The UE Boom 3 is, for the most part, incredibly similar to its predecessor. The big changes come in the form of increased battery life (up to 24 hours in our tests) and eschewing the little-used auxiliary port for an on-speaker play/pause button. These two changes alone make it a far better choice than the UE Boom 2, as both models are currently selling for similar prices online. For those that want a speaker that can survive a complete dunking, can pump out some volume, and is fairly portable, we think the Boom 3 is a great choice. If you're looking for the best sounding speaker in this price range that can handle some elements, we still think the Bose SoundLink is a better option. However, it is only water resistant, whereas the Boom 3 is completely waterproof.
UE Boom 3 Review
Pros: Good overall sound, great volume, great battery life, waterproof
Cons: Not the strongest bass, a bit pricey
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The UE Boom 3 offers great volume, solid sound, and a long battery life in a completely waterproof package. It is probably the best compromise of sound quality, portability, and size that we've found. If you put more of a priority on sound quality or portability you may like the Bose Sound Color II or the UE Roll 2 better, respectively.
Like many of UE's offerings, the Boom 3 fills a perfect niche for those that want a very portable and durable speaker, but are willing to carry a bit of extra weight in order to get better sound. Accordingly, it came out of our testing with a relatively high overall score.
We think the UE Boom 3 sounds melodious enough to please the vast majority of people, but may not be quite up to snuff for true audiophiles.
The one relative weak point of the Boom 3's sound that relegates it from sounding great to just sounding pretty good is its bass. If anything we'd say the bass power is a couple of ticks above average, which gives all music fairly good depth. However, it doesn't have that extra punch that some of the higher end speakers have (namely the Bose models) that creates a truly full sound. That being said, it definitely has an extra heaping helping of bass when compared to its more portable little sibling, the UE Roll 2.
When it comes to clarity, the Boom 3 is quite impressive. All the acoustic pieces we listened to on it had great separation and podcast hosts always had crystal clear voices. In this regard, it is about neck and neck with the Bose SoundLink Color II and just a bit behind the top-notch Bose Revolve models.
Overall, the Boom 3 is a better sounding speaker than the ultra-portable models we tested like the UE Roll 2 and the Bose SoundLink Micro (though the Micro gets very close). In fact, it is one of the best sounding fully-waterproof speakers we've tested. To get better sound you're likely going to have to downgrade to a model that is water-resistant rather than waterproof.
The Boom 3 is more portable than most speakers, but certainly isn't the first speaker we'd choose if portability were our first priority.
At 22 ounces, the Boom 3 is one of the lighter speakers in its volume/sound quality class. To get significantly lighter, you're going to have to go with the UE Roll 2 or the *Bose SoundLink Micro, both of which sacrifice a lot of volume. It is rated IP67, meaning it is both impervious to dust and can be fully submerged in up to 1 meter of water. This makes it a much more durable option than any of the slightly better sounding Bose competitors, all of which are only water-resistant. The cylindrical shape tends to pack well, even when your backpack is overstuffed with towels and snacks, and the small carry loop lets you clip it to whatever you'd like with the help of a carabiner. Overall, this level of portability is going to satisfy all but those who prioritize packing light over all else.
The Boom 3 is impressively loud given its size and waterproof pedigree. We had no trouble filling a small apartment with sound when cranking the volume to its max. In fact, the only models we tested that are louder (like the JBL Charge 3 and the Bose SoundLink Revolve+) weigh more than 50% more.
We were very impressed with the Boom 3's battery life in our testing. Though UE claims a battery life of 15 hours, the Boom 3 went above and beyond in our testing, cranking out music or a full 24 hours on a single charge. This puts it towards the top of our battery life leaderboard, and solidly into the charge-once-listen-all-weekend category.
Bluetooth speakers are a diverse category, and value largely depends on exactly what you're looking for. If you want something that sounds good, can bark loud, is completely waterproof, and don't mind a 1.5-pound weight, then the $150 UE Boom 3 is a great value. However, if you don't need complete waterproofing the $130 Bose SoundLink Color II gets you better sound for less.
For those looking for a good balance between sound quality, complete waterproofness, reasonable weight, and loud volume, the UE Boom 3 is a great speaker. If you value any one of those aspects much more than the others, however, there is likely a better speaker for you out there.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata