We’re all longing to get back to live events like parties, gigs and concerts. But while we wait, Sonos hopes to bring the recording studio to you with the just-announced Sonos Roam. But with its steep £159 price, is it really the best choice, or are rivals out to spoil the show? 

Sonos bills its new Roam wireless speaker as ‘the portable smart speaker for all your listening adventures’. It’s Sonos’ first truly portable speaker you can easily take down the garden or to the park – and just about anywhere, when lockdown restrictions come to the end.

It’s certainly far more fully-featured than its similar-looking Bluetooth speaker rivals. While most speakers this size are simple devices you simply connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth, the Sonos Roam offers full compatibility with the Sonos app and multi-room ecosystem the brand is known for.

Below, find out all the details of what the Sonos Roam offers. We also see how it differs from the leading Bluetooth speakers on the market, so you can decide which is right for you.

Best Bluetooth speakers – our expert, independent lab tests and professional listening panel reveal which really are the best-sounding models on the market.

Sonos Roam key features

Sonos Roam smart speaker

Long-time Sonos fans will likely be immediately sold that for the first time, the Sonos speaker experience they have at home can now be taken wherever they go. But could it tempt new buyers over to Sonos too? While £159 will stretch budgets, it’s now the cheapest speaker in Sonos’ offering, and is available in black or white.

It’s by far Sonos’ smallest speaker, 16.5cm in length and a graspable size and weight. It’s waterproof (to a depth of one metre for a limited time) and fully dustproof. Sonos claims it offers 10 hours of continuous music playback on a single charge. It can be used either horizontally or vertically.

The speaker will connect to your home wi-fi when in range, and switch over to Bluetooth when you’re on the go, such as connecting to your smartphone (it’ll reconnect automatically after you’ve connected for the first time).

Just like all Sonos speakers, advanced features are controlled using the Sonos app on your smartphone or tablet, including access to more than 100 streaming services (these may require subscriptions).

It’s also a smart speaker, meaning you can control it with voice commands using Alexa or Google Assistant. For Apple device users, Apple AirPlay 2 is supported for seamless integration with your device.

Extra features for owners of other Sonos speakers

If you have other Sonos speakers at home, you can put the Roam in a group with them to play music simultaneously, even if you’re streaming via Bluetooth from your phone.

A new Sound Swap feature, by holding down the speaker’s play/pause button, will immediately switch the music playing on the Roam to the nearest Sonos speaker in your home.

Sonos Roam vs Sonos Move: key features compared

The Sonos Roam is unique in packing so many advanced features into a small Bluetooth speaker. If you want an equivalent set of features, your main alternative options are larger devices more intended for taking round the home than going too far outside.

See how these three similar-spec devices compare in the table below. For more information and to find out whether these alternative models are worth buying, see our Sonos Move and Bose Portable Home Speaker reviews.

  Sonos Roam Sonos Move Bose Portable Home Speaker
RRP £159 £399 £330
Dimensions (HxWxD, in cm) 16.5x 6.35x 6.35 24x 18x 14 25.3x 10.8x 10.8
Shape Round-edged triangular prism Oval cylinder Almost cylindrical, with carry handle
Weight Less than 0.5kg 3kg 1.1kg
Waterproofing and dustproofing IP67 (waterproof up to 1m for limited time, dustproof) IP56 (highly water resistant, dust resistant) IPX4 (splash-resistant, not dustproof)
Claimed battery life 10 hours 11 hours 12 hours
Charging dock Optional, sold separately (any Qi wireless charger) Included Optional, sold separately (Bose Portable Smart Speaker Charging Cradle, £25)
Wireless connectivity Bluetooth 5.0, wi-fi Bluetooth 5.0, wi-fi Bluetooth 5.0, wi-fi
Wired connections No No No
Voice assistant control Alexa, Google Assistant Alexa, Google Assistant Alexa, Google Assistant
Multi-room support Yes (Sonos models) Yes (Sonos models) Yes (Bose models)

Sonos says the Roam’s sound quality ‘defies expectations for a speaker of its size’, but we won’t be just taking their word for it.

We’ll be sending the Sonos Roam to the experts at our audio lab in May following its release, so check back on which.co.uk in early June for our definitive review of whether it’s the best portable speaker you can buy.

When can I get the Sonos Roam?

Sonos Roam portable speaker

The Sonos Roam will be available from 20 April for £159. You can preorder it direct from Sonos right now, if you want to avoid any risk of potential stock shortages from high demand near release.

Travel-friendly alternatives to the Sonos Roam

£159 is expensive compared to most portable Bluetooth speakers. If all you’re looking for is a battery-powered speaker that can stream audio from your smartphone over Bluetooth, then the Sonos Roam will be overkill.

In that case, there are lots of great simple portable Bluetooth speakers to choose from – below we’ve selected some of the most popular models, with a range of scores in our reviews.

Find out which are the perfect companions for taking down the garden or to a picnic by clicking through the links to our reviews below.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3, £100

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Bluetooth speaker
  • Bluetooth
  • IP67 waterproof and dustproof
  • 15 hours claimed battery life
  • Connect to other Ultimate Ears speakers over Bluetooth

The Boom 3 is very similar in size to the Sonos Roam – just slightly larger overall and cylindrical in shape. It’s a simple-to-use device that you simply stream audio from your smartphone to using Bluetooth. Ultimate Ears says its design is so durable it’s ‘virtually indestructible’ and is marketed for parties so should help you make the most of events following lockdown.

See whether we think it’s worth your money in our Ultimate Ears Boom 3 review.

JBL Charge 4, £99

JBL Charge 4 Bluetooth speaker
  • Bluetooth, 3.5mm aux in socket
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • 20 hours claimed battery life
  • USB socket for charging portable devices
  • Connect to other JBL speakers over Bluetooth

This is a larger speaker 22cm in length with a high maximum volume, long battery life and the ability to charge portable devices like your smartphone when you’re out and about.

Its successor the JBL Charge 5 has launched this month, costing £160, so this could be a great time to get a good price on the Charge 4.

Find out whether it’s a good choice in our expert JBL Charge 4 review.

Sony SRS-XB23, £67

Sony SRS-XB23 Bluetooth speaker
  • Bluetooth, 3.5mm aux in socket
  • IP67 waterproof and dustproof
  • 10 hours claimed battery life
  • Connect to other Sony speakers over Bluetooth

Many so-called ‘portable’ speakers can actually be quite big and a bit cumbersome to carry around. Sony aims to solve this with the SRS-XB23, with a cylinder so thin it’s the ideal size to grasp with your hand or store in the drinks holder of your camping chair or car. It’s got a convenient carry strap, too.

Is this the ideal companion for your picnic? We put it through its paces in our Sony SRS-XB23 review.

JBL Clip 4, £50

JBL Clip 4 portable Bluetooth speaker
  • Bluetooth
  • IP67 waterproof and dustproof
  • 10 hours claimed battery life

For small gatherings like a picnic, you could well not need such loud room-filling, full-bodied sound – and could do without lugging a big speaker along with the hamper.

The Clip 4 seems like a handy solution – with its integrated carabiner clip you can simple attach it to your bag. It’s lightweight and thin, and offers sufficient volume for a small gathering.

Could this be the perfect speaker for a picnic? Our experts give the definitive verdict in our JBL Clip 4 review.

To find out which are the best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market right now, see our expert guide to the top six best portable Bluetooth speakers for 2021.