The launch of the Huawei Sound X Bluetooth speaker was more of a whimper than a bang, with the speaker not even getting a mention at the brand's Mate XS global launch event on February 24 (held over livestream after the cancellation of MWC 2020).
The speaker itself is an interesting move from Huawei; in China, the Sound X is a smart speaker, equipped with Huawei's own voice assistant. Everywhere else, however, it's a simple Bluetooth speaker, capable of playing your tunes wirelessly, but not much else – though it is packing tech from esteemed French audio brand Devialet.
We had the chance to see the enigmatic new speaker in action – and while it could make a good Bluetooth speaker, it won't be troubling with the likes of Apple, Amazon, and Google without an AI assistant built-in.
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Price and availability
Huawei hasn't yet confirmed global pricing and availability for the Sound X Bluetooth speaker, but we're expecting to see it in Europe before the end of 2020.
Products from the Chinese company are still subject to trade restrictions in the US, which means the speaker is unlikely to be released there.
Design and features
Imagine the Apple HomePod, with its cylindrical design and 360-degree wraparound grille, but decked out in a black piano-gloss finish, and you've essentially got the Huawei Sound X.
However, once you look a little closer at the Bluetooth speaker, the differences become apparent.
For one, the wraparound mesh grille only covers the lower third of the Sound X – this allows for the exposed dual woofers, one on each side of the speaker, to vibrate freely. That mesh grille is "stain and splash-resistant", according to the brand, though Huawei hasn't confirmed whether the new speaker has an official IPX rating.
The top of the speaker is home to an LED display, featuring four controls: a button to mute your microphone, volume buttons, and a mysterious ellipsis button – the function of which is still unclear to us.
You can also mute the speaker using gesture controls – simply place your hand on the top of the Sound X and it'll quieten down, which is handy if you need to have a quick conversation.
There's no AUX-in to allow for wired connectivity with your smartphone, so pairing is wireless, thanks to Bluetooth 5.1. If you have a compatible Huawei phone, however, NFC OneHop audio-sharing means you'll be able to pair the speaker with your smartphone with just a tap.
If you're looking for smart features, you won't find any here – unless you're in China, where you get Huawei's Xiaoyi voice assistant, presumably allowing for hands-free playback and control of compatible smart home devices.
Disappointingly, for those of us outside of China the Sound X is just a regular Bluetooth speaker – although decent sound quality (more on this below) could help to make up for this.
A spokesperson for Huawei told us that voice assistance could come to other regions later as part of a software update, but they weren't able to confirm which of the big three AI assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri) this might be.
The Huawei Sound X was created in conjunction with French audio company Devialet, which is known for its innovative high-end speakers, like the alien-looking Phantom Reactor 900.
Like that speaker, the Huawei Sound X has been designed with 60W dual woofers that utilize the brand's signature 'Push-Push' technology to cancel out vibrations, while still providing powerful bass frequencies.
We saw these woofers in action, vibrating as music played through the speaker. Huawei claims that you'll be able to place a glass of water on top of the speaker, and thanks to the Push-Push technology, it will remain completely still – although, as a rule, we wouldn't recommend using your expensive smart speaker as a coaster.
As the music played, we noticed that the bass, while powerful, sounded tight and controlled, without bleeding into the other frequencies. Meanwhile, the trebles sounded pleasantly detailed, with a frequency range of up to 40kHz, and an overall lively, poppy presentation.
The Sound X packs a decent amount of volume, and much like the Apple HomePod, Huawei claims that the speaker is capable of delivering 360-degree sound. The brand also says the speaker can adjust its sound profile based on whether you place it in the middle of a room or up against a wall.
We didn't have the chance to fully test the 360-degree capabilities of the Sound X in the brief time we spent with it, but we'll be sure to dive into this in our full review.
The Huawei Sound X is a little perplexing, to say the least. It looks like a smart speaker, but for those of us outside of China it can only act as a regular Bluetooth speaker –and without any portability or the extra inputs to appeal to audiophiles.
Without information on pricing too, it's difficult to pass a considered verdict on the Sound X – if it's under $100 / £100 / AU$150, it could be a compelling alternative to the Apple HomePod for those who don't like the idea of a voice assistant listening in to their conversations.
As you go up the price scale though, the lack of smart features in most territories could prove a problem for Huawei.
That being said, what we've heard so far is very promising, and we're excited to put those Devialet dual woofers through their sonic paces in our full review.
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