'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
When shopping for a new Bluetooth speaker, you don't have to spend a fortune to get great audio and cool features. Brands like Anker, JBL, and even Amazon have excellent options for budget-friendly Bluetooth speakers, often retailing for under $50 while still providing features like voice controls and hands-free calling. You can also get a cheap Bluetooth speaker with great battery life, with many models offering 10, 12, or even 20 hours of playback on a full charge.
And if you're looking for something to take with you to the park, pool, or beach, you can find budget-friendly models with great water and dust resistance.
To help you find the best cheap Bluetooth speaker for you, I've put together a list of the best ones you can buy. I've broken down their features as well as their price points to help you decide which is the best fit for both your budget and your needs.
Tech specs: Speaker type: Portable | Battery life: Dimensions: 6 x 3.6 x 3.6 inches | Weight: 1 lb
This Anker speaker will be the life of your party. Its neodymium drivers encapsulate your room with 360-degree sound. Meanwhile, the Dual IIR passive radiators, multi-band DRC, and BassUp Technology provide exceptional sound quality. And with 10W of overall power, it achieves remarkable performance.
Along with the sound, it looks fantastic. It has an LED halo that adds another dynamic to your gatherings. The lights move based on the rhythm of the music, and with its eight LED lights and five lighting modes, you can customize its appearance to match your ambiance through the Soundcore mobile app.
The speaker also touts longevity. Its Li-ion battery nets you up to 12 hours of operating time on a full charge, making it perfect for extended gatherings. And for parties involving the weather or a pool, its waterproof body will suit your needs. It can withstand sprinkles, the occasional splashing, and underwater immersion for up to 30 minutes.
Overall, this speaker achieves rich sound and pulsates with lights.
Also: 5 best smart speakers: Which should you buy
Tech specs: Speaker type: Smart/wired | Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.9 1.7 inches | Weight: 11 oz
If you want an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker that fits within your smart home ecosystem, then the Amazon Echo Dot 4th Generation could be a wise choice for you. Its compact design means you can tuck it away with ease. And it is portable in that you can take it outside or when you travel.
Moreover, you can stream your favorite music from Apple, Amazon, Sirius, and Spotify. You can also listen to bestselling books or podcasts with an Audible subscription.
In addition to playing your favorite audiobooks, music, and podcasts, you can use voice commands to lower or raise the music volume, change the channel, or access Alexa. Alexa can tell you a joke, the outdoor temperature, and play sleep sounds if you need to unwind after a hectic day.
The device even has a security component. Use the Alexa app to set up Guard Plus (a paid subscription is required). After doing so, it can alert you if your smoke detector goes off or if it hears someone breaking glass to enter your home.
This version also is scalable, meaning you can connect it to other Echo Dots in other areas of your home. Then, you can make a voice command that reverberates to Echo Dots in other rooms. It's a fun way to announce events at a larger party.
Best of all, installation is convenient. Plug the device into an outlet, install the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet, and connect to the internet. All told, this speaker offers many features for an affordable price.
Tech specs: Speaker type: Portable | Dimensions: 6.6 x 3 x 1.6 inches | Weight: 15 oz
The Tronsmart Trip is an excellent Bluetooth speaker with an even better price. For under $30, you'll get clean, clear audio even at higher volumes with the 10W speaker output. And if you need even more audio power, you can pair it with a second Tronsmart Trip for room-filling, stereo sound. The body of the Tronsmart Trip is IPX7 rated for water and dust resistance, which means that splashes, spills, rain, and even being dropped in a pool won't ruin your speaker.
The speaker also has a built-in microphone, which allows you to make or receive calls and use virtual assistants like Siri or Hey Google for hands-free controls. You'll get up to 20 hours of playback on a full charge, so you can listen all day and well into the night before you have to think about plugging in.
Tech specs: Speaker type: Portable | Dimensions: 3.4 x 1.6 x 2.7 inches | Weight: 7 oz
This speaker is stylish, compact, and ready to tag along on your adventure. It features a convenient carrying strap and wireless Bluetooth streaming. With its IP67 classification, it is dustproof and waterproof, giving you the option of taking it on your outdoor expeditions.
The one drawback of this unit is its limited battery life of five hours. Compared to other options that made the best list, it is a dramatic step back in operating time. That aside, it is a stylish speaker packing decent sound and exceptional portability.
Tech specs: Speaker type: Portable | Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.8 x 2.75 inches | Weight: 8 oz
If you're working with a very limited budget while shopping for a new Bluetooth speaker, check out the Oontz Angle Solo. This speaker retails for just under $20 while still providing a great playback experience. The body of the Angle Solo is IPX5 rated for water and dust resistance, which means that you won't have to worry about rain, splashes, or spills ruining your speaker. It also has a 100-foot connection range, so you don't have to stay near the Angle Solo in order to stream music, videos, or podcasts.
The incredibly lightweight and compact design makes it great for taking with you to the pool or beach or setting up around your home on shelves for room-filling audio. The Angle Solo also has a built-in mic for making and receiving calls, and if you prefer a wired connection, you can use the AUX port to set up the speaker with your stereo system, TV, or older mobile devices that may not support Bluetooth connectivity. You'll get about 10 hours of playback from the Angle Solo as well, letting you jam out to your favorite music or catch up with podcasts and videos all day.
The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini is the best cheap Bluetooth speaker based on our analysis of specs like price, battery life, weight, and other specifications.
Anker Soundcore Flare Mini Bluetooth Speaker
Amazon Echo Dot 5th Generation
JBL Go 3
Oontz Angle Solo
While any of the speakers on this list are a great pick, your overall needs and budget will determine what speaker is best for you. If you're looking for the ultimate sound quality, you can't go wrong with the Anker Soundcore speaker. For smart home enthusiasts, the Amazon Echo Dot is a great option that will double as an at-home assistant. If you're planning on taking your speaker outdoors, then the JBL Go 3 is a sound choice. And, if your ultimate goal is affordability plus sound, then your best bets are the Tronsmart Trip and Oontz Angle Solo.
Choose this cheap Bluetooth speaker...
If you want...
Anker Soundcore Flare Speaker
The best overall option
Amazon Echo Dot
A Bluetooth speaker that also has smart home capabilities
A Bluetooth speaker under $30
JBL Go 3
A Bluetooth speaker that is waterproof
Oontz Angle Solo
A Bluetooth speaker under $20
When searching for the best cheap Bluetooth speakers, we took many factors, like price, into account. We also examined performance. We looked at all the features offered. For example, the Amazon Echo Dot might not have had the best sound of all the models available, but it offered many features other speakers did not possess.
Moreover, we also considered features like a waterproof body, battery life, and range. That way, if you wanted an audio companion when at the pool or on other outdoor adventures, you had options.
Customer experience was an important factor. Was the speaker easy to set up? How were the sound quality and other features? We scoured reviews to help you find reputable options.
From there, we ranked some of the top choices in categories like best overall, best for smart home functionality, and best value. That way, you can narrow your search based on your preferences.
After enabling Bluetooth on your phone or tablet, your speaker can take in the digital data from your transmitting device through a fixed frequency (2.4GHz). From here, your speaker has a chip called the digital to analog converter. As its name implies, it can take the digital signals received from your phone and convert them to analog. Next, the speaker's amplifier strengthens these audio signals by drawing power from the speaker's power source, whether from a battery or an auxiliary plug-in. It kicks these signals through the speaker's drivers to emit sound.
Setup is easy to do. You use your smartphone or tablet to access the speaker. To do so, fully charge the speaker first. Next, go to your smartphone or tablet's settings, find Bluetooth, then turn it on. Doing this will allow it to find other devices you can pair with it. Keep in mind that it might take a few minutes to do. After an initial scan, it will discover all available devices near you. Select the name of your speaker to connect to it. Once connected, you can open a music app and start playing music.
Alternatively, with other speakers, it is much easier to set up. The Amazon Echo Dot is the perfect example of this. With it, you plug it in, download the Amazon Alexa app, and make sure your device's Bluetooth is on. Follow the rest of the setup instructions, and you're good to go.
If you notice delays in playing media, poor sound quality, or a dropped signal, there are ways to rectify this. First, position your smartphone or tablet closer to the speaker. The closer your speaker is to your streaming device, the better signal it receives. Also, consider keeping your speaker clear of any obstructions. Doing so maximizes its range when pairing it to a source. Pay close attention to your speaker's technical specifications, as they will tell you how far away you can place your speaker from your device.
You also can strengthen your signal by disabling Wi-Fi on your phone and keeping it farther away from other Bluetooth-enabled devices. By keeping these considerations in mind, you'll receive better sound quality and fewer disruptions.
Wi-Fi uses an internet connection to serve as a wireless hub for all connected devices. Meanwhile, Bluetooth can connect enabled components wirelessly through radio waves. While you'll need the internet on your phone or tablet to stream audio to your speaker, your speaker does not require an internet connection.
The best cheap Bluetooth speaker that is waterproof is the JBL Go 3, since it has an IP67 rating, which means it can be submerged in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
Another waterproof option is the Amazon Basics Bluetooth Speaker, though its IP rating is not known.
While it may be time-consuming and frustrating to sift through budget-friendly Bluetooth speaker options, there are some great choices out there if you're willing to opt for a lesser-known brand. Here's a short list of other cheap Bluetooth speakers I thought were worth checking out: