One of two devices recently filed by Sonos with the FCC is a portable Bluetooth speaker, The Verge can confirm. In the filing for product model S17, Sonos directly states that it’s “a high-performance wireless speaker and part of the Sonos sound system. The device’s primary function will be for streaming with Wi-Fi, but also features Bluetooth audio streaming and Bluetooth Low Energy, used for simplified setup.” (Emphasis added by The Verge.) No other previous Sonos speaker has supported Bluetooth music playback, though the Sonos One includes BLE for the same reason of easier setup.
The filing also mentions that this unannounced Sonos product includes a USB-C port and an ethernet jack. The latter is found on all of the company’s existing speakers. On Friday morning, Zatz Not Funny! published a photo of the portable Sonos speaker. It has a more rounded design than the Sonos One, but shares identical controls on top.
Other Sonos speakers require Wi-Fi to play music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other content from popular streaming services. But the first time ever, Sonos will support Bluetooth pairing, letting you play any audio from a Bluetooth-enabled device and ensuring that the speaker will work at times when Wi-Fi is unavailable. (The company has previously mocked the downsides of Bluetooth speakers in its advertising.)
The Verge has reviewed additional images of the speaker and spoken to a person familiar with its capabilities. Here are new details:
- The speaker is larger than it may look in the above photo. For a sense of scale, it’s both taller and slightly wider than the Sonos One / Play:1.
- It supports hands-free voice commands from either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
- The portable Sonos speaker charges via a base station. When away from the base unit, it can also be recharged over USB-C. So if you take it on a trip, you won’t necessarily need to bring the base.
- There’s an integrated handle on the back for easier carrying. It’s part of the device’s core design — not an accessory or some kind of strap.
- Also around back is a button that switches between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (standard Sonos) modes.
- When in Bluetooth mode, the speaker cannot be controlled with the Sonos app. It behaves like any other Bluetooth speaker. You pair a device and play.
- Hands-free voice commands for Alexa and Google Assistant are also (currently) unavailable in Bluetooth mode.
- In regular Wi-Fi mode, the speaker appears like any other Sonos device in the app — but with a battery indicator.
- Like other recent Sonos speakers, the portable one will support Apple’s AirPlay 2.
With the new device, Sonos will introduce a feature called Auto Trueplay. Currently you can tune the sound characteristics of Sonos speakers by using your phone’s microphone and walking around whatever room the speaker is in. But now Sonos will utilize the built-in voice microphones to automatically adjust the speaker’s audio output. Auto Trueplay can detect when the portable Sonos speaker has been moved — say, from inside to outdoors — and automatically recalibrate playback accordingly. Both Apple and Google have offered similar functionality in the HomePod and Google Home Max, respectively, but both of those speakers require a hard-wired power connection.
The product label for S17 features a curved blue line running across it, which could be a reference to the speaker’s unique functionality in the Sonos lineup.
The Bluetooth speaker represents a new category for Sonos as the company continues to expand upon its product lineup through new first-party hardware and collaborations with other companies. Sonos recently partnered with Ikea on speakers that start as low as $99, and its technology has also made its way into high-end architectural speakers from Sonance.
On Thursday, Sonos sent out media invites for meetings later this month that will likely revolve around new products coming sometime this fall.
Update August 10th, 9:00AM ET: The Verge has learned more details about the Bluetooth Sonos speaker. The article has been updated to include them.
Update August 10th, 7:30AM ET: This article has been updated to include a purported photo of the upcoming Sonos Bluetooth speaker.