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Free from plugs and aux cords, a Bluetooth speaker can make on-the-go listening more convenient than ever. These speakers are rechargeable (the longer battery life, the better) and use Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect to your computer or mobile device. You can take these devices outside, carry them from room to room, or simply enjoy your music anywhere, whether or not there’s a power outlet.
These speakers can get expensive, but there are plenty of options out there for less than $50 that offer solid audio quality, good battery life, and a durable build. These are all things to look for when you’re shopping for a speaker: a device that needs constant recharging or sounds terrible will take all the fun out of your new speaker. We’ve done the research to find the best speakers in this price range for all different needs. Whether you’re looking for something tough-as-nails, bass-boosted, poolside-friendly, or “smart,” there’s something on this list for you.
Also be sure to check out our roundups of the best Bluetooth speakers under $100, and the best Bluetooth speakers overall.
Not the sleekest form factor
Anker is well-known as the maker of quality cables and portable batteries, and the company is now expanding strongly into the speaker market as well. The Soundcore 2 offers impressive sound at a great price, and it's our top overall pick in the sub-$50 Bluetooth speaker category.
Available in a small range of colors, it ticks all the right boxes in terms of features: 12W of stereo sound with balanced high tones, a bass boost that actually works, and a Bluetooth range of over 60 feet. You'll get up to a remarkable 24 hours of battery life between charges, and there's an aux port if you want to play music from a Bluetooth-incompatible device.
The brick-shaped speaker is IPX5-rated, so it can handle a splash of water (but not full submersion) with ease. Weighing 12.6 ounces, the Soundcore 2 feels solid and sturdy but is still light enough to throw in your bag.
Clear, crisp audio
Easy to set up
Suction cup stays in place well
Doesn’t come with a wall adapter
Button controls take some getting used to
While you can use pretty much any waterproof speaker in the shower, a few companies make models designed specifically for this purpose. The iFox iF012 is a solid, well-priced example, with all the features you're likely to need. Despite its low price, it's still completely waterproof, even fully submerged. That means it can deal with sitting in up to three feet of water for thirty minutes, not just getting a few splashes here and there. That means you can have it in the shower with you for easy access, rather than having to keep it somewhere else in the bathroom. Most of the speaker's front consists of a set of large buttons, easy to use even when you've got soap on your hands. You can pause, play, and skip tracks, or (if you really want to) answer and end a call directly from the speaker, so you don't have to touch your phone at all.
A strong suction mount lets you securely attach the iF012 pretty much anywhere you want to stick it. Combined with up to ten hours of battery life and more than enough volume to be heard over running water, this is the ideal way to enjoy your favorite music in the shower. Our reviewer Danny loved the Fox's impressive audio clarity and long-lasting battery life.
"If you want a basic, affordable shower speaker that reliably sticks to the wall and delivers clear audio, the iFox iF012 is the model to buy." — Danny Chadwick, Product Tester
Great battery life
While the chunky design of the AOMAIS Sport II+ is unlikely to win any style awards, it gives this well-priced Bluetooth speaker plenty of durability. Able to handle dirt, mud, and most drops, the IPX7 rating means it can also survive being submerged in water for up to half an hour.
The 20W output is impressive from an inexpensive speaker like this, loud enough to be easily heard outdoors. If you need even more volume or stereo output, you can also pair two of these speakers together.
Battery life is up to 20 hours, depending on how loud you're cranking the music. There's also a noise-canceling microphone onboard so you can use it as a speakerphone if you need it. Basic controls on the top of the speaker let you control volume, play, pause, and skip tracks, and make or end calls. There's also an auxiliary jack and cable included for a wired connection.
Helpful carabiner to clip and go
Available in a ton of great colors
Great IPX7 waterproofing
Not best in class battery life
Want to listen to music on the move? The JBL Clip 3 helps you do so, with an attached carabiner that lets you securely clip it to almost any hook or loop you can find. It's ideal for hanging off the strap of a backpack while hiking, for instance, or around the handle of your cooler at the beach to keep the speaker out of the sand.
Measuring 2.4 x 5.7 x 7.8 inches and weighing less than eight ounces, you'll get up to 12 hours of music from the Clip 3 on a single charge. Controls are very simple, with three buttons near the top to control volume and playback.
Available in nearly a dozen colors, the speaker has an IPX7 rating that allows it to remain submerged in up to three feet of water for half an hour. That's should certainly give you some peace of mind when blasting out tunes beside the pool.
Dual 6W speakers
Great capacitive controls
Not ideal for phone calls
Since low-cost Bluetooth speakers are often used outdoors or while traveling, most are designed to be relatively rugged, and they look like it.
The DOSS Soundbox takes a different approach, and while it's certainly still small enough to put in your bag and take along on a trip, it's attractive enough to keep on display on a desk or bookshelf the rest of the time. There's basic IPX4 weatherproofing, which can handle minor splashes and liquid spills but not much more.
The Soundbox comes in a range of colors, and its dual 6W stereo speakers are loud enough to fill a room. Capacitive buttons on the top need just a light touch to switch modes or control playback, including a ring that you circle with your finger to turn the volume up or down.
You'll get up to 12 hours out of the inbuilt battery, and can also play music by inserting a micro-SD card or plugging in the included aux cable.
Handy triangular design
Only available in black or white
One of the problems with many Bluetooth speakers is the short range between the speaker and the streaming device. Older versions of Bluetooth topped out at a theoretical maximum of about 30 feet, and you'd often get much less before the skipping and interference started.
No such problem with the OontZ Angle 3 Ultra, which uses Bluetooth 4.2 to give you up to 100 feet of range. The triangular design of this sturdy speaker makes it easy to fit into your bag, and there's a surprising amount of bass response from such a small device.
The IPX6 rating means there's nothing to fear from rain or splashes, and you'll get up to an impressive 20 hours of battery life between charges. There's an auxiliary port on the side and the appropriate cable in the box, letting you use a wired connection if you'd prefer.
Available in black or white, it's also possible to wirelessly connect two of these speakers together for extra volume and stereo sound.
Haven't found what you're looking for? Take a look at our picks for the best bluetooth speakers at Walmart.
Long battery life
Sound quality a bit thin on its own
Made by the same brand as our overall top pick, the Anker Soundcore Mini 2 is a cheaper and more compact Bluetooth speaker that still benefits from Anker’s audio quality. At about 3 x 3 inches, it’s a truly tiny device. This makes it very travel friendly but naturally limits how good it can sound. It can be paired with a second Soundcore Mini 2 for stereo sound, which improves the overall audio quality. But despite the slightly thinner sound, each Mini 2 features a 6 W driver that still holds up well as a standalone speaker if you’re looking to save money. A 66-foot Bluetooth range keeps your device — or a paired speaker — securely connected.
The Anker Soundcore Mini 2 has some great features for its budget price. One of the most appealing is its IPX7 rating, which means it’s dustproof and waterproof in up to 3.3 feet of water. This makes it a great choice for the pool, the beach, and anywhere else where it might be exposed to the elements. The battery life is also surprisingly long with up to 15 hours of continuous playback per charge.
Built-in mic for phone calls
Extra bass feature sounds best when loud
If you want a portable speaker that can do justice to your bass-heavy music, then check out the Sony SRS-XB12. This model has recently dropped in price and is now a great value for Sony-quality sound. There’s a lot to love about the design, too. Available in five colors including bright red, blue, and violet, this tiny but powerful speaker comes with a detachable carrying strap that can be used to hang it up or attach it to your bag. And it’s definitely outside-friendly with IP67 waterproof and dustproof design and 16 hours of battery life per charge.
The SRS-XB12 also has a built-in microphone so you can answer and conduct calls directly from the speaker when it’s connected to your phone. And, just like some of the other speakers on this list, the STS-XB12 can be paired with another of the same model for stereo audio.
Instant access to music streaming
Access to Alexa skills
Requires internet connection
Amazon’s Echo Dot speaker is far more than a typical Bluetooth speaker. And it has a few fundamental differences from the other options on this list. One difference is that this speaker is not portable: it requires an AC power connection and Wi-Fi to work. It’s also a virtual assistant, so it has a wide array of features that go beyond playing music or making calls (though it does both of those things). This is what makes it a “smart” speaker — you can control it or ask it questions using voice commands, and its internet-connected Alexa feature gives you instant access to all your favorite music streaming services. Simply ask it to play a song or playlist and the Echo Dot will stream it. Alexa can also read you the news, tell you the weather, control connected smart home devices, and much more in Alexa’s growing library of skills.
If you’re mostly interested in playing music, the 3rd-generation Echo Dot has an improved speaker with richer audio quality that defies its small form factor. It can also be paired with a second Dot to get stereo sound.
“In comparison with other devices of its size, it does a great job balancing low end with mids and treble without sounding too tinny. The bass isn’t very strong because the Echo Dot doesn’t have a subwoofer, but low frequencies sound pretty good regardless.” — Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester
The Anker Soundcore 2 comes out on top because it offers the best and most balanced sound, a true gauge of speaker quality. It’s also splash-resistant and small enough to be portable. If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, we’d recommend the Anker Soundcore Mini 2, a pint-sized model from the same brand that offers comparable audio quality in a smaller, waterproof design.
Our expert reviewers and testers evaluate Bluetooth speakers under $50 similarly to how we test most speakers, except with more focus on design quality and wireless connectivity. First, we look at the design and portability, what waterproofing rating it has, how much space the speaker takes up, and how easy it is to connect devices through Bluetooth. Since a big trade-off for cheaper speakers tends to be test waterproofing, we dunk or immerse the speaker in a bucket and wash it under running water, provided it's rated for that.
Next, we play a variety of media content, including music, movies, and games, so we can get a good idea of the sound profile, frequency response, and bass. Here's also where we consider any special features like software customization that allows tweaking of frequency response, directional audio, bass enhancements, or extras like RGB lighting. Finally, we compare it to competitors in a similar price range to make a final judgment. All of the Bluetooth speakers we test are purchased by Lifewire; none are provided by the manufacturer.
A former editor of Lifewire’s product round-ups, Emmeline Kaser has over four years of experience researching and writing about the best consumer products out there. She specializes in consumer tech.
David Dean worked in corporate IT for 15 years before transitioning over to tech journalism, and is an expert in consumer, travel, and photography electronics and accessories. He founded his own technology site and has written for a number of leading publications.
Danny Chadwick is a tech writer with more than 12 years of experience, covering everything from dash cams to photography peripherals, with a specialty in mobile audio equipment. He also wrote and produced a daily tech news show for three years.
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.