As the weather turns warmer and evenings become lighter, you’ll need a great sounding, durable portable speaker with strong battery life to add a soundtrack to your summer adventures.
Portable Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny JBL Clip 3 and Sony SRS-XB01 that are ideal to strap onto your rucksack, to the larger Libratone Zipp Mini 2 and JBL Charge 4 to fill larger spaces such as a garden party.
Many also come with water-, dust- and shock-resistance – like the Ultimate Ears Blast speaker – to protect against the British weather and any accidental knocks and drops.
Battery life is crucial as well. We’ve found portable speakers that will last well over 24 hours of constant playtime on a single charge – and pathetic rivals that will struggle to last four hours per change, even if the manufacturer claims more.
Read on to see some potential portable speakers for summer. Or jump straight to our best Bluetooth speakers.
Sony SRS-XB31, £94
About the size of a tall drink can, the Sony SRS-XB31 is ideal for those looking for an ultra-compact portable speaker, but one that’s packing plenty of power when needed. It’s part of Sony’s Extra Bass range, promising the full-bodied bass that can often trip up portable speakers.
And it should survive plenty of knocks, too. It’s rated IP67 for waterproofing and dustproofing, and Sony even claims it’s ‘totally rustproof’ and ‘shockproof from up to 1.2 metres’. Love music festivals? No problem – Sony says you can even wash its fabric if it gets muddy, and the optional light effects are sure to liven up the party.
Could this be the ideal portable speaker for you? Find out in our definitive Sony SRS-XB31 review.
Libratone Zipp Mini 2, £199
The tall but durable-looking Libratone Zipp Mini 2 features a removable cover that you can swap out to suit your style, with a whole range of colours available to buy. Packing in both Bluetooth and wi-fi, it looks like the ideal model for those looking for a speaker that will be great for home use and taking on holiday.
Wi-fi gives you additional functionality, including Alexa hands-free voice control, as well as radio and music streaming services support (the latter with subscriptions).
But does the sound quality match its high price? Our discerning testing panel cuts through the marketing to see whether this speaker lives up to expectations in our full Libratone Zipp Mini 2 review.
Sony SRS-XB01, £24
Many are simply looking for a small Bluetooth speaker that will do a better job than their tinny smartphone speakers, and the Sony SRS-XB01 looks like just the ticket.
It’s small, simple and lightweight with a water-resistant housing that should survive being caught out in the rain. The handy carry strap allows you to easily attach it to your bag or hang it from your tent.
So does the battery life match Sony’s six-hour claims, and can you really get great sound from a speaker at this size and price? Our listening panel give their verdict in our expert Sony SRS-XB01 review.
JBL Clip 3, £38
If you’re looking for the ultimate portable speaker, the JBL Clip 3 looks like it could be the ideal choice. Lightweight with a convenient carabiner clip to attach it directly to your rucksack, saddle bag or bum bag, it’s even fully waterproof to can be fully immersed in water for a limited time.
JBL claims it will last for an impressive 10 hours of music listening, and you can even connect it to a second JBL Clip 3 for stereo sound.
Find out whether this premium little Bluetooth speaker lives up to its promise in our extensive JBL Clip 3 review.
Anker Soundcore Flare, £70
Are you looking for a more substantial portable speaker for a reasonable price? The Anker Soundcore Flare is a cylindrical Bluetooth speaker with a flared base, which houses optional light effects that dance to your music.
It too is fully waterproof, and comes with an optional accompanying smartphone app for additional features, including a full sound equaliser to tweak the level of treble and bass to your personal preferences.
Is it the ideal mix of substance and fun, or is it worth spending more? We reveal all in our Anker Soundcore Flare review.
Ultimate Ears Blast, £99
Those looking for an exceptionally rugged speaker that’s equally at home on long camping trips as it is in the living room could well be tempted by the Ultimate Ears Blast.
This travel-sized, mid-priced cylindrical wireless speaker supports both Bluetooth for simple audio streaming from your smartphone, and wi-fi capabilities for internet radio and music streaming services such as Spotify (the latter with subscriptions). Wi-fi even provides for Alexa voice assistant support so you can control your speaker hands-free with just your voice.
As its name suggests, it’s also packing plenty of power for its size – the two speaker drivers allow it to reach a maximum volume of 90dB, about the same as a powerful lawnmower.
Need to fill a large space at a good price? See whether this speaker is the perfect fit for you in our full Ultimate Ears Blast review.
JBL Charge 4, £134
The JBL Charge 4 looks like a brilliant all-rounder – small enough to stow away in your travel bag, but large enough to have the power to be suitable for any occasion.
It’s fully waterproof and conveniently it can even charge your other devices such as a smartphone while the music is playing, so could be a lifesaver when out on a trip. JBL claims the battery lasts for a hefty 20 hours, so you should have confidence it will easily last throughout the day.
There’s even a wide range of additional functionality handled through the JBL Connect app for your smartphone, including connecting to other JBL speakers, and a 3.5mm socket for wired connections to devices like an MP3 player.
Does the sound quality justify the price, or are there cheaper, better options available? Our experts have all the answers in our thorough JBL Charge 4 review.
There are only a handful of portable speakers worth buying
Our expert lab tests have revealed that many portable Bluetooth speakers don’t cut it if your looking for exceptional sound.
In fact, as the graphic below shows, we’ve only found 15 portable speakers – out of 91 currently on the market – that we’d recommend buying. Even worse, we’ve found many so bad we’ve made them Don’t Buys, with even models costing £100 getting a grilling from our discerning panel.
Find out which are the superb-sounding Best Buy portable speakers that will make the most of your music by checking out our wireless and Bluetooth speaker reviews.