The market for Bluetooth speakers has exploded in the past few years, and with good reason: quality has increased and prices have dropped. Every model can stream music from nearly any phone or tablet, many of them double as speakerphones, too.
We at CNET have been reviewing them at a steady clip, and we've rounded up more than two dozen of our favorite models, focusing on small and lightweight units that are best suited to travel. Some of the "older" models have been discontinued, but are perfectly fine and continue to be offered for sale at great prices, so we're keeping them in the roundup until they completely disappear from the market.
Originally published Aug. 5, 2014. Update, July 31, 2018: Added the JBL Clip 3. Update, Dec. 14, 2018: Added Sony SRS-XB01, UE Boom 3, JBL Charge 4, Boom Swimmer Duo.
Bose's SoundLink Micro is arguably the best-sounding speaker for its tiny size. Although it's a little pricey, Bose did shave $10 off its list price, bringing it down to $99. It's fully waterproof and available in three color options.
Not only does this fully waterproof speaker (IPX7) have improved battery life and better sound than the Clip 2, it's more durable, according to JBL, thanks to the integrated carabiner framing the entire perimeter of the speaker, acting as a bumper. It's one of the top speakers for its tiny size. It sells for $60 (£50, AU$80).
The Wonderboom is one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers for its compact size -- and it's fully waterproof, which makes it shower-friendly. It started out at $100 but is now down to less than $60 online.
The UE Boom 2 originally listed for $200 (£179, AU$180), but has now come down in price to around $100 online. It delivers big sound for its size and is a great choice for outdoor use (it's fully waterproof).
The newer Boom 3 offers some small improvements but costs $150.
The UE Boom 3 ($150) is the same cylindrical shape, but it's been redesigned, mostly for the better. The new fabric wrap is supposed to be more durable, and the speaker is rated to withstand falls of up to a meter. It's also fully waterproof and even floats if you happen to drop it in a body of water.
From a sound standpoint, I don't think the Boom 3 is much of an upgrade over the Boom 2, which sounded very good for this type of speaker -- particularly outdoors, thanks to its 360-degree sound dispersion.
JBL's $150 Charge 4 Bluetooth speaker features improved sound over the Charge 3 (bigger bass), better battery life (20 hours) and some other small upgrades. For now, it's about $50 more than the Charge 3 but should come down in price with time.
JBL's Charge speakers are a little bigger than the company's Flip series speakers and are named "Charge" because of their ability to charge devices, thanks to a built-in USB-out port.
Credit B&O Play for creating a Bluetooth speaker that doesn't look like anything out there already. Although it's expensive at $249, £199 in the UK and AU$379 in Australia, it sounds impressive for its small size and has a high-quality speakerphone.
Now that the JBL Clip 3 is out, the Clip 2 has come down in price to $40. The Clip 3 does offer a little better sound, but this earlier version is also waterproof and has a handy tuck-away cord you can plug into your audio source if need be. The Clip 2 is available in the UK for £30-£40 and AU$79 in Australia.
A lot of these small Bluetooth speakers sound fairly similar, but the JBL Pulse 2 manages to distinguish itself with a built-in light show that's fairly mesmerizing. It lists for $200, £170 or AU$300, but can be had for close to half that (around $100) online because there's a newer Pulse 3.
We were fans of UE's original Roll Bluetooth speaker, a compact, waterproof wireless speaker with a unique design that sounded very good for its size and has decent battery life. The UE Roll 2, which retails for $100 USD (£80, AU$95), but can be had for significantly less online, offers improved range and plays louder. It's one of our favorite mini Bluetooth speakers.
With the better sounding Flip 4 out on the market, JBL's older Flip 3 is being sold at a discount. A 2015 model, you can now find it online closer to $70 and for as low as £73 or AU$117 in the UK and Australia, respectively.
The Beats Pill+, which charges via Apple's Lightning cable, has a lot to like about it if you can overlook its inflated list price: $229, £189, and AU$267. But it is being discounted online to around $130 (£100), which makes it a lot more appealing.
The Bose SoundLink Mini II has been out for a while but is still good mini Bluetooth speaker with excellent build quality and impressive sound quality for its size. It's come down in price a little since the newer Revolve and Revolve Plus came out last last year.
Polk's Boom Bit -- also referred to as the Bity -- is a tiny speaker you can clip to your shirt. As you might expect, it doesn't sound great, but it works well as a wearable speakerphone in the car and can be used for running and on bike rides.
We reviewed Divoom's original Voombox Outdoor and thought it was pretty good for $100. Now the Voombox Outdoor 2 sells for $60 (£40) online and plays very loud for its small size, though it can distort at higher volumes.
Polk Audio's Boom Swimmer Duo is a small waterproof wireless speaker that has a bendable tail which allows you to hook the speaker onto anything you want. When it was first released, it listed for $60 (£50, AU$79), but can now be had for significantly less online.
It also comes with a suction cup, so you can attach it to the wall -- or glass -- in your shower. It offers better sound than its small size would indicate, but it gets on the list for its flexible, bathroom-friendly design. Available in multiple color options.