The New Sonos One SL Is a Reminder That Smart Devices Have a Short Shelf Life

The New Sonos One SL Is a Reminder That Smart Devices Have a Short Shelf Life
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

The Sonos One SL is getting a small upgrade in the form of a power-efficient wireless radio and more sustainable materials. There is, however, a slight catch for Sonos users with older devices.

An FCC filing for the new One SL speaker popped up on Monday. That said, it doesn’t come with any new features or added functionality. In fact, in a statement provided to the Verge, Sonos said the main reason the upgraded speaker even needed a new filing was due to the new wireless radio. It also noted that the One SL will have a redesigned base that eliminates extra plastic and stickering. It’s also going to have more sustainable packaging, which Sonos first introduced with its portable Roam speaker. All this sounds neat, but if you’re thinking of buying a new One SL, you ought to keep in mind that it’ll only work with the newer Sonos S2 app.

This won’t be a problem for every Sonos owner, especially if you bought all your Sonos devices in the past year or two. It might be an issue, however, if you’re still operating a mix of newer and older Sonos hardware. Namely, the “legacy” Sonos products that were “killed off” last year. Those legacy gadgets will only work with the S1 app, and although Sonos committed to providing updates for these devices, controlling a mix of legacy and current Sonos gadgets isn’t possible on the S2 app.

While it’ll undoubtedly be annoying for some Sonos customers, none of this should come as a surprise. Sonos has been warning for over a year now that all products that launched after May 2020 would be exclusive to the S2 app. However, the previous Sonos One SL was compatible with the S1 system, so if you were hoping that all One SLs would continue to work the S1 — I got some bad news.

When the S2 app launched last June, Sonos suggested a few avenues customers with older hardware could take. Barring a full upgrade to S2-compatible devices, the options were to either keep everything on the S1 app or to split devices into two groups — one operated by the S1 app, the other by the S2 app.

Put simply, we’re starting to come up against the limits of how much longer legacy devices will be able to function as they were intended. However, Sonos has taken steps recently to extend the life of its gadgets. Back in January, the company announced it would sell affordably priced, DIY battery replacement kits for its Sonos Move speaker. It also backtracked on bricking older Sonos speakers for recycling, allowing people to have a greater choice in what they do with older gadgets.

Listen, there’s no elegant way to transition older IoT devices to newer platforms — it’s just something to keep in mind when investing in connected hardware.