Wet JBL Clip 4 on railing
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek
Update, 03/21/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best budget Bluetooth speakers you can buy.

What to Look For in a Budget Bluetooth Speaker in 2023

One of the first factors you’ll want to consider when looking for a Bluetooth speaker, regardless of price, is the size and form factor. If you’re using a speaker in place of a home stereo, you’ll likely want a bigger model than if you’re looking for a portable speaker to carry to the park.

While almost any Bluetooth speaker will be more rugged than a piece of home audio equipment, they’re not all created equal. If you intend to use your speaker outdoors, you’ll want a model that is at least somewhat waterproof. An IP67 or IPX4 rating is perfect for casual use.

That said, if you’re going to be using your speaker outdoors more often than not, you might want to look for an even higher IP rating like IPX7. It’s important to note that these ratings aren’t always reliable, but with reputable brands, you can assume that the rating you see is at least comparable to the performance you can expect.

Battery life is another major consideration for any Bluetooth speaker, big or small, expensive or affordable. If you’re using your speaker mostly plugged in at home, a few hours is all you need. However, if you’re bringing your speaker with you on longer trips, you’ll want as much battery life as you can possibly get.

While the above considerations are what you’ll want to address first, there are a few other factors to keep in mind. The Bluetooth version isn’t that important unless it’s terribly out of date, but most modern Bluetooth speakers ship with at least Bluetooth 5.0. While Bluetooth 5.2 brings some improvements, many speakers aren’t making use of them yet.

You might also want to keep the codecs a speaker uses in mind if you want the best audio quality. Your phone may use a different codec than what the speaker supports, at which point you’re relying on the most basic codecs, which won’t sound as good as they would if you matched them up.

Finally, look at the other features of speakers you’re interested in, as these could help you make a final decision. Do you prefer a Bluetooth speaker with an integrated color LED light, or one with a clip to clip it to your backpack? These small features can end up making a significant difference in how you use a given speaker.

Now, let’s get into the best budget Bluetooth speakers for your needs.

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker Overall: DOSS SoundBox Touch

pink soundbox on mint green table with macarons


  • Capacitive touch is easy to use
  • Actual stereo sound in a budget Bluetooth speaker
  • IPX4 water resistant
  • Available in plenty of colors


  • Bluetooth 4.0 means just 33-foot range

Whether you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for in a Bluetooth speaker or you just want a great quick recommendation, the DOSS SoundBox Touch is a speaker to look into. It’s affordable, packed with features, and it sounds great.

Unlike some Bluetooth speakers, the SoundBox Touch is fully stereo, pumping out 12 watts per channel. This means you don’t have to worry about certain songs sounding strange on the speaker compared to listening to them with headphones.

If you’re curious about the word “touch” in the name, it comes down to the speaker’s controls. Instead of tactile buttons, these are capacitive touch buttons, meaning you don’t need to press them with any force. With the onboard controls, you can skip songs, switch modes, and pause and resume playback.

Despite the low price, the DOSS SoundBox Touch isn’t cheaply built. The enclosure is made from durable plastic, and the entire speaker is IPX4 water-resistant. You can’t submerge this speaker, but you don’t need to worry about it being splashed on occasionally.

As with all Bluetooth speakers, just how much battery life you get depends on how loud you’re listening. On the Amazon page for the DOSS SoundBox Touch, the company says that you can get up to 20 hours of playback time if you keep the volume at 50 percent or lower.

Unlike some other Bluetooth speakers, the DOSS SoundBox Touch also features a built-in microphone. This means that when you’re listening to music and the phone rings, you can take the call with the press of a button. Not everyone needs this feature, but if you’re a fan of speakerphones, it’s definitely useful.

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker

DOSS Soundbox Touch

If you're just looking for an easy recommendation, the DOSS SoundBox Touch is hard to beat. It sounds great, has good battery life, and it's tough enough to handle your day to day.

Best Budget Portable Bluetooth Speaker: JBL Clip 4

JBL Clip 4 attached to a backpack
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


  • Sounds better and louder than ever
  • Improved carabiner is tougher than previous models
  • IP67 rating means the Clip 4 is more weather resistant than the Clip 3
  • Good battery life for the size


  • No fast charging
  • No ability to pair with another Clip 4 for stereo

Despite the inherent portability of Bluetooth speakers, some of them are more portable than others. If you’re always on the move and looking for a speaker that can keep up with you, the JBL Clip 4 is a perfect companion.

The JBL Clip 4 improves on the Clip 3 in most ways. While the Clip 3 provided IPX7 water resistance, the Clip 4 offers IP67 weather resistance. While the water resistance stays the same, the Clip 4 also offers protection against dust. This is especially handy if you’re using the speaker in sandy areas like the beach.

The carabiner that gives the Clip series its name is still here, and it’s better than ever. With older Clip models, the carabiner was relatively easy to break. The new and improved carabiner on the Clip 4 is far less prone to breaking, as mentioned in our JBL Clip 4 review:

The look of the actual clip on the JBL Clip 4 is much improved from the previous model. While the one on the JBL Clip 3 seemed to jut out of the top, the clip on the newer model is integrated within the body resulting in a much sleeker appearance.

The controls are simple but easy to use. They’re both much larger and easier to see than the buttons on the Clip 3. While the controls are simple, having the most common controls on the speaker is convenient.

JBL claims up to 10 hours of playback time at moderate volume. While this doesn’t match the all-day battery life of larger speakers, it’s plenty for a speaker this small. Charging is via USB-C.

A wide variety of color finishes has long been a hallmark of the JBL Clip series, which remains the case here. The Clip 4 is available in Black, Blue, Camouflage, Gray, Pink, Red, and White.

Best Budget Portable Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Clip 4

Read How-To Geek's Full Review

Bluetooth speakers don't really get much more portable than the JBL Clip series. The Clip 4 is louder and more weather resistant than the Clip 3, and the redesigned carabiner is the toughest yet.

Best Budget Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker: Anker Soundcore

Anker Soundcore being placed in backpack


  • Stereo sound with bass-enhancing DSP
  • IPX5-rated casing
  • Range of up to 66 ft. with Bluetooth 5.0


  • Lower wattage may limit max volume

Waterproof Bluetooth speakers are easier to find than ever, but many of them sacrifice stereo or other audio features for water resistance. With the Anker Soundcore, you get water resistance without the audio trade-offs.

It’s clear just looking at the features that Anker is focusing on bass with the Soundcore. First up is the BassUp digital signal processing (DSP) that the speaker uses, then the prominent mention of a bass port on the speaker which also makes for an improved low end.

Regarding the water resistance, Anker advertises the Soundcore is IPX5 rated. IPX5 might not sound like much more than IPX4, but there’s a worthwhile difference here. An IPX5-rated speaker can withstand water jets, whereas an IPX4 speaker can only handle limited water exposure. It’s a significant upgrade!

The Anker Soundcore boasts Bluetooth 5.0. One of the main advantages of using this newer Bluetooth version is that the Soundcore has a range of up to 66 feet, rather than around 33 feet with older Bluetooth versions.

On top of stereo sound and the IPX5 water resistance, the Anker Soundcore is also impressive in the battery department. Anker promises 24 hours of playback time, though unlike some other manufacturers, the company doesn’t give a playback volume that number is based on.

Anker keeps it simple when it comes to colors, with the black model complemented by Blue and Red models.

Best Budget Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Anker Soundcore

The Anker Soundcore doesn't give up sound quality in the quest for water resistance. What you get instead is a great sounding speaker that can also handle more than a few drops of water.

Best Budget Rugged Bluetooth Speaker: Anker Soundcore Flare Mini

Anker Soundcore Mini on pink background


  • LED Audio Fireworks feature is fun
  • 360-degree sound is great for parties
  • IPX7 water resistance makes it great for the pool


  • Small size limits battery life

Many rugged Bluetooth speakers look like they belong on a heavy-duty work site, not an enjoyable weekend in the woods. The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini, on the other hand, combines a rugged build with a nice aesthetic and features you’ll want to use.

The Soundcore Flare Mini features 360-degree sound, driven by a pair of 5-watt neodymium drivers for a total of 10 watts of power. These dual drivers, paired with passive radiators for enhanced low end, make for a surprisingly big-sounding small speaker.

This 360-degree sound makes the speaker great for parties, and the build quality keeps you from having to worry about what could go wrong. The SoundCore Flare Mini is IPX7 rated, which means if this speaker goes flying into the pool, you have up to 30 minutes to recover it without worrying about water damage.

One of the more unique features of the Soundcore Flare Mini is the “Audio Fireworks” feature, an LED ring light at the bottom of the speaker. This will glow and pulse in time with the music, providing a visual element to match your audio.

Don’t worry about this light show wearing out the battery. LEDs don’t use much power, and Anker says the Soundcore Flare Mini can provide up to 12 hours of playback time, depending on the volume.

Similar to the base Soundcore speaker, you get three color options: Black, Blue, and Red.

Best Budget Rugged Bluetooth Speaker

Anker Soundcore Flare Mini

Rugged doesn't just mean that you can hammer nails with it. The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini is a fun speaker you can take anywhere without worrying if it's going to survive the night.

Best Budget Car Bluetooth Speaker: Sony SRS-XB13

Pink Sony XB13 image


  • Easy to carry practically anywhere
  • Great battery life for the size
  • Bluetooth Multipoint lets you pair two speakers for stereo


  • No stereo sound with just one unit

On our list of the best Bluetooth speakers, the Sony SRS-XB33 made our pick for the best Bluetooth Car Speaker. For our budget pick, why look elsewhere than its younger sibling, the Sony SRS-XB13?

While this model is smaller, it still has many of the features that make its larger sibling great. This model is small enough to carry nearly anywhere, and this also gives you plenty of options when it comes to placing it in your car. The multiway strap also lets you hang the speaker for extra volume.

Sony uses a proprietary Sound Diffusion Processor to expand the sound, even though this isn’t a stereo speaker. However, like the larger model, you can pair two SRS-XB13 speakers together for stereo sound.

While it isn’t as tough as some of the other speakers we’re looking at, the Sony SRS-XB13 will still survive a trip to the beach as long as you take care of it. This speaker is IP67 rated water and dust resistant, so while a splash won’t be a problem, try to keep it away from the water.

As long as you charge the speaker overnight, you shouldn’t worry about running out of battery during the day. Sony claims the SRS-XB13 supports up to 16 hours of battery life, though this will vary depending on how loud you’ve got the volume.

One final reason this makes a great speaker for the car is the built-in mic for the speakerphone, as well as Siri and Google Assistant. This helps you keep your eyes on the road where they should be.

The SRS-XB13 doesn’t come in many colors, but you’ve got a few options beyond black. These include Coral Pink, Light Blue, Powder Blue, and Taupe.

Best Budget Car Bluetooth Speaker

Sony SRS-XB13

The Sony SRS-XB13 packs big sound into a small package you can perch anywhere in your car, and the built-in speaker lets you take calls and use your phone's voice assistant hands-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can connect multiple Bluetooth speakers to your phone or another playback device. That said, you shouldn't expect to play music on them at the same time. While options like multipoint Bluetooth are available, basic Bluetooth only allows playback on one device at a time.

If your speaker is cutting out, it could be too far away from your phone or other devices. Most Bluetooth speakers have a range of around 30 feet, but it can be less or more, depending on the speaker. This could also be from a wall or other obstacle between you and the speaker.

Yes, Bluetooth and other portable speakers are allowed both in checked baggage and in carry-on luggage. While you can bring the speaker onboard a plane, the airline won't be happy if you try to use your speaker on the plane.

Yes. Almost every Bluetooth speaker can charge during playback. This will increase your overall charge time, however.

The Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2023

JBL Charge 5
Best Bluetooth Speaker Overall
JBL Charge 5
DOSS Soundbox
Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker
DOSS Soundbox
JBL Clip 4
Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL Clip 4
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
Sony SRS-XB43
Best Bluetooth Car Speaker
Sony SRS-XB43
JBL PartyBox 110
Best Loud Bluetooth Speaker
JBL PartyBox 110
Profile Photo for Kris Wouk Kris Wouk
Kris Wouk is a freelance tech writer and musician with over 10 years of experience as a writer and a lifetime of experience as a gadget fan. He has also written for Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, Android Authority, and Sound Guys. At MakeUseOf, he was Section Editor in charge of the site's Mac coverage.
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