Sphero Bolt Review: Fun and Learning With the Latest Robotic Ball

Krystal DeVille

Sphero Bolt Hands on Review.

As a tech enthusiast, particularly a robot enthusiast, I’ve seen my fair share of gadgets come and go. The Sphero Bolt has a unique character that both my kids and I took an interest in. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll know that my son has put together and tested a dozen or so coding robots.

When first pulled out of its package, the Bolt seems like a nifty, programmable sphere, like a futuristic toy. However, the Bolt is more than just something to play with; it’s a tool designed to introduce the concepts of coding and robotics to kids and adults alike.

As I mentioned, we’ve reviewed quite a few coding robots, going through the initial setup, recommended programs/activities, and generally just putting them through the paces. I’ll compare Sphero to the best robots we have, along with any downsides you might find.

Article Highlights

  • The Sphero Bolt is a versatile tool that provides a hands-on approach to learning code and robotics.
  • It offers an easy setup through the Sphero Edu app that makes learning fun.
  • The Bolt combines durability, community support, and a balanced price point, making it a valuable educational resource.

Overview of the Sphero Bolt

So, what is The Spero Bolt?

It’s a cool little gadget that’s rolling into the hearts of tech enthusiasts and educators alike. It’s not just a toy; it’s a tool that’s educational you and your kids can have fun with.

Blending features with a build that’s designed to last.

Key Features of The Sphero Bolt

  • Programmable 8×8 LED Matrix: Offers a unique way to express creativity or display real-time data. You’ll see the LED lights on top that can change color or display text (images).
  • Sensors Galore: Includes light sensors, a magnetometer (that’s a fancy word for compass sensor), and infrared (IR) sensors for interactive games and advanced maneuvers.
  • Educational Aspect: Pairs with the Sphero Edu app, which utilizes a block-based visual programming language, making it a great entry point for kids (and adults!) into the world of coding. Once my son and I dug in deeper, this became one of the best parts about Sphero.

Design and Build Quality of Sphero Bolt

  • Looks: The Bolt retains the iconic spherical design, about the size of a tennis ball, perfect for rolling around without any awkward edges.
  • Materials: Made with a translucent shell that not only looks pretty slick but also lets me peek at the robotics inside. This isn’t some cheap plastic. Right when I picked it up, I could feel that it had a tough outer shell.
  • Durability: It feels sturdy and durable, suggesting it can take more than a few bumps and thumps without breaking a sweat – or a circuit.

Setting Up the Sphero Bolt

Sphero Bolt Charging Cradle.
Sphero Bolt sitting in its charging cradle.

It’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t take much time at all. We’ve had robots that we didn’t know where to start or get started. We were able to jump right in with the Spero set-up.

I started by charging the Bolt using the included charging cradle. Just place the Bolt in the cradle, connect it to a power source, and it’ll light up to indicate it’s charging.

Gif of Sphero in its dock.
Sphero Bolt finds the right place to charge in its dock automatically.

One thing that I thought was really cool was when we set Sphero in its dock, it did this little wiggle to get in the right place. Meaning, that because it’s wireless charging, you can set it down, and Sphero will find the right place to charge. Kind of neat!

Once the Bolt was powered up, my son grabbed the iPad and went along to download the Sphero Edu App.

This app is essential for controlling the Bolt. I made sure whatever device you’re using has Bluetooth enabled. This is so it can pair with the Bolt—just a quick trip to the settings menu, and you’re ready to connect.

I opened the Sphero Edu App, followed the on-screen instructions, and in just a couple of taps, my Bolt was paired and ready to roll. The app found the Bolt right away. I also noticed that it can find multiple Sphero Bolts at the same time. We only have one, but it gives the option to “tap” the one you want to control.

Just a thought in case you want to get more than one robot.

I also signed up for their newsletter so we don’t miss out on anything new about the Bolt.

The app is easy to use. Its menu is laid out and easy for kids to get. We didn’t need any advanced tech knowledge to figure it out, which I appreciate.

The last step in my setup process was to explore the app, check out sample projects, and get a feel for the coding environment. There is a section you should probably start with.

Sphero app interface.

Remember that the Sphero Bolt’s range goes up to 100 feet, giving tons of space to play around with it. It’s all about trial and error here, but the learning curve is part of the fun.

Fun with Sphero Bolt

Sphero Bolt in Magna Tile Maze.
Sphero Bolt in Magna Tile Maze.

Before we get into some of the technical stuff and support, let’s check out the fun you can have with Sphero Bolt!

I’ve found that the Bolt is more than just a high-tech ball; it’s a hub for creativity and entertainment.

Whether I’m programming it for educational purposes or just for kicks, this little robot ball never fails to amuse.

We’ve had a lot of robots, but there is something about it being a ball that makes my kids comfortable right away with getting started.

Games and Activities

There are a ton of games and activities you can do with Bolt. It’s incredibly engaging to see my kids create games using the app’s block coding system.

For example:

  • Obstacle Courses: My kids design courses using magnetic tiles and let the Bolt navigate its way through. You can do this by just “driving it” or drawing it on the screen. Also, they can program where to go. Think, “straight a few inches, left, then straight again.”
  • Tag: You can play a game of tag with other Bolt users, thanks to its infrared (IR) sensors that allow multiple Bolts to communicate.
  • Maze Challenges: Program that can guide the Bolt through a maze as fast as possible.

The activities are not limited to solo adventures either. Thanks to the app, I can connect and compete with a global community of Bolt users. You can see what other people have come up with, finding new ways to use their robots and fun games.

Custom Animations and Display

Custom Animations and Display on Sphero Bol.t

The Bolt is its customizable 8×8 LED matrix that lights up to display various animations. It’s one of the things you’ll notice right away.

Let me break down the fun we had with this feature:

  • Expressive Displays: I create animations to express emotions or reactions. It’s a kick when the Bolt looks as thrilled as we are.
  • Dynamic Responses: Using the light sensors, you can program the Bolt to change its display in response to light changes in the room—nifty for creating a sort of interactive mood light.

By combining games and animations, Bolt sessions are a blend of both brain exercise and a downright good time.

Educational Value

It’s got features that educators dream of for a classroom setting and kids eat up because it feels like playtime, not schoolwork.

Sphero Edu Platform

For starters, I’m seriously impressed with the Sphero Edu app.

Block coding comes to life as I drag and drop commands to control the Bolt’s movements and actions.

My son going through block coding.
My son is going through block coding instructions on the app.

And it’s not just limited to basics like Scratch. You can go from blocks to JavaScript coding, which gives a solid foundation for more advanced programming languages down the line.

I go over it more in this article about coding for kids. But if your kids are just learning to code, they should start with an easy-to-use coding language like Scratch or block coding. After they get the hang of that the next language they can get use to is JavaScript.


It’s an excellent tool for kids or anyone new to coding because it’s so intuitive.

  • Compatible Devices: Windows, iOS, Android.
  • Coding Languages: Block coding to JavaScript.
  • Features: Activities, games, community.

Classroom Applications

Classrooms can have students pair up to tackle challenges, fostering teamwork alongside problem-solving skills.

And because the Bolt is so interactive, they won’t feel like they are in a typical school setting. Schools can benefit greatly because it aligns with STEM learning objectives, and for teachers, that’s a plus.

  • Learning Skills: Problem-solving, Teamwork, Creativity.
  • STEM Integration: Robotics, Physics, Mathematics.
  • Teacher Resources: Lesson plans, Community support.

Programming with Sphero Bolt

My son spent some quality time getting to know Sphero Bolt’s programming capabilities, and he was pretty impressed. Coding with this robot ball isn’t just about writing commands; it’s an engaging way to learn programming concepts.

Coding Languages Supported

Let me start with the options you have for coding languages when you roll with Bolt.

The major player here is JavaScript, a favorite among many developers. The Sphero Edu app provides a JavaScript mode, so if you’re already familiar with this language, you’re in luck. If not, you’ll learn along the way.

That means you’re not just limited to basic drag-and-drop; you can script more complex programs too.

Block-Based Programming

Now, if you’re new to coding or prefer something more visual, block-based programming is your friend.

Bolt uses an interface similar to Scratch, developed by MIT, which is all about snapping together coding blocks to create programs.

In my article here, you can learn more about coding languages and how to explain coding to kids.

This makes the Bolt incredibly friendly for beginners or younger users. It’s a hands-on way to learn coding logic without getting bogged down in syntax.

  • Interface: Drag-and-drop blocks.
  • Inspiration: Modeled after Scratch.
  • Learning Curve: Great for beginners.

Advanced Programming Features

Bolt doesn’t just stop at basics, though.

For starters, you can use the included sensors like the light sensor and magnetometer (compass) in your code, giving you the ability to respond to environmental changes.

You also have the ability to program IR-based communication between multiple Bolts, which opens up possibilities for collaborative robot fun.

Moreover, if you’re a bit more tech-savvy (or work up to it), you can graduate to the Sphero Edu app’s advanced features.

You can use this to get into sensor data, control LED patterns, and even integrate with third-party apps like Swift Playgrounds on iOS.

It’s a fantastic way to level up your programming skills with real-time feedback and results you can actually see and interact with.

Interactivity and Sensors

Sphero Bolt in the grass with my son.

The Sphero Bolt is chock-full of sensors that make interacting with it a total blast.

Sensor Capabilities

Let’s talk about what’s under the hood of the Sphero Bolt. It’s decked out with a bunch of sensors that give it some serious smarts:

  • Accelerometer: Detects changes in motion and angle. Perfect for tracking those fancy flips and rolls I like to make it do.
  • Gyroscope: Helps the Bolt keep balanced no matter what stunts it’s pulling off.
  • Compass: This is basically the Bolt’s inner GPS. It knows where it’s headed, which comes in handy when it’s navigating around obstacles.
  • Light Sensor: Not only does it see the light, but the Bolt can also follow it or even run away from it, depending on how you program it.

LED Matrix and Lights

The display gives the bolt a unique look, while also making it more approachable.

  • Basic graphics and animations – it really brings it to life.
  • Real-time data from its sensors – which is pretty cool to see as it rolls around.

Plus, the transparent shell means the multi-color LEDs make the whole Bolt light up, which looks awesome in a dark room.

Interactive Playing Modes

Here’s a quick look:

  • Light chasing: Using its light sensor, the Bolt can chase down a flashlight beam or any other light source you aim it at.
  • Avoidance: Program the Bolt to freak out and roll away from the light, like it’s some sort of vampire robot.
  • Coding games: The sensors make for some involving games that respond to how you move and interact with it.

Playing with the Sphero Bolt never really gets old. There’s always a new way to use its sensors and lights to create a unique experience.

This robot has longevity, and your kids will continue to explore new ways to use it.

Whether my son is coding his way through a sensor-driven obstacle course or turning off the lights for a LED light show, it sure keeps him on my toes!

Battery and Charging

The Sphero ball and dock.

Once we set it up to charge, it took about six hours to go from completely drained to fully charged.

The cradle it comes with is wireless charging. No fumbling with wires or ports.

As for the battery life itself, it’s a bit of a balancing act. If I’m using it non-stop, actively running programs and lighting up that cool LEDs, we notice the battery life hovers around two hours or so, which aligns with what Sphero claims.

It’s not bad, especially if you’re writing programs. It’s easy to keep the charging cradle close by while you’re looking at the screen.

Speaking of the charging cradle, it’s as straightforward as it gets. It’s an inductive charging base, meaning all you have to do is just place the Bolt on it, and it starts juicing up — no need to perfectly align anything.

The charging cradle of the sphero bolt.
You can see the charging cradle here.

The base connects with a USB cable that was included. You can plug it into a computer or a USB wall charger, which I find quite convenient.

Durability and Design

The Sphero Bolt stands out with its sturdy build.

Material and Construction

The Sphero Bolt’s shell is known for reliability. It’s crafted with a strong, transparent plastic material that showcases the intricate hardware inside. This clever design does more than just look cool; it contributes to the Bolt’s durability.

The core components—similar to those found in the original Sphero—have withstood the test of time in my experience.

  • Materials Used: High-grade transparent plastic.
  • Core Components: Comparable to the original Sphero in terms of resilience.

My kids haven’t beat it up too much, but so far, we’ve found it handles the occasional bump and tumble without hiccup.

They do make a cover that goes over the ball while still transparent. You can find that here.

Water Resistance

Sphero Bolt in water.
Sphero Bolt is water resistant up to 15ft.

The Sphero Bolt is designed to take a splash and keep rolling.

  • Feature: Water-resistant design.
  • My Experience: Handles incidental water contact well.

However, it’s key to note that while it is water-resistant, it’s not waterproof—there’s a difference. I make sure not to submerge it fully in water, as it’s not designed for deep dives.

Community and Support

It’s definitely comforting knowing that help and additional learning materials are just a few clicks away.

Online Resources

There are a ton of tutorials and videos on the Sphero Edu app, which acts as a central hub for all things educational with this gadget.

I can confidently say that these tutorials covered a broad range of topics, from the basics of getting started to more advanced coding projects.

The community around Bolt is active, which adds to the learning experience. It’s almost like having virtual classmates to learn and share with.

Price and Value

Sphero Bolt is around a $150 to $180. You can find the current price here.

If this is you first coding robot it might seem like a lot. I bought a few for my kids over the years and I think the price tag is well worth it. To compare, I think the coding robot Clicbot was around $1000. You can see my review of Clicbot here.

So, what’s making the Bolt worth it? It’s all about the fusion of fun and education. This little robot is designed to make learning to code a blast. And, it does that.

And it’s not just a fling; this bot is built to last, promising a long-term companion on your coding journey.

Let me toss some quick specs at you: We’ve got a 2.9 inch diameter robot with a nifty LED screen, and the programming app? It’s pretty ace.

It comes with a slew of sample projects to get your gears turning. And, it’s worth mentioning the 2-hour battery life—not too shabby for a decent coding session.

In terms of value, it’s like this: if you, your kid, or your students are itching to get into coding, the Bolt provides the tools wrapped in a neat, engaging package.

If you do decide to pick up the Sphero Bolt, please let me know down in the comments how you like it and some activities you’ve enjoyed!

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve noticed a lot of the same questions popping up when it comes to the Sphero BOLT. So, I’ve gathered some answers that should cover what you’re curious about, especially if you’re considering grabbing one of these cool little robots.

How does the Sphero BOLT’s battery life compare to other Sphero models?

The Sphero BOLT has a pretty impressive battery life. On a single charge, it can roll around for more than two hours. That’s a decent improvement over some of the older models, which means more play and learn time before it needs to hit the charger again.

What unique features does the BOLT offer for educational coding purposes?

One of the cool things BOLT brings to the table is its programmable LED matrix on top. It lights up to display data, animations, or even helps in programming concepts.

There’s also a bunch of sensors like light sensors, a compass, and infrared, making it a cool tool for learning the ropes of coding in a practical, hands-on way.

What ages is the Sphero BOLT most suitable for?

The BOLT’s design is pretty versatile, which makes it great for kids as young as eight, but even teenagers and adults find it engaging. My five-year-old, while he can play and control it on the iPad, hasn’t started coding yet.

What are the main differences between Sphero BOLT and Sphero Mini?

Well, BOLT is the bigger sibling with a bunch of extra features. The Mini is like BOLT’s light version. It’s smaller and doesn’t have the LED matrix or the advanced sensors, but it’s still a blast to play with if you’re looking for something simple and a bit more budget-friendly.

You can see all the features and current price of the Mini here.

What accessories come with the Sphero BOLT when you purchase it?

The BOLT comes with a few handy things in the box: a charging cradle, a USB charging cable, and some stickers to get you started.

They don’t pack it with a ton of extras, but you’ll have everything you need to kick off your coding adventure.

Author: Krystal DeVille

Title: STEM Education Guide Founder

Expertise: Homeschooling, Kids Education, Parenting

Krystal DeVille is an accomplished journalist and homeschooling mother who created STEM Education Guide, a site that revolutionizes learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for children. It makes complex subjects engaging and understandable with innovative, hands-on approaches.

Krystal DeVille

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