What's the best Bluetooth speaker under $100? It's a question we understandably get asked rather frequently, as people want quality on-the-go or at-home sound without breaking the bank. So, as we want you to get the best value Bluetooth speaker you can, here's our definitive answer(s).
After all, part of the point of a great Bluetooth speaker, aside from being durable, robust and oftentimes portable, is that it can fill the room of a student house, the interior of a soggy camping tent or even the back of a camper van without leaving you penniless in the process. Price and practicality are very much watchwords here, so nothing we've listed below with set you back more than a handful of notes.
Listed are our favorite budget Bluetooth speakers, all under $100 and all put through their paces across a spectrum of locations, users and purposes to ensure you're getting a speaker that doesn't suffer from cheap sound or cheap build but which instead provides you will plenty of cheap thrills.
How to choose the best Bluetooth speaker under $100
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
The good news is there's no need to sacrifice quality; $100 goes a long way these days. Bluetooth speaker tech has come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years and the latest models are loaded with features and can blast out room-filling sound despite pocket-sized proportions.
The first decision to make is whether you want a portable (i.e. battery-powered) Bluetooth speaker (like the majority on this list), or one that plugs into mains, such as an Amazon Echo. The best portable Bluetooth speakers will be durable and can be taken outside without fear of damage, whereas an Echo is designed more to be used as a smart speaker as part of your integrated domestic setup.
Then there are additional features to consider, such as microphones (which allow you to use your Bluetooth speaker for mobile calls) and support for virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple's Siri. If your speaker is portable and you want it to survive more than a day in the great outdoors, it's always worth checking its weatherproof IP rating is up to scratch before you start splashing around in icy lakes or dumping it onto a sandy, windswept beach.
While all the speakers here feature Bluetooth wireless connectivity, some also have an aux input so you can plug in a good old analog cable and play music from any source. Many Bluetooth speakers charge through USB-C sockets these days, too, though you usually can't listen to audio through them. Some will, however, have sockets for charging your phone using the speaker's built-in power bank.
So, whether you want the best Bluetooth speaker for your boat, bathroom, balcony, or the beach, you'll find something to suit every budget in the list below. And since all the speakers in this list have been tested and reviewed by What Hi-Fi's in-house audio experts, you can buy with confidence.
If all you want is a portable Bluetooth speaker that sounds as good as you can currently get for around £100 ($100 / AU$119), you’ll be hard-pressed to better the fantastic Flip 5. JBL’s offering sounds excellent for the price and is more than rugged enough to cope with a day at the pool or a night on the town.
Admittedly, the new Flip 6 has arrived to steal some of the Flip 5's thunder, but the 5 shows its worth by edging in under the $100 mark, especially with frequent deals taking this figure even lower than its original RRP. The Flip 5 is waterproof to an IPX7 rating, boasts a 12-hour battery life and has a USB-C charging port, meaning it goes from flat to fully juiced in just 2.5 hours. It's a pleasure to use and scores highly for portability, with a wrist strap that slips comfortably over the hand. A PartyBoost button also helps you pair two PartyBoost-enabled speakers to create a stereo pair, or link over 100 PartyBoost-compatible speakers in mono.
Sound is impressively weighty and agile, with a good bass punch and a real sense of openness and texture. Assuming you don't mind the lack of an aux-in port or inbuilt microphone, you'll almost certainly be wowed by this speaker's sonic chops. A superb performer.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 5
Tribit Audio was relatively new to the Bluetooth speaker game when it revealed the Stormbox Micro, hitting the ground almost immediately with a debut that was as satisfying as it was surprising. The big question for Tribit after the debut of the excellent Stormbox Micro was whether it could repeat the feat when it came time for the tricky second album.
Fortunately, it could. The small-form-factor speaker doesn’t have the 360 grill design of many of its rivals, like the dinky UE Wonderboom 3, but during our tests we found it is one of the best value options on the market right now. If you don't want to spend a fortune but still need substantial sound on the go, please don't overlook the excellent Stormbox Mico 2.
Building on the success of the original Stormbox Micro and featuring an all but identical woven finish design, the Micro 2 surpasses its older brother with superior audio and vastly improved battery life. Although a speaker of such dimensions is obviously limited in terms of bass weight, the Micro does remarkably well; close your eyes while listening and you’ll picture a much bigger product than the one before you.
The only issue is that it can start to suffer from distortion at louder volumes, but truth be told, based on our head-to-head checks, you’ll have to pay more and invest in either a JBL Flip 6 or Wonderboom 3 to get better.
Read the full review: Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro 2
Yes, it just about sneaks onto this list. Apple's HomePod Mini is the value alternative to the full-sized HomePod 2 smart speaker, although given its quality, it can be hard to see exactly how Apple got the price to drop under the $100 mark. Make no mistake, this is one of the best smart speakers with Bluetooth in the business.
If the HomePod 2 is too big for your living space but you still want a smart speaker to integrate into your Apple ecosystem, the HomePod Mini is your next best bet. At just 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it’s quite a bit smaller than the similarly spherical Amazon Echo and Echo Dot models. Get its swirling orb of coloured light up and running (when Siri is listening or processing) though, and you realise you've got a classy little performer on your hands.
Siri is your voice assistant as usual, and after a short period of learning it'll respond to the phrase “Hey Siri, play something I'll like” not by streaming your most played track of the last few weeks, but by playing something that you probably haven't heard before but which has been curated to fit in with your current listening habits and tastes. It’s a really powerful way to discover new music, and it blows Alexa's suggestion and curation capabilities out of the water when using Apple Music.
It goes loud, too. From the moment we start playing music, it’s clear that the HomePod Mini comfortably outperforms its size and price, quite frankly embarrassing its direct competition with the sophistication and maturity of its sound.
Read the full review: Apple HomePod Mini
Ultimate Ears has really made a splash in the Bluetooth speaker market with a number of colourful, fun-sounding and portable models, and the Wonderboom 3 is by no means an exception.
The four-star follow-up to the five-star Wonderboom 2, the third entry in the trilogy still sounds dynamic and detailed, but it's the model's portability and ease of use that make it ideal for outdoor excursions. Battery life is bolstered by an hour to a total of 14, while the Bluetooth range is now up by 10 meters, making the Wonderboom 3 even more suited to when you're not confined to the four walls of your domestic abode. Better still, the speaker's IP67 rating should keep dust, dirt and water from ruining the speaker during your muddy bike ride or beach volleyball session. You also get a ‘boost’ button on the underside of the unit that restricts the bass frequencies and pushed the midrange forward, making it easier to listen to outdoors.
Sonically, the Wonderboom 3 is an enjoyable listen. Bass is impressive given how small the speaker is, the sound is more roomy and detailed compared with the older Wonderboom 2, and it remains a substantial, crowd-pleasing sound. It veers a bit too much on the lean side to be an all-rounder, and we find the JBL rivals are able to dig out more texture in detail and deliver more effective dynamics.
Sadly, there's no built-in mic or app, but even so, the Wonderboom 3 is an eminently portable, decent-sounding Bluetooth speaker that won't break the bank.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
No, the Echo Dot isn't a traditional Bluetooth speaker in the sense of what we traditionally deem to be a Bluetooth speaker here at What Hi-Fi?. It's not portable, for one thing, as it requires a plugged-in connection to the wall to work, and it relies on wi-fi to function as an AI-boosted virtual assistant, just like the HomePod Mini. You can (and will), however, utilise Bluetooth to connect your iPhone to the Echo Dot, especially if you want to play music, qualifying it as a Bluetooth speaker on more than a mere technicality.
Either way, the Echo Dot (5th Generation) truly earns its place on this list thanks to its five-star capabilities, all-round excellence and hugely attractive price tag. It may be cheap, but nothing about the Dot feels tacky or cut-price, and whereas once Alexa was a one-note performer capable of answering basic questions about the weather and knowing the capital of France, now she's as filled to the brim with skills and knowledge as Keanu Reeves after he's been uploaded with various handy computer programs (although she doesn't, as of yet, "know Kung fu"). The Dot's cybernetic assistant is more helpful than ever before, stuffed with so many tricks and quirks that you'll often find yourself falling into the trap of speaking to Alexa as though it, or rather she, were a real person.
Audio has come a long way, too. We weren't hugely keen on the sound of Amazon's early Echo models, but the trajectory has been very much one of continual improvement courtesy of Jeff Bezos' tireless team of tech tinkerers. Amazon's so-called “best-sounding Echo Dot yet” lives up to its billing thanks to a single 44mm front-firing speaker (4mm larger than the previous gen’s 40mm), offering sound that feels, for the size, weighty, listenable and surprisingly versatile.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)
This diminutive, soap on a rope-styled Go 3 features Bluetooth 5.1 plus a maximum power output of 4.2W, up from Bluetooth 4.1 and 3W in the previous iteration, the Go 2. The one specification that hasn’t changed is the Go 3's stamina. It takes 2.5 hours to charge fully, and you can still only get a comparatively meagre five hours of playtime from a single charge. For most hardened adventurers seeking horizons new, this just isn't enough.
If you can live with the diminished battery life, though, there's much to celebrate in the sound department at the level. The extra power and overhauled design have resulted in some solid sonic enhancements, so much so that we awarded the Go 3 full five stars in the sound department during testing.
It's also an aesthetically pleasing little fella, perhaps even cuter than the 2nd generation model (if you can imagine such a thing). The problem for the Go 3, sadly, is that it's limited by a poor battery life and a pretty average sound range, so if you're only planning a trip to the end of your street, you'll be fine. Any further, you might want to consider one of this list's bigger boys, or maybe think about digging out a wireless charger instead.
How we test budget Bluetooth speakers
At What-Hi-Fi?, we review hundreds of products each year – always as a team and always at our testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath (and outside when it comes to portable products). This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency and, of course, impartiality.
All products are tested against rivals in the same price category – often the current What Hi-Fi? Award winner that sets the benchmark – and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping with consistency and avoiding any personal preference.
When testing Bluetooth speakers, we don't just look at audio quality but all other aspects of performance too, like claimed vs actual battery life, the strength of Bluetooth connection, ease of use, and much more. It's important we get a good sense of a product's performance but also its value for the price as an all-rounder.
We choose only the best products from all of these reviews to feature in our Best Buys. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict. At What Hi-Fi? we are proud to have been delivering honest, unbiased reviews for decades. Our goal? To help you to find a product you'll be over the moon with – whatever your budget.