JBL Pulse 3 vs. Ultimate Ears Boom 3: Which should you buy?

Ultimate Ears Boom 3
Ultimate Ears Boom 3

JBL Pulse 3

JBL's Pulse 3 speaker improves upon its predecessors with a seamless LED array and better sound. It's pretty huge for a portable Bluetooth speaker, but it's worth it for the light show.

JBL Pulse 3

Beacon of rock

Gorgeous multi-color 360-degree LEDs
12-hour battery life
Calls sound great
Strong bass
Nearly 2 pounds
Overall sound lacks a bit of depth
Doesn't get loud enough for larger rooms

Ultimate Ears Boom 3

The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 is easily one of the best Bluetooth speakers money can buy. It sounds great, looks great, and shines even without the LED array.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3

Focused on sound

Great sound, from bass to treble
Lightweight and portable
Less expensive than its predecessor
15-hour battery life
Boom app is lackluster
No onboard playback controls aside from play/pause

These speakers have relatively similar audio capabilities at the end of the day. The Boom 3 does get somewhat louder, but for most people, both will suffice in that department. So it really all comes down to whether you want a light show or now (and whether or not you're willing to shell out the extra cash for it).

Light vs. dark

One important difference here is battery life. A difference of three hours may not seem like much, but that 12 hours listed for the Pulse 3 is just for music. Once you start using the LEDs, battery life diminishes significantly, especially if you run the lights the whole time you listen.

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Header Cell - Column 0 JBL Pulse 3Ultimate Ears Boom 3
Battery life12 hours15 hours
Weight1.76 pounds1.34 pounds
Water resistanceIPX7IPX7
# of color options24
Frequency response65Hz - 20kHz90Hz - 20kHz

Another major consideration to make is how portable you'd like your Bluetooth speaker. The Pulse 3 is nearly half a pound heavier, two inches longer, and almost an inch wider in diameter. That makes for a hefty speaker, while the Boom 3 is more like a can of Arizona Iced Tea.

The Pulse 3's LED array steals the show.

Both the Boom 3 and Pulse 3 have staggering connectivity capabilities: the Boom 3 can connect to over 150 other Boom or Megaboom speakers, and the Pulse 3 can be paired with up to 100 Connect+-enabled JBL speakers. So the options are endless in that department on both sides.

Which brings us to the main sticking point and really what you should use to decide between these speakers: Do you want a light show with your music? If the answer is yes, then buy the JBL Pulse 3. You'll be glad you did, because the LED array with all its controllable presets (in the JBL app) is mesmerizingly gorgeous. You can set it to be triggered by an equalizer, or there's a cool "fire" preset, and a bunch of others.

Mick Symons
Mick is a writer and duty editor for Android Central. When he's not on the job, he can usually be found vacuuming up pet hair or trying to convince his wife that he needs more guitars.