With stereo sound, twice the battery life, and line-in playback, the Move 2 improves upon the original at every turn — unless you need Google Assistant.
When you’re considering the sequel of any tech product, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that it’s “everything the original should’ve been.” And as I’ve been testing out the new $449 Sonos Move 2 speaker over the last several days, it’s been tempting to lean on that narrative. The Move 2 improves upon the company’s first portable speaker with better, broader sound — it now does stereo instead of just mono audio output — and huge strides in battery life. It’s also more versatile thanks to the inclusion of line in and the ability to reverse charge your phone and other devices via the speaker’s USB-C port. The only downside might be that all of those improvements come with a $50 price hike.
But in truth, the first Move was never going to be anything like this. It came before Sonos figured out how to seamlessly juggle Bluetooth audio with music played over its Wi-Fi-based whole-home audio platform; you had to choose one or the other via a button on the back. (Sonos solved that awkward dilemma with its much more compact Roam speaker.) At the time of the Move’s release, the entry-level Sonos One was also limited to mono playback. It wasn’t until the Era 100 that the company crammed two tweeters into a relatively small single speaker enclosure. Now, it’s running the same play with the Move 2, giving the product dedicated left and right channels instead of blending everything together. But time hasn’t benefited the Move 2 in all ways: amid an ongoing legal rift between Sonos and Google, this smart speaker ships without Google Assistant, which is present on the first-gen hardware.
Save for the tweaked controls on top, the Move 2’s looks haven’t changed much. It’s still the same shape. And it’s still fairly tall (9.53 inches) and weighty (6.61 pounds) to be considered very “portable” — but at least you’ve got the built-in handle for carrying it around. As with the first Move, this is really designed to be moved around different spots inside and outside your home, not so much to accompany you to the beach like a traditional Bluetooth speaker.
Around back is the power button, Bluetooth pairing button, a physical switch for the Move 2’s built-in microphones, and the USB-C port. In keeping with the original, the Move 2 supports automatic Trueplay, which uses the microphones to analyze the speaker’s surroundings and optimize the sound whenever you move it to a new spot. Hands-free voice controls are possible with both Sonos Voice Control and Amazon Alexa. There are two ways to disable the mics: you can tap a speech bubble button on top of the speaker to deactivate voice assistants while keeping features like auto Trueplay enabled. If you want to shut off the microphones altogether, that’s what the rear switch is for.
Another aspect of the Move 2 that disappoints me (albeit to a lesser degree) is that it can’t serve as a speakerphone for calls. If the thing works with Bluetooth and has mics that I’m already speaking to on a semi-regular basis, why not go the rest of the way, Sonos? Many lower-priced Bluetooth speakers and even Apple’s Bluetooth-less HomePods include this feature, so it’s frustrating to see Sonos omit it yet again.
Battery life on the Move 2 has more than doubled, with Sonos saying it can reach up to 24 hours of continuous playback. That big jump can be attributed to two things: there’s a larger 44Wh battery inside, and the company also made power-saving optimizations under the hood. The bigger battery is backward-compatible with the original Move, but dropping it into that speaker won’t magically get you 24 hours of listening time since the first-gen Move lacks some of the newer efficiency tweaks.
“Placing a Move 2 battery in an original Move will increase the Move’s battery life by about 25 percent, yielding around 13.5 hours of battery life,” Sonos spokesperson Olivia Singer told me by email. “Move 2 has a much more efficient system which contributes to the additional playback improvements.” Either way, I very much appreciate that the battery is easily replaceable to begin with; this ensures a long lifespan for the Move 2 compared to many consumer speakers where the battery will gradually hold less of a charge over time.
To use the Sonos Move 2 (or any other Sonos speaker), there’s one mandatory thing you need to agree to:
There are also two optional things you need to agree to if you want to add voice controls:
- An Amazon account to use Alexa
- A Google account to use Google Assistant
Final tally: one mandatory agreement and one or two optional agreements for Amazon or Google. For the latter two, these agreements extend to other products that likely involve significantly more agreements.
The overall sound signature is faithful to the original Move, meaning the Move 2 still has a tendency to underemphasize treble; I’m also currently testing the new similarly shaped Ultimate Ears Epicboom, and the UE speaker puts a bigger focus on those crisp upper frequencies while Sonos takes a more even-handed approach. If you want more high end, that’s easy to accomplish using EQ sliders in the Sonos app. Bass response was more than adequate for my needs, but I can see some people wanting more oomph from the Move 2 when really cranking the volume.
On that point, the Move 2 is in no way as “portable” or easy to pack with luggage as a Roam, but it’s no trouble to carry around the house, bring out to the backyard, or throw into the trunk when traveling. If you plan to take it on the road constantly, Sonos sells an extremely overpriced $79 carrying case. The original Move came with a fabric carrying bag, but that’s gone this time, and Sonos told me it was only ever intended to keep the speaker protected during transit and shipping.
As a complete package, the Move 2 is a slam-dunk sequel that will only get better when you factor in Sonos’ long-term software support. The company needed to draw on lessons learned from other products to get here, but anyone who loved the first Move will find even greater value in its successor. Hopefully Google Assistant will eventually make a comeback. But even if not, the Move 2 offers plenty of features and good enough sound to make it a unique standout in Sonos’ hardware lineup.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge