Portable Bluetooth speakers are incredibly popular. They're small, affordable, durable and allow you to bring music anywhere you want — be it the shower, the pool, the beach or anywhere else in the great outdoors. But frankly, when shopping for a portable Bluetooth speaker, there are a lot of options to choose from. And they're all quite a bit different.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Read More
Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Read More
JBL Go 3 Read More
JBL Flip 6 Read More
Anker Soundcore 3 Read More
What to Look For
Battery life: This is arguably the most important feature of any portable Bluetooth speaker because it's the amount of enjoyment you're able to get out of a speaker at any one time. When the battery dies, so does the music and — let's face it — so does a lot of the fun.
Size: The size of a portable Bluetooth speaker is honestly a catch-22. The bigger the speaker, the less portable and more expensive it typically is. However, larger speakers also tend to sound better, get louder, have significantly better battery life and have more advanced features.
Sound and loudness: The sound quality of a portable Bluetooth speaker is obviously important, but it's a little complicated. These are speakers that are designed to be moved, carried, tossed and just generally beaten up — and that's usually not the best thing for sound quality. What's just as important is how loud the speaker. Sound doesn't carry nearly as well when outdoors, so you want a speaker that gets loud to make up for it.
Shape and design: Not all portable Bluetooth speakers are designed the same. Some are front-firing speakers, meaning they shoot sound in one direction. Others have a more cylindrical design and are closer to 360-degree speakers, meaning they shoot sound in all directions. The shape and design of the speaker is important because it dictates how good (or not good) a speaker will sound depending on where it is placed and where you're listening from.
Charging: A lot of portable speakers still charge via micro-USB, which is less common, less convenient and not as fast as a speaker that charges via USB-C. (Plus, it's nice being able to charge your speaker with the same charging cable as your smartphone or laptop.) There are a select few portable Bluetooth speakers that support wirelessly charging, too.
Water-resistance: All portable Bluetooth speakers are built with a certain amount of ruggedness so that they play through the heat, cold, wind and rain — the occasional dip in the pool. A good indicator of a speaker's durability is its IP rating, which tells its resistance to water and dust. (You can learn more about IP ratings, here.)
Special features: Most people want a simple-to-use portable Bluetooth that they can stream music from their smartphone — and that's it. But a lot of today's portable Bluetooth speakers have additional features. Some have built-in lighting, multi-room audio (through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) and support for wireless charging. The more features typically drive up the price, however.
What does an IP67 rating actually mean?
You'll notice that most of the portable Bluetooth speakers on this list have an IP67 rating — this is the highest IP rating that one of these portable speakers can get. What that means for you is that you'll be able to fully submerge the speaker in a pool or the ocean for roughly 30 minutes, at a depth of about 1 meter (or just over 3 feet), and the speaker will work perfectly fine.
If you're wondering if the speaker will be able to play music while submerged under water, the answer is no. The Bluetooth signal from your smartphone to the speaker can't travel underwater and thus, depending on how long the speaker is submerged, the signal will likely get cut off.
How We Tested
We tested all of the below portable Bluetooth speakers in both indoor and outside environments, and playing a wide-variety of music (mostly summer jams). We primarily judge the speakers on sound quality, easy-of-use and battery life — as those are the most important features to look for in a portable Bluetooth speaker.
UE Wonderboom 2
Battery Life: 13 hours
Weight: 0.93 pounds
If you're in the market for an ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker — meaning it's very small — then UE's second-generation Wonderboom is definitely a solid option. It plays a true 360-degree sound and it's extremely water-resistant; in fact, it'll float if you bring it into the pool. It has a neat outdoor mode, called "Outdoor Boost," that increases the max volume of the speaker (but also sacrifices some of the overall sound quality). And it's available in several fun colors. The downside is that it only charges via micro-USB, making the speaker feel a little dated.
Ultimate Ears Boom 3
Battery Life: 15 hours
Weight: 1.34 pounds
The Boom 3 has been one of the best all-around portable Bluetooth speakers for years. It has an extremely rugged design, excellent battery life and it's one of the few options that plays true 360-degree audio — place it in the center of the pool party and, no matter where you stand, you'll hear it loud and clear. The Boom 3 further stands out because of its many color finishes and, if you buy a special accessory, it can wirelessly charge. The only downside is that, because it's several years old (released in 2018), it still charges via a lowly micro-USB cable.
JBL Go 3
Battery Life: 5 hours
Weight: 0.46 pounds
The JBL Go 3 is the company's smallest portable Bluetooth speaker and it's really quite charming. It has a unique cube shape and fun rugged design — I must've dropped this thing a dozen times and it just seems to bounce and be fine. It gets surprisingly loud and it has an attached lanyard that makes it easy to carry. The Go 3 is one of the simplest portable speakers to use with really just a few control buttons (for play/pause, volume control and power). It charges via USB-C, but its 5-hour battery life is less than ideal. Also, it is a front-firing speaker so it sounds best when the logo is facing you. Available in multiple colors.
JBL Flip 6
Battery Life: 12 hours
Weight: 1.21 pounds
Released in 2022, the sixth-generation Flip is an excellent little portable speaker. It's a front-firing speaker — which houses a two-way driver and dual passive radiators — that pumps loud and room-filling sound. It has a fully waterproof design (which is probably its biggest improvement over the previous Flip 5) and an attached lanyard for easy carrying. It does work with a companion app, too, if you want to tweak the sound settings or stereo pair with another Flip 6. Available in multiple colors.
Anker Soundcore 3
Battery Life: 13 hours
Weight: 0.81 pounds
The Soundcore 3 is a compact portable speaker that's fully waterproof and simple to use. It's a front-firing speaker, so you want to be listening to it head-on (or near about). It charges via USB-C and comes with an optional lanyard if you want to make it easier to carry. It works with an app if you want to adjust the EQ, but you probably won't need to. The best thing about this speaker, however, is that it has excellent battery life for its size.
Battery Life: 16 hours
Weight: 0.56 pounds
The SRS-XB13 is Sony's smallest portable Bluetooth speaker — it's about half the size of a soda can. It dishes out 360-degree sound, charges via USB-C, and can easily be attached to a bag or bike thanks to its lanyard. It also comes in several different colored finishes, so you can get one that matches your style. It's not the fanciest or feature-packed portable speaker you'll find, but that's also part of its charm.
Battery Life: 12 hours
Weight: 1.28 pounds
The SRS-XB23 is an excellent no-frills portable speaker. It lacks the lighting strobes that the company’s larger speakers, but that also helped Sony keep its price down. It has a cylindrical design and packs two new full-range drivers and a passive bass radiator, as well a strap so that you can hang it on a chair or tree. It also charges via USB-C.
Battery Life: 10 hours
Weight: 0.95 pounds
The Sonos Roam is admittedly an outlier on this list because, well, it's more sophisticated (and more expensive) than most other portable Bluetooth speakers. The main reason for this is because it's the only option to also support Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows to it play in tandem with other Sonos speakers and have a built-in voice assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant — but these features only work when connected to Wi-Fi. When working as a traditional portable Bluetooth speaker, the Roam has a decent battery life and good sound quality (although it doesn't get quite as loud as other options). Honestly, the Roam is a great portable Bluetooth speaker, but I'd only really recommend it if you have other Sonos speakers in your home.