Your buying guide to the best cheap Bluetooth speakers
Enhance your audiovisual experience from your smartphone, tablet or laptop with a portable Bluetooth speaker. Once an accessory that could cost you upwards of £100, these days you needn't spend the earth to get better sound, and here we showcase the best cheap Bluetooth speakers you can buy in the UK in 2017.
We are increasingly using mobile devices as entertainment devices for watching TV, films and video, playing games, and listening to music, radio and audiobooks.
Headphones are a must have when you're out and about (we've rounded up the best cheap headphones and best headphones), but when you're at home you should make the most of the experience with a portable speaker.
You can spend hundreds (or even thousands) on such a device but, nice as these may be, only the wealthy and true audiophiles will want to do so.
Here, we're setting our sights much lower with a cut-off of £100. The budget Bluetooth speakers we review here won't produce concert-quality sound, but they will offer a better audio experience than is possible from your mobile device.
So, what should you look for when in the market for a portable Bluetooth speaker?
A popular feature that seems to be cropping up in Bluetooth speakers is '360-degree audio". What is 360 degree audio? Well, it's (usually) a tube-shaped Bluetooth speaker that has drivers facing every direction, opposed to the traditional front-facing speaker, to enable better audio projection and produce 'room-filling audio'.
It's definitely a nice feature to have, and one we actively look out for when buying new speakers. It was once exclusive to high-end speakers, but we've seen it appear on a number of budget speakers recently.
What about battery life? While not too long ago the standard battery life for a Bluetooth speaker was around five hours, we've reached a golden age in Bluetooth accessory battery life and with many budget speakers offering upwards of 10 hours per charge, we wouldn't recommend buying a speaker that offers anything less.
Also, it's worth keeping an eye out for speakers that double up as portable battery chargers, as it'll probably come in handy when using your smartphone to play music.
Some Bluetooth speakers also offer Wi-Fi capabilities, so which connection should you opt for? Traditionally, using a Bluetooth connection will give you a 10m range, which means that you'll only be able to play music from a speaker in the same room as you - any further and you'll probably experience the audio cutting out.
Some speakers offer a wider range though, so it's worth taking a look at the specifications of the speaker you're interested in.
Wi-Fi has a much wider reach, and could allow you to play music from anywhere in the house. With this being said, the Wi-Fi setup process can be quite stressful and require users to install a specific app on their smartphone in order to do so, whereas Bluetooth setup takes 30 seconds, even less if it supports NFC setup.
Every now and again, you'll come across a Bluetooth speaker that offers a remote. While a remote can be useful in certain environments, especially if the volume of the speaker is controlled independently instead of mirroring the input volume, it's not essential.
This is especially true if you intend to play music from your smartphone via Bluetooth, as you'll already have the media controls you need in your hand.
Water and dust resistance
If you plan to take your Bluetooth speaker to the park or beach with you, it's probably a good idea to find a speaker that has some kind of water/dust/shock resistance. While it doesn't need an IPX7 rating to be used outside, it's always a good idea to have some kind of protection against spills, rain, and general damage or you'll quickly find yourself buying another!
- Reviewed on: 8 April 2015
For a £99 speaker, the Denon Envaya Mini blows away similarly priced Bluetooth speakers. The design of the Envaya Mini gives it a premium look and feel, without the premium price tag to go along with it. We mention the UE Boom in the review, and that’s because we think that the Envaya Mini is at the standard of a £169 Bluetooth speaker. Even without a 360-degree speaker setup, it does a great job of filling a room with the sound of clear and crisp audio.
Read our Denon Envaya Mini review.
- Reviewed on: 6 April 2016
The Sumvision Psyc Monic Bluetooth speaker provides an unbeatable sound for its affordable £37.99 price tag. Given its sound quality traits, there are very few portable speakers in the world which can provide an incredible sub-bass response whilst also remaining clear through the other sound frequencies. Connected through Bluetooth 4.0 or an auxiliary 3.5mm jack and coupled with its elegant design, the Monic is one of our all-time favourite Bluetooth speakers.
Read our Sumvision Psyc Monic review.
- Reviewed on: 23 January 2017
The Lava BrightSounds 2 is a great improvement on an already impressive product, boasting a whopping 36-hour battery life with not only built-in Bluetooth speaker, but also a built-in adjustable LED light and power bank for smartphones and tablets. The design and build quality is impressive considering its price, and the audio is surprisingly loud and clear, too. If you’re looking for an all-in-one speaker, light and power bank, the Lava BrightSounds 2 is an obvious choice.
Read our Lava BrightSounds 2 review.
- Reviewed on: 3 November 2016
The Creative Nuno is a lightweight, stylish and reasonably priced Bluetooth speaker. It does a good job at reproducing accurate tones, but does lack finesse in its low and high-tone frequencies.
Read our Creative Nuno review.
5. Jam Voice
- Reviewed on: 20 July 2017
If you’re after a battery-powered Alexa speaker, the Jam Voice is just as affordable as Amazon’s Echo Dot. It offers decent sound quality, but battery life isn’t amazing. Just bear in mind that you have to push a button before Alexa will take your requests, though.
Read our Jam Voice review.
- Reviewed on: 26 July 2016
The Anker SoundCore Sport XL seems to be what its name suggests – a robust and masculine-looking device for the outdoors. The most impressive part of the speaker being its 20m Bluetooth range. Unfortunately, it's let down by its weight and price tag of £54.99.
Read our Anker SoundCore Sport XL review.
- Reviewed on: 28 July 2015
Inateck's MercuryBox BP2101 Bluetooth Speaker is a decent budget speaker, both sophisticated and attractive in design. We were sceptical about its performance, but the Inateck impresses with a rich, deep sound; even at max volume no sound defects are heard.
- Reviewed on: 24 May 2017
Edifier's MP280 is a decent Bluetooth speaker, although it tries to do too much and doesn't quite succeed in every area. It boasts a rugged outdoor design without any kind of water resistance, and offers 360-degree audio that isn't quite 360-degrees. But for every area that it underdelivers, the MP280 offers something intuitive, from a built-in powerbank to the ability to play music via a microSD card slot. Audio quality is what you'd expect from a £80 Bluetooth speaker, with decent bass but a lack of clarity.
Read our Edifier MP280 Bluetooth speaker review.
- Reviewed on: 4 August 2016
Jam’s Double Down Bluetooth speaker is a decent option for those looking for a cheap Bluetooth speaker with decent levels of bass. The ability to pair up with another Double Down for stereo output is another selling point of the speaker, especially as retailers like Currys offer a buy-one-get-one-free deal on the speaker in the UK. It’s lightweight and compact, and the water-resistance should protect the speaker from splashes of water, although not much else.
Read our Jam Double Down review.
- Reviewed on: 23 September 2016
The Marley Chant Mini is, for the price, a fairly decent speaker, thanks in part to the booming bass of the Chant Mini that makes up for the non-existent high-end - especially if you’re into music with heavy bass lines (Drum and Bass, Dubstep, etc). The design of the Chant Mini is also a plus point when talking about the speaker, using recycled materials and wood to create something that’s refreshingly different when compared to a sea of plain, plastic, boring Bluetooth speakers. In summary: Good bass, good design, poor high-end tones.
Read our House of Marley Chant Mini review.