We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Technology.

30 November 2021

Best portable Bluetooth speakers for 2021

Good speakers do come in small packages. See the models with top-notch sound and great battery life that are still small enough to be taken anywhere.
Oliver Trebilcock
Sony SRS-XB01 v3

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.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Best portable Bluetooth speakers

  • 82%
    £57.99

    This is our best-scoring portable speaker since 2015 – and it’s at a great price too. This Bluetooth speaker is fully waterproof, and you have the option of a 3.5mm wired connection to connect to your devices. It’s easy to use with a choice of using the buttons on the speaker or the accompanying smartphone app. Music is engaging and detailed, and you can connect two together for stereo sound.

    Sign up to reveal

    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

    Already a member?Log in
  • 77%
    £159.00

    This is a fantastic Best Buy Bluetooth speaker that offers powerful sound with hefty bass despite its pretty compact dimensions. It has a robust, waterproof design plus a strong 19-hour battery life that makes it perfect for outdoor parties or the campsite, and you can even connect two together for stereo sound. It’s one of the best portable speakers around.

    Sign up to reveal

    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

    Already a member?Log in
  • 74%
    £49.99

    This innovative Bluetooth speaker’s ideal for taking down the lawn or to the park. It’s a superb, nice-looking and affordable speaker. Sound has nice energy and high volume, although could have more body at times. The battery lasted almost 20 hours in our tests. You can even buy two for true stereo sound in the garden – it’s a sensation.

    Sign up to reveal

    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

    Already a member?Log in
  • 69%
    £28.99

    Many buyers want a compact speaker – the challenge is making one that sounds great, particularly in the bass. This small Bluetooth speaker succeeds where many have failed, despite its slim pocketable design. Speech is clear and music is well-balanced and detailed. Build quality is good, it’s waterproof and the battery lasted more than 9.5 hours in our tests too – it’s a bargain.

    Sign up to reveal

    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

    Already a member?Log in
  • 67%
    £39.00

    Some say the best speaker is the one you take with you, and they don’t get more portable than this. It’s a breeze to attach to your belt or backpack and take with you anywhere on your travels. And sound quality impresses too: music has lovely punch, energy and drive and volume is reasonable too. Battery life was a commendable 11.5 hours is our tests – it’s a remarkable package.

    Sign up to reveal

    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

    Already a member?Log in

Pricing and recommendations correct as of December 2021.

Looking for more information? See our guide to the best wireless and Bluetooth speakers.

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.

Portable Bluetooth speakers to avoid

  • 45%
    £19.99

    This Bluetooth speaker may sound like a neat solution for getting sound wherever you want it – but you’ll soon regret buying. It was already showing signs of wear during our weeks of testing – it’s simply not built to last. Sound is also thin and weedy – you can get much better sound for this price, including from models with equally handy features.

    Sign up to reveal

    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

    Already a member?Log in
  • 39%
    £18.99

    There’s no doubt this model is a convenient size and the voice control is great, but if great sound quality is what you’re after, stay well away. Far superior alternatives cost only a little more, so there’s little good reason to choose this model. Here music sounds small and artificial, with speech very nasal as if people have colds.

    Sign up to reveal

    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

    Already a member?Log in
  • 35%
    £34.99

    It may look the ideal size for a small Bluetooth speaker to carry round with you, but you'll quickly regret your purchase when you discover this speaker's weak sound and low volume. Some functions are also awkward to access even for a simple speaker such as this. We've found notable small Bluetooth speaker success stories, but buying this one would be a mistake.

    Sign up to reveal

    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

    Already a member?Log in

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.