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Filtering Through a Very Crowded Field
One of the main challenges in picking the best portable Bluetooth speaker nowadays is the fact that there are so many available options. If you visit the Portable Bluetooth Speakers category on Amazon.com you’ll find more than 2000 speakers to pick from! If you filter by only those with a rating of 4.5 stars or higher, you still end up with more than 1000. So, where do you start?
There are quite a few factors that you’ll have to take into consideration before making your purchase. The intended use of the speaker will obviously play a big role, for example, do you lead an active lifestyle and want to take the speaker with you on sporting events or do you like chilling in the park with friends and just want something funky to provide some background tunes.
How did we pick these speakers?
We understand that everyone has their own unique set of features that they value when considering a Bluetooth speaker. So what did we look at in selecting speakers for this list and making our ultimate recommendation? Here are some of the features we considered:
- Sound Quality
- Portability (more on that below)
- Design Quality and Materials
- Waterproof Ratings and Durability
- Battery Life
- Bluetooth Range and Connectivity
- Value for Money
I wish I could tell you we then weighed each of these options scientifically and mathematically but let’s face it, that weighting would be subjective in itself, so we simply leaned on years of experience and hours of comparing, and picked what we believed to be the best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market today. We’ll keep on updating and changing this list as new speakers are released, or whenwe change our minds!
What does “Portable” mean?
I think we can all readily agree that a portable speaker should be capable of being moved from one location to another. Bookshelf speakers, or in-wall and in-ceiling speakers will obviously not make the cut. The problem is that the literal definition of “portability” is still too broad. There are some truly tiny Bluetooth speakers that could fit in the palm of your hand, as well as PA systems or tailgate speakers that require being wheeled around like airport luggage. They may be movable, but for the purpose of this discussion, we’re not considering them as portable. Here’s what we think:
A portable speaker should fit in your hand, or in a backpack or at a stretch, would have to go on the seat next to you in your car, but not in the trunk!
Besides making sure your speakers are actually portable, you’ll also want to ensure that the speaker you buy has the right design, battery life, range, audio quality and durability that you desire if you want to avoid disappointment. And then there’s, of course, the price. For a more detailed discussion of these considerations take. apeek at our Buyers Guide at. the end of this article.
Taking the above-mentioned into consideration, here’s our list of the best portable speakers with Bluetooth capabilities on the market.
The JBL Flip 5 is the latest in a long line of beloved Bluetooth speakers renowned for their quality sound and affordability. The JBL Flip 5 is the best portable Bluetooth speaker for JBL fans who can’t get enough of their proprietary sound signature, and want to take that sound profile on the go with them. If you are on a camping trip, beach day, working outdoors, or having a small get-together you can’t go wrong with the tried and true JBL Flip series, but what’s new with the 5th iteration of the design?
Compared to the Flip 4, the JBL Flip 5 is slightly bigger. This was a decision made by the engineers at JBL to provide the new Flip 5 with a larger battery and a slightly bigger sound. The Flip 5 is still waterproof, still has a speakerphone for taking calls, but comes with 4 more watts of output power.
Another change is that the Flip 5 is not compatible with Connect+ speakers, rather the new Flip series speakers will use JBL’s PartyBoost connectivity for chaining speakers together. The Flip 5 also comes in more color varieties and charges via a USB-c port.
Like its predecessors, the JBL Flip 5 is a top competitor among portable Bluetooth speakers, some may even call it the hands-down best portable speaker out there. The speaker is fully waterproof, has punchy bass, it’s loud, and it has a great new battery in it that is rated for 12 hours of life. At max volume, you can still get at least 5 hours out of the Flip 5, which is amazing for such a great price!
Overall, I’d say the Flip 5 totally lives up to the Flip family name.
There are key factors that people expect when they’re buying a portable Bluetooth speaker, and the Flip 5 hits every checkbox for a better price than a lot of the competition. The only two criticisms I have are the lack of a 3.5mm jack and 360 sound capability, but let’s cross our fingers for the Flip 6!
For the better part of a decade, JBL has been highly competitive in the portable speaker market with the Flip series, and with the Flip 5, they’re sure to stay on top for a while longer!
The JBL Flip 5 is an upgrade of the JBL Flip 4 previously featured here. Some believe the Flip 4, at a slightly lower price, is still a better option.
This triangular speaker has been on our best portable Bluetooth speaker list for quite some time, and it is not hard to see why. The OontZ Angle 3 provides you with pretty much everything you could possibly need. The first thing you will notice is that the speaker is pretty small and very light. It is about 5 inches long and no taller than 3 inches, with a weight of no more than 9 ounces, making it super portable. This allows you to easily carry it around or simply put in your backpack or handbag.
Don’t let the small size fool you though, the sound that is produced by the OontZ Angle 3 is absolutely remarkable for such a small speaker. The high-quality sound is more than loud enough to fill a room without any distortion and the accompanying bass is unbelievable. Cambridge SoundWorks claims that the OontZ Angle 3 forms part of the next generation of portable speakers and we have to agree because none of their competitors come close to what they have achieved with this portable speaker.
As for some of the other aspects of the speaker; it is water-resistant with an IPX5 rating which basically means that it is splash-proof, rainproof, dustproof, and sand proof. You can also connect to the speaker via Bluetooth from pretty much any suitable device, or you can use an AUX cable. Thanks to the built-in mic, you also get the convenient hands-free feature which will allow you to access your iPhone or Smartphone through voice commands.
It is hard to find anything bad to say about this particular portable speaker since it truly does look great, feel great, and sound great – and best of all, it is totally affordable.
Elegant. Sleek. Superior. Those are the three words that come to mind you see the DOSS Touch. It distinguishes itself from its competitors through its elegant and sleek design, complete with sensitive touch buttons that provide you with full control over your music. There is also a touch ring located at the top of the speaker that allows you to control the volume of the music.
While on the subject of volume, this portable speaker is quite impressive regarding this aspect, however, it is still a portable speaker. If you are looking to entertain a crowd then best look at our list of the best party speakers.
The connectivity options of the DOSS Touch is another convenient feature as you have three different connectivity options, including Bluetooth, Micro SD, and Aux-in.
The portable speaker consists of high-quality materials that add to the overall quality and elegance. The main attracting feature of the DOSS Touch is undeniably its sleek and elegant appearance that is sure to impress anybody who lays their eyes upon it. However, this does not mean that the sound is not impressive, as it is superior in its own right.
Bose lived up to their reputation when they launched the SoundLink Mini II. It produces deep bass and has high volume capabilities. The bass is actually quite surprising as it is much deeper and more powerful than you would expect from such a small portable speaker.
As for the style of the SoundLink Mini II, it is stylish and modern, with the look of a small center speaker that you can expect to see in the living room of an audiophile. It is available in Carbon and Pearl colors – which are basically just black and white. However, we have to say that this speaker looks absolutely amazing wherever you choose to use it. Its sleek design makes it an attractive accessory for your home or office.
The SoundLink Mini II has a Lithium battery which gives you up to 10 hours of play-time. This is where we see another cool feature of this speaker which is the charging options. You can use a USB cable to charge it when you are on the road, using your laptop or car as a power source, or you can make use of the charging cradle at home which is like a wireless charger for your speaker.
Overall, the sound and build quality of the Bose SoundLink Mini II is just supreme and perfect for those who want a powerful speaker that can function as a portable speaker as well as a home or office speaker.
Anker is a rather popular brand when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers and it is not hard to see why. They constantly release newer better speakers that are available at affordable prices. With these high-quality speakers you would almost expect there to be some kind of catch but that does not seem to be the case. As far as we can see Anker just somehow continue to design awesome speakers that they continue to sell at low prices and all the while the company keeps expanding.
The first thing you want to know about any speaker is if the sound is good. Take it from me; the Anker Soundcore 2 produced superior sound with little to no distortion at even the highest volumes. While on the subject of volume, the Soundcore 2 can go pretty loud despite its small and compact size. When you first hear the speaker at full volume, you almost want to look around the room to see if there is a larger more powerful speaker hiding somewhere that is actually responsible for the sound.
The majority of speaker brands take the contemporary, minimalistic route when designing their speakers. So, of course, Anker did the same. Give the people what they want, right? The Anker Soundcore 2 does, in fact, have a very simple design and I have to say I think that it looks great. The speaker is black with a rectangular shape and has the Anker brand name printed on the grill in a simple gray classic Anker font.
So now that we have established that the speaker looks great, the only thing left to add is the fact that it is small and compact so it will easily fit into your purse or backpack which is essential for a portable Bluetooth speaker.
The Anker Soundcore 2 is a high-quality speaker that has managed to make itself a worthy competitor by giving users a feature that some of the other portable speakers lack, namely long battery life. The Anker Soundcore 2 gives us almost twice as much battery life as some of the other portable speakers with up to 24 hours of playtime.
Featuring an IPX7 rating, the Anker Soundcore 2 is protected against rain, dust, and snow. Its build design features ergonomic controls, smooth clean curves, and is available in 3 colors (black, blue, or red).
As for the sound, the speaker comprises of 2 x 6W drivers that emit powerful bass results with full sound. The clarity and volume are equally impressive even at its max Bluetooth connection range of 66ft.
For a small, high-quality contemporary speaker, with long battery life, the Anker Soundcore 2 is a perfect choice. It is probably the best portable Bluetooth speaker for those hunting for real value for money.
The Anker Soundcore 2 is an upgrade of the Anker Soundcore previously featured here. Still a great speaker at a slightly lower price.
As far as I’m concerned, the UE Boom series of portable Bluetooth speakers might as well be considered ‘sound bricks’ due to their amazingly sturdy build quality and simple design, and man, can these things blast music. The newest member of the UE Boom family, the UE Boom 3, has a few new features but sticks to the same philosophy of the speakers that preceded it: no hassle music anywhere you go. The new Boom 3 will even float in the water!
The UE Boom 3 is one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers around, with 360-degree audio at an impressive peak of 90dB without sacrificing quality or impactful bass tones. The 3rd generation Boom’s magic button makes controlling playback of Bluetooth audio super easy and fun!
You can also pick up a Power Up! Wireless charging station for your speaker to make charging faster and more convenient.
Overall, the UE Boom 3 has all the great features and 360-degree audio you expect from the Boom family of speakers at a solid price.
The UE Boom 3 is an upgrade of the UE Boom previously featured here. Still a great speaker at a slightly lower price.
The sequel to the beloved Bose SoundLink Color, the Bose SoundLink Color Color II, draws on all of the features that made its first-generation iteration great and re-contextualizes them in an attempt to make this device even more robust and powerful than ever before. Coming in 6 different colors, the SoundLink Color II is a no-frills competitor within our list of best portable Bluetooth speakers that offers seamless hands-free call support, a soft-touch silicone exterior, proprietary app support, and more.
Bose has a reputation for quality, and I think they’ve created yet another solid product with the SoundLink Color II.
With the Bose SoundLink Color II, you can enjoy your favorite music or podcasts with top-of-the-line audio quality from up to 30-feet away via Bluetooth connectivity all from your mobile phone. The SoundLink Color’s battery can deliver your sound continuously for 8 hours on a single charge and pair with other Bose devices to play music from more than one area at once!
The SoundLink Color II sounds great, this is certainly one of the best compact portable Bluetooth speakers I’ve listened to. The sound signature is as neutral as any of Bose’s other speaker products. The same level of attention to detail was paid to this speaker regarding the audio signal’s frequency response.
The bass sounds great even though the speaker is so small, but the treble is present and tight. The speaker is deceptively loud for such a compact speaker and peaks at 90dB, the same as the UE Boom 3, but lacking 360-degree sound capability.
A great and often overlooked feature included in the Bose SoundLink Color II’s design is the inclusion of voice prompts that guide you through Bluetooth pairing, so getting your devices set up with this speaker will be relatively hassle-free.
The Bose SoundLink Color II covers many of the key features we look for when determining where a speaker will be placed in a list such as this one. The newest in the Bose SoundLink Color series of speakers is highly portable, decently waterproof, and satisfying to use thanks to ease-of-use features and the comfortable touch silicone enclosure surrounding the speaker.
Overall, the Bose SoundLink Color II is not the best portable Bluetooth speaker Bose has put out yet. It’s extremely portable and has great, sound quality, ease-of-use features, and color varieties. Special attention was clearly given to making this speaker simple and easy to use so that us listeners can get right back to listening to our favorite songs by the pool or in our living rooms with friends!
The only unfortunate detail is that there are known issues with this speaker’s battery life where the device eventually stops taking a charge, so be wary of this before you buy. Still, even after considering the minor issue of battery life with this speaker, it is a contender for the best portable Bluetooth speaker.
The HyperGear Beast XL is travel-friendly, waterproof, and delivers a serious punch at 30 watts of power, which is quite a bit considering the compact size of this speaker. Perfect for taking onto the boat or by the poolside, the Beast XL will impress you and your friends wherever you go.
The Beast XL is graded as IPX6 waterproof, this means it cannot be submerged but it can handle a decent amount of splashing, so don’t try to take this in the water with you. That being said, it’s the perfect speaker to bring with you to the pool or beach so long as you leave it on the shore!
The HyperGear Beast XL is equipped with 5 dynamic drivers, 2 passive bass radiators, 2 tweeters, and a subwoofer – all equipped with anti-distortion circuitry to clear up any clipping, cracking, or popping in your music. The Beast XL provides the listener with loud, clear, and impactful audio for up to 16 hours!
If you’re looking for a poolside Bluetooth beast, The HyperGear Beast XL is a great contender!
The W-King Outdoor Portable Speaker is a compact Bluetooth speaker with a rugged vibe that begs you to take it on all of your adventures. This 50-watt speaker’s main strengths are in its durability and amazing 24-hour battery life, two features that when paired together make for an outdoorsy music fan’s dream.
If you are hitting the trails on your ATV, headed out camping, going for a hike, or simply heading out to have a picnic in the park, this compact Bluetooth speaker will fit right in with your gear no matter what it is you’re gearing up for.
Rain or shine, land, or sea, the W-King has your back, and that’s what earned its spot here on our best portable Bluetooth speaker list. The engineers at W-King pride themselves on this compact speaker’s sturdy design that’s meant to last.
This heavy-duty Bluetooth speaker is built to withstand the elements for as long as you need your music on the go, even in the wildest of locations. With IPX5 rated waterproofing, 66-foot Bluetooth range, and superior build quality, the W-King will be by your side delivering your favorite music everywhere you go.
The W-King is the best portable Bluetooth speaker for the wild-at-heart. Fishing trips, road-trips, fishing, hunting, you name it, the W-King will take anything you throw at it, but how does it sound?
The punchy bass that this speaker provides without any distortion is impressive, and the high frequencies are clear and neutral. Given this speaker’s focus on durability, I was sure the sound quality would be lacking, but I was proven wrong! The W-King boasts a crisp sound with decent separation of frequencies considering the device’s small size and low price.
The W-King features basic EQ controls, pairing technology that can link more than one W-King speaker together, and USB-C connectivity for charging.
If you work in a loud environment like an auto-shop, factory, etc. this is a great speaker for you. All the dangers of a shop environment are less of a problem due to the W-King’s rugged design, and the volume delivered by this speaker is more than enough to cut through even the loudest background noise.
Overall, the W-King is a rugged portable Bluetooth speaker that will do anything you ask it to and come along wherever life takes you. The sound quality is solid, but the battery life and sturdy design are the true facets that W-King nailed with this little piece of equipment. This is the perfect Bluetooth speaker for those of us who love the outdoors or work in environments that aren’t the most accommodating for delicate electronic devices.
10. AYL Portable Outdoor and Shower Speaker
Last but not least is the AYL Portable Outdoor and Shower speaker. We tried to add some variety to this list while still making sure to mention the best of the best – because what is the use of listing 10 speakers that are all pretty much the same. So here goes.
This little speaker is almost twice as powerful as other similar portable Bluetooth speakers and it is perfect for outdoor adventures. You can go biking, fishing, climbing, hiking, or swimming with this portable speaker and it will work perfectly. We would not recommend swimming with the speaker attached to you but it can withstand splashes, heavy rain, or perhaps even a quick drop in the water as long as you recover it quickly.
Surprisingly enough the sound is pretty great. With a 33ft Bluetooth range, the music produced by the speaker is clear, loud, and satisfying at both lows and highs.
As for the size, this portable speaker is pretty much the same size as the RoverBeats T3 at around 3 by 3 inches – but of course, this speaker is much thinner at only two inches.
For anybody looking for a quality portable speaker that they can carry along on outdoor adventures – this is a perfect choice.
11. Sony XB10 Portable Wireless Speaker
The Sony XB10 is without a doubt one of the cutest portable Bluetooth speakers that I have ever seen. Now, do not let its adorable exterior fool you, this is one classy, epic, and insanely durable speaker. If this speaker was a person, it would be Lara Croft – beautiful and classy on the outside but 100% awesome on the inside.
The body of the speaker is small, elegant and contemporary with its smooth short cylinder shape with the grill at the top and a cool textured stand that makes for an all the more awesome design. This portable Bluetooth speaker is available in black, white, red, or blue and each of them has the word ‘Sony’ printed on the side so that everybody can see that your little speaker is from one of the best audio names in the industry.
The Sony XB10 portable Bluetooth speaker is great if you are looking for a speaker that will give you the easy portability feature, with stylish looks and a ton of bass. I mention the bass this early in the review since it is a very noticeable feature in this little speaker. Thanks to a passive radiator that works with the internal speaker to enhance low-end response, you are able to get that awesome bass boost despite its compact size.
You can connect to the speaker via Bluetooth or NFC with ease. If you want to use the Bluetooth connectivity option, simply pair the speaker to your Smartphone or any other Bluetooth device that contains audio files. The Bluetooth connection I strong and should not get interrupted as long as you stay within the recommended distance of the speaker.
You can also connect via NFC by simply touching your audio device to the speaker. If you want stereo sound, you can also wirelessly connect another Sony XB10 to the first one and enjoy the awesome sound from more than one direction.
On a single charge, you will get 16 hours of playtime which is a lot for a portable speaker – especially one this small. As another convenient feature, the portable Bluetooth speaker water-resistant with an IPX5 rating so no need to worry yourself about getting the XB10 wet with rain or pool splashes.
There is not much more to say about the device – it is a high quality portable Bluetooth device that has great sound and a great design – not to mention its small lightweight design that allows you to carry it around anywhere, anytime.
12. APIE Portable Wireless Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker
Here we have another speaker that is a bit more on the rugged side. When it comes to the best portable Bluetooth speakers, you will notice that many of them have some additional durability features and this is simply because many people like to take these speakers along on their outdoor adventures.
Of course, some people are just looking for something that they can carry in their purse or backpack but even then it is nice to know that you have durability on your side in case you drop it or it gets damaged in your bag.
The only thing about this portable Bluetooth speaker that might be a bit off-putting to some people is the fact that it has a very outdoorsy design – I mean just look at that green body with the touch of orange. However, that exact feature that could be off-putting some is exactly what might attract others to it. If you are going hiking in the woods or kayaking then you probably want to take a speaker along that fits the scene and this Apie speaker definitely looks ready to tackle the great outdoors.
So, now that we have established that the body is suited for the more adventurous folk, we can move on to what is going on under the hood. First of all this 10-watt speaker is able to produce some pretty insane sound. It contains two 5 watt speakers that effectively stream quality stereo sound with full range output that delivers high-quality sound.
Just because you are experiencing the rugged outdoors does not mean that you should not get to experience amazing sound. The highs and mids are clean and clear at full volume and for those songs with some bass, you will get rich vibrations that are bound to impress.
The 2200mAh battery is more than powerful enough to power this little guy as you will get up to 10 hours of music playtime to give you a little spring in your step while you are exploring the wilderness. As far as connectivity goes, the speaker has great Bluetooth connectivity that will easily pair with any suitable Bluetooth device. It is also equipped with a built-in microphone for easy and convenient hands-free calling.
As a little extra perk, the portable Bluetooth speaker has a handy hook attached to it that you can clip onto your backpack or wherever you would like. To top it all off the speaker is shockproof and it has an IPX6 rating making it water-resistant.
13. Bose SoundLink Revolve+
You cannot judge me for adding another Bose speaker to this list – after all, it is a list of the best portable Bluetooth speakers and Bose has just produced so many great portable Bluetooth speakers and here we have another one.
The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ is actually one of my personal favorite speakers in this category and the only reason why it got knocked down a couple of spots is that it will cost you just over $300 which is quite expensive. However, like with most things in life, you get what you pay for so let us take a look at what exactly you get when you buy the Bose SoundLink Revolve+.
I almost want to say that you won’t find a portable Bluetooth speaker that sounds as good as this one right here but I try to refrain from such statements since I have not listened to every single portable Bluetooth speaker on earth so I will just say that this thing is the bomb! Bose sound engineers have spent countless hours perfecting the audio performance of the Revolve+ and my, oh my, are we thankful. The speaker produces an accurate 360-degree sound that is absolutely jaw-dropping.
As this is a Bose speaker, you will get that amazing signature Bose sound which as we all know is incredible. On top of that Boss once again delivers with deep booming bass. Listening to music on a portable Bluetooth speaker will never sound flat again as the Revolve+ will give you more depth and power than you ever imagined was possible from such a tiny speaker.
The size is great though as it makes the speaker very easily portable and since it also includes a handle (that let’s face it, makes us all think about a bucket) you can easily carry it around without the need for a backpack. In addition, the speaker has a built-in speakerphone for hands-free calling as well as a Bose Connect app that you can download on your Smartphone.
The app features a drag and drop interface for maximum convenience where you can control various aspects of your Revolve+. The portable Bluetooth speaker is also water-resistant with an IPX4 rating so no worries when this speaker is standing by the pool.
15. UE ROLL 2 Volcano
This funky portable Bluetooth speaker looks a lot like the UE Boom and in many ways, it is the same but not all. The UE Roll is, of course, a great looking speaker with its own range of colorful designs with their own unique names. You can buy the round-shaped speaker in either atmosphere (which is basically blue with a bit of red), grey-black, volcano (orange and mint), sugarplum (sort of magenta), etc. The fun colors have definitely become a trademark of UE as they never fail to bring some life to their products with bright colors or fun prints.
The speaker is perfect for your outdoor trips as it has an IPX7 rating which means that it can be immersed in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes – that is awesome! With a powerful Bluetooth connection of up to 65 feet, this portable Bluetooth speaker keeps getting better. It can also connect to up to 8 Bluetooth devices at the same time, making it easy to switch between devices. As impressive as this might be, I have no idea why anybody would need to connect 8 Bluetooth devices to a speaker. Perhaps all your friends can connect their Smartphones to it as well. However, I do not even have that many friends so this is not the most useful feature for me – nonetheless, it is pretty cool.
The UE Roll 2 contains a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will give you about 9 hours of playtime on a single charge. The speaker is also easily portable thanks to the great design. You can simply drop it into your purse or backpack or even clip it onto something to listen to music on the go. Overall this is a great little portable Bluetooth speaker.
16. Amazon Tap
The Amazon Tap is quite outstanding – to look at as well as to listen to. Now, if you are somewhat pessimistic about the idea of an Amazon speaker then I totally get it – I was too. But think about it this way, Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, and with a reputation and resources like that, you can easily create a speaker that qualifies as a competitor for the most well-known brands – and that is exactly what they did.
The Amazon Tap is stylish but practical and it is available in 7 fun colors. This Alexa-enabled portable Bluetooth speaker can play music, read the news, provide weather reports, and even order a pizza whenever it is connected to wifi or a mobile hotspot – now you have to admit that that is pretty cool. This is however just the tip of the iceberg. With the tap feature, you can also ask for music from Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. If you want to use these features from a distance, you can simply enable the hands-free function.
If you do not want to stream music from one of the online music services, then you can simply connect your Bluetooth device to it and stream music from there.
As for the sound, the portable speaker is powered by Dolby which already makes it quite impressive. With dual stereo speakers, you have access to high-quality 360º omnidirectional sound. You can use your Amazon Tap for up to 9 hours, at which point you will have to plug it in. In total, the device takes a little over 2 hours to recharge.
The design of the Amazon Tap is just plain awesome as it is a futuristic little cylinder with some cool LED’s and some functional touch buttons at the top of the speaker to control your music with.
We have to add, that the Amazon Tap is quite pricey so if you are looking for a cheaper portable speaker then one of the others on this list might be more suitable. However, the Tap is definitely the money worth so if you can afford it then go for it.
What to look for in a Portable Bluetooth Speaker – A Buyers Guide
The design of your portable speaker says a lot about you and what you like. We’re seeing a lot of more contemporary speakers on the market – most looking like a miniature version of an actual regular sized speaker. Many brands are also choosing to go with cylinder shapes for their portable Bluetooth speakers since they often produce 360-degree sound and it makes them easier to hold in your hands. For the hipsters out there, there are some popular brands that have released some funkier designs, but they mostly still maintain the minimalist shape. For instance, look at the hip UE Boom, in comparison to the contemporary Harman Kardon Esquire Mini.
With competition mounting, many brands seek to distinguish themselves through the designs of their speakers which is why design plays such a large role. If you are young at heart or love to draw attention then some of the more funky designs should suit your needs. Anyone that is professional or a little bit more conservative or who would feel simply uncomfortable when using something that looks like a toy in public can opt for some of the more modern and sleek designs. It all comes down to a matter of personal taste and with so many options to choose from this is one category where you probably won’t have to compromise.
No matter how careful you are when using your portable Bluetooth speaker outdoors accidents will inevitably happen. Durability should be an important consideration for all portable speakers, but the more active your lifestyle the biggest the influence this factor will be for you.
For the occasional hike or hanging out with friends at the beach, you might still be able to get away with a speaker that is only water and maybe dust resistant, but for the more adventurous souls, it’s a different matter. Advantages such as being weatherproof and shock resistant become essential if you spend a lot of time outdoors in bad weather or wet conditions. Sometimes the extra durability comes with an inflated price tag, but you also get products like the Photive Hydra that can take a few knocks without your wallet having to get involved in the beating as well.
Size & Weight
Even in the portable Bluetooth speaker market, you will find that there are marketable size differences between different brands. Obviously, you want something that is small enough to carry around and ideally fit in your pocket, but not at the cost of inferior audio quality.
If you absolutely cannot live without thumping bass then you had better be prepared to lug around a bit more weight with you as the smaller speakers tend to be a bit lacking when it comes to the low-end of the audio spectrum. Lightweight speakers can offer good sound quality as the Pocket-Sized Anker Wireless Bluetooth Speaker have demonstrated, but compare it to something like the Amazon Tap and you will hear the difference. If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of audio quality for the convenience of carrying a lighter load you’ll find plenty of speakers, like those from Anker to choose from.
About the only thing worse than carrying around a heavy portable speaker that doesn’t sound that great is carrying around a heavy portable speaker with a flat battery. If all you ever do is go for a walk in the park or lounge around in the backyard by the pool you can still get away with a portable speaker that has a shorter battery life. Anything that takes you further from home, and more importantly the battery charger is going to require a portable speaker that can keep going for a while.
The companies that try and sell you these speakers often have very optimistic estimates in their product descriptions and these don’t always match what you will get in real-life. Be prepared to get a much shorter battery life than the product description if you are prone to using your portable speaker at the top volume all of the time. If extended camping trips in the wilderness are your thing something like the Eton Rugged Rukus All-Terrain Portable Solar Wireless Sound System which can be recharged with solar power might be the only solution for you. Just bear in mind portable speakers are not of much use if your actual audio playback device, be it a smartphone, tablet or laptop runs out of juice so make sure you have something that can keep up with your speaker.
Depending on how much of an audiophile you are, sound quality should be at the top of your list when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers. Let’s face it; you are going to find speakers that sound like an AM radio station playing in mono. This is why it is so important to test the speakers yourself or listen to the good advice from reputable websites. Product reviews from other consumers should also give you a good pretty good indication about the audio quality, but bear in mind that tastes differ and something that sounds horrible to one person might sound like a heavenly symphony to someone else.
Many portable speakers inevitably sacrifice some audio quality in order to pack all those components into a portable casing, but this doesn’t mean you have to settle for something that sounds like a payphone during playback. For the best sound quality, especially when it comes to bass you might have to dig a little deeper into your wallet and prepare yourself for some extra weight, but in the end, it is worth it.
If all you want is a piece of plastic that plays music and doesn’t really care for much else you can probably overlook the extras. More discerning buyers, on the other hand, will want to get as much value for money when it comes to their portable Bluetooth speakers. If you are the outdoors type that prefers to move around by means other than your own two legs you might want a speaker that can be clipped to the handlebars of your bike or backpack. Some speakers offer this feature as standard while others require a separate purchase for accessories.
For example, the Pyle PWPBT60 Sound Box Splash has an integrated metal loop to hang it off anything, while if customization is your thing, you might like the Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II with their soft covers or something from Jawbone that can be upgraded with new features or apps.
The types of ports and jacks included on the speaker are also quite important unless you plan on sticking exclusively to Bluetooth usage. Some portable speakers include microphones so you can answer your phone via the speaker while others forego this option. Don’t pay through your nose for extras that you will never use, but don’t compromise on a speaker that can’t offer you everything you want either.
The final thing to consider when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers is the range. Obviously, you are not going to leave your expensive speaker in the middle of nowhere and go wandering around, but neither do you want something that has to be tethered to your phone in order to work correctly. The ideal portable speaker will give you some breathing room to move about without losing the connection. The further the range of the speaker the better, but there’s no need to go overboard and pay extra for a speaker that can continue playing even when you are too far away to hear it.
Consumers really are spoiled for choice when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers so you can afford to be picky when it comes to picking yours. Remember it is something that you will be using in public so the more comfortable you are with what you buy the better. It is easy to be swayed by some of the funky designs that are available, but remember that there is more to a good speaker than just a pretty box so take the time to examine all the factors that I mentioned in this guide and then make your decision. Making a list of features and factors that are important to you when it comes to portable audio will allow you to narrow down your list and make an informed purchasing decision.