Anker Soundcore Motion Plus review: This bulked-up $100 Bluetooth speaker sounds excellent

Anker’s Soundcore Motion Plus came out in 2019 and managed to slip beneath my radar, which is a shame because it’s arguably one of the best-sounding speakers under $100 (£90, $AU175), if not the best. A little larger than many mini Bluetooth speakers, it’s still compact and manages to sound quite a bit fuller than much of the competition under $100, with bigger bass, more volume and better clarity. It’s also fully waterproof (IPX7 rated) and has support for the aptX streaming codec for devices like Samsung’s Galaxy phones that support it.

LikeGreat overall sound for the price.More volume, bigger bass and better clarity.Fully waterproof.Up 12 hours of battery life.USB-C charging.

Don’t LikeNot as compact as the top mini Bluetooth speakers.Some colors inexplicably cost more.

While we originally reviewed this speaker back in May of 2020, nothing we’ve heard in this class since has impressed us as much. That’s why we’re awarding it an Editors’ Choice.

Weighing 2.31 pounds (1.05 kg), the speaker is equipped with a 6,700-mAh lithium-ion battery (Anker is known for its portable chargers and battery technology) that gives you up to 12 hours of playback time at moderate volume levels. You can also tweak the speaker’s sound using a companion app for iOS and Android, as well as wirelessly link two Motion Plus speakers to create a stereo pair or just expand the volume. It’s an excellent value at $100 — or $103 (£110) for the blue or red versions. (It’s a little strange that they cost $3 or a whopping £20 more than the black color.)

David Carnoy/CNET

The speaker uses Bluetooth 5.0 and has USB-C charging, with the port and a 3.5mm audio input hidden under a rubber gasket that keeps moisture from entering. On top there are volume controls, Bluetooth pairing and playback control buttons along with a bass boost button. I always left the bass boost on because the speaker sounds better with it engaged.

Anker Soundcore Motion Plus has understated looks but big sound
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I’m away from the office and don’t have quite as many speakers on hand for comparison purposes, but the Motion Plus sounds substantially better than the old UE Boom 2, JBL Flip 5 and Sony’s new SRS-XB23, all of which currently or originally retailed for $100. Not only does the Anker put out more volume and bass, it has a wider soundstage and smoother sound at higher volumes. A lot of these mini Bluetooth speakers can impress you with how loud they can play for their small size, but they still seem constrained; they have their limitations.

So does the Motion Plus, of course, but its ceiling is higher than other portable Bluetooth speakers in this price range. It can’t compete with much bigger and much more expensive speakers like the UE Hyperboom or JBL Boombox 2. But it’s a good compromise if you’re looking for something more affordable that’s a clear level up soundwise from popular mini Bluetooth speakers from Ultimate Ears, JBL, Sony and all the generic sub-$60 models on Amazon (the Motion Plus easily bested the Earfun Go and Tribit Stormbox, both of which are good values at $50).

The Soundcore Motion Plus is only slightly bigger then the new Sony SRS-XB23, but it weighs significantly more.

David Carnoy/CNET

As I said, it’s a shame I didn’t get a sample of this earlier. But better late than never. 

Here are its key specs, according to Anker:    

Hi-Res Audio enhanced by Qualcomm aptX when streaming via Bluetooth (with devices that support aptX streaming).Two high-frequency tweeters, neodymium woofers, and passive radiators.30 watts of powerFrequency range stretches from 50Hz to 40kHz and is paired with an advanced DSP.IPX7 waterproof: fully waterproof casing12-hour playtime (6,700-mAh battery)USB-C chargingBluetooth 5.0Audio input for devices without BluetoothThree color options (black, red, blue)

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