Bluetooth speakers have come a long way since the early days. And as ever with technological progress, prices have dropped drastically – you can now pick up a Bluetooth speaker for around £50 ($65, AU$91).
And not a rubbish one, either. We're talking five-star products – some of the best Bluetooth speakers around. Three such devices are the JBL Flip 3, Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 and Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro. They all sell for bargain prices, and all perform brilliantly for the money.
But which is the right one for you? This comparison will help you decide. By comparing all three in all the major areas (price, sound quality, build, etc), you'll see how they stack up and which is right for your particular needs.
Whether you're packing it for the beach, or just want it to soundtrack your summer barbecues, rest assured you'll find the best Bluetooth speaker for you.
JBL Flip 3 vs UE Wonderboom 2 vs Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro: price
At launch, the Wonderboom 2's retail price was £89 ($116, AU$161), but it currently sells for around £55 ($72, AU$100). The JBL Flip 3 was also pricier than now at launch. It first hit the shelves with a recommended retail price of £100 ($131, AU$182), but now can be had for around £73 ($96, AU$133).
But they're both still pricier than the new kid on the block. The Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro sells for £50 ($65, AU$91) and can currently be picked up at a bargain £34 ($45, AU$62). That's incredible value for money. As such, it wins this round hands-down.
**Winner** Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro
JBL Flip 3 vs UE Wonderboom 2 vs Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro: battery life
Whether you're listening in the park, on the beach or just in your garden, there's nothing more annoying than the speaker's battery dying on you. At best, it will prompt a scrabble for the right cable and a charging point. At worst, it'll leave you high and dry with only your own thoughts for comfort.
The Wonderboom 2 will keep going for 13 hours on a full charge while juicing it up to full takes three hours. The JBL Flip 3 can't quite match that, conking out after ten hours, and neither can the Stormbox Mini, managing just eight.
The latter also takes 3.5 hours to charge – not much more than the Wonderboom 2, but when you're in a hurry to leave the house, 30 minutes can make all the difference.
**Winner** UE Wonderboom 2
JBL Flip 3 vs UE Wonderboom 2 vs Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro: build
Cheap and cheerful Bluetooth speakers tend to be a bit more colourful than their serious hi-fi brethren. Though that's not the case with the Stormbox Micro: like Henry Ford's first car, you can have it any colour as long as it's black.
But that's not a criticism. It's likely that offering fewer colours has helped Tribit to keep the price down, and its looks will suit pretty much any home decor or backpack. Standing about the size of a stack of coasters, it has a rubberised bottom and soft fabric front. Its buttons too are rubberised, and there's a neat little stretchy strap you can unsnap to sling over a bike handlebar or tent pole.
Overall, it's a durable, functional and well thought out design that does the job. Just like with all the best Bluetooth speakers.
The Flip 3 looks very different to the Stormbox Micro – it has a long, tubular design and a range of eight bright colours to choose from. Both of which make it much more eye-catching than the Micro. But just because it’s easier on the eye, that doesn’t mean it has sacrificed any functionality.
Weighing 450g, it’s reassuringly hefty, yet still small enough to fit in a handbag or coat pocket. And it’s splashproof, making it ideal for pool parties.
Design-wise, the Wonderboom 2 sits somewhere between its two rivals. It’s squatter than the Flip 3 and looks sort of like a sonic hand grenade. It’s rugged as anything, built to withstand sand and dust, and is fully waterproof. It even floats – handy if you drop it in the drink. Or indeed, your drink.
There’s a chord loop on the top for attaching it to your belt buckle, and the improved button layout is a doddle to navigate. It comes in five colours, but not the tie-dyes and wavy patterns of previous models. Still, it’s a nice, bright, fun look for a Bluetooth speaker, perfect for taking out and about.
**Winner** UE Wonderboom 2
JBL Flip 3 vs UE Wonderboom 2 vs Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro: features
Water and dust pose no problem for the Stormbox Micro – it laughs in their faces, as does the Wonderboom 2. Though the Flip 3 is only splashproof, so you’ll have to be a bit more careful with it.
All three speakers let you pair them with other speakers in their family, adding considerable sonic oomph. You could place one on either side of the garden for example, to add a more even sound to your barbecue. It certainly beats one speaker with the sound cranked up loud enough to reach all parts of the garden.
The Micro charges via USB-C, which is more common on modern devices than the micro-USB of the other two. Hunt around for a charger, and you’re more likely to chance upon a USB-C than micro-USB.
The Flip 3 lets you connect to three devices at once, so you can take it in turns being on playlist duties. And the Wonderboom 2 has a ‘boost’ button on the underside that restricts the bass frequencies, letting it play louder through the midrange and upwards to make it easier to hear outside. Along with the ability to float, it just secures this round for the Wonderboom 2.
**Winner** UE Wonderboom 2
JBL Flip 3 vs UE Wonderboom 2 vs Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro: sound quality
The Micro distributes sound well, and its bass depth belies its diminutive size – close your eyes while listening, and you’ll picture a much bigger speaker. It’s not quite as loud or as dynamic-sounding as the Wonderboom 2, but it does well considering its smaller size and cheaper price. It even manages to sound more mature, which is quite a coup.
The Wonderboom 2 has more bass, and its sound is detailed and cohesive. And its outdoor mode, enabled by that boost button, really adds something to alfresco listening.
The Flip 3’s sound has plenty of agility and detail, and the quality of the low-end is inescapable. Its sense of rhythm and organisation are spot-on, and there’s a surprising amount of delicacy to its handling of more complex material. All three speakers offer a slightly different presentation, but they all sound very good given their respective prices. The Flip 3 has the edge, but only just.
**Winner** JBL Flip 3
JBL Flip 3 vs UE Wonderboom 2 vs Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro: verdict
There's not a huge difference in price between these three speakers, but overall, it's the middle of the pack that wins out. The UE Wonderboom 2 has superb sound quality, eye-catching design and bags of useful features, making it the ideal partner for your beach or barbecue adventures.
But every category was a close-run thing. The JBL Flip 3 actually bests the Wonderboom 2 for sound quality, while the Tribit Audio Stormbox Mini wins out on price. So it's not as clear-cut as it may seem. Each Bluetooth speaker brings benefits in different areas - all you need to do is decide which one suits you best.