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What is a portable Bluetooth speaker good for? Basically everything, with a few exceptions.
Portable Bluetooth Speakers excel whenever you need:
- A speaker in a place where it would be inconvenient or impossible to be plugged in to power
- A speaker that can be moved from one place to another
- A speaker in a place where you can’t put a large speaker due to space constraints
Many Portable Bluetooth speakers are also water resistant or even waterproof. This makes them useful for outdoor, poolside, bathroom and even shower usage, depending on the specific speakers’ water resistance rating (some can be splashed, some can be submerged).
When would you not want to use a portable Bluetooth Speaker?
The only situation where you might not want a portable speaker is one where you have room for a larger speaker and access to electrical outlets. This would make sense for your main TV room, for instance, but probably not for listening to music in your kitchen, bathroom or patio.
What I’m focusing on here is going to be inexpensive portable Bluetooth speakers with a variety of features.
So what matters when looking for a Portable Bluetooth Speaker?
- Battery life
- Sound quality
- Level of water resistance
- Signal Range
Similar to our Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $45 guide, we consider battery life very important, but will focus on other factors as well.
Why is battery life so important for this product?
Battery life is always important for every tech device, but it matters more for some devices than others.
For this type of product, you won’t be carrying it around in your pocket or looking at it constantly, so you won’t be thinking about it (or if it’s charged) until you are ready to use it. When you turn it on, you want it to just work. The less frequently you need to charge it, the more it will.
I originally had nine different speakers on this list, but found as soon as you dip below the $24.99 speakers in price, the options get more sketchy. Even speakers rated over 4 stars with thousands of reviews seemed to have a disproportionate amount of failures reported (especially in the battery department).
I’d rather not include products that are sub-par, even in an inexpensive price-bracket. You can rest assured that our picks are excellent and far better than the pricing suggests.
Reasonable Expectations for the Cost and Small Form Factor
I’m including this because I noticed a trend in a very small minority of reviewers on Amazon. Some seem to expect the performance of a much larger, more expensive speaker from a small inexpensive one.
Thus far, there has been no technological advancement that has fixed the size/quality ratio for speakers. So far, bigger speakers have always been capable of things that smaller ones are not. That’s perfectly okay, because we still need small speakers for many things, and they can still sound great.
These are not for audiophile-level music listening, which you already probably know. That being said, I have taken audio quality into account here because it does matter a lot, even if it’s not going to compete with large, $250 (or more expensive) speakers.
This is a great category of products, with more than normal having thousands of reviews and rating over 4 stars overall. Pretty awesome for under $35.
Note about Bluetooth Range:
Wireless signal range of any kind is heavily dependent on your environment. Microwaves, lots of walls, materials of walls, neighbors’ wireless signals, other wireless signals in your home, etc. can have a massive effect on your personal experience with Bluetooth signal range.
I almost didn’t even include this factor in this list as a reviewer’s experience is so subjective, but because I think there are some speakers that actually do stand out (in a good way) in this category, I included it. Just remember to take range estimates with a grain of salt.
Listed From Most to Least Expensive, Here we go:
1. Best For Everything, Splash-Proof, Super-Long Battery Life, Super Highly-Rated
OontZ Angle 3 PLUS Edition 10W+ Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Richer Bass, 30-Hour Playtime, Dual Proprietary Drivers for Superior Sound, Water Resistant IPX5 Wireless Speaker by Cambridge SoundWorks
- Battery life: Manufacturer says: 30 hours. Reviewers say: “I used it on full volume for four days almost all day” and “playing music for about 5.5 hours… then used it again… continuously for nearly 9 hours. I have yet to see the low battery light come on.”
- Sound quality: Reviewers say: “This speaker has blown me away with its sound quality and sub bass… as an audio engineer, I think this is literally the best speaker you could buy with this kind of sound quality for under the $50 marker.” and “Sound playback is accurate and clarity is very good. Does not have a thumping bass but at this price, it is acceptable.”
- Level of water resistance: “WATER RESISTANT IPX5” “Splashproof, Rainproof, Dustproof, Sandproof” “can resist gentle water spray & splash but cannot be partially or fully submerged.” Appropriate for non-subversive use and can be used in the shower just fine if you don’t put it directly under the stream of water.
- Signal Range: Manufacturer says: “up to 30 unobstructed feet away from your phone or tablet”
This is the best-rated, most popular all-around portable Bluetooth speaker in this price range, and is my pick for a shower speaker. Battery life is excellent and the sound quality rates very high for this size of speaker in this price range.
NOTE: If you want to save $10, the previous version of this speaker is extremely popular and highly-rated on Amazon as well, but has a much smaller battery (rated 12 hours by the manufacturer).
2. Great Living-Room Speaker or For The Kitchen Away From Water
Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker with 24-Hour Playtime, 66-Foot Bluetooth Range & Built-in Mic, Dual-Driver Portable Wireless Speaker with Low Harmonic Distortion and Superior Sound
- Battery life: Manufacturer says: 24-hours. Reviewers say: “They arnt lying when they say the battery life is 24 hours.” and “Battery life is very long.”
- Sound quality: Reviewers say: “Incredibly punchy sound for the size; bass is surprisingly good. Everyone who hears this speaker is surprised at how small it is compared to the big sound it produces.” and “The sound quality on this thing is insane. I’ve never heard loud, blaring metal guitars sound so crystal clear. The highs are outstanding and the bass is mostly okay.” and “fantastic for such a small device. Volume and tone are par with upper-end table radios.”
- Level of water resistance: None (this is not a water resistant speaker)
- Signal Range: Manufacturer says: 66 feet. This is incredibly dependent on your home and what other signals may be interfering with the Bluetooth signal, so reviews are always going to be mixed in this area.
So this speaker isn’t water resistant. At all. Which is totally okay depending on your plans and needs for a Bluetooth speaker. I’ve used Anker products before and have always liked them.
I’d put this in the living room or somewhere away from water in the kitchen. It’s very attractive looking design-wise, as well as being available in a few colors instead of just black, definitely beating the Oontz Angle 3 PLUS in that respect. Battery life is still very good but not as crazy-good as the Oontz.
Interestingly, this speaker also has a built-in microphone for phone calls or for talking to your digital assistant (Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri). A reviewer elaborates: “The microphone works well for phone calls; I bluetooth this speaker to my phone and use it to make phone calls all the time. Other reviewers have commented that the microphone does not pick up sounds from far away. I place the speaker within 2-3 feet of me when making phone calls and I’ve never had a complaint about sound quality.”
3. So Truly Waterproof You Can Take It In the Pool, And It’s Shock-Proof
Photive Hydra Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. Waterproof Rugged Portable with built in Subwoofer and Long Battery
- Battery life: Manufacturer says: Up to 8 Hours. Reviewers agree and say it may be even longer, saying: “decent battery life (8-12 hours of constant use).”
- Sound quality: Reviewers say: “The sound quality is AMAZING. ” and “I was very impressed the sound was clear, and didn’t distort at high volume, and does offer a very small amount of bass. ” and “Sound quality is top notch and about as good as one could expect in a device of this form factor with speakers of this size”
- Level of water resistance: Manufacturer says “Ruggedly built with an IP rating of 66, this rechargeable bluetooth speaker is dust proof and waterproof. The Hydra can withstand pressurized jets and waves of water,”
- Signal Range: Manufacturer says: 33 feet Reviewers say: “Bluetooth range excels.” and “The range is fabulous. ” and “The bluetooth range is longer than it is with some of my other bluetooth speakers and the line in is also useful.”
This speaker is straight-up waterproof, not just water resistant. It’s super-tough in other ways, too, with built-in shock-absorption. One reviewer says that “It LITERALLY survived a tornado!” and he “found the speaker amongst the soaking wet rubble of his home. Amazingly, it powered right up and is in perfect working order.” This is a rugged speaker, so if you don’t want to be gentle or worry about your speaker taking a tumble, this is a great choice.
4. Tiny Little Speaker With Big Sound For Dry Places
Anker Classic Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Powerful Sound with Enhanced Bass, 20 Hour Battery Life, and Built-in Mic, works with iPhone, iPad,Nexus, Laptops and More
- Battery life: Manufacturer says: 15 to 20 hours. Reviewers say “The… battery life are outstanding… I was able to get 20 hours of playtime” and “As claimed, the battery lasts great many hours. One literally forgets about charging it.”
- Sound quality: Reviewers say: “Sound is good. And doesn’t distort at full volume.” and “sounds fantastic!” and “The sound quality is very crisp and doesn’t muffle out any sounds and has well defined highs and lows.”
- Level of water resistance: None (this is not a water resistant speaker)
- Signal Range: Manufacturer says: 33 feet. Reviewers say: “40 Feet of range.” and “The Bluetooth range is as advertised”
Another Anker speaker in pretty colors. This one is a little cheaper, quite a bit smaller (3.2 x 3.2 x 2.4 inches) and has a little less battery life than the Anker Soundcore above. The design is also pretty different, but also appealing. Just like the Anker Soundcore, this one has a built-in microphone for phone calls and virtual assistant usage. Reviewers say this is surprisingly loud and has an excellent battery life, especially in this tiny form factor.
If you like the look better, want to save a few bucks or a few inches of space on your desk or in your living room, this is a great choice.
5. Cool Little Water-Resistant Speaker in Some Fun Colors
Portable Outdoor Shower Bluetooth 4.1 Speaker by AYL Soundfit, Water Resistant, Wireless with 10 Hour Rechargeable Battery Life, Powerful 5W Audio Driver, Pairs with All Bluetooth Devices
- Battery life: Manufacturer says: 12 hours at 80% volume. Reviewers say “Battery lasts for 6-8 hours of nonstop phone/music” and “I’ve used it for hours at a time at 3/4 volume for mulitiple days before I had to charge”
- Sound quality: Reviewers say: “Sounds great ” and ” Very impressed with the sound quality… Bass sound is better than expected” and “the sound is crisp, clear mid range, treble & deep bass.”
- Level of water resistance: IPX5, which is suitable for shower use like the Oontz Angle 3 PLUS above
- Signal Range (always very dependent on your environment): Manufacturer says: 33 feet. Reviewers say: “It has about a 30 foot range, plus or minus, ” and “Its bluetooth range is small at 10-20 ft.”
A little taller and wider than the tiny (non-waterproof) Anker Classic speaker above, this is a great choice for a tiny shower speaker. Not totally waterproof (don’t submerge it), but suited well for splashes in the shower or the kitchen. Interesting design, kind of cute (like a toy, but not cheap looking) and at the same time rugged. It definitely stands out, especially with the brighter-colored options.