Top six best portable Bluetooth speakers for 2021
Whether you’re after a quick and easy way to improve the sound from your smartphone at a family barbecue, or something loud and waterproof for poolside parties, a portable Bluetooth speaker is a handy companion that’ll make sure you’re not stuck with second-rate sound wherever you are.
There are plenty of speakers to choose from, whether it’s a £20 own-brand model or a £200 Bose. But if you’re after a portable Bluetooth speaker at the cheaper end of the scale, you don’t have to compromise on sound quality. We’ve found Best Buys and Don’t Buys across a range of prices, proving that more expensive doesn’t always mean better.
Pricing and recommendations correct as of April 2021.
And here are three portable speakers to avoid
Bluetooth speakers designed to be taken with you on your travels need to strike a balance between portability and sound quality. There's no point picking up a compact and lightweight speaker to put in your carry-on suitcase if it sounds tinny and lacking in bass.
We've found small speakers that defy all expectations to provide stellar sound, but there are plenty of inferior models, the sort that are bought on impulse at the airport, that will lead to their fair share of buyer's remorse.
As well as sounding terrible, the worst portable speakers will run out of battery long before the sun starts to set by the pool. Some speakers can't even manage five hours.
The three speakers below may be portable, but you'd be better off humming your favourite song than putting up with the unimpressive racket they produce.
How to buy the best portable speaker
No one enjoys the sense of dread that accompanies having to lug travel bags onto check-in scales. Exceeding the baggage weight limit is of course a no-no, and if you're planning on bringing a Bluetooth speaker with you on your next getaway, you'll want one that's as lightweight as possible. Some Bluetooth speakers are about the same size as a carry-on bag. That's fine for slinging in the boot of a car, but not ideal if you're on your way to a festival or you like to travel light.
If you're the outdoorsy type, it's likely you won't have access to plug. We measure, to the minute, how long each Bluetooth speaker will survive on a single charge so that you can choose one that won't give up before you've finished breakfast. This may not be as big an issue if you're staying in a villa or a hotel, but we've found Best Buy speakers with excellent battery life, so you don't need to compromise.
Some portable speakers have additional useful features too. While they aren't essential, they could make your life a bit easier. If you find yourself inundated with calls, look for a portable speaker with a built-in microphone. That way you don't need to disconnect your phone every time you get a call. Some speakers also have splash-proof cases, which means you don't need to worry about a bit of rain ruining your speaker – splash-proof doesn't mean you can dunk it in the pool though.