Smartphones and tablets don't have a good reputation for outputting rich and loud sound. Most of them are equipped with back-facing speakers with tinny sound and crappy quality, ruling out the possibility of watching a good movie or even a short video without using hands-free. Even the ones that have dual stereo speakers, like some recent smartphones, aren't satisfying enough.
This is where portable bluetooth speakers come in. Handy enough to be carried around the house (or to a picnic) and loud enough to still not miss the booming quality of the stereo installed in your home, portable bluetooth speakers provide a perfect balance. They can even last longer than your phone.
In recent years, many companies have tried their hand at making a decent portable Bluetooth speaker. As a result, there is an abundance of choice in the market. From pretty little speakers that melt in the environment to huge boxes capable of delivering the sound of earth-shattering quality, there is a little for every mood.
- Top 10 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers of 2018
- Things to Consider Before Choosing a Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Top 10 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers of 2018
1. UE Boom 2
Super-loud, colorful design, shock-proof and waterproof.
Sound – The UE Boom 2 is incredibly loud— one of the loudest Bluetooth speakers you can buy today. You can crank the speaker’s volume all the way up to 90% before a little noise and distortion start popping up. However, you probably won’t need to because the speaker is sufficiently loud.
The speaker also comes with its app that will let you manually tinker with the sound settings. You can tweak things like bass, or boost its treble, and more.
Battery – It comes with a non-removable battery that shouldn’t bother you, even with a full day of heavy use at loud volumes. It is capable of lasting more than 10 hours of use on a single charge.
Design – The UE Boom 2 is one of the most colorful speakers around. It features a 360-degree speaker grille divided by a rubber strip. It comes in some vibrant color combinations. The Boom 2 is made to be carried around. Also, since it is shock-proof and waterproof, you won’t get in trouble for dropping it either.
2. Razer Leviathan Mini
Solid music performance, rich bass, speakerphone functionality.
Sound – The Razer Leviathan delivers solid music performance, especially for such a small package. Moreover, it is capable of an incredibly clear and high bass with no or very little distortion. It is a decent overall speaker and should do well for anything you would expect in a portable speaker.
Battery – Razer promises up to 10 hours of battery life with the Leviathan Mini. Your figures may vary, depending on the use and volume levels, etc.
Design – The Leviathan Mini has a dull design that just wants to melt away in the background, so you can just enjoy the sound. Unlike other Bluetooth speakers, this one isn’t meant to look beautiful. It is just a plain, big, black, rectangular box.
3. UE Roll 2 Volcano
Incredibly small, beautiful, waterproof, good range.
Sound – The UE Roll 2 Volcano may not be as loud as other comparatively large portable speakers, but it is still loud enough. It is easily capable enough of filling a medium-sized room.
However, the speaker does have a few issues with handling low-end sound, which ends up rather muddy. It also tends to lose some bass in the overall sound.
Battery – The Roll 2 has an average battery life at best. Although rated at 9 hours, your own estimates may vary a lot depending on the usage.
Design – Minuscule in size, the Roll 2 weighs just 330 grams. It consists of just a circular, colorful grille with two huge plus and minus buttons on the top. It can easily fit in the palm of the hand but is reliable enough to survive some hard days too.
4. FUGOO Sport XL
Rugged, excellent battery life, loud without distortion.
Sound – The FUGOO Sport XL will produce big and wide sound with sufficiently balanced bass, while vocals aren’t bad either. It gets pretty loud too with no distortion.
Like the Boom 2, the FUGOO Sport XL also features 360-degree sound, good enough to fill a large room.
Battery – The Sport XL is made to be ever-lasting. It comes with a promise of a 35-hour battery life. Even though that is a little optimistic, it will easily last you around 25-30 hours.
Design – Huge in size (for a portable speaker), the XL also weighs more than three pounds. It is made to be durable and is waterproof up to 3 feet. Moreover, it is also designed to float on water.
5. JBL Charge 3
Waterproof, good battery, external charger for phones.
Sound – The Charge 3 delivers great low-frequency and is rich through the low-mids. It is also pretty clear and defined through the high-mids and highs. Satisfyingly, there is no distortion, even at loud volumes.
The compact little speaker delivers performance, good enough for any portable Bluetooth speaker (and better than most). The sound is bright and vibrant and even surprisingly rich in some areas.
Battery – The JBL Charge 3’s battery life is estimated to be around 20 hours. The best thing about it is that you can also use the speaker to charge your phone.
Design – Cylindrical in shape, the Charge 3 weighs 1.8 pounds. It features a vibrant, colorful design and is also water-resistant (IPX7).
6. Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2
Small, great value for money, voice recording functionality, NFC.
Sound – The Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2, like its predecessor, produces impressively high volumes. However, it still has a lot of the shortfalls of the original Roar too. Distortion still creeps in, although only at the highest volumes. Along with that, it still tends to overtake the lows with more pronounced mids and highs.
Battery – Packing the same battery as the Roar, the Roar 2 didn’t promise any leaps regarding battery life. It promises eight hours of battery life. In normal usage, you can expect it to last around 6 to 7 hours, depending on the volume levels.
Design – The Roar 2 is also the same as the Roar in design. It features the speaker grille on the top and has an aluminum front with the “Creative” logo. It comes in two colors; white as well as black.
7. Bose SoundLink Mini
Solid build, powerful sound.
Sound – The Bose SoundLink Mini comes with two bass radiators and, as a result, produces a decent amount of bass. The sound itself is powerful, especially for a speaker this size. There is no distortion, thanks to a little bit of engineering trickery by Bose.
Overall, it delivers a relaxed treble coupled with a warm and bulky sound. The SoundLink Mini may be expensive for a speaker this small, but it sure is worth it regarding sound quality.
Battery – The SoundLink Mini offers a 7-hour battery life. Fortunately, Bose also packs in a charging dock. Just attach the speaker on it, and you are free to carry it around the house.
Design – It features a boring design with a plain black rectangular box, but there is not compromise on the build quality. The grilles, both front, and back, are coated in metal while the rest of the speaker is reinforced with a thick single-piece band of anodized aluminum.
8. Riva Turbo X
Superb sound, proximity sensor, phone charging.
Sound – The Riva Turbo X is one of the best sounding portable speakers available in the market. It has a solid, confident bass, integrated perfectly with the mids. It balances everything perfectly, delivering big, balanced as well as very rich sound. There is a very small, albeit noticeable, turbo sound effect but it’s that big of a turn-off.
Be it blasting loud music at a picnic trip, or playing delicate music at your home, the Turbo X can deliver.
Battery – The Turbo X has an excellent battery life for a portable speaker. Somewhat big and bulky in size, it manages to pack in a battery big enough to last well over 20 hours on a single charge.
Design – The Turbo X holds its concerning design. It is the kind of product you would expect Apple to make; minimalistic, available in white and black, and made of rounded rectangles. It is surrounded with the speaker grille on all sides and has the speaker controls on the top.
It is also water resistant and has a proximity sensor, allowing you just to wave your hand over the speaker to light the buttons on the top.
9. DKnight MagicBox II
Unbelievably cheap, good value for money.
Sound – The DKnight MagicBox II’s sound quality might not be as good as the top of the line Bluetooth speakers, but it is still incredibly impressive for a speaker that costs just over $30. The sound quality is excellent, the bass is splendid, and it can get pretty loud too. There is even an added bass pad, so the speaker won’t shake around where it is lying on a bass heavy song.
The sound quality can get just a bit sometimes drowned while the highs and trebles are not that high. Drawbacks are to be expected, however, for a speaker this cheap. But surprisingly, there are very few of those, most o which can be easily overlooked.
Battery – The MagicBox II’s quoted battery life is 10 hours and it sure does stay true to that. In everyday usage, you can easily expect 10 hours or more of battery life, depending on your own usage.
Design – It won’t turn any heads, but it won’t disappoint anyone either. It is just a sharp rectangular box, completely draped in black. Like the Turbo X, a speaker grille surrounds it while the controls are on the top. It is also pretty small and can easily be carried around.
Design wise, it is what you would expect from a sub-$100 speaker. The only worry is that you might want to keep it away from dirt as the holes in the speaker grille are big enough to latch on to a lot of it.
10. Bose SoundLink Color
Compact, vibrant, loud.
Sound – Bose’s more affordable speaker, the SoundLink Color is still pretty expensive. Fortunately, that’s pretty good regarding audio performance. Lows and bass can be emphasized heavily sometimes, but mids and highs aren’t bad either. The little speaker can also get fairly loud, for a speaker so small.
Battery – Bose claims that the SoundLink Color is capable of more than 8 hours of battery life. You’ll be happy to hear that it easily exceeds that and can even last 9 or more hours, depending on your own usage.
Design – The SoundLink Color is the smallest and most affordable speaker in Bose’s lineup. It is made of hard plastic and made to last through some tough days but don’t expect it to handle drops that great. It comes in four colors; black, white, blue, red and mint.
Things to Consider Before Choosing a Portable Bluetooth Speaker
While buying a speaker, the sound quality is the first thing you should consider. The best way to do this is to try out the speaker yourself by going to a nearby store or visiting a friend owns it. If not that, read reviews to see if the sound quality is good enough for a speaker in that price range.
Everybody wants the loudest speaker, but the louder a speaker will be, it is likely to be as expensive too. So it all depends on what you want the speaker for.
If you just want a speaker for carrying around the house, playing some music or for watching a movie on your phone every once in a while, you don’t need a loud speaker. In that case, you can trade volume for other traits, like better battery life or a better design. On the other hand, if you want one to take to a picnic or family gatherings, you need a loud one for that.
Portable Bluetooth speakers are all about carrying around and taking from one place to other. Consequently, they should have a battery big enough support that claims.
Apart from battery life, size is really important for a portable speaker. Typically, a smaller size would provide more portability but then it leaves less room for cramming in a bigger battery and other specs. In the end, this also depends on how you are going to use the speaker.
Normal speakers don’t need to be beautiful or elegantly designed since they are going to spend most of their product life in a corner. However, portable speakers need to look good enough to carry around.
The market is filled to the brim with portable Bluetooth speakers of all sizes. Unless you want a full stereo speaker to pleasure your ears while watching a movie or fill your house with sweet music without a hint of distortion, you will have no trouble finding a portable speaker that suits you.
While UE's Boom 2 is perfect for everything, home or play, the ruggedized Sport XL will keep you company on long trips in rough environments. Don't want to spend a lot of money on a portable speaker? Just go for the ultra-cheap DKnight Magic Box II.