The 8 Best Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speakers to Buy in 2018

Take your music on-the-go with these portable wireless speakers

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Bose Home Speaker 500

Bose Home Speaker 500

Courtesy of Amazon 

4.3

Bose has been in the Bluetooth and wireless speaker game for a long time — now they're taking their notable sound tech and moving into the more overt smart speaker world with the Bose Home Speaker 500. This speaker offers what Bose refers to as “room-filling sound” with the ability to use Alexa-enabled smart assistance functions. That means you can both stream music wirelessly and control it with your voice. There’s a small screen on the unit, but it just displays album artwork and is not a touchscreen — instead, they've relegated the physical controls to a series of buttons on the top.

Beyond the fact that it puts out big sound from such a compact device, the most notable thing about the Bose Home Speaker 500 is its Alexa functionalities. (Bose promises that other smart functionality, like Google Assistant, is on the way.) You can use the speaker with all the requisite platforms including Spotify, Amazon Music, SiriusXM and more. And there’s even a Bose Smart app that lets you pair this up with another unit or one of Bose's smart soundbars to give you multi-room sound and mobile device control. It's on the pricier side, but if you’re a fan of Bose, that’s expected. It’s a speaker with a notable name that gives you sound commensurate with the brand’s track record.

Best Smart Speaker: Google Home Max

Google Home Max
Courtesy of Best Buy
4.6

If you like to crank up the volume on your portable Bluetooth speaker, then you'll like the Google Home Max. Inside this low-profile speaker are a pair of 4.5-inch woofers and dual amps dedicated to a set of 0.7-inch polyester dome tweeters. The result: room-filling sound with serious bass. And at 100-percent volume, there’s almost no sound vibration (a rarity for a portable Bluetooth speaker). For even more sound, two Home Max speakers can be paired together.

Weighing almost 12 pounds, the Home Max is among the heaviest of the portable options. Fortunately, all that weight isn’t just about the audio. The Google Home Max also includes Google Assistant capabilities. You can ask it to tell you the weather, play a song, search the web, or control smart home devices like thermostats or lights.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: JBL Charge 3

The JBL Charge 3 boasts a superb combination of sound, features and price. The go-anywhere-sizing measures 9.1 x 3.4 x 3.5-inches, weighs just 1.8 pounds and is combined with 20 hours (6000mAh battery) of playtime, so it's ready for a road trip, a day at the pool or just hanging around the house. The Bluetooth connectivity allows up to three smartphones to connect to the Charge 3 at one time for both music playback and doubling as a speaker courtesy of its noise and echo-canceling speakerphone.

The IPX7 waterproof rating that allows the Charge 3 to withstand up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Adding to the JBL’s already excellent feature set, getting caught in the rain or touching the Charge 3 right after washing your hands will not cause any damage. The audio offers great bass response and clarity at the highest volume levels, thanks to two 1.75-inch drivers and two 1.75 x 3-inch passive radiators.

Check out our guide to the best JBL speakers​ you can buy today. 

Best Budget: JBL Clip 2

The JBL Clip 2 is not only lightweight to hold and carry, it’s also light on the budget. In fact, it’s one of the most budget-friendly Bluetooth speakers that still delivers a quality sound. The speaker features a clip you can use to attach it to your backpack or your belt loops. Use the speaker’s controls to play or pause songs or skip tracks, all without having to take out your phone. The JBL Clip 2 may be small, but the eight-hour battery life rivals that of some of the larger Bluetooth speakers. It’s waterproof and while it does float, it can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.

Best for Design: Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay A1 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Sometimes the best-designed products are almost the simplest and that’s exactly where the Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay A1 Portable Bluetooth speaker knocks it out of the park. The basic circular design mimics the look of a hockey puck, but with strikingly clean lines that offer booming sound. With a battery life that hits around 24 hours at regular music volume (recharging 2.5 hours from zero-to-full), the 1.3-pound all-aluminum dome is both dust- and splash-resistant to help protect against the elements. The sound has peak power of around 2X140 watts.

Connection to the A1 is easily done through B&O’s Play application available on both Android and iOS (in the app you can also personalize the audio experience, set up wireless stereo pairing for even bigger sound and update the software on the A1). Beyond music, the A1 doubles as a speakerphone with an omni-directional microphone that sits on the bottom of the device and can pick up 360 degrees of voice recognition no matter where the A1 is in relation to your body.

Best for Portability: Bang and Olufsen Beoplay P2

B&O Beoplay P2 is small enough to hold in the palm of your hand and still manages to deliver impressive sound. The Beoplay P2 has some pretty neat features, too. You can play and pause the music by double-tapping the speaker grill. Or, you can use the Beoplay App to customize your speaker to respond to certain movements, like a tap or a shake. With 10 hours of playtime, this speaker can hang out with you all day and fit right inside your backpack, messenger bag, tote or purse.

Best for Parties: JLab Block Party

For serious parties, the JLab Block Party is what you need. You can connect up to eight of these speakers together for a full sound. The multi-speaker system is great for an outdoor party or even for a multi-room audio system. It even includes indoor and outdoor modes, with the speakers equalized to play the optimal sound based on the amount of sound-absorbing surfaces nearby. (The outdoor mode may be better for houses with a lot of sound-absorbing surfaces). There’s a built-in status indicator to let you know how much battery time is left, and the speaker features buttons for volume, power, as well as to play or pause the music.

Best Battery Life: Anker Soundcore 2

The Anker Soundcore 2 is a surprising little Bluetooth speaker for a lot of reasons. First of all, its small form factor (just over six inches long and only about 12 ounces) doesn’t hold back the surprisingly deep and booming sound quality. It does lack a bit of detail, but considering it’s so small, sports IPX5 waterproof, and delivers a 66-foot Bluetooth range, it’s pretty solid. But, as our category choice here denotes, the real “wow” factor is the battery life. Anker promises 24 hours of playback on a single charge — that’s a whole day of music without the need to plug it in. Considering that most other speaker options promise only 10–15 hours, this one blows them all out of the water. Plus, with a unibody design and a few sleek colors to choose from, it's pretty stylish too.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 202 hours testing two top-rated portable Bluetooth speakers. To get the most complete results, they set them up, connected their devices, and used them to play music everywhere from picnics to parties. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these portable Bluetooth speakers, from sound quality to battery life. We've outlined the key points here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in Portable Bluetooth Speakers

Sound quality - The best way to test sound quality is, of course, by listening in person — but in the age of online shopping, that’s not always possible. Perhaps the most important spec to consider is sensitivity, measured in decibels (dB). This indicates how loud the speaker will get; the higher the sensitivity rating, the louder the speaker will be. An average speaker is around 87 dB to 88 dB, but 90 dB would be excellent.

Battery life - It’s handy to be able to bring your speaker on the road with you, but you might as well be carrying a brick if its battery dies. Most Bluetooth speakers will average about 8 to 24 hours per charge, depending on how loud you’re playing your music. Another thing to consider is how long a speaker takes to recharge its battery — in some cases, a 10-minute top-up can prolong battery life for hours.

Waterproof - If you’re taking your portable speaker to the beach, you’ll want to be sure it won’t be drowned by an unexpected wave. Many models have waterproof ratings ranging from splash-resistant up to IPX7, which means it can be submerged for up to 30 minutes and still work.

Test Results: Bose Home Speaker 500 (Best Overall)

4.3

What We Like

  • Easy setup

  • Excellent sound quality

  • Sleek design

What We Don't Like

  • Bose Music App glitches

Bose Home Speaker 500
Bose Home Speaker
Bose Home Speaker 500 portable bluetooth speaker
Bose Home Speaker 500 portable speaker
Bose Home Speaker 500 bluetooth speaker

Bose is known for its excellent sound quality, and one of our testers felt that this speaker was no exception: “Coming from a home that’s had the Echo Dot, Google Home Mini, and a Sony Bluetooth-enabled sound bar, this has the best sound quality out of the four,” he raved. Our reviewers also loved its ultra-simple setup process and its design, which one reviewer felt was “pretty sleek looking in black.” Our testers didn’t have much to say in the way of downsides, but one noticed some glitchy behavior in the Bose Music App: “It would tell me that there was a lost connection when music was still playing and there wasn't seemingly a problem,” he said.

Test Results: Google Home Max (Best Smart Speaker)

Google Home Max
 Courtesy of Best Buy
4.6

What We Like

  • Amazing sound quality

  • Simple setup

  • Comes with magnetic mat to prevent sliding

What We Don't Like

  • A bit heavy for traveling

  • Google Assistant could execute commands faster

Google Home Max
Google Home
Google Home Max portable bluetooth speaker
Google Home Max bluetooth speaker

“The Google Home Max is one of the best smart speakers I have played with yet,” gushed one of our testers. “The thing I liked most was the sound quality. It was also easy to adjust the bass and treble on your mobile app as you please.” Another highlight? Setup was a breeze, according to one reviewer who reported that “the process didn't take any longer than 5-8 minutes.” One tester also loved that it came with a magnetic rubber mat to place underneath it (to prevent any sliding around). Our reviewers did feel, however, that it was a slightly heavy for traveling, and that its Google Assistant could execute commands a little faster.