Affordable Alternatives to the Beats Pill+ Bluetooth Speaker

Back and white Beats Pill+ Bluetooth speakers, placed side by side

Photo from Amazon

We're not one of those "Beats haters." We've liked the new version of the Beats Studio, and there's no denying that the company has one of the most winning industrial designs in the history of the headphone biz. But the original Beats Pill Bluetooth speaker failed to truly impress (too thin and trebly for our tastes). It was a bit shocking to experience the lack of significant bass response at all, which is quite the surprise when one considers that Beats is ​​known for bassy-sounding products.

Beats has released newer versions of the Pill speaker over time; the current one on the roster is the Pill+ Bluetooth speaker (buy it on Amazon). Before you buy it, though, check out these eight compact Bluetooth speakers — presented in no specific order — that can be a better alternative to the Pill+. Any of these choices make a great accessory for smartphones, tablets, and even laptops.

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Edifier Extreme Connect MP260 ($79 MSRP)

Edifier USA M260 Extreme Connect Portable Bluetooth Speaker

 Photo from Amazon

Although the Edifier Extreme Connect looks like a pretty blatant rip-off of the Jawbone Jambox, its sonics are more refined. Even in a shootout against the excellent Soundmatters FoxLv2 Platinum, the Edifier Extreme Connect holds up quite well: It plays +4 to +5 dB louder, although the FoxL's treble and upper mid-range ​sound more detailed and open. The Extreme Connect also adds a Micro SD card slot that lets you play music without needing to connect a source device.

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Bongo Bluetooth Speaker ($140 MSRP)

Otis & Eleanor's Bongo Bluetooth speaker in natural wood

Otis & Eleanor

Otis & Eleanor's Bongo speaker proves that you can have great sound streaming from something that doesn't look like a spaceship. The Bongo is made out of natural bamboo — from sustainable sources, of course — with hemp speaker covers. The bamboo shell is lightweight and durable, making it perfect for your travels or trips to the beach. And the sound is surprisingly good. Powered drivers up front are coupled with passive bass radiators in the rear, delivering a powerful bass response and 360-degree sound. 

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Soundmatters FoxL DASH-7 ($249 MSRP)

Soundmatters foxL DASH7 Wireless Stereo Hi-Fi Bluetooth Sound Bar and Speakerphone, Red

Photo from Amazon

The Soundmatters DASH-7 — think of it like a version of the original FoxL Bluetooth speaker run through a pair of pinch rollers — actually sounds a tad better than the original. It may not play as loud or as low as many of the larger speakers listed here, but nothing else here can touch the audiophile-pleasing clarity of the DASH-7. And with its slim profile, it's by far the easiest one to slip into pockets, packs, and computer cases. 

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Braven BRV-1 ($99 MSRP)

The Braven BRV-1 speaker in graphite and glacier blue

When we took the rugged Braven BRV-1 on a weeklong road trip one spring, its IPX5 water-resistant case was instrumental in the speaker's survival. It capably braved (pun intended) snow at Crater Lake, being tossed around the trunk of rental cars, and being accidentally dropped on hardwood floors. Rugged may be an understatement for the Braven BRV-1, because this speaker is meant to rough it out on any adventure. The best part? It still sounds good no matter what had happened to it.

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Ultimate Ears UE Roll 2 ($99 MSRP)

Front, side, and rear image of a UE Roll 2 speaker

 Photo from Amazon

Not to one-up the Braven BRV-1, but the UE Roll 2 Bluetooth speaker from Ultimate Ears is a knockout hit. This second-generation model is louder than the original and features a Bluetooth wireless range that extends up to 100 feet. You still get to enjoy the palm-sized saucer shape, built-in bungee to strap or hang almost anywhere, and IPX7 waterproof design that has absolutely no fear of liquid dunks. Plus, each one comes with an inflatable pool floatie to cruise nearby as you lounge in a pool.

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JBL Charge 3 ($149 MSRP)

The JBL Charge 3 Bluetooth speaker in black

 Photo from Amazon

With so many speakers coming out these days, it can be easy to overlook new releases from JBL. Shaped like a water bottle, the Charge 3 speaker loads up on features and packs powerful bass radiators. While we haven't had the luxury of fully reviewing the JBL Charge 3, we've snuck many a listen whenever one has been around. Even with brief exposures to its sonic capabilities, we're totally blown away by how it delivers volume and clarity. Expect a great experience from the JBL Charge 3.

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Geneva Lab Model XS ($199 MSRP)

The Geneva Lab Model XS Bluetooth speaker in white
Geneva Lab

Styled like an old-fashioned travel clock, the Geneva Lab Model XS has a much more refined and mature vibe than almost any other Bluetooth speaker around. In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, it has a built-in FM tuner and alarm clock; the LED display for the radio and clock shines through the perforated metal grille. Like a travel clock, the Model XS folds into its own case. This speaker is designed to be practical and sounds fantastic for the size.

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Soundmatters FoxLv2 Platinum ($229 MSRP)

Soundmatters foxLV2 Platiunum Portable Pocket-Sized Bluetooth Speaker

Photo from Amazon

The Soundmatters FoxLv2 Platinum is the latest and greatest iteration of the product that pioneered the compact Bluetooth speaker. It features the same industrial design as the original, yet packs third-generation acoustical engineering. Each version just gets better and better, such that even snooty audiophile mags have given it plenty of thumbs-up. But you don't need to be an audiophile or audio enthusiast to enjoy this speaker. Give it a listen and you'll instantly hear what all the hype is about.