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Bluetooth speakers are every where you turn.  They can cost as little as $20, or as much as $1000.   If that isn’t evidence enough that the Bluetooth speaker market is saturated, consider the fact that Amazon now makes not one, but two (Echo and Tap) Bluetooth speakers, though they’re much more than that.  So the question becomes: can Bose deliver with their Sound Link III and justify it’s spot in our best bluetooth speakers for 2016?

Continue reading my Bose Soundlink III review to find out.


WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Top tier sound with just a little compromise.

Price: $299 on Amazon
Available: Now
Model: Soundlink III

What We Liked:

  • Excellent spectrum of sound for its size
  • Retro styling that will last the test of time

What We Didn’t:

  • Doesn’t charge via microUSB
  • Not waterproof

Soundlink III Specs

Drivers4x drivers & 2x passive radiators
Battery Life14 hours
MicroUSB Chargerred-x-icon
Size5.18"H x 10.08"W x 1.89"D
Weight3.03 lbs
Aux Inputgreen-check-mark
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Design and Build

Bose Soundlink 3 Buttons
Silicone rubber covers the buttons on the Soundlink 3.

At 3 pounds and measuring 1.9 x 10.1 x 5.2 inches, the Soundlink III doesn’t exactly fall into the ultra portable category.  But alas, it is slim enough to be tucked into a backpack, though probably not a purse.  That in mind, there are other Bluetooth speakers on the market that are smaller, and cheaper, but none will offer such a wide spectrum of sound.  But more on that later.

Bose’s approach to design is one that seems to be rooted in a retro styling.  And while it may not appeal to some, if you spend sometime with the Soundlink III (or other Bose equipment, such as their home theater systems) you realize that it has a timeless quality, not following trends and eventually being discarded due to its cliche nature. That in mind the Soundlink III is very unassuming and anyone glancing at the speaker won’t think twice that is an extremely good Bluetooth speaker when it comes to sound reproduction.

Along the top of the speaker are a set of silicon rubber like buttons.  They’ve got a good amount of give when you push them, which not only reaffirms that it has been pressed, but provides a strangely satisfying sensation.  Odd, I know.  Nevertheless, the silicon buttons are a nice touch, since it makes wiping down the top of the speaker easy, provided you’re willing to get it in harms way of dirt.  Nevertheless, dust is always a foot and sure to build up on anything you don’t use with regularity.

That in mind, the Soundlink III is not IP-X rated, which is to say it isn’t waterproof or even water resistant.  So if you’re looking for a speaker of that class, I suggest you check out the Fugoo, which we gave top marks to in our best Bluetooth speaker comparison.

While the Soundlink 3 is of the wireless ilk, there is an AUX input on the back of the speaker for those prefer to go wired or perhaps rocking something that isn’t Bluetooth compatible.

Adjacent to that is what appears to be a microUSB port for “service” (providing software updates), which is followed by the Soundlink 3’s power port.  Now, this is where things fall short. The power port, or AC plug, isn’t microUSB.  Which means you’ll need to keep a very specific plug on hand to charges the Soundlink III’s battery, which mind you lasts for 14 hours.  It would seem that this is the power plug of choice for Bose and its other products.  So in the event you own other Bose speakers of a portable nature, you’ll probably already have one of these.  But my point is that if you’re some where beyond the confines of your home, you’ll likely be SOL.  But perhaps it’s fair to say the Soundlink III isn’t designed to be taken into the wild.

Of note, there are optional silicon colors for the Soundlink III if you want to add a “splash of color”.

Bose Soundlink 3 Battery Life

Bose Soundlink 3 Charger
Unfortunately, you’ll need a Bose specific charger, not a microUSB charger.

The Soundlink III is spec’d for 14 hours of playback, though that is likely at 50% amplitude.  Nevertheless, and despite the Soundlink 3 not providing a battery indicator level via my iPhone, the battery life seems about right.  Though I would suggest erring on the side of caution, and recharge every  10 hours.

Bose Soundlink 3 Remote

Sorry, there isn’t one.  But why would you need one is perhaps the better question.  Volume and everything else can be controlled via your smartphone.

Soundlink 3 vs Big Jambox

It’s been sometime since I’ve used my Big Jambox.  But regardless of specs, the Sounlink 3 is far, far more portable.  And although that might lead one to assume the Big Jambox can produce what many call “better sound quality”, I’d have to disagree. The Soundlink 3 holds its own against the Big Jambox.  And more importantly, it’s far more portable.  If anything, the Big Jambox has “one up” on the Soundlink 3; it can charge via microUSB.

Sound Quality

Soundlink 3 Back
There is an AUX input on the back of the Soundlink 3 in case a friend’s device doesn’t have Bluetooth.

So yes, the Soundlink III is on the larger size when it comes to what is typically called a portable Bluetooth speaker.  And while I know this Bluetooth speaker isn’t necessarily marketed that way, it fringes on that class.  So with that in mind, I was very impressed with the Soundlink III’s range.  There are notable and varied lows, complemented by reasonable high, at least for a speaker of this “capacity”.

Unlike the Fugoo or the UE Boom, the Soundlink III is more uni-directional in terms of sound distribution.  But with that caveat seems to come greater amplitude than the aforementioned, along with a higher amplitude that could easily serve as one’s full time and only speaker.  Though I can’t recommend you do that, it could be a reasonable move, especially for those living in a studio apartment.

Bose Soundlink 3 Review Wrap Up

With top quality sound and an almost portable quality, the Soundlink III ranks fairly high in my book.  I like that it’s not so on trend with respects to the design that it will feel dated in 12 month’s time.  Which is to say I appreciate its retro like look, enabling it to blend in where ever it’s placed.  $299 is towards the top end of Bluetooth speakers.  But with that you get a Bluetooth speaker that can be used in a wider variety of scenarios thanks to its amplitude and spectrum of sound.

Back to: The Best Bluetooth Speakers

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Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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  1. 4.5

    Damn that sux so I’ve had my Soundlink III upon release I bought brand new got grey pleather sleve as well as a caseling travel bag Iam a 20 year union drywall finisher being so Linda (aka) Soundlink III has produced high quality beats 5days a week for almost 2 no distortion or anything

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  2. Fantastic speaker, battery replacement an issue with Bose Australia quoting $149 to replace a $60 battery after just over a year of use.

    1. Bob, there might be someone who can do it at a local repair shop for much much cheaper. You’ll likely just have to order the battery before hand. Just be careful there as we all know that batteries can be questionable when it comes to safety. See if you can by OEM or determine their supplier.

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