If you find a list of the best bluetooth speakers under $100, it’s a pretty safe bet that the UE Wonderboom 3 and JBL Clip 4 will both be on it.
Simply put, the sub-$100 price range features a lot of unimpressive speakers. There are some diamonds in the rough (the Soundcore Motion+ comes to mind), but you have to wade through a bunch of junk to find them.
So, when a quality company like Ultimate Ears or JBL releases an entry-level speaker at this price point, you have to take notice.
The Clip 4 is more budget-friendly, with an MSRP that will save you about $20. But the Wonderboom 3 blows the Clip 4 out of the water, in almost every way.
From the design to the durability to the sound quality, it really isn’t a fair competition.
- If budget is your biggest concern, look for sales on the Wonderboom 2 now that the new version has been released. The Wonderboom 2 is essentially the same speaker as the Wonderboom 3, but it should soon be discounted. Either Wonderboom is a massive upgrade from the Clip 4.
- If you are a JBL loyalist, the Flip 6 is a worthy Wonderboom competitor (albeit with a higher sticker price). [See here for how the Wonderboom 3 stacks up against the Flip 6]
- If your budget is especially tight, wait for a massive sale on the Clip 4. There have been times that the speaker has gone on ~50% discount. At that price, it is a good value.
~~~ Check Price: UE Wonderboom 3 ~~~
~~~ Check Price: JBL Clip 4 ~~~
Of all the categories discussed here, sound quality is obviously the most important. And, on that front, the Wonderboom 3 is the winner by a large margin.
Both speakers have similar sound profiles, which are geared more towards punchy bass than crisp mids. Neither has an equalizer, so you are stuck with the out-of-the-box settings unless you utilize a third-party equalizer app.
Now let’s compare the differences.
Wonderboom 3 wins on clarity
Neither of these speakers are a hi-fi product that will impress colleagues at a cocktail party. But then again, that isn’t the reason we buy sub-$100 bluetooth speakers.
Both Wonderboom 3 and Clip 4 are built for bass. However, the Clip 4 has the rattling, staticky bass of a cheap subwoofer, whereas the Wonderboom 3 has punchy bass that is impressive considering the price tag.
When it comes to mids and vocals, both products are far from perfect. Although I have some minor gripes with the clarity on the Wonderboom 3, it still beats Clip 4 by a mile. The Clip has audible static with every track, even at moderate volumes, and honestly doesn’t seem worthy of the JBL badge that is prominently displayed on its front grill.
Wonderboom 3 wins on volume
Wonderboom 3 produces as much volume at 60/70% as the Clip 4 can produce at 100%. Because the Clip has to work harder to reach the same volume, it further accentuates its clarity deficiencies.
At volumes above 60%, the static makes the Clip 4 quite unpleasant to listen to. On the other hand, the Wonderboom 3 sounds good even at 80%.
Wonderboom 3 wins on soundstage
Finally, the Wonderboom 3 also outperforms the Clip 4 when it comes to sound width. Ultimate Ears is famous for the wide soundstage of its products, and the Wonderboom lives up to the billing.
If you sit the Wonderboom in the middle of the room, you can walk a complete circle around it without encountering any “dead zones” where the sound is muffled, quiet, or otherwise distorted.
On the other hand, the Clip has the profile of a “typical” bluetooth speaker — it sounds pretty good from directly in front, but then gets quieter (and with lower quality) from a diagonal.
The Clip also has a weird design that requires the clip to be used in order for the speaker to sit upright.
Whereas most portable speakers have a speaker that allows you to sit them on their base, the Clip 4 has no base to stand on. So if you set the speaker down, it will rest on its back and project music straight up towards the ceiling.
Wonderboom features an “Outdoor Boost” button.
During testing, there wasn’t a huge difference in sound when the outdoor boost mode was used. The function was surprisingly subtle, and the only difference is that the bass gets turned a bit higher.
Since the default sound profile of the Wonderboom is already heavy on bass, boosting bass further doesn’t seem beneficial. But, considering the fact that there is no EQ, I applaud Ultimate Ears for including some degree of customization here.
Sound winner: Wonderboom 3 by a shockingly large margin. Wonderboom 3 has more volume, more clarity, and a wider soundstage. It overperforms its price tag while Clip 4 underperforms.
Wonderboom 3 and Clip 4 both excel when it comes to portability. You can easily fit either speaker in a gym bag or backpack. At ~1 pound, neither will be too much trouble to carry.
Both speakers are beautifully designed, too.
Wonderboom 3 has the oversized volume buttons that are the trademark look of any UE speaker. Clip 4 has the oversized JBL logo that is featured on the newest generation of JBL portables, and the clip itself also gives the speaker added visual interest.
The key design difference is that the UE speaker can be used vertically while sitting on its base, whereas the JBL needs to be clipped to something unless you want to project audio towards the ceiling.
The Wonderboom also has a small loop that allows you to place it on a hook. Or you can add a $2 carabiner to the loop and use it just as you would use the Clip 4.
Other than the lack of a solid base, my only complaint with the Clip 4 is that the built-in clip doesn’t open wide enough. You will be able to clip it onto backpack straps, but not anything wider like a bike handle, showerhead, or rearview mirror. (Now, whether or not a speaker should be used in the shower or in a car is a different matter entirely).
The flat base of the Wonderboom provides good stability. The best part of the design is the 360 degree speaker cover, which results in no blocked areas to cause “dead zones” in the sound.
The rubberized back of the Clip has a nice grip, but it doesn’t solve the problem of having a speaker that is now pointed towards the ceiling. The rubber feet are also prone to falling off with use.
Clip 4 wins in a couple of areas:
- Clip 4 charges via USB-C, whereas Wonderboom 3 still has micro USB
- Clip 4 has a battery status light, which is strangely lacking on the Wonderboom 3
Both speakers have easy-to-use controls that are basic and intuitive.
- The Clip 4 has three buttons on the front — play/pause, volume up, and volume down. The side features a power button and another for bluetooth pairing.
- The Wonderboom has three top buttons — power, pairing, and one for playing/pausing/skipping tracks. None of these buttons are labeled, which is peculiar, but it doesn’t take long to get accustomed to the layout. The face of the speaker has volume up and volume down buttons. Lastly, there is a single button on the bottom for Outdoor Boost.
Both speakers score high marks for design. The controls are simple and the speakers are among the most stylish products you can find in this price range.
Design winner: Wonderboom 3 because the Clip 4 doesn’t have an actual base and the clip doesn’t open wide enough. However, if you are bothered by micro USB charging (which some people care about way too much…), then the Clip 4 is a better option.
Both speakers are solid and well-built. But the Wonderboom 3 has a handful of strong points that the Clip 4 can’t match.
Although both speakers have an IP67 (waterproof and dustproof) rating, the Wonderboom 3 provides some extra “waterproofing” because it floats.
Wonderboom 3 also has a “drop resistant” rating. UE has tested the speaker to withstand drops from 5 feet. In reality, both of these speakers should hold up well if dropped from that height.
- Last, and perhaps most importantly, UE gives you a 2 year warranty on the Wonderboom 3, while JBL offers the standard 1 year warranty on the Clip 4.
I don’t fault JBL at all (1 year sure beats the 90 days that some companies give), but UE gets major props for providing an almost unheard-of 2 year warranty on a sub-$100 speaker.
Both products are designed by reputable companies and produced in China. Clip 4 is a Harman speaker, while Wonderboom 3 is made by Logitech.
This feels like a category where the Clip scores an ‘A’ grade — only to be topped by the Wonderboom scoring an ‘A+’.
Durability winner: Wonderboom 3 (Drop resistant and twice the warranty)
Again, Wonderboom 3 is a clear winner.
JBL claims that the Clip 4 can last “up to 10 hours.” UE markets Wonderboom 3 as having a 14 hour battery.
In testing, the differences were even more pronounced.
The Clip 4 fell short of its advertised battery life. Most reputable reviewers have found the Clip’s battery to last somewhere in the 4-6 hour range, depending on listening volume.
Wonderboom 3 lasted for more than 12 hours during our testing. Other reputable tech reviewers have even reported battery life that exceeds the 14 hour rating.
Neither company discloses the exact size of the battery. But regardless, it really is no competition.
Neither speaker has a power bank to charge a phone or other device.
As mentioned previously, there are still a couple areas where Clip outperforms the Wonderboom.
- Clip 4 has USB-C (rather than micro USB) charging
- Clip 4 has a visible battery status bar; Wonderboom 3 only has a red light indicator when battery is low
Battery winner: Wonderboom 3 has ~3x the battery life, so it still wins despite the micro USB charging
The software discussion will be quick and easy, since neither speaker has a companion app.
In this price range, it is common for speakers to lack app-compatibility. Nonetheless, we were hoping to see this feature added to the just-released Wonderboom 3.
Since there is no app or built-in equalizer, you are stuck with the stock sound profile on both speakers. However, you can still download a third-party program to your phone if you want to adjust an EQ.
- Clip 4 uses Bluetooth 5.1 and functions smoothly. It lacks the PartyBoost party mode that is seen on larger JBL portables.
- Wonderboom 3 doesn’t specify which version of bluetooth it uses, but the function is excellent regardless. It doesn’t have a party mode, per se, but it can wirelessly pair with another compatible speaker.
nfortunately, the only “compatible” speaker for the Wonderboom 3 is another Wonderboom 3. So you won’t be able to pair with a Wonderboom 2 or any other UE products.
- Since these are fairly basic speakers, neither has WiFi, a microphone, or a power bank.
This is acceptable considering the sub-$100 price tags for each. And we will excuse the lack of features since both speakers function smoothly and easily.
Both devices make a loud noise at startup and shutdown. This shouldn’t impact a buying decision, but some users will find it aggravating nonetheless.
The Wonderboom 3 has a pairing feature which makes connections effortless — but only for Android devices. Instead of having to choose the Wonderboom 3 from your device’s bluetooth settings, UE makes the process fully automated.
For Android users, as soon as you power the speaker on you will be greeted with a popup on your phone. This popup shows a picture of the speaker with a “Connect” prompt. Simply tap on the “Connect,” wait a few seconds, and the speaker automatically connects.
With iPhone users, there is no Fast Pair feature. Rather, you will need to connect the speaker by accessing the bluetooth tab on your phone.
Software winner: Tie (both speakers are limited yet function well; for Android users, initial pairing will be quicker with the Wonderboom 3).
At full MSRP, the Wonderboom 3 is a slam dunk winner over the Clip 4. The sound quality is significantly better and the battery life is more than double.
If you can find the Clip 4 at a huge discount (which is occasionally possible), it might be worth considering. But I wouldn’t choose the Clip 4 over the Wonderboom 3 unless it saves $50+.
The Clip 4 is a good option for kids and anyone that wants an upgrade over their phone’s speaker, but only if you can find it at a discount.
Wonderboom 3 isn’t a perfect speaker. The mids don’t sound as crisp as some competitors, and vocals come through with a tinny sound at times. The micro USB charging and lack of a companion app also loses some points for the product.
But, in a discussion of the best speakers under $100, Wonderboom 3 is pretty tough to beat. No other speaker can provide the punchy bass, long battery life, and immersive soundstage at this price tag.
~~~ Check Price: UE Wonderboom 3 ~~~
~~~ Check Price: JBL Clip 4 ~~~