The summer holidays are nowhere near over yet, but it’s never too early to start thinking about back to school gadgets that you might need for when it’s time to get back to the books. These days, a lot of studying material comes in multimedia formats, which means that one of the best Bluetooth speakers can be used for more than just listening to lo-fi studying music.
Whether you’re streaming a lecture, catching up on a podcast or listening to an audiobook, Bluetooth speakers have become an essential and useful piece of tech that lets you put away the screens for a moment and focus. They are especially useful for auditory learners, who find it easier to absorb information by hearing and listening.
I didn’t have a dedicated speaker when I was in university, but thinking back I really wish I did. The amount of times that I simply accepted the sometimes inaudible sound from my phone or laptop, when I could have had a better option is beyond me – but we all know what it can be like when you’re a student.
That’s why I’ve rounded up our top picks of the best Bluetooth speakers for under $100 / £100 that offer great connection, portability, and durability – we have a whole guide on the best waterproof speakers – and long-lasting battery life. It’s also worth checking our best cheap Bluetooth speaker deals to find savings on any of the models listed below.
If you're looking to save on devices for school, be sure to check out all the back to school sales we've found.
Tribit Stormbox Micro 2
This is hands down the best budget Bluetooth speaker you can buy right now. Don’t be fooled by its small size, it may weigh the same amount as a carton of half a dozen eggs but Tribit’s Stormbox Micro 2 delivers great sound for how tiny it is – it’s about the size of a stack of drink coasters.
As we said in our five-star out of five Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 review: “You simply can't do better for design, durability, features and sound quality in a cheap Bluetooth wireless speaker at this wallet-friendly level”.
It’s packed with handy features too, it has a two-way USB-C port to charge devices like your phone, multi-point pairing (if you have two Tribit speakers), a full-day battery life (12 hours) and great range – it could reach up to 60 feet away, even with dividing walls in the way.
JBL Flip 6
If you can afford to spend a bit extra, then the JBL Flip 6 is the best mid-range Bluetooth speaker out there. It’s simple to use, has a rugged design and delivers a well-balanced, bassy sound that will get any student party going.
Unlike the Micro 2 above, the Flip 6 can’t charge your phone. But it does match on other features, including a 12-hour battery life, great portability, durability and multi-point pairing (although this is limited to only JBL’s Flip range of speakers).
Although the biggest selling point of the Flip 6 is its incredibly expansive soundstage, which can fill a room or an outdoor get-together – you can also take it by the pool and not be too worried about it getting a bit wet. Read our JBL Flip 6 review to find out more about how we found it during our testing.
JBL Flip 6: was
$129.95 now $99.95 on Amazon
Originally priced at $129.95 when it was released in 2021, this speaker rarely costs that much anymore and is often discounted. At the time of writing, you can pick up JBL’s Flip 6 on Amazon in the US for a 23% discount at $99.95 and for 42% off at £74.99 in the UK, which is why it makes the cut.
Cleer Audio Scene
For those that are looking for a top-quality Bluetooth speaker but don't mind whether it’s a bit bulky, then the Cleer Audio Scene is a great option. It’s essentially a more affordable rival to the JBL Flip 6 with impressive audio quality – it even has a dedicated aux-in.
Released at the end of 2022, it sold for $79.99 in the US and £99.99 in the UK, which means it’s also cheaper than the Flip 6. You’re probably wondering why we then didn’t rank it higher than JBL’s similar offering. The answer is that it’s not a complete slam dunk in comparison.
In our Cleer Audio Scene review, we noted how it was both bigger and heavier than the Flip 6, which means it’s a little less convenient to simply shove in your backpack to take with you to the park. It does have a 12-hour battery life and is waterproof though.
On the sound front, the Scene’s dual 48mm drivers and passive radiators mean that it delivers a very clear, crisp sound that has a lot of clarity. But unlike many rival speakers that focus on bass, this falls a bit short.
Amazon Echo Dot
If you don’t need a speaker that you can take outside the house, then the Amazon Echo Dot is the best smart speaker if you’re on a budget. While there are loads of different Amazon smart speakers to choose from, the Echo Dot remains our topmost affordable choice for the price.
It launched in 2020 with a price of $49.99 in the US, £49.99 in the UK and AU$79 in Australia, and has become the most popular Alexa speaker in the market as a result. There are also plenty of opportunities to pick this up for a discounted price, which it regularly is during big sales events.
In our Amazon Echo Dot (2020) review, we said that it was the perfect desk companion if you wanted a speaker that sits in front of you and plays music for a half-hour at a time, but it’s not great if you want a big home speaker for parties.
While we haven't reviewed this ourselves yet, we were big fans of its predecessors and often see it massively discounted during Amazon sales, so tend to include it in our recommendations – it was one of the top cheap Prime Day Bluetooth speaker deals that we suggested this year.
The GO3 is part of JBL's upgraded waterproof Bluetooth speaker line that it launched in 2020. They are small, compact and come in seven stylish color combinations, such as black, red, blue, white and green. But the main reason why we've included it here is because it's a great option for anyone not looking to spend a lot of money.
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Amelia became the Senior Editor for Home Entertainment at TechRadar in the UK in April 2023. With a background of more than eight years in tech and finance publishing, she's now leading our coverage to bring you a fresh perspective on everything to do with TV and audio. When she's not tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos in the ever-evolving world of home entertainment, you’ll find her watching movies, taking pictures and travelling.