For those looking for the next best Bluetooth speaker that they can (almost) fit in their back pocket, the three speakers listed today are ideal for you.
Efficiently designed and built to withstand the elements, the UE Wonderboom 2, JBL Flip 6, and JBL Clip 4 are some of the more resilient products on the market. On top of this, they are also incredibly lightweight and designed to fit in compact spaces without issue.
To give you the best idea of which speaker is the most suitable for your needs, we will be going over each in extensive detail. Whether you want boisterous audio or a battery that lasts through the night, we will cover what each product is best at and why they excel past the other speakers.
Sometimes we don’t have time to read through a 2,000+ word article to decide which product we wanna purchase. If this sounds a bit like you then utilize this category to get all the bullet points from each product.
We will go over the strengths and weaknesses of each product — and why the Wonderboom 2 is superior to its competitors.
Speaking of the Wonderboom 2, let’s discuss why it beats the other two products. Sitting at an MSRP just under $100 (and more likely to be discounted now that the Wonderboom 3 is available), the Wonderboom 2 can potentially be the cheapest purchase of the three. On top of this, its soundstage is spectacular and its audio quality overall is superior to the other two products.
The UE speaker has all the durability you could hope for, with the efficient size of a product meant to be placed and forgotten. In testing, it almost doubles the battery life of the other two products and offers auto shut-off functions.
Further, it does all this for nearly half of the price of the Flip 6. If you had to buy one of these speakers, we would recommend the Wonderboom 2.
The Flip 6 is not a bad speaker, by any means. However, it costs significantly more than the other products on the list. And since it is relatively new, it may be challenging to find it discounted any time soon.
With that said, you get pretty good audio and very solid durability and design. While it lacks in battery, it can still be played on a charge and also can shut itself off if it’s not being used. Its bigger perks are its graphical equalizer and flashy exterior. This does not detract from the fact that the Wonderboom 2 outperforms it in a majority of categories while still being considerably cheaper. (See here for a comparison between the Flip 6 and the updated Wonderboom 3).
The Clip 4 is a bit of a wildcard in this comparison since it is usually on sale for far less than its MSRP of $80. Its audio is confidently the worst of the three and its battery is poor. It also lacks features and app support.
With that said, it has endless design customization and even allows you to design your own Clip with custom artwork. It’s the most efficient to transport by far, and has a design that more speakers could benefit from utilizing.
If you are someone who is always on the move, having a speaker you can loop through a belt loop or clip is a luxury few speakers offer. So while most benefit more from the Wonderboom 2, hikers, canoers, climbers, and other active folks could definitely get a good bit of use out of this JBL speaker.
When dealing with speakers of a size as small as these are, we have to give some slack to certain aspects of audio.
With a package of this height and weight, bass will obviously not be able to hit those spacious thumps we have come to love and the volume will likely also take a bit of a hit. The biggest indicator of quality for speakers this size is what they can do despite their compact size. (If you are looking for a similar speaker with larger output, consider products like the JBL Charge 5, Sony XB33, or JBL Xtreme 3).
Starting off with the Wonderboom 2, the first item we have to discuss is the incredible soundstage that this product offers. The UE product has stereo audio that projects in all directions and comfortably beats anything that either JBL product has to offer. The volume isn’t incredible by any means, though the audio sounds crisp even as it approaches max volume.
The speaker offers an outdoor mode to increase the thump it provides, though you will still be left wanting in terms of ground-level bass. The rest of the sound is fairly well represented and can be clearly distinguished, but you may want to avoid trap music with this speaker. It has a frequency range of 75 Hz – 20 kHz with two 40mm drivers and two 46.1mm x 65mm passive radiators
The Clip 4 finds itself comfortably at the back of the pack when exclusively judging these products on audio. While its audio projection is actually fairly solid for its size, it will struggle to be loud enough to satisfy most consumers. This is only made worse by the fact that at its max volume you will hear a lot more static and compression than something like the Wonderboom 2.
While its thumping lows feel a bit more present than you would expect, it still suffers from the small speaker curse of inadequate bass. While the other products offer an “Outdoor” mode or graphic equalizer, the Clip 4 possesses nothing to adjust the audio. It has a listed frequency response of 100Hz – 20kHz and is restricted to mono audio.
The Flip 6 is superior to the Clip 4 in almost every conceivable way outside of audio placement. The Flip 6 has a slightly worse ability to project audio omnidirectionally, though the soundstage is still competent enough for a speaker of this price.
While the Flip 6 has many categories it performs well in, its audio is just slightly above average for its cost. The volume feels like it couldn’t compete with the bustle of a house party though the quality feels better at max volume than the Clip 4.
The Flip 6 gets its highest praise from its ability to reach lower than the rest of the speakers in terms of frequency, with a bass that feels fuller and better expressed than its competitors. It also possesses a graphic equalizer, which is a pleasant feature that should be seen more across the lower-end of portable speakers. It has a frequency response of 63 Hz – 20k Hz with a 1.75 x 3-inch woofer and a .6-inch tweeter.
Verdict – The UE Wonderboom 2 has a superior audio profile overall and without question is the best product in terms of sound quality.
Design & Durability
In a market for people who will be spending the majority of their time outside, there is a surprising number of easily transportable speakers lacking any real fortitude. Equally important is the focus on design — as a bulky, poorly made speaker will not lend itself to the ease of use most folks are looking for.
While aesthetics are more important than anyone will admit, we are going to focus more on how the shape, size, and robust exterior benefit the consumer.
Ultimate Ears deserves a good deal of credit for making a budget speaker as well as they choose to. The Wonderboom 2 has an excellent design that helps provide more space without sacrificing too much in the way of audio. It is reliably dust and waterproof with an IP67 rating and the exterior feels rugged and tough even if the middle fabric is a bit abrasive to the touch. If you have the misfortune of dropping it into a body of water – the speaker also floats!
You have the choice of four different color themes: black, grey, blue, and red. While none of these are ugly, they are fairly standard designs. The product itself is incredibly easy to carry around weighing just under a pound and measuring no more than four inches on any one side. It is difficult to find any drawbacks with the design of this product besides the colors being a bit underwhelming.
Breaking away from the popular cylinder design that JBL has made very popular in the last few years, the Clip 4 has a convenient shape and style with an emphasis on maneuverability. Pessimists can put their doubts to bed as the Clip 4 still offers the same durability speakerheads have come to expect from JBL. It offers an IP67 rating (waterproof, dustproof) and the material feels the same quality you would expect from the Flip or the Charge.
The design of this product is a bit of genius for those who plan to be on the move quite often, as they can be hands-free while utilizing the Clip. On top of an impressive list of varying color patterns, you can design your own Clip 4 on the JBL website should you choose to. It weighs under half a pound and measures out to 1.8 x 3.4 x 5.3 inches so you never have to worry about not having enough space.
The Flip 6 is the definition of what a portable speaker should be when it comes to its robust and attractive exterior. While most products you see that boast resiliency typically appear as blocky electronic bricks, the Flip 6 has broken the mold.
This speaker offers a futuristic design that also can withstand water, dust, and the occasional bump or bruise. The mesh material in the middle adds a layer of security to an already dense device while the dual passive radiators, efficient shape, and color scheme give the Flip 6 its iconic flare.
The Flip 6 comes in five different colors and does not offer the incredible customization that the Clip 4 has. While many would probably prefer the look of the Flip 6 over the Wonderboom 2 or Clip 4 – the other products possess reasons for their design that justify the shape.
The Flip 6 comes in weighing the heaviest at the unimaginably cumbersome size of 1.1 pounds. It is also the biggest at 7 x 2.6 x 2.8 inches overall, though none of these devices are going to take up much room at all.
Verdict – All three products are exceptionally well made, though the Clip 4 offers the most customization and exterior design.
Arguably the most underrated part of any mobile electronic is how long it will last without being connected to a charger.
If you plan to only use your Bluetooth speaker sparingly or infrequently between charges then you shouldn’t have to concern yourself. If you plan to spend a good amount of time away from an outlet, battery life very quickly becomes incredibly important.
We will also look at features that allow you to save a bit of power and keep the speaker playing longer.
Listed battery lives vary depending on the volume of the product, the music you are listening to, and any additional product features that may be turned on. Due to the common complaints of inaccuracy on listed battery lives, it can be good to check secondary sources to verify.
Once again Ultimate Ears have decided to blow the competition out of the water with their product’s very solid battery life. With the Wonderboom 2, you get just a hair under thirteen hours of battery life. Considering a full charge takes only 2.5 hours on a Micro-USB, this product offers a very good battery.
It also has a power-saving function that turns the device off after fifteen minutes of inactivity. While these power-saving features have become pretty standard across speakers, we still like to see them regardless.
The Clip 4 has a battery life that JBL has specified as ten hours, though secondary testing puts this closer to five and half hours. The charge time is only slightly longer than the Wonderboom 2 at just over 2.5 hours, though you get much less battery from it.
It also has a feature that turns off the product after a prolonged period of inactivity. While it is hard to expect incredible battery life from a product that weighs less than a pound, the Clip 4 still feels mediocre in terms of its playback life. Thankfully, you can play music while connected to the charger.
The Flip 6 doesn’t sit very far from its smaller counterpart with a 12-hour advertised battery life that actually sits closer to six. Despite this, it does come with slight advantages that put it towards the middle of the pack.
While it can only keep charged for six hours, it has the quickest charge time of the three at just above two hours and can play audio while charging. Additionally, it offers an auto-shutoff function when not being used, similar to the other two products.
While the Flip 6 and Clip 4 aren’t anywhere close to the Wonderboom 2 in terms of battery life, some users will prefer the USB-C (rather than micro USB) charging.
Verdict – Ultimate Ears did not play around when they made the Wonderboom 2 and it shows in their impressive battery life and speedy charge times.
Features & Software
The countless number of additional features present on many portable speakers nowadays is genuinely staggering. While several of these are exciting, there are a few key features that most speakers have begun including to improve the user experience.
We will also take a look at the accompanying software to see how easily it works and cooperates with your speaker of choice.
The Wonderboom 2 keeps a consistent lineup of useful features that focus on enhancing its already competent design. While it doesn’t offer a seven-speaker setup, you can connect two Wonderboom 2 speakers together to create a more immersive sound. It has an outdoor mode to boost the bass a bit and offers BlueTooth with a range of 100 ft.
Unlike JBL, there is no accompanying mobile app that works with the UE product. While this might be a relief for certain consumers, it does lessen the amount of customization offered with this speaker.
The Flip 6 is more focused on practicality than the initial excitement of miscellaneous add-ons, though still offers a healthy choice of features. You can connect two JBL speakers together with the Flip, which comes with a USB charge protection (alerts you to dangerous materials or fluids interfering with USB) and offers the added Bluetooth (5.1) compatibility that can pair multiple devices to the JBL speaker.
While it technically pertains more to the battery, it should be said that the ability to play music while charging is an excellent feature we would like to see more of from other manufacturers.
The Flip 6 also provides a mobile app, which separates it from the other speakers in this category. The app isn’t particularly feature-rich, as we have previously discussed, but it still allows you to check the battery status, update firmware, and adjust sound settings. The adjustable EQ, which was finally added with the new generation, is the highlight of the app.
Rounding out the final category, let’s take a look at the unconventional Clip 4. The first thing worth discussing is the clip on top (or carabiner if you come from a rock-climbing background). This allows much easier portability than almost any other speaker can compete with. Additionally, you can also connect your phone to the Clip via Bluetooth (5.1) and use the product while it charges.
Unlike larger JBL bluetooth speakers, the JBL Clip 4 isn’t compatible with the JBL Portable app.
Verdict – None of these products offer a huge amount of features, but the Flip 6 provides enough to push it ahead of the other two.
None of these products are bad – especially at their price range.
That being said, the Wonderboom 2 is frankly in a league of its own at a price that is considerably cheaper than the Flip 6. While I could see a justification for someone purchasing any of these very competent devices, I would strongly recommend the Wonderboom 2 over the other products.
It offers better audio quality, nearly twice the battery life, and all the quality that you can find in either of the JBL speakers. It has exceptional resistance to the elements, a tough exterior, and a design that is focused on improving the other aspects of the device.
If you want something that can attach to a belt loop or simply prefer the JBL look then the other two may be more your speed – for our money, however, Ultimate Ears provides the best choice.