fi, the speaker will give users the ability to interact with either Alexa or Google Assistant, the two voice A.I.s that Sonos currently supports. These assistants will not work over Bluetooth connections. AirPlay 2, which has appeared on all Sonos devices since the Sonos One, is expected to be included too.
There’s no official word on timing for the release of the S17, though it is expected to be unveiled during Sonos’ presence at the IFA electronics show in Berlin next week. If the S17 is indeed heading to market in the next few months (possibly in time for the 2019 holiday season) this event would be the obvious place to unveil it, along with any other products the company has planned for the near term.
Sonos has long been wireless audio’s biggest cheerleader. But the company has a reputation for being highly selective when it comes to which wireless audio technologies it supports. Wi-Fi, with its large data capacity, ability to span longer distances and versatile networking options, has been the backbone of Sonos’ wireless audio platform from the beginning. Bluetooth, on the other hand, despite being used on virtually every other wireless speaker we can think of, has been consciously avoided by Sonos — until now.
An embrace of Bluetooth for wireless audio by Sonos isn’t just a big deal in terms of its speakers. As the wireless audio standard for earbuds and headphones, Bluetooth audio is a gateway to a whole new world of portable music, something that Sonos has avoided, choosing to focus instead on just home audio.
If truly portable music is indeed on Sonos’ road map, it could be a big win for the company’s customers. Sonos’ app-based music system, which gives you access to dozens of streaming music services as well as your own music library, doesn’t work when not connected to your home Wi-Fi, forcing Sonos users to switch to stand-alone apps like Apple Music or Spotify for listening on the go.
A portable-friendly Sonos app would make the software a one-stop audio shop — something Sonos users have been asking for. Earlier in 2019, a Bloomberg report suggested that Sonos was working on Bluetooth headphones. If the S17 is indeed headed our way, it’s a good bet those headphones will follow it.
Updated on August 29, 2019: Added more information about the speaker’s likely debut at IFA 2019.