Huawei Sound Joy review: The mid-range king of bass

Huawei’s U.S. trade ban goes on, extending to Canada even as I write this, but that isn’t stopping the brand. The Chinese multinational company continues to put out one great product after another, with the single biggest caveat being the lack of Google Play Services. It’s a damn shame too, because Huawei makes some of the finest technological products.

Of course, its flagship-tier devices such as the Huawei P50 Pro and the foldable P50 Pocket steal the show. Of the post-blacklist releases, I particularly enjoyed using the Huawei Honor 9, which is an easy-to-use and super good-looking phone thanks to its sleek design. Then there’s the fetching Huawei Watch GT 3, perhaps one of the classiest smartwatches I have ever set my eyes upon.

Developed in partnership with the high-end French audio brand Devialet, the Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth speaker shoots for the stars. If the your ears didn’t perk at the mention of Devialet, perhaps the reasonable price and attractive features will get your attention. This rugged little thing is made for outdoor use with a proper IP67 rating to boot. I won’t get into the details just yet, but here’s a sneak peak: the Huawei Sound Joy pays homage to its namesake, toppling expectations and delivering fine-tuned sound quality.

Huawei Sound Joy: Price and availability

Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth Speaker

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

The Huawei Sound Joy speaker launched internationally in December 2021. As expected, the Bluetooth speaker from Huawei is unavailable in in the North American region. You can purchase it from major retailers in the U.K., Europe, and other parts of the world.

In the U.K., the Huawei Sound Joy is priced at about £130. It is available in two color variants: Obsidian Black and Spruce Green. Interestingly, you can grab the Spruce Green colorway for about £30 lesser on Amazon U.K..

Huawei Sound Joy: What’s awesome

Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth Speaker

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

The Huawei Sound Joy speaker features an elegant design, with a rugged fabric covering most of its cylindrical body. It looks and feels premium to the touch, as do the buttons and the included lanyard. There are two very large buttons for increasing and decreasing the volume smack in the middle, making them highly accessible.

You will find another vertically aligned array of buttons on the other side to control the power, trigger the mic for voice assistant support, pause/play playback, connect to Bluetooth, and use the Shake Stereo Link Up feature to connect with another Sound Joy speaker for a stereo setup.

An LED indicator sits under the vertical row of buttons and a circular ringed RGB light situated at the top end of the Huawei Sound Joy. There’s no fancy customization here, but it does look pretty nice. You can set it to a single color or opt for an ambient multi-color look. Happily, the entire rig is rated for IP67 dust and water resistance. So, you can use it in the shower or go hiking with the sturdy portable speaker without any worries.

Category Huawei Sound Joy
Audio 20W 50mm x 75mm full-range speaker (x1), 10W 19mm tweeter (x1), passive radiators (x2), mics (x3)
Codecs AAC, SBC
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.2, NFC
IP Rating IP67 water and dust resistance
Battery 8,800mAh, 26 hours
Charging USC Type-C, 40W SCP2.0 or PD3.0 fast charging
Weight 580g
Colors Obsidian Black, Spruce Green

The lack of Google Play Services in Huawei phones might be a big issue, but this obviously doesn’t apply to the Sound Joy as it’s a portable speaker, not a phone. To learn more about Google Play Services, we have an excellent explainer which tells you exactly why this problem doesn’t affect Huawei’s speaker itself.

Thanks to Bluetooth 5.2 and NFC, it’s very easy to connect your Android phone to the Sound Joy speaker. I had no trouble pairing my Pixel 6 with it and the connection process was smooth, even without the companion app installed.

Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth Speaker

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

As you know, Huawei collaborated with Devialet to cook up the internals of the Sound Joy speaker. You will find the main 20W full-range speaker on the top, bordered by the ring-shaped ambient light. In terms of connectivity, you won’t find anything but Bluetooth here as the speaker lacks an AUX port or microSD support.

But none of that matters at the end of the day because the sound quality is top notch. Huawei pulled all the stops with this Devialet partnership and it really shows. The Sound Joy speaker excels at producing high-end, rich audio that is extremely well-balanced. The highs, mids, and lows stand out distinctly and accurately. Whether you turn the volume all the way up or stick with a lower setting, this outdoor Bluetooth speaker compromises nothing.

The star of show is really the sumptuous bass, which is superior to every other decent Bluetooth speaker in the sub-$150 price bracket.

The star of show is really the sumptuous bass, which is superior to every other decent Bluetooth speaker in the sub-$150 price bracket. You simply cannot find this quality of full-bodied, thumping, and just plain exciting bass in this price range. It is very reminiscent to the audio quality of the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6. This is an undoubtedly admirable feat as the Onyx Studio 6 is a luxury speaker which costs over three times as much as the Sound Joy.

Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth Speaker

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

With such amazing audio quality, you’ll want to use the Huawei Sound Joy speaker all the time. There’s nothing stopping you either, because the portable speaker has an 8,800mAh battery that delivers up to 26 hours of continuous playback, albeit with the light off. Still, you can squeeze out at least 14 hours or more with the light on, depending on the volume. It also supports 40W fast charging with a compatible charger and USB-C cable. Huawei includes the Type-C wire in the box, but you’ll need to get a 40W charger with SCP2.0 or PD3.0 protocol support separately.

With the right USB Type-C charger at hand, you get an hour’s worth of play time from a quick 10-minute charge. The Huawei Sound Joy speaker charges from 0% to 50% in 40 minutes. Topping up the entire 8,800mAh cell to its max capacity takes approximately 1hr 30m. That’s 90 minutes for a full charge from scratch, putting my Pixel 6 and its 111-minute charge time to shame.

Huawei Sound Joy: What needs work

Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth Speaker

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Alas, the Huawei Sound Joy is not a rugged Bluetooth speaker without fault. It all boils down to the infamous Huawei trade ban, which bars the company from Google Play Services. Although this doesn’t hamper the speaker itself, it does prevent the Huawei AI Life app from being available on the Google Play Store.

Since the Huawei AI Life app isn’t on the Play Store, it is not bound by Google’s rules that keep you and your data safe.

If you want access to the app on your Android device — and you will because it has an equalizer and controls the speaker’s light — you’ll need to sideload it. This can be risky for you if you don’t know what you’re doing or you download and install the app from an unsafe source. Since the companion app isn’t on the Play Store, it is not bound by Google’s rules that keep you and your data safe.

As our very own Jerry Hildenbrand likes to put it, sideloading is as safe as you make it. I decided to download the Huawei AI Life app while making sure that I got it right from the official Huawei website, which is always the best source. My phone is fine, and the installation process was pretty straightforward, but it’s not something everyone will be on board with.

Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth Speaker

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Apart form this major thorn in the Huwaei Sound Joy’s side, there are a few small quirks here and there that need work. Weirdly, Huawei phones get Bluetooth priority when it comes to connecting with the Sound Joy speaker. This means that as soon as you turn on the Bluetooth on a Huawei phone that was previously paired, your Android phone will disconnect even if it’s in the middle of audio playback.

Since I had a Huawei phone for testing, I found that my Pixel would disconnect mid-song if I enabled the Bluetooth on it. This was extremely annoying and inconvenient. Considering the current climate, it is very unlikely that you would have a Huawei phone lying around. Nonetheless, this issue exists where it just shouldn’t because no one benefits from it.

Other tiny issues would be the lack of an audio port for wired playback, and the battery life taking a hit owing to the RGB lights. Still, these aren’t major problems and most people can live with them.

Huawei Sound Joy: Competition

Ultimate Ears Boom 3

(Image credit: Ultimate Ears)

One of the strongest contenders as the Huawei Sound Joy’s direct competitor is the Ultimate Ears Boom 3. It costs almost the same, has the same form factor, and you get an identical IP67 water and dustproof rating. Plus, the Boom 3 floats in pools. There’s no RGB light though and it has a much smaller battery lifespan.

Another great alternative is the compact Sonos Roam. As you’d expect, the Sonos speaker delivers fabulous sound quality in a durable, high quality package. It even charges wirelessly, which is awesome. However, you have to pay a premium to acquire such a capable audio device and the battery life is so-so.

Lastly, you could also consider the Sony SRS-XB23 portable speaker. It is cheaper, durable, portable, and brings the legendary Sony sound quality to the table. However, once again the battery life suffers and there’s no RGB light. Not to mention, Sony’s offering also has a terrible app.

Of course, if you’re in the U.S. or Canada, the Huawei Sound Joy isn’t an option. In that case, any one these three speakers will serve you well.

Huawei Sound Joy: Should you buy it?

Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth Speaker

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

You should buy this if…

  • You eat, drink, and breath bass
  • You want premium sound in a smaller budget
  • You need a long lasting rugged speaker
  • You don’t live in North America
  • You don’t mind sideloading the Huawei AI Life app

You shouldn’t buy this if…

  • You stay in North America
  • You don’t want to risk sideloading
  • You need an AUX port or microSD support

Huawei did a spectacular job with the Sound Joy portable speaker. It is perfectly durable, looks great, and most importantly, produces high quality sound with outstanding bass. The buttons are placed nicely, the included lanyard is a thoughtful addition that helps you carry the speaker around, and the ring-shaped light adds a fun touch.

You won’t find much to pick a bone with. The only major issue is the Huawei AI Life app which isn’t on the Google Play Store. If you source it responsibly like I did, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal either. It’s really hard to find a portable speaker of such caliber in this price bracket. You’ll be hard pressed to find a suitable alternative with a similar battery life and RGB light for the same amount of money.

All of this makes it really hard to swallow the bitter pill that despite being a stellar portable Bluetooth speaker, I cannot recommend the Huawei Sound Joy to residents of the U.S. and Canada. If you do manage to get your hands on one though, I’d suggest you go for it.

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