The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers of 2017

The Bose SoundLink Revolve sounded so good in our testing that it made flowers grow.
Tired of using headphones? We reviewed over 100 Bluetooth speakers, then bought the 15 best for a series of side-by-side tests. Portable speakers have made many strides in the past few years, with some models offering near home stereo quality sound that can accompany you on your next beach trip. In our testing we listened to everything from podcasts and twangy folk music to thumping, bass-driven melodies so that we could get a full picture of each speaker's capabilities. We also toted them along on many adventures to ascertain their portability. Whether you want something that can add a soundtrack to your next backcountry adventure, or are looking to turn your porch into a concert hall, our testing results will help you find the perfect speaker.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 15 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
Bose SoundLink Revolve
Bose SoundLink Mini II
Bose SoundLink Color II
UE Wonderboom
JBL Flip 4
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    Best Buy Award     
Price $200 List
$199.00 at Amazon
$200 List
$199.00 at Amazon
$130 List
$129.00 at Amazon
$100 List
$69.99 at Amazon
$100 List
$79.95 at Amazon
Overall Score 
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72
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Pros Excellent sound quality, water resistant, great battery lifeExcellent sound quality, great battery lifeGreat Sound quality, water resistant, good battery lifeWaterproof, fairly small, loudGood bass, waterproof
Cons Expensive, relatively heavyExpensive, relatively heavyRubber coating sometimes hangs onto dustRelatively poor claritySound quality not quite as good as top models
Ratings by Category Bose SoundLink Revolve Bose SoundLink Mini II Bose SoundLink Color II UE Wonderboom JBL Flip 4
Sound Quality - 40%
10
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10
10
0
10
10
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8
10
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6
10
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7
Portability - 25%
10
0
7
10
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10
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7
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8
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7
Volume - 20%
10
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8
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8
Battery Life - 15%
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7
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7
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7
Specs Bose SoundLink Revolve Bose SoundLink Mini II Bose SoundLink Color II UE Wonderboom JBL Flip 4
Dimensions (in x in x in) 5.97" x 3.24" x 3.24" 2" x 7.1" x 2.3" 5.25" x 5" x 2.25" 3.7" x 3.7" x 4" 2.7" x 2.7" x 6.9"
Inputs 3.5 mm auxiliary input, Micro USB port 3.5 mm auxiliary input, Micro USB port 3.5 mm auxiliary input, Micro-B USB port Micro USB port 3.5 mm auxiliary input, Micro USB port
Reported Weight 24 oz 24 oz 19.2 oz 15 oz 18.2 oz
Measured Weight 24 oz 24 oz 19.8 oz 15 oz 19 oz
Wireless Range (feet) 30 30 30 108 32
Reported Battery Life (hours) 12 10 8 10 12
Measured Battery Life (hours) 18 17 13 10 12
Warranty 1 year limited 1 year limited 1 year limited 2 year limited 1 year limited
Receive Phone Calls Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Expand to show full specification table  |  Hide details

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Thursday
October 12, 2017

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Updated October 2017
For our latest update to this review we tested the hotly anticipated Bose SoundLink Micro. This speaker is a classic small dog big bark situation as it creates an impressively full bodied sound for a speaker that tips the scale at just 10.2 ounces. However, its battery only lasted 5 hour in our testing, which is one of the shortest battery lives we've measured. This feels like a big shortcoming, especially for a speaker that is designed for portability. Because of this the UE Roll 2 remains our top pick for those looking for the most portable speaker.

Best Overall Bluetooth Speaker


Bose SoundLink Revolve


Editors' Choice Award

$199.00
at Amazon
See It

Excellent sound quality
Water resistant
Great battery life
Expensive
Relatively heavy
When we heard the older iteration of the Bose SoundlLink, we didn't think a small, portable speaker could sound much better, then we heard the SoundLink Revolve. It created such a big, full sound that we felt like we'd been slapped in the face, kind of like when the drums suddenly kick in halfway through Stairway to Heaven. We doubt anyone who hears this speaker will believe that it's small enough to comfortably carry around in a backpack. To boot it boasts IPX4 water resistance, so you don't have to worry about sudden rain or splashes while you lounge on the dock. At 1.5 pounds it is on the heavy side for a portable speaker, but it is still easily transportable. That extra weight is well worth the gains in sound quality, especially if you have a discerning ear.

Read review: Bose SoundLink Revolve

Don't care about water resistance?

Though the SoudLink Revolve is better overall, the old Bose SoundLink Mini II still sounds great. Plus, its price has been dropping since the Revolve was released. If you don't care about water resistance you could get a great deal on a phenomenal sounding speaker in the Mini II.

Best Bang for Your Buck


Bose SoundLink Color II


Best Buy Award

$129.00
at Amazon
See It

Great sound quality
Water resistant
Good battery life
Rubber coating sometimes hangs onto dust
If you're looking for a good balance of performance and price, you can't do any better than the Bose SoundLink Color II. It is able to nearly match the sound quality of its top scoring sibling, yet costs $70 less. It is also fairly light at 19.8 ounces, and its splashproof and rubberized body can stand up to freak rainstorms and being shoved into a crowded backpack. To top it off it can belt out tunes for 13 hours on a single charge, which is plenty for a long day at the beach or lake. If you want to get the most for your dollar, the Bose SoundLink Color II is the perfect choice.

Read review: Bose SoundLink Color II

Best Buy on a Tight Budget


Anker SoundCore 2


Best Buy Award

$31.99
at Amazon
See It

Inexpensive (when on sale)
Decent sound considering its cost
Exceptional battery life
Bass is quite weak
Water resistant? Check. Lightweight? Check. Sounds better than built-in smartphone speakers? Check. The Anker SoundCore 2 ticks all the requisite boxes for less than $50 (it is readily available online for far below its list price). Sure, it can't match the rich sound of the more expensive models, but it is plenty good and loud enough to serenade a group of friends at the beach. Plus it lasted an astounding 42 hours on a single charge in our battery life testing, so you can listen to it for almost an entire weekend without needing to plug it in. If you're not fussed about water resistance the original Anker SooundCore sounds about the same and is even less expensive.

Read review: Anker SoundCore 2

Top Pick for Portability


UE Roll 2


Top Pick Award

$61.99
at Amazon
See It

Good sound quality
Completely waterproof
Lightweight and portable
Bass is slightly weak
Can sound tinny, especially at high volumes
With a super slim profile that can fit almost anywhere, the UE Roll 2 is able to accompany you on almost any adventure. It is also completely waterproof, weighs just 11.8 ounces, and has an attached bungee cord for easy lashing to your backpack or bike. It backs this up with sound that is quite impressive given its size, and a full 14 hours of battery life on a single charge If you want slightly better sound quality in a very portable speaker the Bose SoundLink Micro is slightly more melodious, but you're limited to a 5-hour battery life.

Read review: UE Roll 2

Great for Backyard Parties


Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3



$151.68
at Amazon
See It

While we definitely wouldn't call the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 portable (it weighs 4.5 pounds and is about the size of a basketball) it is an incredibly convenient way to move high quality sound throughout your house and into the backyard. It also retains its sound quality, even when cranked to high volumes, making it the only speaker we tested that has the oomph to power a backyard bash with 30+ people. If you want a loud speaker with great sound quality that can easily follow you from the kitchen to the living room to the porch, this is the Bluetooth companion for you.

Read review: Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
84
$200
Editors' Choice Award
Top notch sound from a relatively small and durable package
77
$200
Great sound but not as portable as its successor (the SoundLink revolve)
73
$130
Best Buy Award
A great speaker that is fairly portable and won't break the bank
72
$100
Quite loud considering th esmall, portable size, but other more portable speakers sound just as good
72
$100
Deep bass and IPX7 waterproofness make this a great combination of sound qaulity and portability
71
$100
Booming bass and high volume for $100 make this a fairly good value
70
$100
Top Pick Award
The most portable model we tested, and has decent sound to boot
70
$230
Great sound, but not quite as good as the Bose SoundLink Revolve, which is cheaper and water resistant
69
$200
A good mix of portability and sound quality, the Boom 2 is bigger but sounds better than the Roll 2
68
$150
If you're all about that bass and don't mind a speaker that weighs over 2 lbs, this is a great choice
68
$110
The best sound you can get out of a sub 1 pound speaker, but also has a fairly short battery life
61
$130
Good for Alexa fans, but viewed solely as a standalone speaker there are much better options available
58
$450
Great for around the house and parties in the backyard, but too large and heavy for trips further afield
55
$90
Best Buy Award
The perfect budget option for listening to music on your next beach day
48
$85
An okay budget speaker (only if it's on sale), but the Anker SoundCore 2 is much better and generally costs just a bit more

Analysis and Test Results


The ideal Bluetooth speaker is one that can blast your music loud and proud, is portable enough that you don't mind toting it around, won't break when stuffed in a backpack or dropped on the ground, and has a battery that can power you through a long night of music fueled frivolity, should the mood strike.

Our overall scores are based on the results of 11 different real world tests, which we divided into 4 testing metrics. All of our testing metrics were designed around these ideal attributes and meticulously evaluated the sound quality, volume, portability, and battery life of each model, all in a side-by-side manner.

Listening to our speakers  like the UE Boom 2 pictured here  in real world settings was the cornerstone of our sound quality testing.
Listening to our speakers, like the UE Boom 2 pictured here, in real world settings was the cornerstone of our sound quality testing.

Sound Quality


While no portable Bluetooth speaker is going to be able to match the quality of a home speaker system, it needs to at least represent a big step up from the built-in speakers on your smartphone to be of any use. To assess sound quality we had a percussionist who is all about that bass and a guitarist that knows the intricacies of treble listen to each speaker play the same songs one after another. After listening to everything from the deep resonance of the Interstellar soundtrack to the high, staccato picking of classical guitar, we scored each speaker on bass, treble, clarity, and dynamic range.


The Bose SoundLink Revolve was the winner of our sound quality testing, earning a perfect score of 10 out of 10. This speaker is the classic small dog with a big bark. In our testing it produced booming bass and was the only model that could hit high notes without even a trace of clipping. It also had impressive clarity and was able to clearly define each note within even fast saxophone trills. A close runner up was the Bose SoundLink Mini II. It also produced exceptional sound with no clipping. However, its bass wasn't quite as powerful as the Revolve, which gave its sound a bit less depth and well-roundedness.

The Bose SoundLink Revolve sounded so good in our testing that it made flowers grow.
The Bose SoundLink Revolve sounded so good in our testing that it made flowers grow.

A close runner up was the Beats Pill+. It matched the Bose Soundlink Mini II with incredible clarity, but it fell just a bit short in terms of bass and treble. The bass still felt good and thumpy but lacked a little body when compared to the Bose, and the treble did show some slight signs of clipping when playing the highest notes.


A small audio sampling from all of our speakers. Music courtesy of www.bensound.com

The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3, the Bose SoundLink Color II and the Beats Pill+ all picked up an 8 out of 10 in this metric. These models are just a small step down in treble quality and clarity from the top performers, with some more complex melodies sounding just slightly less crisp. The Onyx Studio 3 had the deepest bass of any model we tested, but staccato notes weren't as sharp as they were relative to the top scorers. The SoundLink Color's bass was less muddled, but not quite as deep. The bass of the Beats Pill+ still felt good and thumpy, but lacked a little body when compared to the Bose, and the treble did show some slight signs of clipping when playing the highest notes.

The UE Boom 2, the Amazon Tap, and the Bose SoundLink Micro all earned a 7 out of 10 in our sound quality testing. The Boom 2 and the Tap sounded so similar to one another in our testing that we became suspicious that Amazon is outsourcing some of its audio component manufacturing to UE. Both of these models sound quite good and clear, but the bass is noticeably lacking, they don't sound hollow and empty like speakers with absolutely no bass, but we were left wishing for a bit more low-end. The SoundLink Micro has slightly better bass than the other two models, but lacks some of their clarity.

The JBL Flip 4 and the Sony XB20 both also earned a score of 7 out of 10 in this metric. These models tend towards the bassy end of the spectrum, both producing deep, powerful backbeats. They both also flaunt their bass power, the covers on each end of the Flip 4 visibly vibrate when the bass drops and the XB20 has lights that flash along with the backbeat. They both also have fairly clear treble, creating a well balanced sound.

Waterproof models like the UE Roll 2 were able to crank out sound even when fully submerged.
Waterproof models like the UE Roll 2 were able to crank out sound even when fully submerged.

The UE Roll 2 and the UE Wonderfboom both scored a 6 out of 10 in our sound quality testing. Given its small size and lightweight the Roll 2's sopund quality is impressive, yet clearly has some drawbacks. The clarity is decent, but just on the borderline of sounding muddled. The bass lacks a good amount of depth, which was the biggest strike against the Roll 2's sound quality, and high notes often sounded a bit static-y at higher volumes. In the grand scheme of things, however, we believe the Roll 2's audio shortcomings are more than made up for by its portability for those that want a take-it-anywhere kind of speaker. the Wonderboom sounds incredibly similar to the Roll 2 but is less portable, so we think you're much better off getting the Roll 2

Leading off the bottom tier of our sound quality score sheet is the JBL Charge 3, which earned a score of 5 out of 10. In their marketing, JBL calls this speaker the "bass radiator" and it clearly prioritizes bass over all else. The bass does sound great, but largely to the detriment of overall clarity, with the overarching sound having a muddled quality. Dynamic range also feels a bit depressed, with some accents and ghost notes not producing their desired effect. However, if you just want something that can throw down a powerful, artificial triplet backbeat the Charge 3 is a good choice.

The Bose SoundLink Mini II's sound quality is incredible for such a small speaker.
The Bose SoundLink Mini II's sound quality is incredible for such a small speaker.

At the bottom of our sound quality score sheet were the Anker SoundCores and Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Angle, which scored 3 and 2 out of 10, respectively. All of these models produced fairly weak bass and relatively poor clarity. The Anker SoundCore and soundCore 2 had a bit less clipping and a bit more dynamic range than the Oontz, but still lagged behind the rest of the field in both of those metrics. All of these speakers still represent a significant upgrade in volume and a decent upgrade in quality when compared to a smartphone's built-in speakers, and are decent budget options.

We carried our speakers everywhere to assess their portability  including models like the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 that felt a bit too big to be carried.
We carried our speakers everywhere to assess their portability, including models like the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 that felt a bit too big to be carried.

Portability


If a Bluetooth speaker is small and light enough to shove in your bag you're more likely to have it with you when your entourage demands some sweet beats. Our portability testing was based on three simple questions; is it heavy, do I have to worry about it getting wet, and can I easily throw it in a backpack? the first two questions were easy to answer with a scale, checking which models have waterproof ratings, and taking those models for a swim just to verify. To assess packability our testers took the speakers everywhere, stuffing them into backpacks, tote bags, and carry-on luggage, to see how easily they fit in with the essentials we were carrying around anyway.


The UE Roll 2 and the Bose SoundLink Micro were far and away our favorite models to carry around, both earning a perfect 10 out of 10 in our portability testing. The Roll 2 tipped our scale at just 11.2 ounces, making it the third lightest speaker we tested. Its small size and fairly flat disc shape also makes the Roll 2 eminently packable, somehow disappearing in fully stuffed suitcases and backpacks. The attached bungee cord allows for easy hanging, mounting, and strapping, so even if your bag is completely full you can easily strap the Roll 2 to the outside. It is also one of only four models we tested with an IPX7 rating, meaning it can be fully submerged in three feet of water. We dunked the Roll 2 repeatedly in our testing to verify this capability. After a dunking, the Roll 2 would make T Swift sound like she was gargling water, but we just shook it off, and the speaker was fine.

The Bose SoundLink Micro is slightly lighter than the Roll 2 at 10.2 ounces, and is just a shade smaller. It also has a built-in strap, but Bose opted for rubber over the simple bungee cord on the Roll 2. This feels a little less durably and usable, but it still gives you some options for lashing the speaker to a backpack strap.

With its light weight  packable shape  and complete waterproofness  the UE Roll 2 was the most portable model we tested.
With its light weight, packable shape, and complete waterproofness, the UE Roll 2 was the most portable model we tested.

The Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Angle was a close runner-up, earning a score of 9 in this metric. It is the lightest model we tested at 9.4 ounces. Even though it is quite tiny, its triangular shape just doesn't slip into a pack as easily as the Roll does. It also has an IPX5 rating, meaning it can withstand being hit by even pressurized streams of water, which is useful if you tend to get into super soaker fights. Both of these top scoring models are light enough that they may find their way into your pack for extended hikes or even backpacking trips, assuming you're not too much of a minimalist.

The UE Wonderboom was the only model that earned an 8 out of 10 in this metric. It weighs only 15 ounces, and the short, stout cylindrical shape is fairly easy to stuff into a pack. IT also boasts complete IPX7 waterproofness. It is essentially a slightly less portable version of the Roll 2. but unfortunately it does not sound any better.

Six different models earned a score of 7 out of 10 in our portability testing. The Boom 2 and the SoundLink Color II are relatively heavy, both clocking in at about 19.5 ounces. However, the cylindrical shape of the Boom and the fairly flat, rectangular shape of the SoundLink Color make them easily packable. These models also benefitted from their water resistant ratings. The Boom can survive full submersion (IPX7 rating) and the SoundLink Color can survive significant splashes (IPX4 rating). The SoundLink Revolve is quite heavy at 24 ounces, but it's IPX4 water resistant rating and packable, cylindrical shape earned it a decent score. The Anker SoundCore 2 is very light and 13 ounces and provide IPX5 water resistance, though its sharp corned makeit a little hreder to get into a fully stuffed pack than the cylindrical models.

Also earning a 7 out of 10 were the JBL Flip 4 and the Sony XB20. Both of these models have an oblong shape that slides into stuffed bags fairly easily. The Flip 4 is slightly lighter (19 ounces vs. 21) and IPX& waterproof whereas the XB20 is IPX5 water resistance, but these differences weren't big enough to warrant two different scores. That being said, if you want good bass in something that is really rugged, we'd recommend the Flip 4 over the XB20.


Most of the rest of the models we tested were hampered in this metric due to a lack of any sort of water resistant rating, which inevitably made us a bit more reluctant to take them outside under anything other than bluebird skies. The most portable of these hydrophobic models are the Anker SoundCore and the Amazon Tap, both of which earned a score df 6 out of 10. The SoundCore is significantly lighter than the Tap: 12.8 vs. 16.6 ounces. The Soundcore's rubberized exterior also lends more confidence that it can sustain minor drops and scratches. The Tap's mostly soft exterior feels quite fragile in comparison. However, the sleek, cylindrical shape of the Tap more easily slid into our backpacks that the boxy, sharp edges of the SoundCore. Plus, the available Tap Sling can make it feel much more rugged.

We made sure all of our water resistant/proof models were in fact water resistant/proof. Pictured here are the JBL Charge 3 (front) and the (back  left to right) Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz  UE Roll 2  UE Boom 2  and Bose SoundLink Color II.
We made sure all of our water resistant/proof models were in fact water resistant/proof. Pictured here are the JBL Charge 3 (front) and the (back, left to right) Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz, UE Roll 2, UE Boom 2, and Bose SoundLink Color II.

The Bose SoundLink Mini and the Beats Pill+ both scored a 5 out of 10 in this metric, mostly due to their weight. Our scale put them at 24 and 27 ounces, respectively. They both also have hard metal exteriors, not exactly the material you'd expect to easily absorb shocks and scratches. Both models also have sleek profiles that can slide into a stuffed backpack, but the rounded edges of the Pill+ are a bit more adept at this. These speakers are heavy enough that you'll definitely notice them in your bag, and most people will want a rubber sleeve or carrying case to protect them while traveling.

The UE Boom 2 was the best sounding of the fully waterproof models we tested.
The UE Boom 2 was the best sounding of the fully waterproof models we tested.

The JBL Charge 3 was an outlier in that it has an IPX7 rating and can survive full submersion in water, yet only scored a 5 out of 10 in our portability testing. This was due to its size and weight. At 28 ounces it's one of the heaviest models we tested, and its 8.4" by 3.5" cylindric body is large enough to be obnoxious in a backpack.

The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3, which earned the low score of 2 out of 10 in this metric, is portable only by the most technical definition of the word. At a full 72 ounces (that's 4.5 pounds) it is as heavy as a large laptop. Its 11-inch flying saucer shape also won't fit easily into any backpack or bag. This puppy might make it out into the backyard for a barbecue, or possibly on a car camping trip, but that's about it.

The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 used its large size to dominate our volume testing.
The Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 used its large size to dominate our volume testing.

Volume


Producing enough sound for a couple people lounging on the beach and creating enough sound for a barbecue with 20+ people are very different tasks, and some speakers just won't be able to cut it in the latter situation. We evaluated volume objectively with a sound meter. However, we found that most of the speakers were able to produce similar maximum decibel levels, but some sounded incredibly shrill at high volumes while others were able to retain their musicality. So we ended up rating them subjectively by listening to each speaker in different sized spaces to see which could fill a room with dulcet tones, and which just filled it with cringe-inducing dissonance.


Somewhat unsurprisingly the two largest speakers we tested, the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 and the JBL Charge 3, were at the top of the volume leaderboard, both earning a score of 9 out of 10. These models kept the music sound good even when cranked up high, and could fill even large, open houses with good sound. The Onyx Studio 3 has better sound quality and, if anything, was just a tad louder than the Charge 3, so it would be our choice playing music at a noisy backyard barbecue. Just remember that it is the least portable speaker of the bunch.

Just slightly quieter but still loud enough to score 9 out 10 was the Sony XB20. This model was plenty loud enough to cut through the noise of a crowded apartment party, but couldn't match the pure power of the Onyx Studio 3 for a large outdoor gathering.

Despite its relatively tiny stature the UE Boom 2 lived up to its name and did well in our volume testing, picking up a score of 8 out of 10. It was easily able to fill an apartment with crisp sounding music, even when that apartment was filled with a bunch of people bouncing around to said music. The Bose SoundLink Revolve and the Bose SoundLink Color II performed similarly, also scoring an 8. They have enough juice to power a small party and more than enough for a group of friends hanging out on the beach. The UE Wonderboom produced a similar volume, also scoring an 8 out of 10.

The JBL Charge 3's booming bass make it very loud  but somewhat to the detriment of overall clarity.
The JBL Charge 3's booming bass make it very loud, but somewhat to the detriment of overall clarity.

A triad of models, including the Bose SoundLink Mini II, and the Beats Pill+, scored 7 out of 10 in this metric. Coincidentally these are also the speakers that did best in our sound quality testing. They are plenty loud to fill an apartment with great sounding audio, even if that is also filled with a group of people talking loudly. If that loud talking turned into a raucous dance party, however, these speakers may struggle a bit to play over the din.

The UE Roll 2, the Amazon Tap, and the Bose SoundLink Micro scored 6 out of 10 in our volume testing. These models still have some oomph to them but completely filling an apartment with sound would be a bit of a stretch, a large hotel or bedroom would be more in their wheelhouse. The tap can get a good bit louder than the Roll, but its sound quality degrades to a noticeable but not terrible degree at higher volumes. The Roll's design excels at close listening situations, like strapping it to a backpack or bike handlebars, and is plenty loud enough for those instances.

The Beats Pill+ combines decent volume with great sound quality.
The Beats Pill+ combines decent volume with great sound quality.

At the bottom of our volume testing scoresheet were the Anker Soundcore 2, the Anker SoundCore and the Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Angle 3. All of these models still provide a solid bump up in volume when compared to smartphone built-in speakers but functionally are a good bit quieter than the other speakers we tested (you can crank the volume up really high, but you'll mostly hear static when you do). They're great for a couple of friends listening to some relaxing music while sitting on the porch, but they'd struggle to fill an apartment with sound and have trouble cutting through ambient noise.

The Anker SoundCore lasted over 40 hours in our battery life testing.
The Anker SoundCore lasted over 40 hours in our battery life testing.

Battery Life


Nothing can kill the mood of a gathering more than the music cutting out prematurely, so you'll want to make sure your speaker has enough juice to power you through. To test battery life we set each speaker to the same level of sound output, which worked out to about 75% volume for most models, and made them all play the same loop of music over and over until they died. We'd tell you which songs we played but at this point we've heard them so much we can't even stand to utter their names…


Anker really wrecked the curve in our battery life testing. The SoundCore 2 and the original SoundCore lasted an astonishing 42 and 41 hours, respectively. This was close to double the battery life claimed by the manufacturer. Honestly, we were tempted to bust these speakers open and see if there was a little gnome running on a hamster wheel inside. This performance earned them a perfect score of 10 out of 10, and sort of precluded any other speaker from actually impressing us in this test.

The first but distant runner-up in our battery life testing was the JBL Charge 3. It lasted what should have been an impressive 30 hours, if we hadn't already been blown away by the SoundCore. This admirable performance earned the Charge 3 a score of 9 out of 10. Coming in a distant 3rd were the UE Wonderboom, which lasted 19.5 hours and scored an 7 out of 10. The Bose SoundLink Revolve and the Bose SoundLink Mini II, which lasted 18 hours and 17 hours, respectively, also scored 7.

The Charge 3 lasted 30 hours in out battery life test  and was the only model that could even come close to the performance of the Anker SoundCore.
The Charge 3 lasted 30 hours in out battery life test, and was the only model that could even come close to the performance of the Anker SoundCore.

The Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz Angle 3, the JBL Flip 4, and the UE Roll 2 earned scores of 6 out of 10 in our battery life test. The Oontz was a slightly better performer, keeping the music going for 15.5 hours. The Flip 4 was just behind at 15 hours, and the Roll stayed alive for 14 hours.

Three different models earned a score of 5 out of 10 in this test. The Bose SoundLink Color II lasted a respectable 13 hours. The Beats Pill+ also survived for 13 hours in our test. The UE Boom 2 and the Sony XB20 were slightly behind these models, both lasting 12 hours. This was slightly disappointing, as the Boom 2 was the only model that lagged significantly behind its manufacturer's claimed battery life (15 hours). The Amazon tap earned a score of 4 out of 10 and lasted 8.5 hours in our testing.

At the bottom of our results sheet was the Bose SoundLink Micro and the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3. The SoundLink Micro lasted a surprisingly brief 5 hours in our testing. Due to its large, rather unportable size the design team didn't see fit add even more weight to the Harman Kardon with a large battery. Therefore it only lasted 4.5 hours in our test, earning it the low score of 2 out of 10.

A Note on Ease of Use


For most products we include an ease of use metric, and we planned to do so for Bluetooth speakers. However, in our testing we found almost no differences betweens models in terms of ease of use. When we had any Bluetooth connectivity problems they seemed to be based on the phone we were trying to pair rather than the speaker, every single speaker was able to maintain a connection when we moved the paired device 40 feet away, and all of their interfaces are almost identical. Therefore we ultimately removed our ease of use metric. Some models do have microphones that allow them to become speaker phones or even use Siri (we've noted these models in the specs table). But these extra features were of a similar quality across all of the models that have them and, based on our own experiences and a careful analysis of online user reviews, aren't used enough to deserve a bump in our scoring.

Conclusion


Aesthetically, Bluetooth speakers are probably some of the most diverse tech products around, coming in a myriad of sizes, shapes, and colors. Despite this clear diversity it can be incredibly difficult to differentiate these products in terms of their actual, real world performance. We hop that our testing result have helped you cut through the confusion and find the perfect speaker for your needs.
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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