Nothing makes a party better than some music, and nothing makes playing music easier than a Bluetooth speaker, especially as more phone manufacturers omit the 3.5mm headphone jack. Fortunately, you don't need to spend a fortune to get the best Bluetooth speaker and get the good times rolling.
Best overall: Tribit StormBox Micro
Tribit sure knows its way around audio accessories, and the StormBox Micro is no exception. This Bluetooth speaker isn't just compact. It puts out a huge kick with deep, booming bass and 9W of power.
One of the most distinctive features of the StormBox Micro is its ability to be easily mounted to bikes, backpacks, belts, or nearly anything else — get creative! The IP67 water and dust resistance mean you don't have to worry about getting caught in the rain, and you can pair two of these speakers together for an immersive stereo effect.
The only downside is that the StormBox Micro only has 8 hours of battery life — enough to cut some parties short. But on the bright side, it uses the same USB-C connector as your phone and laptop for easy recharging.
Tribit StormBox Micro 9W Speaker
Perfect for parties, the home, and anywhere else
Best value: Sony SRS-XB01 Portable Speaker
If portability and budget are the names of the game, then the SRS-XB01 from Sony is a fantastic pick. This speaker packs such an impressive punch that it's hard to believe the sound comes from such a small package.
The XB01's EXTRA BASS tagline holds true with punchy lows that, combined with the six-hour battery life, will allow you to listen to your favorite songs with plenty of bass for long periods. Sony also includes a strap connected to the speaker's bottom if you want to throw it over your shoulder or attach it to a bag.
On the downside, the SRS-XB01 doesn't have a ton of extra features. For example, there's no dedicated app, meaning you'll have to turn to your smartphone or tablet's built-in audio tools if you want to adjust the EQ levels. The micro-USB charging port also feels a bit dated these days, but these are often the sacrifices you'll have to make to hit such a low price.
Sony SRS-XB01 Portable Speaker
Big punch in a small package
Best 360-degree sound: Anker Soundcore Mini 3
When it comes to listening to your music or podcasts, you want to be able to hear them from wherever you are. That's where a speaker like the Soundcore Mini 3 comes in with its 360 degrees of sound.
The cylindrical design, combined with two drivers and 5 watts of power, makes for an impressive yet lightweight package. As for battery life, you're looking at around 15 hours, which should be plenty long enough for pool parties and the like.
Best of all, you can pair over 100 Mini 3s (or virtually any other Soundcore speaker, for that matter), and each speaker is feather-light at just half a pound.
Anker Soundcore Mini 3
Hear everything from everywhere
Best smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
It may not be a dedicated speaker, but it's a popular choice. The last-gen Echo Dot gives users much to talk about while still having the ability to show off a bit when guests come over.
In addition to pairing via Bluetooth, you have the option to use the 3.5mm auxiliary jack or even pair over Wi-Fi to other devices. With Alexa built-in, you can control your smart home easily or get the answer to that question nagging at your friend during the party.
Sure, the sound isn't the greatest, but you can pair this with another Echo Dot for stereo sound or another Bluetooth speaker. The other big downside here is that the Echo Dot isn't entirely portable since you need to keep it plugged in at all times. This can be a bit frustrating, but its integrated voice assistant more than makes up for it.
Amazon - Echo Dot (4th Gen) Smart Speaker with Alexa
Impress your friends and control your smart home
Another smart speaker: Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)
If you like the Echo Dot's voice control features, but you'd rather use Google Assistant, the Nest Mini is a great alternative. It puts out twice as much bass as its predecessor and features a touch-sensitive fabric cover that allows you to adjust volume with a quick tap.
Like the Echo Dot, the Nest Mini must be plugged in at all times, so while it makes a great affordable smart speaker, it may not be the best mobile solution. Still, you can pair it to other Nest Minis for a stereo sound and use it to control the rest of your smart home without lifting a finger. Maybe turn on some party lights?
Compared to the Echo Dot, the biggest downside is that the Nest Mini doesn't feature a headphone jack, meaning there's no way to wire audio directly into the speaker. Still, you can connect your phone over Bluetooth and play audio wirelessly.
Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen)
Google Assistant in a pretty fabric package
Most unique design: OontZ Angle 3 Ultra
As you look at different Bluetooth speakers to consider, many of them have the same old design: cylinders that pump out music at varying rates, shapes, and sizes.
The OontZ Angle 3 Ultra changes that with its unique triangular design so that you can cover as much area as possible. Oontz also includes an IPX6 rating for splash resistance, but we wouldn't recommend taking the Angle 3 Ultra for a dive. However, this speaker's most significant benefit is the 100-foot range, allowing you to keep your phone with you and not with the speaker.
While that 100-foot range is incredible, you'll still be stuck in the past with the micro-USB charging port. The OontZ Angle 3 Ultra is also a bit heavier than some of the other speakers on this list, so you may not want to carry it if you go for a hike.
OontZ Angle 3 Ultra 4th Gen Speaker
Forget leaving your phone behind
Best battery life: Anker Soundcore 2
There is nothing wrong with a Bluetooth speaker that doesn't have a bunch of extra frills or a design that makes it stand out from the crowd. But, sometimes, a great Bluetooth speaker is just your run-of-the-mill option.
That brings us to the Anker Soundcore 2, which has no significant features to "wow" you. However, this speaker offers 24-hour battery life, which is among the leaders on this list, along with IPX7 water resistance and Bluetooth 5.0. Take all of this, combined with the 12 watts of power, and you have a tried-and-true speaker that will work for every situation.
You may just want to keep a cloth nearby after the party is over since the Soundcore 2 is a fingerprint magnet. Additionally, you likely won't want to play this at max volume because the sound gets a bit distorted.
Anker Soundcore 2 Portable 12W Speaker
This one goes for days
Best waterproof: Tribit XSound Go Speaker
The Tribit XSound Go Speaker delivers rich sound with 16W of audio, and you can take that sound with you wherever you go. Weighing only 13oz, this speaker is extremely light and isn't a burden to carry around. With an IPX7 waterproof rating, it's perfect for a day at the beach or lake and even comes in handy during a quick shower.
This speaker has a durable exterior coating and internal frame, so you can hook it to your bag or bike with its tear-resistant strap and not worry about it getting any bruises or bumps. It charges quickly through USB-C, but thankfully it has a 24-hour battery life so that you can listen to music throughout the weekend.
Best of all, the Tribit XSound uses Bluetooth 5.0 and has a 100-foot range, so you can go on a walk without having to leave your phone behind. And if you're hosting a party, you can pair this speaker with another to double the volume.
Tribit XSound Go Speaker
Singing in the rain
It can be tough picking out a speaker, but it's even more difficult finding an inexpensive waterproof Bluetooth speaker, but the Tribit's StormBox Micro comes close. This speaker offers decent battery life, USB-C charging, and a fantastic bass response that'll give every song you listen to a real boost.
Plus, you can pair this with another StormBox for a stereo sound setup, perfect for any party or situation. It's even IP67 certified for protection against water and dust, and you can clip it to your bike for a quick workout. The only downside? Without any auxiliary port, you'll need to connect to the speaker via Bluetooth for any audio playback.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central and iMore. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he'll get back to you.
Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and former video editor for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman.
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