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 2018.
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, best headphones and best wireless 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.
Your buying guide to the best cheap Bluetooth speakers
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 since seen it appear on a number of budget speakers.
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 7-10 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.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
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!
Best budget Bluetooth speakers of 2018
If the Psyc Monic’s styling is a bit too in-your-face then Aukey’s Eclipse is an excellent alternative. It’s roughly the same size but has a nice woven black fabric covering most of the body, with an attractive metal base.
There are more buttons on top than the Monic, so you get volume and separate track skip buttons. Plus, there’s a microphone so you can use it for hands-free phone calls.
At the back is a micro USB charging port and a 3.5mm minijack aux input so you can play music from an old MP3 player or anything else that doesn’t have Bluetooth.
It’s simple to pair your phone with the speaker and we found that the Bluetooth range was larger than Aukey claims, streaming music reliably at a distance of around 15m.
There are two 10W drivers and passive “subwoofers” at either end of the speaker. And they sound amazing. Considering how small it is, the Eclipse delivers much more volume than you’d expect – easily enough to fill a room.
And even at top volume, there’s no noticeable distortion. Bass is surprisingly powerful, but it doesn’t crowd out everything else, so no matter what style of music you play, you’ll be pleased with the quality.
We tested it by watching three films back to back at around 75 percent of max. volume and it was perfectly loud enough and still had battery power left.
This is because there’s a 4000mAh battery inside which Aukey says lasts at least 12 hours. It's a few pounds more than the Monic, but we think it's worth it.
Denon Envaya Pocket
The Denon Envaya Pocket is an attractive speaker, there’s no doubt about it. It’s only 16.3cm long and weighs a lightweight 390g. That’s backed up by a hardwearing fabric and sturdy polymer, making the Pocket robust enough to take a knock, and the IP67 water resistance means that the music doesn’t have to stop when it starts raining.
The Pocket also offers the ability to make- and receive phone calls via the speaker when connected to a smartphone. Once connected to an iOS device, you’ll be able to summon Siri by holding the phone button. There are other buttons too, namely power, Bluetooth and media controls.
Another cool feature of the speaker is Envaya Link, which allows you to pair up an additional Pocket speaker for stereo playback.
Depending on the volume of playback, the Pocket can last around 10hrs on a single charge. It’s fairly speedy to recharge too, going from 0 to 100 percent battery in around 1hr30, or 2 hours max.
The Pocket boasts a two-speaker setup, which means that the entire range isn’t produced by a single speaker, offering better clarity and an all-around better audio experience when compared to single-speaker speakers. Overall the speaker sounds incredible, from the low- to the high-end, especially when considering the budget price-tag. It’s more focused on punchy, deep bass but it doesn’t overpower vocals or the treble, and there’s not even a slight hint of distortion.
Read our full Denon Envaya Pocket review for more information.
Sumvision Psyc Monic
The sleek Sumvision Psyc Monic is powered by two 10W drivers which are housed within the speaker’s all-metal brushed aluminium housing.
The buttons at the top enable you to power on, play/pause and adjust volume. The volume buttons have + and - markings, but when paired with an iPhone over Bluetooth, they actually work to skip to the previous or next track, which is very confusing at first.
The speaker has no in-built microphone which means it doesn't work as a hands-free speaker for phone calls like others here.
It's reassuringly weighty, but still eminently portable given its 200 x 60 x 60mm dimensions.
The Monic can be connected through Bluetooth 4.0 or an auxiliary 3.5mm jack. There is no NFC to quickly connect your speaker to a smartphone, nor does it use AptX technology to transmit CD quality music from your source. However, neither of these are dealbreakers.
The speaker offers around six to seven hours of playback, a decent amount of time before having to recharge the 2000mAh battery.
It’s in the sound department that the Monic really excels. It’s able to reproduce all sound frequencies extremely well, especially sub- and mid-bass tones, which are desk-shatteringly good. But despite having a strong presence in the bass department, the mids are relatively unaffected (and that's a good thing).
The powerful drivers mean it's also surprisingly loud, and easily able to fill a normal-sized room.
Read our full Sumvision Psyc Monic review.
Denon Envaya Mini
In terms of design, the Envaya Mini is gorgeous. Peeking through its metal black grille is a vivid shade of blue offering a dash of colour to an otherwise completely black speaker. It’s a weighty speaker with rubberised feet at either end that protrude slightly, further than the speaker itself. These offer extra grip and negate the annoying rattle that some plastic speakers produce when on a hard surface.
The Envaya Mini has physical button control, which is great to see when so many mid-range Bluetooth speaker manufacturers implement frustrating touch capacitive buttons. Don’t worry about getting the Envaya Mini wet either, as it’s IPX4 water resistant - this is one reason why you might want to spend the extra over the Psyc Monic or Aukey Eclipse.
There are two connections: Bluetooth 4.0 and Aux in. It also offers NFC for one-touch pairing. Oh, and it can also handle two Bluetooth connections at once - ideal for those last-minute parties.
In the audio department, the Envaya Mini boasts dual 40mm full range drivers with a 40x83mm passive radiator, which produces both crisp sound and impressive bass. The audio is room-filling without a hint of distortion, an impressive feat for a speaker of this size.
Denon claims that the Envaya Mini should generate around 10 hours of playback, although we found it to give up around the 6/7-hour mark.
Read our Denon Envaya Mini review.
Lava BrightSounds 2
Smart lightbulbs, power banks and Bluetooth speakers are all the rage at the moment, so it was only a matter of time before a manufacturer merged the three – say hello to the Lava BrightSounds 2 Bluetooth speaker/power bank/smart light hybrid.
Roughly three quarters of the IPX4-rated rectangular speaker is taken up by the light, housed in plastic. The brightness is adjustable, providing everything from a soft glow to bright white light, although there’s no option to change the colour of the light. The top quarter is a wraparound speaker mesh, available in several colours, which seems to provide fire out sound in every direction.
Four control buttons lie flush up top, along with the status LED and Lava logo. If Bluetooth isn’t for you, the rear of the speaker is where you’ll find ports for auxiliary connections, along with a charging port and a full-size USB port for charging smartphones and other mobile accessories while on-the-go.
With a lithium-ion battery inside, the Lava BrightSounds 2 Bluetooth speaker and smart lamp can offer a whopping 36 hours of music playback, all from a three- to four-hour charge from empty.
Despite the budget price tag, we had the Lava BrightSounds 2’s 5W ultra-wide stereo speaker on full-blast and didn't hear a hint of distortion. It's loud enough to fill a room with sound, and for a budget Bluetooth speaker, audio quality is more than acceptable with decent bass and a clear mid-range, although there’s a slight compromise at the top-end.
Read our Lava Brightsounds 2 review.
Most budget Bluetooth speakers are all-in-one devices, but Logitech has decided to cram Bluetooth support into a pair of 2.1 desktop speakers, resulting in the Z337. This set includes two small free-standing speaker blocks paired with a larger subwoofer, along with a wired volume dial to control it all.
Aesthetically, it’s all simple matt black and grey, with blue accenting that actually makes the Bluetooth logo a surprisingly welcome addition to the front of the speakers, which recline at a very slight angle. It’s all quite blocky - you wouldn’t exactly call these sleek - but it works in an attractively minimalist sort of way.
The Z337’s neatest trick is that it will seamlessly support both wired and wireless connections simultaneously. That means you can keep it wired into your desktop or laptop computer for gaming or TV, then pair it with your phone for controlling music remotely without any need to fiddle about swapping between the connections.
Finally, what really matters: the sound. As you might have guessed with that towering subwoofer, there’s a big focus on bass, which makes these very solid speakers for gaming or watching films. Mids and trebles can get a little lost, but this is great sound for the price. Sound quality is consistent across volumes - though we haven’t dared push it anywhere near its loudest, which should be more than enough for most setups.
The Creative Nuno speaker has a very lightweight construction at only 390g, making it portable and easy to carry around, and is available to buy in two fabric colours: and Heather Grey. It’s an appealing design and is one of the major selling points of the Nuno, as we feel it’ll appeal to a variety of tastes.
The Nuno has a quoted battery life of six hours (via a 1050mAh battery) and connects through Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) and Aux 3.5mm. Unfortunately, the speaker doesn't utilise aptX lossless technology, but does have A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth).
The speaker's sound quality is good, and we found the Nuno to be able to reproduce good mid-range tone while providing a fantastic soundstage.
The lows, on the other hand, were wobbly and not very well presented. We found the sub-bass almost non-existent, while the mid-bass slam was weak and lacked presence. The highs were rolled off at the top end, but did provide sufficient sparkle to the speaker's sound presentation.
Overall, the sound quality could have been more refined, but for its price tag and overall build quality, we were left impressed.
Read our Creative Nuno review.
Anker SoundCore Sport XL
If you’re looking for a sturdy, rugged speaker then you might like the Anker SoundCore Sport XL. The speaker may be heavy but it’s waterproof and built to be taken to the beach, camping and other rugged outdoor areas where you might want to listen to some sweet tunes.
The smooth rubber exterior is shock-resistance, IP67 waterproof rated (1m depth) and dust-tight. The device comes with an attachable wristband, and simple but effective play, power, volume and Bluetooth buttons. These buttons double as answer and reject controls when taking a hands-free call with a built-in noise-cancelling mic.
The speaker uses Bluetooth 4.1, and comes with a 5V 2A USB output, Micro-USB charging port and 3.5mm AUX input. It takes three to four hours to fully charge, offering up to 15 hours of playtime (although this depends on usage and whether you use it to charge your smartphone).
Two 8W stereo drivers are built into this black box, along with two dual passive subwoofers for bass.
The bass has a good impact but doesn’t extend into the sub-bass regions, and the treble provides a decent output but also doesn’t extend or give sparkle compared to other speakers at a similar price point. We found the sound to be slightly V-shaped and have recessed mids, which is unfortunate, given its price tag.
We did find its soundstage to be wide and have a good depth, providing you with a good surround sound from a Bluetooth speaker.
Read our Anker SoundCore Sport XL review.
We loved the Jam Double Down in 2016, but now there’s a similar-looking gadget from the company that comes with Amazon’s Alexa assistant built-in.
Compared to the Echo Dot, the Jam Voice has one big advantage: it’s battery powered and portable. This means that you can take Alexa around the house (even in the garden) without having to plug in a mains power supply.
The Voice itself is a dinky little thing, just three inches across and just as tall. It’s well made and has rubber membrane-type buttons underneath and on the side. It isn’t waterproof, though.
Aside from having to push the button before speaking, Alexa can do everything she can do on an Echo. The Voice also boasts the ability to sync multiple units for multi-room use.
Don’t forget that this is a Bluetooth speaker too (that's why it's in this list) so you can also use it to play music from your phone when there’s no Wi-Fi connection.
Audio quality is fairly good considering the diminutive size. There’s a port at the rear which helps give a little bass, and there’s little distortion even at high volumes. If you’re choosing between this and the Echo Dot, we’d say audio quality for music is better on the Jam Voice. That's not saying much in this company though.
Battery life could be better: it will run for roughly four hours before a female voice tells you the battery is low. You can, however, use it while it charges, and since it will charge via microUSB, you could hook it up to a power bank for longer sessions away from the mains.
Read our Jam Voice review.
Philips EverPlay BT3900P
If the Philips EverPlay has anything going for it, it has to be in the design department; it’s an eye-catcher, even in a market with more speakers than we’ve had hot dinners.
The speaker weighs a rather dainty 210 grams and measures in at 16.6 x 8.6 x 2.2cm. If that doesn’t mean much to you, it means that the speaker is compact enough to slip into a jacket pocket without a noticeable bulge, or without it weighing down your pockets.
you’re also bound to notice the ‘DuraFit’ fabric mesh that covers most of the front of the speaker that also offers IP57 water and dust resistance. It’s a unique look, and if that wasn’t good enough, it’s available in four colours.
Rather than simply bundling in a microUSB cable in the box (which are impossible to keep track of!), it can be attached directly to the speaker as it doubles up as the speaker strap. This means that you won’t ever need to hunt the cable down to charge it.
The Philips EverPlay supports Bluetooth compatibility, but it also offers a 3.5mm port for those that want to hard-wire the speaker to their output device.
In terms of battery life, we managed to get around 8 hours of usage on a single charge, although it depends on other factors like speaker volume.
The biggest issue is, surprisingly, in the audio department. To us, it seems that the Philips EverPlay is more focused on design and portability than audio quality – the main purpose of a speaker. You’ll find a single speaker 4-watt output for the entire audio range, which isn’t ideal.
Find out more in our full Philips EverPlay BT3900P review.