• JBL Flip 4

  • Anker Soundcore 2

  • How We Tested

  • What You Should Know About Portable Bluetooth Speakers

  • Other Portable Bluetooth Speakers We Recommend

  • Bose SoundLink Revolve

  • JBL Flip 3

  • Bose SoundLink Micro

  • Anker Soundcore

  • Anker Soundcore Flare+

  • JBL Clip 3

  • UE Roll 2

  • Tribit 360° Sound Speaker

  • Other Portable Bluetooth Speakers We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Portable Bluetooth Speakers of 2020

  1. Best Value

    Anker Soundcore 2

    Pros

    • Easy to use

    • Portable

    • Affordable

    Cons

    • Nothing we could find

    Skip to the full review below
JBL-Flip-4
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

With its compact design, rugged materials, user-friendly features, and palatable price tag, the JBL Flip 4 is one of the best portable speakers out there.

Best Overall
JBL Flip 4

The JBL Flip 4 isn't the cheapest speaker on the list, but there's a reason for the high price tag: it sounds awesome, it's decently waterproof (IPX7), and it boasts beefier battery life than smaller options.

From the knock-resistant hard plastic chassis to the cleanly spaced volume, play, and Bluetooth buttons, the Flip 4 stands out from the collective a bit in terms of pure polish and quality. It's not the loudest speaker on the list but it provides a good balance of bass, midtones, and treble frequencies. It's lighter than smaller speakers, which definitely adds to its overall portability, and is available in a wide range of colors like blue, red, teal, and even camo (yikes).

If you need waterproofing, outdoorsy sturdiness, good volume, and the ability to connect more than one Bluetooth source at a time, the Flip 4 is one of the best choices. It also delivers more impressive, rumbling bass than almost anything else I tested, which is one of the hardest attributes to find where portable Bluetooth speakers go. No matter how you plan to use it—indoor, outdoor, dry, wet, stationary, or in motion—the Flip 4 delivers the goods.

Anker-Soundcore-2
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The very affordable, very practice Anker Soundcore 2 is one of the most valuable Bluetooth speakers on the market.

Best Value
Anker Soundcore 2

The latest iteration in Anker's portable speaker line, dubbed SoundCore, the SoundCore 2 is basic, straightforward, and useful. It features a sturdy rectangular design with big, easy-to-push buttons and a very tightly sealed set of inputs for USB charging and a 3.5 input.

The first thing I noticed about the SoundCore 2 was its sound quality. For being small, portable, and fairly lightweight, it has less tinniness in its trebles than a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers and more bass presence. Between the low price point and the wide array of colors, it's a very clear value pick as far as portable speakers go. It doesn't get majorly loud, but it gets about as loud as most people will probably need it to, and all without a touch of distortion.

Last but definitely not least, the Anker SoundCore 2 is, of course, rated IPX7 waterproof, meaning it's capable of at least partial submersion without being rendered useless—exactly what you want here.

Pros

  • Easy to use

  • Portable

  • Affordable

Cons

  • Nothing we could find

Related content

How We Tested

How-We-Tested
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Testing involved some deep listening, but also just a lot of just hanging out with tons of speakers at home and outside.

The Tester

Howdy, I'm Lee Neikirk, Home Theater Editor for Reviewed and casual video/audiophile. I've been elbows-deep in professional reviews of video and audio products for the last 7 years, but before that, I was earning a degree in music performance, so it's safe to say that audio quality and presentation are passions of mine. At home, I utilize guitar amplifiers, studio monitors for music mastering, and a sound "plate" for my TV. But nothing is more delightful than a compact, rugged, or waterproof speaker that can fill space with music; it's like magic!

The Tests

Testing for these portable Bluetooth speakers was a fairly simple process. I took a big box of them home and over a few weeks, sampled and used them in different locations in my home. I didn't do any objective testing for audio quality, but I did listen to them closely, comparing them to a range of other speaker sources, as well as headphones.

But perhaps just as important (if not more important) than checking out each speaker's audio quality was simply using it like the average person would: connecting over Bluetooth, setting it up on a desk or table, and listening to music. I'd crank the speakers up to max to check for distortion or buzzing, and cycle through each speaker's various functions.

Sometimes speakers sounded great at every volume, connected immediately, had responsive buttons and stylized Bluetooth feedback, and so on. Sometimes they presented a chintzy or questionable experience. The final ranking represents a rough approximation of those traits alongside the cost/value of the speaker.

What You Should Know About Portable Bluetooth Speakers

Technically, a portable Bluetooth speaker is any speaker that doesn’t need to be plugged into power on and play music, that you can connect to, wirelessly, via Bluetooth connection, and are small/light enough to be carried with you or stowed in a bag.

While this can include a pretty wide range of sizes and price points, generally portable Bluetooth speakers fall between $30 and $100 in price and include a suite of key features like Bluetooth connectivity (duh), volume adjustment, 3.5mm aux input, and micro USB charging.

Features like splash or waterproofing, rugged exteriors, LED indicators, and bass boosting vary depending on the model—those kinds of things are usually what you’re paying more (or less) for. But you can always safely assume any portable Bluetooth speaker you buy will be wireless and work with whatever type of phone you have.

How Loud Are Bluetooth Speakers?

Another key thing to understand about portable Bluetooth speakers is that they’re more of a replacement for your smartphone than for traditional bookshelf speakers or even soundbars.

Although you can get really big, boombox style portable speakers that might be able to blow the roof off a house party, most of the speakers we tested aren’t amazingly loud. They’re loud enough to provide music for a small gathering or a modest backyard get together, but if you’re in the raucous throes of a party, most of these will be drowned out.

Where this starts to matter more is when you’re using one of these speakers in an on-the-go situation. Because of the relatively low wattage power of most of the speakers here, using them outside on a windy beach or hanging from your handlebars as you pedal through the woods may not always yield crystal clear audio. But you’ll know music is playing, and that’s probably as good as you’re going to get without using headphones.

As for audio quality, one reason these speakers don’t get mega loud is that if they did, it would introduce distortion. Instead, engineers have capped the relative output to maintain clarity, which is a smart move both for your listening enjoyment and for the life of the soldered wires inside.

What’s the Difference between Splash and Waterproof?

Many portable Bluetooth speakers are splash and/or waterproof on top of being extra rugged or capped with rubber components to help protect them from falls.

But it can be a little hard to know if it’s safe to “accidentally” boot your little speaker into the pool when a song you hate comes on, so check this guide to the ranking system if you’re really curious.


Other Portable Bluetooth Speakers We Recommend

JBL Flip 3

The JBL Flip 3 is a pill-shaped, portable product available in a huge variety of colors. It features rubber cappings and some splash proofing, giving it good legs to stand on when it comes to toting it along on unplanned adventures.

For the price, the JBL Flip 3 provides a notable laundry list of features. The first thing I noticed was how clear and direct the sound was, filling the space with clear, balanced sound that's mostly omnidirectional and distortion-free. What's more, the addition of splash-proofing and a rugged design mean the high-quality audio is paired with serious portability.

There's really no reason not to go with the JBL Flip 3. If you're looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker that wears many hats, this is it. It's got good audio quality and reliable functionality, allowing it to stand in as a stay-at-home speaker—but also boasts the portability, splash-proof features, and tough rubbery build to allow it to flourish on trips to the beach or at the campsite. Friendly, musical power/pairing cues and the wide variety of colors are just icing on the cake.

Anker Soundcore

There's not much reason not to pick the Anker SoundCore if you're just looking for something simple and reliable. One of the most popular Bluetooth speakers of all time, this affordable product may not have any overt quirks, gimmicks, or standout features, but it checks off all the basic boxes for a price that's hard to argue with.

Available in black, blue, and red, the original SoundCore boasts 24 hours of battery life, a sturdy rectangular design, and big, easy-to-press buttons (although they can be a little hard to make out given that they're identically colored with the rest of the chassis). The sound quality is solid, with good bass and treble presence and plenty of volume.

Like the SoundCore 2, the original SoundCore has USB charging and an input for a 3.5mm jack. Unlike the upgraded SoundCore 2, however, the ports are uncovered, which is potentially problematic. Considering the widespread popularity of the SoundCore, I doubt it's a major issue, but if you plan on taking your portable speaker on a lot of dusty or drippy outings, you may want to find one that's sealed up a little better.

Anker Soundcore Flare+

The Flare+ lives up to its namesake. This tall, conical speaker is one of the only ones I've seen to feature flashing, music-synced LED lights. It's one of the larger speakers that I tested and features a handsome, deep gray coloration and speaker grill, intuitive controls, and some neat features.

First off, the Flare+ sounds really good. It's one of the bigger speakers we tested, and its 360-degree speaker design and sheer height/size give it a leg up over the smaller, more compact speakers I tested. It's easy to control, and if you don't like the light show you can shut it off. Personally, I'm on the fence about it. During use, I found the light synced up kind of weirdly to the music I was playing and didn't have the satisfying, full glow of the LEDs as they appear on the box. But that's what I get for listening to late 80s Phil Collins.

However, maybe the best thing about the Flare+ is that it's waterproof, which I definitely wouldn't expect if someone just handed it to me on the street. That means not only is it a big, colorful option for your pool party but if the dog accidentally knocks it into the water, it should survive the plunge. Overall, it's a most robust choice, especially as far as waterproof options go.

JBL Clip 3

JBL's "Clip" line of portable Bluetooth speakers have been kicking around for a few years, and while they definitely break the mold where most Bluetooth speakers are concerned, they've got sticking power for a reason. The tiny Clip 3 is so-named because it features a small partial carabiner clip for it to hang on various things—belt loops, bike handles, shower rods, and so on.

For being a tiny speaker, the Clip 3 has a pretty big sound. Even without clipping it on anything (which oriented the drivers skyward... not super ideal), it fills space and plays back cleanly without distortion. That said, the maximum volume isn't much, so if you're going for sheer volume, the Clip may not be a good choice.

For the price, however, the Clip 3 is great. At max volume, I even heard a few vocal lines I hadn't heard in one of my favorite songs before. It's also available in a huge variety of colors, which is just downright fun. If you need a handy little speaker that's waterproof, the Clip 3 is the way to go.

UE Roll 2

The UE Roll 2 is a portable, waterproof Bluetooth speaker. This makes it a great choice if you want to blast some tunes at the pool or on the beach without worrying about water damage. We nabbed the "volcano" version, but it's available in a wide range of colors.

After a bit of fidgeting, getting Spotify playing on the UE Roll 2 was easy. There's a power button on the back of the device that puts it into Bluetooth mode as soon as it's on. The cross pattern on the front of the speaker has two pressable areas that make volume adjustment simple. The device also announces its "on" and "paired" status with audio feedback tones, which is nice.

Where sound quality is concerned, the Roll rocks pretty solidly. I noticed decent bass presence, but a little excess treble, where things like snare hits were notably higher in the mix than they were on my headphones. There's some risk of losing out on mid-range audibility here, but overall the audio quality is decent for the price, especially considering everything else this product offers.

Tribit 360° Sound Speaker

The Tribit Xboom is a very popular speaker. Its rounded shape, rubber strap, and bright, oversized buttons silhouetted against the black speaker grill give it a rugged, playful aesthetic. This one keeps things pretty simple: it has big volume and pause buttons on the top, and on the backside, clearly labeled Bluetooth and bass buttons. There's good tactile and sound-based feedback when you push buttons, and on the back, inputs for USB charging and an aux cable.

This isn't the most straight-laced speaker. The capped ends where the bass resonates out of tiny woofers display "Tribit" and "Xboom" logos in font that's a little more 90s Mountain Dew commercial than I would like, but that's nit-picking. On the other hand, unlike a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers, it's only available in one color (black), so if you're looking for something a little more colorful, you might want to look elsewhere.

As sound quality goes, the Xboom sounds great. Its rounded form gives it good aural presence (within reason) and it gets plenty loud. At higher volumes it sounds kind of tinny sometimes, but overall it's not a bad sounding speaker at all.

Other Portable Bluetooth Speakers We Tested

  • The JBL Clip 2 is an on-the-go portable Bluetooth speaker available in a wide range of colors—black, blue, red, camo, to name a few. It's round and waterproof (or splashproof, more realistically) and gets its name from its big metal carabiner clip. Get the JBL Clip 2 from Amazon for $45.99

  • The Archeer A320 is a unique Bluetooth speaker. It delivers a rustic wooden design, and it's big enough to accommodate two 5W speakers and a 15 W subwoofer. It also comes with a carrying bag! Get the Archeer A320 from Amazon for $49.99

  • The Aomais Sport II is a surprisingly good choice where affordable, waterproof Bluetooth speakers go. Available in somewhat tropical colors (orange, green, etc.), the Sport II is a mid-sized speaker that's hugely popular. Get the Aomais Sport II from Amazon for $29.99

  • The Oontz Angle 3 is great for a desktop situation, and it sounds pretty good too. The downward firing bass speaker provides good warmth within the lower and midrange areas of the frequency spectrum. Get the Oontz Angle 3 from Amazon for $25.99

  • Despite being a bit older, the Tribit XSound Go is still worth checking out. Its small form factor feels very sturdy thanks to the metal chassis, and despite its small size, it has a good amount of power (but you have to turn it up a lot). Get the Tribit XSound Go from Amazon for $29.99

  • The Oontz Angle Solo is a small, very affordable Bluetooth speaker that gets its name from the triangular shape of the speaker. It isn't big enough to fill a space with music (in fact, it's small enough to have slots for attaching it to a keychain), but it's a good choice for a desktop or picnic table situation. Get the Oontz Angle Solo from Amazon for $16.99

  • The Doss Touch is a decent choice, especially if you're on a budget. It's a larger speaker with very robust sound for the price—not the highest quality, but at least it's pretty loud. Get the Doss Touch from Amazon for $27.95

Meet the tester

Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor

@Koanshark

Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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