It's hard to describe any products from Anker, the upstart accessory manufacturer, as high-end. But the splash-resistant SoundCore Boost is currently its top of the line mini Bluetooth speaker. It costs $80 or £60; it's currently not available in Australia but the US price converts to about AU$100. That may not may seem like a lot of money, but the speaker is twice as expensive as its smaller sibling, the SoundCore 2 speaker. While it may not quite sound twice as good, it does sound significantly better. From a performance standpoint competes with such products as the JBL Flip 4 and UE Wonderboom, which list for about 25 percent more.
Like the SoundCore 2, the 1.29 lb. (0.59 kg) SoundCore Boost has a straightforward, low-frills design that's highlighted by a soft-to-the-touch rubberized finish and nice, big buttons on top for power, volume control, pause/playback and Bluetooth connectivity. The finish does get a little marked up with handing, especially if your hands are a little grimy, but that was my only real design complaint.
I had no problem pairing it and the wireless range was good (Anker lists it as 66 feet or about 20 meters). A rubber gasket covers the USB charging port and 3.5mm auxiliary input, which allows you to connect non-Bluetooth devices. Additionally, there's a built-in microphone for making speakerphone calls, but don't expect business-class performance. Its water resistance is rated at IPX5, which means it should survive splashes and water nozzles, but it's not designed to be dunkproof.
It's also worth noting that -- like JBL's Charge speakers -- this one has a USB-out port so you can use it to charge phones, wireless headphones or other small devices (you'll need to supply your own Lightning or USB-C cable, of course). The internal battery is listed at 5,200mAh, which allows you to play the speaker at moderate volume levels for around 12 hours.
The "Boost" naming comes from a button on the speaker that boosts the bass using Anker's "patented BassUp technology." Once I engaged that boost I pretty much left it on, because the speaker sounds better with the boost activated -- something that's not always the case with "sound enhancement" modes. It takes the speaker from sounding a little flat and thin to sounding fuller and bigger with strong bass for its small size.
We fed it some pretty hard material -- music that often makes other small speakers distort -- and the SoundCore Boost did surprisingly well. The alt-J track "3WW" has some deep bass frequencies that the SoundCore 2 couldn't resolve without warbling, but SoundCore Boost handled the track without a problem, even at louder volumes (it does play quite loud for its size).
There's a little bit of presence boost, but the treble isn't accentuated enough to give the speaker a harsh edge. As I said, sound-wise this is in the same league as speakers like the JBL Flip 4 that cost a bit more. It's not quite on par in terms of design or build quality, but performance-wise it delivers.