UE Wonderboom 3 review

Punchy performance in a portable package

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The UE Wonderboom 3 is an ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker that doesn’t sacrifice sound quality for the size. Good battery life, a waterproof design and the option to pair two for stronger performance make it great value for the price.

Pros

  • +

    Impressive bass for its size

  • +

    Waterproof design

  • +

    Can pair two together

  • +

    14 hours battery life

Cons

  • -

    No USB-C connector

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UE Wonderboom 3 specs

Price: $99
Colors: Black, Blue, Pink, Grey
Size: 4.1 x 3.8 inches
Weight: 14.8 ounces
Battery life (rated): 14 hours
Playback range: 131 feet
Durability: IP67

Despite its portable size, the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 — or UE Wonderboom 3 — packs a serious punch. Among a surplus of middling Bluetooth speakers, UE’s most compact model stands out in the crowd. It proves a small package doesn’t mean a speaker needs to fall short on performance and features. 

If you’re looking for one of the best Bluetooth speakers under $100, the UE Wonderboom 3 could be your answer. It’s especially smart for outdoor listening, since it’s waterproof and has a dedicated setting that’s meant to make music sound better in an open space. Otherwise, 14 hours of playtime should keep the soundtrack running on your adventures. It certainly keeps up with my on-the-go lifestyle.

But is the speaker that’s best for you? My UE Wonderboom 3 review can help you decide.

UE Wonderboom 3 cheat sheet

  • A small and lightweight design makes the $99 UE Wonderboom 3 a breeze to tote around. Plus it's rated IP67 waterproof and dustproof.
  • Performance doesn’t suffer for the size. Across most genres, the speaker sounds well-balanced with surprisingly strong bass. Pair two together for a stereo effect.
  • Outdoor Boost adapts the 360-degree speaker for more efficient listening in open spaces.
  • The UE Wonderboom 3 gets 14 hours of battery life, though that’ll vary depending on listening volume and Outdoor Boost. When nothing is playing, it’ll turn off automatically to save its charge.
  • Micro-USB instead of USB-C charging makes for a slower charge. It’s not a dealbreaker for everyone, but it definitely feels outdated.

UE Wonderboom 3 price and availability

The UE Wonderboom 3 is available now for $99. It’s the smallest and most affordable speaker in the UE lineup. Our favorite UE speaker overall is the UE Megaboom 3, which costs $199 and has some upgrades in terms of performance and battery life compared to the Wonderboom 3. That said, both models are likely to see Black Friday deals.

UE Wonderboom 3 review: Design

If you’ve seen the UE Wonderboom 2, the Wonderboom 3 will look familiar. It’s essentially a fabric-swathed orb with comically large volume controls on its side. The top features the power button, Bluetooth pairing button and pause/play/skip control, while the Outdoor Boost toggle is on the bottom. More on that in the performance section.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

(Image credit: Future)

Weighing less than 15 ounces, the UE Wonderboom 3 is distinctly portable. Its 4.1 x 3.8 inches fits comfortably in my hand, but a stretchy loop makes it possible to hang the speaker from my bag. 

The UE Wonderboom 3’s sporty look isn’t just for show: its IP67 durability rating means it can withstand dust, dirt and water submersion for up to 30 minutes. That’s standard for many of the best waterproof speakers. I even took the one I’m testing in the shower with no problem, though it’s good to know it should survive some wet weather and other elements while I’m out and about. 

UE Wonderboom 3 review: Performance

I tend to review small speakers with tempered performance expectations, but the UE Wonderboom 3 sounded surprisingly strong — and not just for its size. It handled electronic synth riffs of Van Halen’s “Jump” with precision, while Rihanna’s “We Found Love” sounded sexy and punchy. In Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us,” vocals sounded intentional, holding their own against the soaring piano line. The bass in “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance offered interesting complexities with a steady thump, too. Overall the Wonderboom 3’s sound performance proved well-balanced, even at high volumes.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

(Image credit: Future)

The Outdoor Boost mode does mess with balance, but it’s a neat feature for listening outdoors, where there usually aren’t walls for sound to bounce around. It adjusts the sound profile to make up for bass in a way that sounds weird if it’s accidentally enabled indoors, but actually makes a difference outdoors. Listening on my apartment rooftop, Outdoor Boost helped the speaker's sound carry a farther distance over the city’s buzz than when the setting wasn’t enabled. It kind of reminds me of the Automatic Trueplay tuning feature on the Sonos Roam and Sonos Move.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

(Image credit: Future)

I only had one UE Wonderboom 3 to test, but if I had two, I could pair them for stereo sound. With Outdoor Boost enabled, I imagine two of these together would have plenty of power for a large tailgate, backyard get together or pool party.

UE Wonderboom 3 review: Battery life

The UE Wonderboom 3 battery life is rated for 14 hours, which is 1 hour longer than the Wonderboom 2’s battery life: a minor improvement, but improvement nonetheless to hold its own amongst the best outdoor speakers. By comparison, the Megaboom 3 lasts 20 hours, but the Sonos Roam only lasts 10 hours

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

(Image credit: Future)

I pressed the volume up and volume down buttons at the same time to check my battery status, though the general battery level is represented by a chime rather than exact percentage. 

Charging the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 is perhaps my only real disappointment in testing. Going from dead, the speaker took over two hours to reach the chime that indicates a full charge. This is probably due to Micro-USB charging, which is rather outdated. I wish it had USB-C charging like most of my other devices.

UE Wonderboom 3 review: Verdict

My reservations about charging aside, the UE Wonderboom 3 is one of the most well-rounded Bluetooth speakers under $100 that I’ve reviewed. Balanced sound and a portable design make it a great companion, while the Outdoor Boost feature does its job. And for most people 14 hours of battery life is plenty.

If you think you need beefier sound or a longer battery life, the Megaboom 3 might be worth the investment. It also can be paired with additional UE speakers for stereo sound. The Sonos Roam is another strong option with automatic outdoor tuning, plus it supports voice assistants. The JBL Charge 5 is also attractive, since it doubles as a power bank for your phone. Otherwise, the UE Wonderboom 3 is hands-down the best option for the price.

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.