Using speakers with your cell phone or tablet makes it easy to enjoy great-sounding music from the collection stored on your device, as well as from online music apps like Pandora and Spotify. While there are plenty of wired speaker options to consider, there are a number of great wireless selections available as well. Some are small and compact so you can easily use them on-the-go, while others are designed for home or office use.
Three Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers
There are many portable cell phone and tablet speakers that use Bluetooth technology. Some come in very small sizes that are easy to carry in your briefcase or backpack, while others are designed more to be used on a shelf, end table, or night stand.
1. Divoom Voombox - Travel (Very Small)
If you are more of an outdoor enthusiast than an air traveler, the Divoom Voombox -Travel might better meet your Bluetooth speaker needs. This circular speaker is about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and comes with an easy latch clip that you can use to connect it to your backpack or belt loop to enjoy great sound when you're on the move. The speaker is surrounded by rubber to absorb shocks, and it is designed to be splash-resistant, which makes it well-suited for rugged outdoor use.
This speaker works with all tablets and smartphones equipped with Bluetooth capability.
Reviews: A review on AndroidSpin points out that this compact speaker isn't one that will wow audiophiles, but that isn't what it's designed to do. The reviewer recommends the speaker as "a great little companion device when you're heading outdoors and want something easy to carry for a little background sound." A review on cnet.com concludes that this "sturdily built" speaker "is a good budget choice for a wireless travel speaker."
Purchasing: Order this speaker from Amazon for just under $40.
2. Divoom Voombox - Outdoor (Medium Size)
If you're looking for a larger, weather-resistant Bluetooth speaker with richer sound, the Divoom Voombox - Outdoor model is a good option to consider. With the same rugged construction and splash-resistant design, this speaker is just as rugged as the travel version. It's quite a bit larger (6" long by 2" tall), and even though it does come with a carrying strap, it's not something that you'd probably want to carry backpacking. However, it's perfect for a backyard barbecue or a day at the beach or park, with stronger sound thanks to dual speaker construction.
Reviews: I received a Divoom Voombox - Outdoor speaker, and I'm very pleased with its sound quality and sturdiness. It has become my go-to speaker for outdoor use at home, as well as during my RV travel adventures. In my role as LTK's technology editor, I have tested many different speakers, and my husband swears that this one has the absolute best quality sound of them all. A review at Cnet.com says the speaker is rugged and splashproof. It gets good volume for its size, but the sound quality is lower at higher volumes.
Purchasing: Order this speaker from Amazon for around $70.
3. Altec Lansing Soundblade XL (Larger)
If you're looking for a larger, portable Bluetooth speaker designed for indoor use, the Soundblade XL from Altec Lansing is an excellent option to consider. At 12" long and 3" tall, it's not a speaker that you'd likely throw in your backpack to go for a hike, but it can easily be moved from one room or location to another.
This speaker will work with any Bluetooth-enabled cell phone or tablet. It has a rechargeable battery, but can also operate with AC power, which makes it a great choice for people who like to listen to music throughout the workday, during parties, or other extended events without having to worry about battery power.
Reviews: I received an Altec Lansing Soundblade XL to review, and I'm very impressed with its design and sound quality. The speaker's appearance is sleek, and the fact that it can be plugged in for continuous usage makes it a great choice for office use. A review on PCMag.com describes it as "an attractive, portable Bluetooth speaker that offers decent audio performance".
Purchasing: Order this speaker from Micro Center for around $180.
More Bluetooth Speaker Options
These are only a few of the numerous, outstanding portable Bluetooth speaker options available. Learn about more of the best Bluetooth speakers, including the Jongo S3, Boom Urchin, and several others.
Three Portable Wireless Speakers That Don't Require Bluetooth
While the majority of wireless speakers on the market utilize Bluetooth technology, not everyone is a fan of Bluetooth. Some users report dropped sound and difficulty with pairing, while others complain about the amount of battery power used when Bluetooth is active. There are a few alternatives.
1. FAVI audio+ (Set to Connect)
FAVI audio+ offers wireless speakers for iPhone, Android, and tablet devices that use the company's proprietary Set to Connect technology. The tablet version is compatible with most tablets, including iPad, Kindle, Nook, and major brands of Android tablets.
Rather than having to pair your phone or tablet to your speaker via a battery-draining Bluetooth connect, all you have to do with FAVI audio+ is place your device on the speaker. It goes behind a small ledge with a lip (like the design of an easel) and leans back on the speaker. You can also use the speaker to amplify conference calls.
Reviews: I received a FAVI audio+ to test, so I can speak from personal experience when I say how easy it is to use. There is no fumbling to turn Bluetooth on or off, and no worries about leaving it on when you are finished listening to music only to discover your mistake when your phone's batter drains very quickly. I also found the sound quality to be good when listening to music at reasonable levels. A review on Gizmag.com reflects my experience, stating that the sound quality is decent for the speaker's price point, unless you max out the volume, at which point the sound becomes tinny.
Purchasing: You can purchase FAVI audio+ speakers directly from Amazon. The iPhone version costs around $50, while the Android and tablet speakers cost about $80 each.
2. Sonivo Easy Speaker (NFA)
The Sonivo Easy Speaker uses near field audio (NFA) technology to amplify the sound of any cell phone that has an external loudspeaker. Rather than relying on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or any other technology, this device simply uses induction technology to amplify sound played through the device's internal speakers.
This speaker does not require any set-up or apps to work. Simply place your compatible mobile device on the speaker, and it will work. It is compatible with most iOS and Android devices. It can also work with tablets, but in order to use the speaker wirelessly, your device has to balance on the speaker - something that can be problematic with tablets. An audio cable is included with the speaker, which can be used to get it to work with phones or tablets that can't be properly situated on the speaker for wireless use.
Reviews: The experience seems to vary by phone, as a function of speaker type and location.
- A review on GadgetCore.com indicates that the Sonivo Easy Speaker works very well with iPhones, but not with HTC phones because they have dual stereo speakers. According to the reviewer, the HTC worked fine with the speaker when connected via the audio cable, but the sound quality was poor when attempting wireless use.
- A review on WPXBox.com indicates that the speaker works best with those Windows phones that have "less speaker power, and (speakers) positioned at the back or at lower end of the side works best." The reviewer indicates that the speaker works very well with the 820, 720, 620, and 520 models, but not with the 920, which has very powerful side speakers.
Purchasing: Order this speaker directly from Sonivo for around $35.
Three Multi-Room Wireless Speaker Systems
There are a number of wireless speaker options designed to allow you to enjoy single or multi-room sound in your home or office. Some work via Wi-Fi, while others work via Bluetooth or near-field communication (NFC) technology. Some offer flexibility and allow users to choose among Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or NFC.
1. Sonos Play: 1 (Wi-Fi Only)
Sonos Play: 1 speakers can be used with any WiFi network. You can use a single speaker to enjoy sound in one area, or set up multiple speakers to enjoy sound throughout your home or office. If you are using just one speaker, you can connect it directly to your wireless router. If you want to use multiple speakers, you will need connect a Sonos bridge to your wireless router.
To use this speaker with your smartphone, tablet or computer, you'll need to download the Sonos Controller App, which will allow you to connect your devices. The app is available for Android, iPhone, iPad, PC and Mac. With the app, you can stream music from any of your devices to the speaker(s) via Wi-Fi.
Reviews: Consumer Reports ranks this speaker at the top of its list of affordable wireless speaker systems that won't break your budget. They praise it for "impressive sound and ease of use" as well as "its expandability through other Sonos Play speakers, allowing listeners to build their surround sound system, one speaker at a time." It is also included in the PCMag.com list of the ten best wireless speakers, where reviewers describe it as an "affordable multi-room sound system ... with a non-Bluetooth, non-AirPlay wireless music setup."
Purchasing: You can purchase one Sonos Play: 1 speaker with a Sonos bridge for just under $250 from Sonos.com. The speaker alone (without a bridge) costs just under $200.
2. Samsung SHAPE (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC)
The Samsung SHAPE system is similar to the Sonos Play: 1 in many ways, with notable exceptions being a higher price tag and the addition of Bluetooth and NFC capabilities. A review on DigitalTrends.com goes so far as to describe it as "eerily similar to Sonos' design". The deciding factor between Sonos and Samsung lies largely with whether you really want Bluetooth and NFC capabilities for the speakers within your home wireless speaker system, and how much you are willing to pay for them.
You will need to connect the Samsung SHAPE Wireless Audio Hub hub to your wireless router in order to set up a multi-room system, which can consist of your choice of M5 and M7 models. To connect multiple speakers, you'll need to download the SHAPE Audio App, which will allow you to control all of the speakers in the system. The app is available for iOS and Android cell phones and tablets. With a Bluetooth or NFC-enabled mobile device, you can also access any speaker separately.
Review: According to cnet.com, the Samsung SHAPE "wireless audio system is the best competitor to Sonos yet." The cnet review praises the system's sound quality and the fact that it provides more connectivity options than Sonos (which is limited to Wi-Fi), but points out that for users who prefer not to use Bluetooth, fewer streaming services are available with this speaker system than with Sonos.
Purchasing: All of the components can be ordered directly from Samsung. The M5 speakers cost around $330 each, and the M7s cost around $500. The hub costs about $50.
3. Bose SoundLink Air (AirPlay)
If you are a loyal iOS user, the Bose SoundLink Air digital music system is a high-quality, in-home or office system you may want to consider. Since the system streams via AirPlay, it only works with iOS devices, and it also requires a computer and WiFi network for set-up. The computer can be a Mac or PC, as long as the PC is running a recent version of iTunes.
The system features a small, lightweight speaker that can be used anywhere within reach of the Wi-Fi network that it and your iOS devices that are connected to it. To set up your system, you'll need to plug it into your computer and walk through the set-up steps. Once that has been completed, you can disconnect it from the computer and use it anywhere within reach of your Wi-Fi network to stream music via your iOS devices. For multiple room capabilities, you can connect more than one system to your wireless network.
Review: A review on WhatHiFi.com praises the sound quality of the Bose SoundLink Air, referring to it as having "high build quality...well balanced sound...decent clarity... and an articulate midrange." The review also notes the high quality of materials and workmanship, describing the unit as seeming "worthy of the price tag."
Purchasing: Purchase from Amazon for around $150. No hub or router is required.
Many Speaker Options Available
There are many options for listening to music using your cell phone or tablet device. If you don't find an option that meets your needs among these wireless choices, you may want to consider exploring external wired speaker options.