The Bose SoundLink Flex is a Bluetooth speaker designed for outdoor use, offering a range of features suitable for adventurers. In this review, we will explore its design, comfort, features and controls, connectivity options, battery life, sound quality, microphone performance, and alternatives.

Design and Comfort:
The design and build of the Bose SoundLink Flex reflect its intended outdoor use cases. The sturdy steel and powder-coated grille provide durability, although it may get scuffed from drops. The speaker feels solid and is designed to prevent snags on clothes or vegetation while hiking. While it does not float, it can survive a quick plunge in water, making it useful for outdoor activities. The speaker weighs 589g, adding some bulk but remaining portable for leisurely treks and beach trips. It features a carrying strap for easy attachment to backpacks or jackets.

Features and Control:
The SoundLink Flex features control buttons on the top, although they lack physical distinction and backlighting. The mushy buttons include power, Bluetooth sync, play/pause, skip, and volume controls. The Bose Connect app allows easy syncing with your phone and other devices, enabling features such as Party Mode for connecting two compatible Bose speakers and stereo mode. The app also offers settings like a product tour, auto-off timer, and voice prompt control. However, it lacks an EQ option.

Connectivity Options:
The Bose SoundLink Flex supports Bluetooth 4.2 and the standard SBC Bluetooth codec. It offers Bluetooth multipoint but struggles to switch between devices seamlessly. The Bose Connect app occasionally experiences connectivity issues, displaying no connection despite playing music through the speaker. Unfortunately, there is no aux input available to overcome codec limitations.

Battery Life:
Bose claims the SoundLink Flex can last up to 12 hours on a fully charged battery. In testing, it lasted 11 hours and 59 minutes, confirming Bose’s claimed battery life. This makes it suitable for a day at the beach or a long hike in the mountains. The speaker uses a USB-C charging input.

Sound Quality:
The SoundLink Flex delivers a fine sound for an outdoor speaker designed for small group settings. It reproduces all frequencies with a relatively balanced volume level. The main drivers on top and the bass driver at the bottom ensure clear audio reproduction. However, the sound may slightly change as the speaker moves through space.

Microphone Performance:
The Bose SoundLink Flex includes a microphone for voice calls, allowing for intelligible voicemails. However, it transmits background noise, which can affect call quality. The center button on the speaker can be pressed to answer or reject calls, and it also activates the voice assistant when held. There is no dedicated button for initiating calls, and using the speaker as a “speakerphone” still requires dialing through your phone or using a voice assistant.

Alternatives:
Alternative options to consider include the JBL Flip 5 and JBL Clip 4, which are similarly rugged and designed for outdoor use. The JBL Flip 5 offers a cheaper price point but lacks a microphone, while the JBL Clip 4 is smaller and lacks the ability to pair two speakers like the SoundLink Flex. Bose also offers the SoundLink Micro, which has a microphone and a similar form factor to the JBL Clip 4.

Conclusion:
The Bose SoundLink Flex is a suitable companion for outdoor adventures, small parties, and shower singing. It provides clear sound reproduction, distinguishes between instruments and vocals well, and offers convenient features like a microphone and voice assistant activation. However, it may not provide enough volume for large parties or events.

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