The Huawei Sound Joy is a very capable speaker that will mostly appeal to those with other Huawei devices
Pros Rugged and water resistantPunchy sound qualityGreat battery lifeCons Limited customisation optionsLight syncing unavailable on iOS
The Huawei Sound Joy is the latest speaker born of what is proving to be a fruitful partnership between the Chinese manufacturer and French audio experts Devialet.
Unlike the previous collaboration between the two companies – the mains-powered Huawei Sound – the Sound Joy is a Bluetooth speaker cut out for use in a wide range of conditions. It’s highly portable, water resistant and rugged, meaning you can sling it in a bag and enjoy the engaging audio it delivers wherever you please. That sound is backed up by bumper battery life and there’s even a bit of mood lighting courtesy of a multi-coloured LED ring adorning the crest of the speaker.
Like all of Huawei’s audio products, you’ll get the best out of the Sound Joy when it’s paired with a Huawei phone, tablet or laptop. But there’s enough to like for those without Huawei’s other devices, as long as they’re willing to accept the relatively limited customisation options.
Huawei Sound Joy review: What do you get for the money?
Available in either “Spruce Green” or “Obsidian Black”, the Huawei Sound Joy has a list price of £130 but is currently available for £100. That’s cheaper than most of the similarly sized options on our roundup of the best Bluetooth speakers, including the Marshall Emberton (£110), Sonos Roam (£159) and JBL Charge 5 (£160).
There’s next-to-nothing in the way of extras: a 1m USB-A to USB-C charging cable is included in the box, but aside from the speaker, that’s your lot. The speaker itself operates wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.2 and codec support is limited to SBC and AAC. Battery life clocks in at up to 26 hours of audio playback and the Sound Joy supports 40W fast charging, which can provide an hour’s worth of battery life in just 10 minutes.
A few of the Sound Joy’s headline features are exclusive to Android and others are only available if you own a Huawei smartphone or smartwatch. “Auto-discovery” ensures super-fast pairing with Huawei devices, while “one-touch transfer” immediately transfers what’s playing on your phone to the speaker via NFC on supported handhelds. There’s also unique functionality with certain Huawei smartwatches, which allows you to control volume and skip tracks from your wrist. Stereo pairing is also an option if you own a second Sound Joy and this can be set up by simply shaking the two speakers in question.
The Sound Joy is compatible with Huawei’s AI Life companion app and this is available on both Android and iOS, though the two versions aren’t exactly the same. The most notable omission in the iOS app is a setting that allows you to have the LED lighting ring pulsate in sync with the music that’s playing.
Huawei Sound Joy review: What do we like about it?
The Sound Joy uses a pretty generic cylindrical design but is very nicely constructed and can be positioned both vertically and horizontally, which is a neat touch. At a fraction over 20cm tall and 7cm wide, it’s a great size for chucking in a rucksack, while a weight of 680g ensures it can be lugged around using the removable carrying cord with minimal effort.
The speaker’s internal components are well-protected by a woven fabric that feels and looks premium while being able to withstand bumps and knocks. It’s dust-tight and water resistant, too, with an IP67 rating that can handle submersion in water up to 1m in depth for half an hour. It’s worth noting, however, that Huawei specifically states that damage due to immersion in liquid is not covered by the warranty.
Five separate buttons down the spine of the Sound Joy govern your key controls – power, voice assistant hailing, play/pause, Bluetooth pairing and stereo pairing – while large raised plus and minus symbols are used to adjust volume. It’s a well laid out and intuitive control interface and the key buttons illuminate, which makes it easy to find them in the dark.
I was impressed by the audio quality of last year’s Huawei Sound, and although the driver arrangement in the Sound Joy is less advanced, it’s still an enjoyable listen. A 20W racetrack-shaped driver works in tandem with a 10W tweeter and two passive radiators to deliver the sound, with the setup making use of Devialet’s Speaker Active Matching (SAM) technology.
SAM is a clever form of digital signal processing that takes into account the exact specifications of a speaker and adjusts audio signals so the acoustic pressure the speaker creates exactly matches that of the source material. The result is audio that’s more faithful to original recordings and, despite the lack of Hi-res codec support, the Sound Joy performs well across a variety of genres.
With the default Hi-Fi EQ active, the Sound Joy’s articulation of low-end frequencies is particularly potent, with passive radiators at either end of the cylindrical housing helping deliver a hefty punch on bassier tracks. This, combined with a reasonably wide soundstage and impressive sonic dispersion, make it a fine choice for use outdoors, where less capable speakers are left sounding flat and lifeless.
The Sound Joy has the stamina to deliver that punchy, energetic sound for hours on end – up to 26 hours, to be precise. That’s an impressive figure for a speaker of the Sound Joy’s size, and is four hours longer than options like the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3, Marshall Emberton and JBL Charge 5. It’s also more than twice the battery life of the Sonos Roam: the only Bluetooth speaker to receive our coveted Best Buy award in 2021.
Huawei Sound Joy review: What could be improved?
Though the Sound Joy impresses sonically, vocals do get overshadowed by the grandeur of bass tones on boomier tracks. Fortunately, there’s an option to decrease (or increase) bass by up to 6dB in the AI Life app, but having to frequently dip in and out of the app is far from ideal. That said, I’d definitely recommend dialling down the bass that way rather than engaging the Vocal EQ, which leaves the Joy sounding a little thin.
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In terms of EQs, the Sound Joy’s options are pretty threadbare. The only other alternative to Hi-Fi and Vocal is “Devialet mode” and there’s not a huge difference between it and the Hi-Fi mode. This, of course, is assuming you’re not using a Huawei phone. If you are, you’re flush with “sound effect” options covering a huge range of genres and the ability to create your own EQ presets. It’s a shame similar options aren’t available in the AI Life app as they would certainly enhance the Sound Joy’s appeal to those that don’t own a Huawei smartphone.
Similarly, the decision to not include the ring light syncing option in the iOS version of the app is tricky to fathom. By default, light syncing with audio is toggled off, so unless iOS users are able to enlist the assistance of a friend with an Android or Huawei phone, they’ll miss out on it. The light itself isn’t exactly mind blowing, but its ability to sync with audio is a welcome option that should really be accessible for everyone.
Huawei Sound Joy review: Should you buy it?
Huawei smartphone owners will struggle to find a portable Bluetooth speaker offering as keen a combination of audio quality, rugged design, battery life and customisation options for what the Sound Joy costs. You could spend a lot less on a speaker from a no-name Chinese brand, but it simply won’t have the same level of polish.
While it’s an easy recommendation for those that are part of the Huawei ecosystem, the Sound Joy is not quite as sure a bet for those that favour iOS. It remains a solid sonic performer you can use just about anywhere, but the absence of audio light syncing and limited audio customisations leave the door open for rivals from Sonos, JBL, Ultimate Ears and more.