When Bluetooth speakers were first introduced to the market, they were pretty much all the same. Bad quality, cheap, and often difficult to pair to.

However, times have changed and Bluetooth speakers are much more reliable. There’s a wide variety of shapes and sizes, plus some of the best bluetooth speakers seriously pack a punch.

JBL Charge 4 – R2699

The JBL Charge 4 comes in over 10 colours and can connect to 2 devices at the same time. The large 7800mAh battery means you’ll receive over 20 hours of music playback, and the USB port is useful for charging your phone. It’s fully waterproof, which means you can take it in the pool. The JBL Charge 4 can be connected to a secondary unit for stereo sound.

Anker Soundcore Flare – R2000

The budget Bluetooth speaker from Anker does a decent job for on-the-go. It’s easy-to-use, comes with several different modes and the IP68 waterproof protection makes it safe for complete submersion in water. The Anker Soundcore Flare can also be connected to a secondary unit for stereo sound.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 – R2999

The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 definitely doesn’t sound as good as the JBL Charge 4. But the improved design, IP67 waterproof rating, 15 hours of music playback and the awesome wireless charging makes it a worthwhile option.

JBL Flip 4 – R1299

JBL Flip 4, a waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker that lasts up to 12 hours. Link more than 100 JBL speakers together with JBL’s Connect+ wireless.

Bose Soundlink Revolve – R4999

Bose is known for building quality devices and the Soundlink Reolve is no different. It delivers beautifully balanced sound at any volumes, has a long battery life, excellent build quality and modern design

Features to look for in a Bluetooth speaker

If you’re still not sure what the right Bluetooth speaker is for you, here is a guide that will help you decipher the specifications of each one.

Here are the features you’ll want to evaluate in a Bluetooth speaker:

App support: Android or iOS apps provide additional features that the speaker otherwise can’t do by itself. This might include queuing music, custom EQs, wake-up alarms, turn the speaker on and off remotely, and more.

aptX & aptX HD support: The one downfall of Bluetooth audio is that the quality is compressed to stream over the air, but Qualcomm’s aptX codec provides lossless audio, which improves the quality. aptX HD further improves sound, but both instances require the audio source and speaker to support aptX / aptX HD.

Battery: One of the most important features is how long the battery lasts. For outdoor use, you want 10 to 20 hours per charge. Remember, the larger the battery, the heavier the speaker will be.

Charging options: Bluetooth speakers need to be charged via cable, and some might find a USB charger more convenient than an AC adapter. Certain models will also include the ability to charge via USB ports.

Speakerphone: Some Bluetooth speakers have built-in microphones that enable you to use the speaker as a speakerphone in concert with your smartphone. The sound quality will be much better than what you’ll get from your phone, and you’ll be able to turn the volume up much higher. This can be very handy for conference calls.

Stereo pairing: A few models of speakers allow you to pair them together (or even more than 2). This will improve the sound of your quality outdoors, should you wish to purchase a second one (or perhaps a friend has the same model).

Waterproof: Most people will use portable bluetooth speakers outdoors, and if you’re using it near a pool, don’t settle for anything less than IP64 (free from dust and water splashes).

Wi-Fi: Higher-priced Bluetooth speakers also provide the option of connecting to your Wi-Fi network, so that you can stream music from a NAS box. Wi-Fi streams will offer higher fidelity than Bluetooth, even if the speaker supports the aptX codec. A speaker that provides for a hardwired network connection is all the more versatile.

Range: If you’re connecting and controlling your speaker from a distance, it’s important to note the range is not the same on all. A Class 1 radio offers approx 100m range.