Using your smartphone or tablet’s built-in speakers should only ever be a last resort if you want to listen to your favourite playlists. With many Bluetooth speakers out there, it’s the perfect time to invest in a great device for a superior listening experience. You don’t even have to worry about buying a bulky unit that’s tied into a power supply.
Plenty of portable Bluetooth speakers are high quality, while also offering the flexibility of a great battery life and added convenience. These are great for taking out with you while you’re hiking, or simply for when you’re travelling away for the weekend and you still want to listen to your tunes in the hotel room.
Our personal favourite is the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom, but there are other great options out there too, if you want to try something a little different. We’ve broken down the best of the bunch, so you’re sure to buy a great portable Bluetooth speaker.
True 360-degree sound • Floats and can be submerged in water
Highs aren’t as great at high volumes • No speakerphone feature • No USB-C charging (just microUSB)
This powerful little speaker packs a punch, and is an excellent option for holidays with a pool – it even floats.
Ultimate Ears WonderboomA pod-like device, the Wonderboom boasts truly 360-degree sound so it’s perfect for getting the most from your music.
The company has outdone itself with the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom, pumping out far more bass than its predecessors, although not quite as much as its rivals. A pod-like device, the Wonderboom boasts truly 360-degree sound so it’s perfect for getting the most from your music. The mids and mid-basses sound consistently great, with highs sounding good until you hit high volumes.
Impressively, it’s also IPX7-rated, meaning you can submerge the speaker in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. It floats too, so it’s perfect for pool parties. Its controls are sealed by rubberised membrane so it can stand up to most average abuse, even if you drop it. A short elastic loop is the best way to hold it, as well as clip it onto nearby surfaces.
There’s no speakerphone facility and charging is solely conducted via microUSB rather than USB-C, but those are small prices to pay for an otherwise exemplary unit. A battery life of about 10 hours rounds things off nicely.
Incredible bass • Nearly 20 hours of battery life • Waterproof • Built-in mic • Charge your devices while playing music
Heavy and not as portable as others on this list • A bit pricier than some
It may be heavier and pricier, but this speaker has so many features and such great sound that it’s likely to be worth it.
JBL Charge 3This rugged option offers some of the most incredible bass that you can hear through a portable Bluetooth speaker.
Elsewhere, it’s suitably comprehensive when it comes to features. Due to its extra heft, it has a battery life of about 20 hours, so the music will hardly ever stop. There’s full IPX7 rated waterproofing, and it’s possible to connect multiple JBL Connect speakers together. Dual external passive radiators show off the music literally, with you able to see them vibrate when the music is loud. As the name suggests, you can also charge your smartphone or other USB based device while you listen. And there’s a built-in mic for good measure.
The JBL Charge 3 is heavy and not quite as portable as others, so it won’t slip into a small bag of yours, but it’s a small price to pay for an impressive Bluetooth speaker.
Rugged and weatherproof • Very portable and travel-friendly • Impressive sound for its size
Only plays for 6 hours on a charge • Doesn’t have full 360-degree sound
If you want to take your speaker with you everywhere without worry and enjoy great sound, this could be the speaker for you.
Bose SoundLink MicroThe sound quality is suitably high for the size, with impressively meaty bass sure to keep your ears happy.
It’s small too, so it’s far more travel friendly than its rivals, proving easy to toss into your bag. Scratch resistant rubber around its chassis means tossing it around truly is a safe choice to make. Plus, there’s the all important IPX7 certification. A strap enables you to easily clip it to yourself or your shower caddy or towel rack.
The only real downside is it doesn’t have full 360-degree sound, due to the placement of its speaker, and its battery life is a little stingy at 6 hours. This is understandable though, given its small size. Other than that, the sound quality is suitably high for the size, with impressively meaty bass sure to keep your ears happy.
LED light show matches music style • Waterproof • Bass-boosting feature • Compatible with Alexa
Highs can sound a bit rough at times
This speaker is waterproof, portable, compatible with Alexa, and gives a great light show.
Anker Soundcore FlareThe light show may seem gimmicky but it ties in neatly with the music you play, pulsing enthusiastically or switching to a more soothing mode.
It might not look like much but the Anker Soundcore Flare easily survives being thrown around, as well as coping with water, thanks to its IPX7 rating. There’s no loop or handle for gripping onto it while out and about, but it’s small enough to toss into your bag.
The light show may seem gimmicky but it ties in neatly with the music you play, pulsing enthusiastically or switching to a more soothing, breathing-style mode. The sound quality itself is well balanced, although highs can sound a little rough at times. A Bass Up feature button helps boost bass noticeably, however. Battery life depends on the light show with up to 12 hours promised, but 8 hours more likely. It’s compatible with Alexa too, reinforcing its position as a Swiss Army Knife of budget portable Bluetooth speakers.
Stylish • Great sound for its thin size • Uses gestures and voice instead of buttons
If you prefer buttons, this isn’t for you
This high-end portable speaker is different in that it uses gesture and voice controls instead of buttons.
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay P2This speaker offers impressive performance in a small shell, and throws in some convenient gesture and voice controls for good measure.
The speaker looks far thinner than its rivals, but still provides high quality sound. The bass is powerful, if not quite as imposing as it sounds on larger devices, while the mids are well balanced and the lows are crisp. Some compensation may have been made for the size, but it’s hardly an issue here.
Much of the slimline design is thanks to the lack of controls. An on/off switch is located under the logo of the speaker but otherwise playback controls are dictated by gestures or your voice. It takes a brief amount of time to get used to, but it’s quickly very useful. For something a little different from the rest, the Bang and Olufsen Beoplay P2 stands out well
Multi-room functionality • App-enabled • Ability to connect and balance multiple speakers
Technically portable, but kind of big
If you’re looking for a home solution that you can also take with you from time to time, this could be the best choice.
Creative OmniThis speaker can be paired with another Omni to provide playback across the house, ensuring you can listen to the same song no matter where you are.
The speaker can be paired with another Omni to provide playback across the house, with its WiFi connection ensuring you can listen to the same song no matter where you are. Through the connected Sound Blaster InterConnect app, you can also configure each speaker to work as a dedicated left or right channel speaker, for improved sound quality.
That sound quality happens to be impressive too. With three drivers built into its shell, there’s strong bass, steady mids, and well tuned highs. It also works as a speakerphone, and it’s splash proof. It might be a little big for tossing in your bag, but as a multi-room speaker that can also be taken out, it’s worth checking out.