11 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers: Your Buyer’s Guide (2018)

best portable bluetooth speaker

We’ve come a long way since the boombox.

Now that everything from our phones to our fridges can wirelessly stream near CD-quality audio, a compact Bluetooth speaker is all you need to play your favorite music on the go.

And there are plenty of options to choose from. Too many options, in fact. Hundreds of different brands compete to be your go-to option for portable listening.

This makes it hard for the top performers to truly stand out. To make things easier, we’ve put some of the best-rated speakers to the test across several performance categories.

What exactly makes one Bluetooth speaker better than the other?

The obvious answer is sound quality. The best sounding Bluetooth speakers are characterized by clarity and balance. They should be able to reach a high volume without distortion.

Just be sure to temper your expectations, though, as a speaker of limited size can only put out so much power. Furthermore, Bluetooth transmission compresses your audio data, somewhat muddying the signal.

Portable speakers are supposed to sound good at high volumes without draining down a small lithium-ion battery. They should not be thought of as devices for accurate critical listening.

If you had to use a Bluetooth speaker for focused listening, it should have aptX support. AptX is an alternative compression codec designed to better preserve the sonic qualities of your files.

Why doesn’t every speaker have aptX support? I have no idea. But don’t worry, because a Bluetooth speaker can still sound good without it.

The second most important element of a Bluetooth speaker is its form factor. If you are planning to use this speaker on the go, it has to be both compact and durable. You’ll also want the most battery life you can get.

Then there are a number of additional features which aren’t always necessary, but can be a most have for some users. This includes a built-in microphone, USB charge-out ports, an auxiliary audio port, and easy controls.

With all of these factors existing in a fine balance, the right portable Bluetooth speaker for you will entirely depend on your specific needs.

So keep your own personal Bluetooth desires in mind as you read on about our picks for the best portable Bluetooth speaker.

What Are the Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers in 2018?

wonderboom Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 360° sound
  • IPX7-rated
  • Durable
Price: $67.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bose soundlink mini 2 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Bass-heavy
  • High volume
  • Durable
Price: $174.49 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
jbl-flip-4 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • IPX7-rated
  • 360° sound
  • High volume
Price: $79.92 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
sony srsxb301 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Bass-heavy
  • Long battery
  • IPX5-rated
Price: $148.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
fugoo-tough Amazon Customer Reviews
  • IP67-rated
  • Long battery
  • aptX audio
Price: $79.97 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bo play p21 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Clear sound
  • Durable
  • aptX support
Price: $169.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bose-soundlink-revolve-plus Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 360° sound
  • Bass-heavy
  • IPX4-rated
Price: $299.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
harman-kardon-mini Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Clear audio
  • High volume
  • Built-in mic
Price: $150.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
oontz-angle-3-ultra Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Clear audio
  • Long battery
  • IPX6-rated
Price: $39.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
doss-touch-speaker Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Clear audio
  • Long battery
  • Cheap
Price: $28.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
grain Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Beautiful
  • High frequency reponse
  • No distortion
Price: $249.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. Ultimate Ears Wonderboom

    Pros:
    • Clear 360° sound
    • IPX7-rated and floats in water
    • Compact and durable
    Cons:
    • No aux port
    • No built-in microphone
    • 10 hour battery life could be better

    Output Power: (Unlisted)
    Inputs: Bluetooth
    Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
    Dimensions: 0.93 pounds
    Weight: 3.7 x 3.7 x 4 inches
    IP Rating: IPX7

    The Wonderboom is one the most portable speakers in Ultimate Ears’ acclaimed line of Boom speakers. I have personally sung endless praise for the UE Boom 2, but the Wonderboom recently won my affection for its nearly perfect form factor.

    The Wonderboom is a compact take on the cylindrical Boom design, measuring at 3.7 x 3.7 x 4 inches. It has simple volume controls and a UE logo button that works for play/pause/skip as well as forming Bluetooth connections.

    It has a small hang loop to connect to a backpack, and most importantly, is IPX7-rated for water resistance. That means it can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes, and the design naturally floats.

    To top things off, it can survive multiple drops of up to 5 feet without even a scratch to its silicone casing.

    But this speaker isn’t all looks, as it also packs dual audio drivers positioned to deliver a clear and powerful 360° sound.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    The speaker design incorporates two passive bass radiators to offer a neutral low end, with just the slightest muddiness in the low-mids.

    The mids are surprisingly present and drive songs of all genres without sounding awkward or imbalanced. With a frequency range of 80Hz – 20KHz, the Wonderboom just about fills the spectrum of human hearing.

    Its battery life tops out at about 10 hours, which is decent, but could most certainly be improved. A surprising change to the UE formula is the Wonderboom’s lack of a built-in microphone.

    After sizing it up against the competition, it’s safe to say the Wonderboom does one of the best jobs of providing convenient portable audio without drastically compromising its sound.

  2. JBL Flip 4

    Pros:
    • IPX7-rated and durable
    • Clear 360° sound
    • High max volume
    Cons:
    • Limited bass response
    • Low quality microphone
    • Can’t pair with older JBL speakers

    Output Power: 16 Watts
    Inputs: Bluetooth, Aux
    Battery Life: Up to 12 hours
    Dimensions: 6.9 x 2.8 x 2.7 inches
    Weight: 1.1 pounds
    IP Rating: IPX7

    The JBL Flip 4 is a durable waterproof speaker that stands up to rugged conditions without compromising its high-quality audio playback.

    This mid-sized speaker won’t win any beauty contests, but its silicone case is durable enough to handle even the roughest use.

    It is IPX7 rated and can be fully submerged in shallow water for up to 30 minutes. It reportedly survived a trip through one reviewer’s washing machine.

    This speaker has simple controls and a lanyard to carry it on the go. It has semi-useful extra features like speakerphone calling and the ability to pair up with other JBL Connect-compatible speakers.

    The built-in mic for taking calls is fairly low quality, but it works in a pinch. It has a max 12 hours battery life and recharges in around 3.5 hours.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    On top of all this, the Flip 4 delivers fantastic audio playback. It reaches a high max volume without majorly distorting, and has a frequency range of 70Hz – 20KHz.

    Its sound signature is balanced, offering strong low-mids and detailed highs. The bass feels present, but it rolls off just shy of that powerful thump bass heads crave.

    It’s not the most detailed sound ever, but it outperforms most speakers in its price range.

  3. Sony SRS-XB30

    Pros:
    • Bass boost and EQ features offer flexible sound
    • USB charge-out port
    • 24-hour battery life
    • Durable and IPX5-rated
    Cons:
    • Uses a proprietary charger
    • High price tag
    • So-so app

    Output Power: (Unlisted)
    Inputs: Bluetooth, Aux, NFC
    Battery Life: Up to 24 hours
    Dimensions: 9 x 3.2 x 3.4 inches
    Weight: 2.2 pounds
    IP Rating: IPX5

    Sony’s SRS-XB30 is a portable speaker that does it all, offering clear portable sound plus all the other bells and whistles you could possibly ask for out of a speaker.

    This speaker is a little on the heavy side but is more than worth carrying along for its convenient suite of features, starting with Bluetooth and NFC connectivity.

    It is easy to connect the speaker, with an easy pairing button sitting among a myriad of other controls.

    This includes volume up, volume down, one for speakerphone, one for play/pause, one for power, and one to activate “extra bass” mode.

    The speaker itself isn’t particularly sleek looking. I could take or leave the built-in multicolor LEDs which flash along to the music.

    But the speaker itself is quite sturdy. It has an IPX5 rating, rendering it safe from water jets in all directions.

    The SRS-XB30 gets an impressive 24 hours battery life, assuming you don’t use the lights or play at max volume constantly.

    It charges via a proprietary DC power supply, but it makes up for this shortcoming by providing a USB charge-out port next to its hidden aux port.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    All that said, how does the SRS-XB30 sound?

    Pretty darn good. The speaker is clear and balanced out of the box, providing accurate playback even as it approaches max volume. Its frequency range spans the average spectrum of human hearing at 20Hz – 20KHz.

    Those who like a punchy low-end can use the “extra bass” button to boost the bass frequencies, which sounds great on tracks that need that driving subwoofer sound.

    Sony’s free SongPal app further lets you tweak the experience with a three-band equalizer, plus program different LED light patterns.

    Again, its sound out of the box works great for faithful reproduction of music, but the added freedom to tweak the EQ allows you to adapt the sound to your environment.

    At around $150, the SRS-XB30 is one of the pricier portable speakers available. But its huge selection of features makes it more than worth it for the music enthusiast who loves to tweak settings.

    Want the same great sound and feature set in a larger form factor? The Sony XB40 is the XB30’s kitchen table alternative.

  4. Fugoo Tough

    Pros:
    • IP67-rated and ultra durable
    • High quality aptX audio
    • 40 hour battery life
    • Fast-charging USB port
    Cons:
    • Low max volume
    • Weak low end
    • No app support

    Output Power: 8 Watts
    Inputs: Bluetooth, Aux
    Battery Life: Up to 40 hours
    Dimensions: 2.3 x 7.8 x 2.9 inches
    Weight: 1.4 pounds
    IP Rating: IP67

    Fugoo is a fairly new name to the portable audio market, but it has quickly established its place at the top of the pack with a hardcore outdoor speaker that practically cannot be broken.

    The Fugoo Tough is basically the Fugoo Style in a rugged aluminum and resin enclosure. It is meant to go along with you anywhere and comes with a suite of accessories like a strap mount, a bike mount, and a remote control.

    It can be driven over, dropped, dragged behind a car, you name it. There is no end to the abuse its shock-resistant frame will survive. It is also IP67 rated for protection from dust and submersion in shallow water for up to 30 minutes.

    This is far from the Fugoo Tough’s only selling point, though. It also delivers a pretty phenomenal sound. Its drivers are arranged to deliver 360° sound and offer a nearly full frequency response of 60Hz – 20KHz.

    The max volume is decent for indoor use, but if you actually take this outdoors or to a loud job site, the sound will disperse pretty fast.

    The speaker is aptX compatible, which means that aptX compatible audio sources will offer a higher playback quality than is capable through normal Bluetooth connections. And it really shows in the sound.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    Its high-end is clear and spacious, giving the mids plenty of room to breathe. The bass rounds out the sound decently but doesn’t have much presence.

    This is a shame as a speaker with this battery capacity could certainly put a little more power behind its woofers.

    On that note, I should have mentioned up front that the Fugoo Tough has a 40-hour battery life because that’s one of the strongest features it has going for itself.

    Underneath the case, you even have a fast-charging USB port to serve as a power bank in a pinch.

    There is also a built-in microphone for speaker calling and large and simple buttons across the case.

    The Fugoo Tough does it all and has officially raised the bar for the next generation of rugged outdoor speakers.

  5. Bang & Olufsen Play P2

    Pros:
    • Clear sound with rich bass
    • Compact and durable
    • aptX support
    Cons:
    • No aux port
    • 10 hour battery life could be better
    • Clumsy touch controls

    Output Power: 2×50 Watts
    Inputs: Bluetooth
    Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
    Dimensions: 3.1 x 1.1 x 5.5 inches
    Weight: 0.6 pounds
    IP Rating: (Unlisted)

    Danish audio company Bang & Olufsen may specialize in high-end home theater gear, but their signature sound carries over flawlessly to their smaller speakers as well.

    The B&O Play 2 is a palm-sized personal speaker that delivers an unbelievably large sound. At only 3.1 x 1.1 x 5.5 inches and about a half pound, this speaker fits in a pocket no problem.

    But only when you turn this speaker on does it reveal its true size. This speaker gets surprisingly loud and delivers a finely tuned sound that matches any sized room.

    This speaker has aptX codec support, so aptX compatible devices deliver a higher quality sound than you would normally get from Bluetooth.

    With an effective frequency range of 68Hz – 21KHz, the highest highs and the lowest lows come through accurately.

    The low end is rich and spacious, and the high end is perfectly crisp. The only downside to the sound is how you control it.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    The P2 goes for a minimalist approach with its controls, housing a lone power button on its anodized aluminum case.

    The rest of the controls are handled by tap and shake interactions, which can be programmed with the free Beoplay App.

    Unfortunately, this is a really clumsy way to handle things like track playback and volume. In the end, it leaves me wishing for some plain ‘ol buttons.

    A lack of controls aside, the P2 is well put together. It has a beautiful pearl-blasted anodized aluminum grill, which is reinforced by a durable polymer.

    B&O claims that the P2 is splash and dust resistant, but does not offer an IP rating to back this claim up. I couldn’t bring myself to test if it was true.

    The speaker has a very average max battery life of 10 hours. It charges in about 2 hours via USB-C. It does not have an aux port, but it does have a built-in microphone for taking and receiving calls.

    All things considered, the P2 is not without its flaws. But its high-quality sound and compact form factor more than make up for these.

    They also make this gorgeous little speaker well worth its hefty price tag.

  6. Harman/Kardon Onyx Mini

    Pros:
    • Clear and balanced audio
    • High max volume
    • Built-in microphone with noise cancelling
    Cons:
    • No waterproofing
    • Audio distorts at max volume
    • 10 hour battery life could be better

    Output Power: 16 Watts
    Inputs: Bluetooth, Aux
    Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
    Dimensions: 3.7 x 6.2 x 5.7 inches
    Weight: 1.3 pounds
    IP Rating: N/A

    High-end speaker manufacturer Harman/Kardon has officially stepped into the portable audio arena with the Onyx Mini.

    This compact speaker is a shrunken down version of their beloved Onyx 3 speaker. It is only 5.7 x 6.2 x 3.7 inches.

    Its clear and natural sound signature is its main selling point, and it offers it at a bargain price. It does so by forgoing some more superfluous features you find on portable speakers.

    For instance, the speaker doesn’t lend itself to rugged use, nor does it offer a USB charge-out port. It does, however, have a decent built-in microphone for conference calls.

    This means that this speaker is all about the sound, right down to its prominent circular shape. The sound is evenly balanced between high-end and low-end, making for crisp and accurate playback.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    The passive bass port in the back gives the bass some nice extension without cramping the ever-important middle frequencies that carry the lead vocals and guitar riffs.

    The high end is spacious, but the sound does get a little crunchy as you approach its max volume. However, if you are using this speaker at max volume, a portable speaker may not be suited to your needs.

    Most speakers will pair up with another model of the same kind to double up on audio performance, but the Onyx Mini has a neat trick where three devices can be connected at once, allowing you to take turns playing music.

    This speaker has a max 10-hour battery life, which is just about average for Bluetooth speakers. It has a handy array of five LEDs to keep track of its remaining charge. I much prefer this over the standard voice updates you find on most speakers.

    A little better battery life would have made the Onyx Mini an overall top pick, but even without it, this speaker provides some solid sound at an awesome value.

  7. OontZ Angle 3 Ultra

    Pros:
    • Clear and loud sound
    • 20 hour battery life
    • IPX6 rated
    Cons:
    • Muddy mid range
    • Spotty Bluetooth connection
    • No case

    Output Power: 14 Watts
    Inputs: Bluetooth, Aux
    Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
    Dimensions: 6.4 x 2.8 x 2.8 inches
    Weight: 0.93 pounds
    IP Rating: IPX6

    The Oontz line from Cambridge Soundworks is one of the most popular budget speakers around.

    Though their Angle 3 Ultra doesn’t bring much new to the table in terms of design, it now stands to take the crown for the best sounding speaker under $35.

    The secret to its success is its loud and clear sound, which is way better than it should be at this size and price point.

    The speaker gets quite loud, filling a room with ease despite being only 6.4 x 2.8 x 2.8 inches. The speaker doesn’t distort at high volumes, although certain frequencies towards to high end can get harsh.

    You get a nice amount of bass from the Angle 3 Ultra, and its downward firing subwoofer ensures that placing this speaker on a table or a solid surface will extend the bass sound even further.

    The sound is overall quite balanced, even though the mids are confined a little by the high and low frequencies.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    The Angle 3 Ultra doesn’t fall short on features either. It has an aux port and a built-in microphone for speakerphone.

    The controls are easy to access and make it easy to perform tasks like changing tracks, adjusting volume, and making Bluetooth connections.

    The Bluetooth connection isn’t as consistent on this device as more expensive speakers, but that’s far from a deal breaker.

    The Angle 3 Ultra also has a standout 20-hour max battery life.

    Ultimately, if you have a limited budget for a portable Bluetooth speaker, the Oontz Angle 3 Ultra is the best bang for your buck.

  8. Doss Touch

    Pros:
    • Clear and balanced sound
    • 12 hour battery life
    • Low price tag
    Cons:
    • Not waterproof or durable
    • No battery indicator
    • Weak mid range

    Output Power: 12 Watts
    Inputs: Bluetooth, Aux, Micro SD
    Battery Life: Up to 12 hours
    Dimensions: 2.9 x 6.6 x 2.7 inches
    Weight: 1.23 pounds
    IP Rating: N/A

    A new no-name budget Bluetooth speaker comes out every week. Most are lost to the static, but the truly worthwhile speakers always find a way to stand out.

    The Doss Touch made it on my radar for being one of the highest-rated value speakers on the Internet. It has more five-star reviews on Amazon than almost every other speaker I reviewed put together. And why?

    Because it offers high-quality sound at a competitive price. Its one of the best sounding speakers in its price range, beating out the Oontz Angle 3 Ultra with its well-rounded sound.

    It has a nice, balanced sound with clear mids. The bass is present, and its tweeters capture the high-end details that really bring your favorite tracks to life.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    The audio remains smooth at high volume and is overall way better than you would expect from a $30 speaker.

    Just keep in mind that you’ll get a much more rich and detailed sound at the higher price range, so all said, they still don’t quite compare to more expensive options.

    But while the Doss Touch has the upper hand in budget audio, its competitor the Oontz Angle 3 Ultra has the edge in extra features.

    The Doss Touch offers a solid max battery life of 12 hours and can recharge via Micro USB in about 4 hours. This is plenty acceptable but not as high as the 20 hours promised by the Oontz speaker.

    This speaker is also not durable or rated for water resistance, meaning this is not an all-weather option.

    The speaker is compact though, at 2.9 x 6.6 x 2.7 inches. It supports Micro SD playback on top of the standard Bluetooth and Aux. It also has a built-in microphone to make and receive calls.

    Apparently Doss has been making Bluetooth speakers almost as long as Bluetooth has been around, which might leave you wondering why you didn’t hear of them sooner.

    Well, their speaker is awesome, and if you don’t know, now you know.

  9. Grain Audio PWS.01

    Pros:
    • Beautiful, authentic walnut paneling
    • Amazing frequency response
    • Distortion-free loudness at max volume
    Cons:
    • 8 hour battery life could be better
    • High price tag
    • Rubber feet cannot hold speaker in place during bass-heavy tracks

    Output Power: (Unlisted)
    Inputs: Bluetooth, Aux
    Battery Life: Up to 8 hours
    Dimensions: 7 x 2.5 x 3 inches
    Weight: 1.5 pounds
    IP Rating: N/A

    Grain Audio’s PWS.01 is a different kind of portable speaker. Its FSC-certified walnut finish is so beautiful, that I hardly want to take it outside. It has a delicacy to it that you don’t get from heftier speakers.

    It is a quality that carries through into its sound. Its dual 2-inch proprietary loudspeakers and bass-isolating passive radiator produce clear, balanced sound with an emphasis on authentic audio reproduction.

    This speaker doesn’t get particularly loud, nor does its sound carry well in open spaces. But its warmth and clarity make for a fantastic sound with dynamic qualities.

    Its bass roars to life without sounding artificially boosted, and highs have room to sparkle when the mood is right. It is not fair to call this speaker accurate when instead they clearly put their own spin on your audio. Let me tell you, it is a spin that I love.

    The speaker is not without its flaws though. It comes at a designer price, which hurts when it lacks so many important features. There is no speakerphone calling, NFC tapping, or EQ adjustment capabilities. Clearly, this just means that Grain Audio puts sound first.

    But even then, this speaker produces so much bass that I have to babysit this speaker, lest it vibrate straight off the surface I place it on.

    With smart use, you can overcome this issue, though. Still, I mean it when I say this speaker is delicate. It is not IPX-rated, and its wood body is only lightly treated, so you can easily damage it.

    Click here to watch a video review of this speaker.

    As for battery life, the Grain performs only decently. It gets an average of 8 hours from a micro USB charge.

    Ultimately, if you are looking for a portable speaker through which you can really experience your music, then the PWS.01 is a fantastic pick for you. But if you are looking for a go-anywhere speaker with all the bells and whistles, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

1 Comment

1 Comment

Matthew

Does Scosche have good speakers that compete with these?

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