There are so many reasons to get a Bluetooth speaker. Maybe you want an outdoor speaker for socially distanced gatherings, maybe you need great sound that can be moved on a whim, or perhaps you're building surround sound with multiple speakers in your home theater. Regardless of your reason, there's almost certainly a portable speaker with powerful sound to meet your needs.
In our quest to find the best Bluetooth, we considered factors such as battery life, sound quality and more -- below, we present our current contenders, including , pocket-size micro versions and heftier models with powerful audio. Looking for more? We can also recommend the and the .
Anker's Soundcore Motion Plus came out in 2019 and managed to slip beneath my radar, which is a shame because it's arguably one of the best-sounding speakers under $100, if not the best. It's larger than many mini Bluetooth speakers but still compact and manages to sound quite a bit fuller than much of the competition under $100, with bigger bass, more volume and better clarity. It's also fully waterproof (IPX7 rated) and has support for the aptX streaming codec for devices like Samsung's Galaxy phones that support it.
Tribit's StormBox Micro is one of the best sounding pocket-sized Bluetooth speakers I've tested, with bigger bass and volume than most other tiny speakers. It lists for $50 but often gets discounted to $40 or less.
Aside from its great design, Bose's SoundLink Micro stood out because it was able to deliver more bass than every Bluetooth speaker in its size class, and it also managed to have limited distortion at higher volumes. And it's the Tribit's bass and overall volume level for its tiny size that allows it to stand out.
It's IP67 dustproof and water-resistant (it can be fully submerged in shallow water for a short time) and has up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels with USB-C charging. Like the Bose, this portable Bluetooth speaker has an integrated strap so you can clip it to your backpack or bike's handlebars.
For its first three generations, JBL's Clip micro Bluetooth speaker had a circular design. But for the fourth-gen Clip 4, JBL has moved to a more oval shape, bulked up the speaker slightly and added USB-C charging. It does seem more durable, with a sturdier integrated carabiner "clip." Also, it sounds a little better, with more volume, clearer sound and more bass. With an IP67 water-resistance rating, it's not quite fully waterproof (the Clip 3 is), but it's now dustproof.
One of the best wireless Bluetooth speakers for its tiny speaker size, the Clip speaker sells for $70 but should come down in price a bit later in the year. The older Clip 3 is frequently discounted.
Anker's $100 Soundcore Motion Boom is what I'd call a mini boombox speaker. It's kind of a poor man's version of JBL's well-regarded Xtreme 2 speaker, which currently sells for around $200 though its list price is higher. Equipped with a handle and weighing a little over 4 pounds, the speaker reminds me of one of those giant flashlights or "floating lanterns" that were in vogue about 30 years ago. For the record, the Motion Boom actually does float and is fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating.
Anker says the Motion Boom delivers "huge stereo sound" and yes, it plays pretty loud and has a decent amount of bass with reasonable clarity. (I kept the bass boost on at all times because the speaker sounds better with bass boost on.) It can't compete against bigger and more expensive speakers like JBL's Boombox 2 ($400) and Ultimate Ears' Hyperboom ($400), but it packs a lot more volume and punch than more compact Bluetooth speakers like JBL's Flip 5 that cost around the same. It also travels well, so it's ideal for a beach excursion or a little tailgating.
Ultimate Ears Boom Bluetooth speakers come in a few different sizes, but none of them are as big as the all-new Hyberboom. A supersize wireless speaker that tips the scales at a hefty 13 pounds, the Hyperboom makes the UE Megaboom 3 look unquestionably puny. It's not cheap, but its sound quality is better than a lot of the jumbo portable speakers on the market right now.
UE Boom reps told me the Hyperboom was created after the company got feedback from its customers looking for a bigger speaker that could play loud enough and have deep enough bass to power a party. The speaker can do just that -- Ultimate Ears says it's three times as loud and has six-and-a-half times the bass of Megaboom 3 -- and has no trouble filling a fairly large room with sound.
At $33, the Tribit XSound Go is one of the top Bluetooth speakers for the money. Besides sounding decent for streaming your favorite music and more, this affordable Bluetooth speaker is also fully waterproof.
We liked Ultimate Ears' original Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker, which sounded good for its compact speaker size and was also waterproof. Now the company has released the Wonderboom 2, which is a touch bigger than the original and sounds slightly better for streaming your favorite music, with more bass and a special Outdoor Boost mode that boosts treble.
Like its predecessor, the fully waterproof Wonderboom 2 with Bluetooth connection carries a list price of $100, but often sells for less. What's different is the IP67 rating that means it's dustproof, more shock-resistant and also able to float. This bluetooth device also has 30% better battery life -- lasting up to 13 hours at moderate volume levels, according to Ultimate Ears -- and you can link two together to create a stereo sound pairing by pressing a button on each speaker.
The Tribit MaxSound Plus ($58) is about 30% bigger than its sibling XSound Go and costs about $25 more, but it performs substantially better and is one of the best-sounding speakers in its size and price class. It has a long-lasting rechargeable lithium-ion battery and superior sound quality for a Bluetooth speaker.
JBL's Flip 5 ($100) is slightly bigger than the older Flip 4, which now costs around $80, with improved sound that features a little more bass. It has an IPX7 waterproof certification, which means this small speaker can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes and survive. Tribit's StormBox is about $30 less and plays louder, but I like the tonal balance of the Flip 5 better. It also offers USB-C charging.
Bang & Olufsen has upgraded its dome-shaped aluminum-clad A1 speaker with improved battery life, better speakerphone performance (it now has a 3-microphone array) and slightly improved sound. It's not only the smallest wireless speaker from the Danish company, but also the most affordable at $249 (you can get certain colors for $225).
While the speaker drivers remain the same, the Qualcomm chipset that powers the speaker has been upgraded (the speaker uses Bluetooth 5.1), bumping the sound quality a tad, particularly at higher volumes, with better digital signal processing. It remains one of the best-sounding mini Bluetooth speakers, with richer more tonally balanced sound than other Bluetooth speakers its size -- and it should sound good, considering its elevated price point.
It's also worth noting that the A1 has multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect this to your PC and smartphone at the same time and easily switch back and forth between the two if a call comes in on your phone. Additionally, the speaker is Alexa-enabled, meaning you can activate Amazon's voice-assistant by just saying "Alexa."
Battery life is rated at up to 18 hours at 50% volume (the earlier A1 didn't live up to its battery life claims but this number is more accurate) and if you can afford it, you can link two A1 speakers to create a stereo pair. The speaker is waterproof with an IPX 67 rating that allows it to be submerged briefly in shallow water.
Tribit's StormBox speaker looks like a cross between a UE and a JBL speaker. We suspect that's not an accident. This fully waterproof speaker costs about $50 less than the JBL Flip 5 and produces bigger sound and has up to 20 hours of battery life to play music and more. Tribit's XSound speakers are probably a better value, but the Stormbox is more stylish.
Bose SoundLink Micro is arguably the best-sounding speaker for its tiny size. Although this Bose SoundLink is a little pricey, Bose did shave $10 off its list price, bringing it down to $99. It's a fully waterproof Bluetooth speaker and available in three Bose SoundLink color options.
The JBL Bluetooth speaker that received the biggest improvements for 2021 is among the company's smallest. The JBL Go 3 has a completely new look -- it's now covered in durable fabric instead of having the naked plastic design of its Go predecessors -- and that new design coupled with surprisingly decent sound for its small size makes the Go 3 ($40, £35 AU$70) one of the top micro Bluetooth speakers out there.
Available in multiple color options, it has an IPX 67 water-resistance rating (it can be dunked in water and is dustproof). Battery life is rated at up to 5 hours.
The Sonos Move is the company's first portable indoor-outdoor Bluetooth speaker, complete with a built-in rechargeable battery that's good for 900 charges or roughly three years and is replaceable. It's Wi-Fi-enabled and can be linked to other Sonos speakers in your home system -- Sonos says the Move has the best Wi-Fi connectivity of any of its speakers to date. It also has a Bluetooth connection, so you can take it out of range of your Wi-Fi network and stream directly from your Android, iPhone or any Bluetooth-enabled audio device.
Bose's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Portable Home Speaker is more compact and easier to carry around than the Sonos Move and costs a little less. This Bose speaker delivers big sound for its relatively small size (the Sonos does sound better, however) and links with other speakers in the brand's Wi-Fi Home speaker line to create a multiroom audio system.