Super compact portable wireless Bluetooth speakers have their sonic limitations — particularly in the bass department — but over the years their sound quality has improved as their prices have dropped. Every model can stream music from nearly any phone or tablet, many of them double as speakerphones, too.
We continue to review mini Bluetooth speakers at a steady clip here at CNET. Here’s a look at our current favorites, with a focus on small and lightweight units that are best suited for travel and don’t cost too much.
Also, here are some related product picks you might enjoy:
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Bose’s SoundLink Micro is arguably the best-sounding speaker for its tiny size. Although it’s a little pricey, Bose did shave $10 off its list price, bringing it down to $99. It’s fully waterproof and available in three color options.
Not only does this fully waterproof speaker (IPX7) have improved battery life and better sound than the Clip 2, it’s more durable, according to JBL, thanks to the integrated carabiner framing the entire perimeter of the speaker, acting as a bumper. It’s one of the top speakers for its tiny size. It sells for $60.
The Tribit MaxSound Plus ($56) is about 30% bigger than its sibling XSound Go and costs about $25 more, but it performs substantially better and is one of the best sounding speakers in its size and price class.
JBL’s Flip 5 ($100) is slightly bigger than the Flip 4, with improved sound with a little more bass. It has an IPX7 waterproof certification, which means it can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes and survive. Tribit’s StormBox is about $30 less and plays louder, but I like the tonal balance of the Flip 5 better. It also offers USB-C charging, which is better for future-proofing.
The Sony XB01 is splashproof and available in multiple colors — and it sounds great for the price (it lists for $35 but is being regularly discounted to less than $25 and some times less than $20).
We liked Ultimate Ears’ original Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker, which sounded good for its compact size and was also waterproof. Now the company has released the Wonderboom 2, which is a touch bigger than the original and sounds slightly better, with more bass and a special Outdoor Boost mode that boosts treble.
Like its predecessor, the fully waterproof Wonderboom 2 carries a list price of $100, but sells for less (around $80). What’s different is the IP67 rating that means it’s dustproof, more shock-resistant and also able to float. It also has 30% better battery life — up to 13 hours at moderate volume levels, according to Ultimate Ears — and you can link two together to create a stereo pairing by simply pressing a button on each speaker.
At $33, the Tribit XSound Go is one of the top Bluetooth speakers for the money. Besides sounding decent, it’s also fully waterproof.
Last year Sony made some small improvements to its little canister-style speaker, one of the smallest in its Xtra Bass line. The SRS-XB12 puts out surprisingly big sound for its small size and boasts 16 hours of battery as well as IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating (if you accidentally drop it in water it floats). While it lists for $50 it usually costs less than $40. Available in multiple color options.
Tribit’s StormBox speaker looks like a cross between a UE and a JBL speaker. We suspect that’s not an accident. Fully waterproof, it costs about $30 less than the JBL Flip 5 and produces bigger sound and has up to 20 hours of battery life. Tribit’s XSound speakers are probably a better value, but the Stormbox is more stylish.
1More is known for its well-priced in-ear headphones. But its first Bluetooth speaker is also quite decent. Its strength is its bass performance for a speaker this size. While it doesn’t have the clarity of the Flip 5 or UE Wonderboom its bass sounds bigger. It can be laid flat or hung vertically using its built-in lanyard. I preferred its sound when the speaker was facing me (not firing up). It lists for $100, but 1More is selling two for $149 that you can pair together in stereo mode.
Full disclosure: This is the only product on this list we didn’t test in person. But we found much to admire in its predecessor, the Oontz Angle Plus, back in 2017. This one has marginally better battery life, slightly bigger sound and is more water-resistant than the Plus, and it offers stereo pairing, too. We’ll have a hands-on evaluation soon, but we’re including it here based on our positive experience with the Plus, and the enthusiastic 4,800-plus user reviews on Amazon, where it sells for $35 to $40.
This story posted earlier and is updated periodically.