Continuing in their line of robust outdoor speakers, the UE Boom 3 is designed to take whatever life can throw at it whilst delivering a loud and punchy sound. The look has been given a stylish upgrade from its previous incarnation. And with a high water and dustproof rating, you really can take the Boom 3 almost anywhere.
The overall sound quality could do with a few tweaks, and other Bluetooth speakers in their price range do sound better. However, beachgoers and those in wet environments will be hard pushed to find a more practical speaker at this price. This alone makes the UE Boom 3 worthy of our attention, so read on to see what we thought…
Design & Build
The UE Boom 3 is a cylindrical, tower speaker that stands 18cm tall with a 360-degree output of sound. It’s been specifically designed the same width as a soda can or water bottle so it can fit in any receptacle designed for them. It fits nicely into the water bottle carrier on a bike and in the drinks holder of most cars. It’s just big enough to get pretty loud whilst staying totally portable.
A high density woven fabric protects the inner workings of the Boom 3. You can choose from a range of five different iridescent colors or opt for plain old black, always an easy choice for most people.
The UE Boom has a very IP67 waterproof rating, which means it can be submerged up to a meter underwater for 30 minutes unscathed. It also floats so you don’t have to worry about it sinking to the bottom of a lake should an accident happen. It also boasts a high dustproof rating. You can take these to the beach, the desert, into the shower, fishing in the rain, and they will still perform perfectly.
Huge +/- buttons control the volume, and whereas they used to be housed on a plastic strip that ran down the speaker, they are now housed on the grille itself. Three buttons on the top control the power, play/pause, track selection, and pairing.
They are all different sizes, so once you’ve acquainted yourself with which button controls what, they are easy to locate and use, even in the dark. The USB charge port is now located on the side of the speaker rather than the bottom, allowing it to be charged whilst standing up
A hang loop is also attached to the top of the speaker. It’s not very big but could certainly become a more useful accessory if combined with a carabiner.
UE also claims the Boom 3 to be drop proof. We’re not quite sure what they mean by that, but it certainly survived the 80cm drop from a patio table onto a tiled floor with no issues.
Overall, the UE Boom 3 is a stylistic improvement on its previous incarnation and has a nice combination of elegance and toughness that make it stand out from the crowd. It wouldn’t look out of place in your living room or around the bonfire.
These days, most companies seem to have conquered the Bluetooth connectivity problems that were more common in the past. The UE Boom 3 is no exception. We had zero stutters when testing the speakers up to 100 feet away with no obstacles in-between. There is no real reason for a range much further than this. You’d struggle to hear them.
UE have included the ability to access playlists, which can initially be set up via the Megaboom app, and then directly via the speaker after that. Unfortunately, your choices are limited to Apple Music for those with an iOS device and Deezer if you have an Android.
The lack of Spotify access is really something they could and should address. We’re going to go out on a limb here and guess it’s by far the most widely used streaming platform. We can’t say that we know anyone that uses Deezer.
Other cool features include the ability to create a stereo sound when linking two UE Boom 3’s together, especially useful when used indoors. Fortunately, the Boom 3 are more than stylish enough to be used as indoor speakers.
Up to 150 Boom 3 speakers can also be linked up, which I guess may serve some kind of commercial purpose. At the very least, it’s a handy feature if some of your friends also own a Boom 3. In fact, this also works in conjunction with the Boom 2 as well.
Battery & Charging
UE claims 15 hours of continuous playback, which would be acceptable if it lived up to that. We didn’t manage to get more than 12.5 hours use whilst playing at about 75% volume. This is still decent enough for most day trips. Although other manufacturers are now offering models with twice that level of endurance. So overall a little disappointing in this department.
Charging is via a micro-USB port rather than the more modern Type-C USB. It’s a mystery why companies are still going with micro-USB ports when almost all modern devices are making the switch to Type-C. If UE wants to make their products as future-proof as possible, they’d be well advised to make the switch too.
By their own admission, UE haven’t made any changes to the sound set-up from the previous speaker in this range, the Boom 2. That was over three years ago, and although the Boom 2 has a good punchy sound that gets very loud, there was certainly room for improvement.
Three years is a long time in this relatively fledgling industry, and other companies have really upped their game in that time. It’s certainly strange that UE didn’t feel that this was necessary.
Basically, the UE Boom 3 does a good job of getting loud rather than sounding fantastic. They have a maximum volume of 90dB, which is pretty high for such a small speaker. It’s quite a punchy sound profile full of verve, but lacking in a rich and textured bass that would round things of more satisfactorily.
Two 2 inch drivers and two 4 inch passive radiators do a good job of spatially filling a room when combined with the 360-degree output.
You can head to the accompanying Megaboom app to make adjustments to the sound via basic equalizer settings. Here you will find four preset modes to choose from, or you can make your own profile by saving changes to the separate bass, mid, and treble sliders.
This certainly helps to find a sound that you’re happier with, although we were still left a little cold by the overall sound even after making our preferred adjustments.
Still, it’s maybe harsh to expect too much from such a small speaker, and it’s an achievement alone to get 90dB’s out of such a little unit. Volume over substance appears to have been the deliberate choice one that will certainly be appreciated by many users.
UE Boom 3 Pros & Cons
- Tough yet stylish design.
- Gets loud.
- IP67 waterproofing.
- Will go anywhere.
- Good Bluetooth connectivity.
- Lack of depth to the audio profile.
- No Spotify compatibility.
- Batter life could be longer.
More Excellent Options
Looking for something with slightly more fidelity? If so, please check out our reviews of the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Radio, the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, and the Best Tailgate Speakers currently available.
The Final Judgment
There is a lot to like about the UE Boom 3, and a lot of small improvements have been made from the previous incarnation, the Boom 2. A longer Bluetooth range has been complemented by better waterproofing and a few improvements in the style department. A rugged yet sleek look isn’t the easiest aesthetic to achieve, yet UE manage that as well as anyone in the business.
It’s a slight mystery why UE didn’t feel the need to make similar improvements to the sound quality. They really would have a product that could compete in every department if they had addressed this issue.
Whilst the sound isn’t bad, it doesn’t measure up to the best sounding Bluetooth speakers such as the JBL Charge 4. To be honest, this is really the only thing letting it down. That being said, it’s significantly cheaper than the JBL. So savings can be made if audio quality isn’t your ultimate deciding factor.
If you’re looking for a relatively cheap, highly portable, and virtually indestructible Bluetooth speaker, with a very loud and generally fun sound, then this little trooper ticks all those boxes with ease.