(Pocket-lint) - Ultimate Ears speakers are a distinguishable bunch. They not only offer similar design properties such as prominent volume controls, but they also offer excellent sound quality too.
The UE Boom is one of the smaller options in the Ultimate Ears portfolio but it's always been a fabulous speaker that delivers portable, premium sound. The original Boom arrived in 2013, before being refreshed two years later in the Boom 2.
Three years on and we have the latest sequel of one of our UE favourites in the Boom 3. Here are our first impressions of the small but booming Bluetooth speaker.
The Ultimate Ears UE Boom 3 takes one of our favourite portable Bluetooth speakers and makes it even better. There's a great redesign that offers an all-round fresher, sexier look, along with a new interface on the top for extra convenience and better charging functionality.
Not much has changed in terms of the insides, which should mean you'll still get that brilliant 360-degree sound output offered by the Boom 2, and for less too, with a new price of £139 for the Boom 3 compared to the £170 tag the Boom 2 launched with.
We'll let you know our final thoughts when we come to review the Boom 3 in full but based on what we've seen so far, it's likely to be our new favourite travel companion.
The Ultimate Ears UE Boom 3 will be available from 3 September at John Lewis and 14 October at other major retailers. It will come in four standard colours comprising Ultraviolet, Sunset, Lagoon and Night, as well as two Apple special edition models called Cloud and Denim. There will also be a Forest Green and a Seashell coming in 2019.
Ultimate Ears UE Boom 3
Ultimate Ears UE Boom 3 design
- Refined design
- IP67 water resistant
- Magic Button on top
- Four standard colours, two special edition colours
Ultimate Ears speakers all have a very similar look, even if their sizes and features vary. Some might be small and compact, others smart, but they all share a rugged look and they all make a feature out of the volume controls. There might be numerous Bluetooth speakers available these days, but the UE speakers are easy to spot in the crowd and they stand out in it too.
The UE Boom 3 doesn't differ a great deal from its predecessor, but as we said with the Megaboom 3, the devil is in the detail and there are several small refinements that take the simple but excellent Boom 2 and make it even better.
The Boom 3 continues to offer the tough, rugged look UE speakers are known for, but the company has smartened things up for the latest edition. The rubber strap housing the volume controls on the front of the Boom 2 has been ditched in the Boom 3. Instead, the giant volume controls have been placed directly on the two-tone mesh material, which too has been refined with a thinner weave than the previous model.
The top and bottom of the cylindrical Boom 2 are still rubber but they no longer have an angled edge, allowing for a more seamless finish between them and the main element of the speaker, like the Megablast range offers. A slim rubber strap has also been added to the rear of the speaker, featuring a Weather Door at the bottom that covers the relocated Micro-USB port and a material hook at the top.
On the bottom of the Boom 3, you'll now find a built-in charging port for the Power Up dock which is sold separately for £35. It allows for more convenient charging if you're happy to pay the extra, but if not then the repositioned Micro-USB port at least means you won't need to tip the Boom 3 sideways to charge it.
Move to the top of the Boom 3 and you'll find a couple more differences compared to the Boom 2, primarily in the form of the Magic Button. Yes, it really is called that, we haven't made it up. The Magic Button, which we will go into more detail on in a minute, sits in the middle, while the power button and Bluetooth button are positioned above and below it.
Like the Megaboom 3, the Boom 3 is IP67 water and dust resistant and it will float too. The two new devices share identical designs, but the Boom 3 is all about portability, being the ideal outdoor companion, while the Megaboom 3 is all about volume and bass.
Ultimate Ears UE Boom 3 magic button
- Press to play, pause and skip
- Long press to start playlist
- Apple Music / Deezer compatible
Let's talk about what the Magic Button does then. Before you get too excited, it does not have Harry Potter powers, nor does it have smart assistant powers. Instead, the Magic Button is actually a convenience button but that has a terrible ring to it.
Once you've connected your smartphone, you can use the Magic Button to play your music without getting your phone out, as long as it is within the 45-metre range of the Boom 3. Press it again and you can pause the music, while a double press will skip to the next song. It's not possible to go back at the moment though.
There's another feature of the Magic Button too however, but it requires you to be an Apple Music user if you have an iPhone, or a Deezer user if you have an Android device. For those that are, a long press on the Magic Button will start playing your playlists. A second long press will skip to the next playlist, while a short press will skip to the next song within the playlist you're on.
More music streaming services will eventually be compatible with this feature but at launch, it is restricted to Apple Music and Deezer.
Ultimate Ears UE Boom 3 sound quality
- Same composition as original UE Boom 2
The UE Boom 3 features the same insides as the Boom 2, which is no bad thing. The Boom 2 is an excellent speaker, perfect for bringing to festivals and the like, as well as beefing up audio above and beyond the tinny output of laptops and smartphones.
It offers a really loud sound quality, but not to the point of distortion and we'd expect the same from the Boom 3. The Boom 2 doesn't offer huge bass, certainly not to sub-bass levels, but it pushes enough pep for a mix of genres to provide ample richness and the Boom 3 will no doubt be on par.
There is plenty of crispness from mids and highs on the Boom 2, which we'd again expect on the Boom 3. If it's bass that you want though, chances are the Megaboom 3 might be more suitable even if not as portable.