It’s incredibly hard to take a great design and make it meaningfully better. But it looks like Ultimate Ears has done just that with the new UE Boom 3 and the UE Megaboom 3. Gone is the rough fabric exterior and clunky rubber band. Here is a super sleek waterproof, drop-proof, sand-proof, and blogger-proof Bluetooth speaker that also has few new tricks.
The UE Boom was never bad-looking. We actually praised its durable yet simple design since its launch in 2013. And it sounded great, too! Now, the UE Boom’s got an overhaul that makes the whole package feel brand new again, while still paying tribute to the original. They’re also cheaper. The UE Boom 3 will sell for $150, and the UE Megaboom 3 will sell for $200.
Before going into the details, it’s important to point out that the UE Boom 3 lineup joins an already crowded family of Ultimate Ears wireless speakers. While the original UE Boom is no longer available, the company now has been offering the $250 Megaboom, the $180 Boom 2, and the $100 Wonderboom. For those who want wifi and Alexa voice assistant capabilities, there is also the $180 Blast and the $250 Megablast. The new Boom 3 lineup isn’t designed to compete with the Blast speakers, though. They’re specifically Bluetooth speakers that borrow a bit from the newer wifi lineup.
That is to say, the UE Boom 3 doesn’t add a ton of features like Alexa, but rather focuses on some key design upgrades. Perhaps the most noticeable difference is a new fabric wrapping that feels smooth and looks almost iridescent. The rubber band that used to house the volume up and down button has also been simplified to a narrow strip on the back. The volume buttons now sit prominently on the front fabric. Meanwhile, there’s a new elastic loop on top that’s good for hooking the speaker on your belt or whatever.
The big new hardware feature on the UE Boom 3 is something called the Magic Button. This big round buddy on top of the speaker lets you call up playlists from the service of your choice, including Apple Music (for iOS) and Deezer (for Android), with one touch. Using a new Ultimate Ears app, you can select up to four playlists that can be accessed through the Magic Button, which also lets you play, pause, and skip tracks. There’s also a separate power button and Bluetooth pairing button that do exactly what you think they’d do. On the sound quality front, the UE Boom 3 offers a similar setup as its predecessor, but tweaks it to give it better bass and clarity of the Megaboom 3.
One other meaningful upgrade is compatibility with the Ultimate Ears Power Up charging dock. That means you can plop the new Booms on top of a little white disk for juice instead of plugging a USB cable into the underside of the device, which is what you had to do with the old speakers. (Like its predecessor, the UE claims the Boom 3 gets about 15 hours of battery life, and the UE Megaboom gets about 20 hours.) The Power Up dock will cost you an extra $40, however.
Still, the UE Boom 3 speakers cost significantly less than the Booms that came before. Combined with the fact that they do more and look better, it’s safe to say that the best Bluetooth speaker on the market just got some serious competition from… itself. We’ll have more details after we’ve spent some time with these guys.