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UE Wonderboom review: A waterproof mini Bluetooth speaker that packs a punch

Water-resistant and affordable, the UE Wonderboom is one of the fullest sounding mini Bluetooth speakers.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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3 min read

Update, June 4, 2019: Ultimate Ears has announced a sequel to this product. The UE Wonderboom 2 is slightly larger, adds longer battery life and offers stereo pairing. 

The Good

The Wonderboom is compact, fully waterproof, plays very loud for its size with a good amount of bass for its small size. It also floats in water, is shock resistant and has decent battery life. You can pair two Wonderbooms together to augment the sound.

The Bad

No speakerphone capabilities. It's slightly too bulky for travel use.

The Bottom Line

For its size, the affordable and durable UE Wonderboom is one of the fullest sounding mini Bluetooth speakers you can buy.

Meet the Wonderboom, the newest family member in Ultimate Ears' line of popular portable Bluetooth speakers. Available in six colors, the Wonderboom looks like the UE Boom 2's shorter, fatter sibling -- and like that model, it's also water-resistant. It carries a list price of $100, £80 or AU$130.

The idea behind this product was to create a compact speaker that produced big sound with a good amount of bass. That's what a lot of small speakers promise, but the Wonderboom really does sound great for its size. It's also got some nice heft to it, weighing a little under a pound (425 grams), and overall it feels solid and well built.

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The Wonderboom comes in six color options.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Alas, while it floats, it's not designed to play music while hanging out in your pool (the identically priced UE Roll 2 comes with an accessory blow-up floatie), but at least it won't sink if it falls into the water. And if it gets dirty, you can rinse it off. It also has an integrated loop that allows you to attach the speaker to anything the loop can fit around -- perhaps a hook in your shower. Sadly, no carabiner is included but you could pick one up for a few bucks.

As for buttons, the UE button on the top of the speaker lets you play, pause, skip tracks and double up with a second Wonderboom speaker to augment the sound. You can't, however, turn two speakers into left/right stereo pairs. There's also no integrated microphone -- so no speakerphone capabilities -- nor is there an auxiliary input option for a wired connection.

Battery life is rated at 10 hours, which is decent for a speaker this size. The Wonderboom is shock resistant. It can be dropped from up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) and has an extended wireless range of up to 100 feet (30 meters) under the right conditions. I accidentally dropped it on a carpeted floor from about about 4 feet on a couple of occasions and it survived without a problem.

While the speaker does have its sound limitations -- for example, it does distort with certain bass frequencies at higher volumes -- it is one of the better sounding micro Bluetooth speakers you'll come across.

I compared it to the JBL FLip 4, which retails for the same price. The Wonderboom plays bigger and sounds fuller overall. That said, I thought the Flip 4 was a little stronger in the midrange (the Wonderboom has a touch of sibilance there) and with certain tracks the JBL was the more likable speaker.

However, the Wonderboom outperformed it on most bass-heavy tracks and given the choice between the two speakers -- for sound anyway -- I'd take the Wonderboom. As with all these small speakers, their performance varies from track to track and you'll go from saying to yourself, "Wow, that's sounds good for such a small speaker," to cringing a little and saying, "Well, that's a little rough."

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The speaker is fully submersible and can be washed out if it it gets dirty.

Sarah Tew/CNET

That unevenness is par for the mini Bluetooth speaker course, but to its credit, the Wonderboom sounds consistently better than many of its competitors, and its bass is arguably better than the UE Boom 2's. That speaker sounds a little more natural in the midrange -- and has superior battery life -- but the Wonderboom may be the better value.

Hopefully, the Wonderboom will come down in price a bit because the UE Boom 2 is being discounted and is an appealing option. Ultimate Ears says that the slimmer and more travel-friendly Roll 2, meanwhile, will stay in the lineup, and is already being discounted for almost half off.

With the pricing still shaking out, it's hard to tell you exactly which UE speaker to buy, but the Wonderboom is certainly a strong new addition to the line.

Key specs

  • IPX7-rated water resistance (can be immersed in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes) and able to float on its own
  • 10 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels
  • Connect two Wonderboom speakers together to augment the sound
  • UE button on the top of the speaker lets you play, pause and skip your music.
  • Drop-tested to 5 feet
  • Up to 100-foot wireless range
  • Height: 102mm
  • Diameter: 93.5mm
  • Weight: 15 ounces (425 grams)
  • Two-year limited hardware warranty

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8.3

UE Wonderboom

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Sound 8Value 8
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