Since they launched in 2013, Ultimate Ears’ Boom speakers have been some of the most recognizable Bluetooth speakers around, and they set something of a standard for what a rugged, portable speaker should look and sound like. UE has updated a few things here and there over the years with the UE Boom 2 and the addition of the larger MegaBoom and new software tricks, but things haven’t really fundamentally changed since the original UE Boom came out. That changes now.
Today, Ultimate Ears announced the UE Boom 3 and MegaBoom 3. (UE is seemingly skipping the MegaBoom 2 to keep the branding consistent.) They mark the biggest update yet to UE’s speakers. The UE Boom 3 will cost $149 when it hits stores in early to mid-September, while the larger MegaBoom 3 will run for $199.
The changes start on the outside, where UE has refreshed the design. The rubber stripe on the front where the plus / minus volume buttons were is gone for a cleaner look and more uniform sound. Also new is the fabric, which has been updated to a lovely-looking two-tone style. (The blue / purple design is especially nice; it has an iridescent look that shimmers in sunlight. )
Visual style aside, the biggest update is a new “Magic Button” on top of the Boom 3 and MegaBoom 3. At its simplest, the Magic Button works as a play / pause / skip button, something that the UE Boom line has been sorely lacking for the past half-decade. But the button does more than that: press and hold the Magic Button, and it can turn on the speaker, connect to your phone, and start playing one of four preset Apple Music (on iOS) or Deezer Premium (on Android) playlists in a single shot. Press and hold it again, and it’ll cycle to the next playlist on the list. Services like Spotify or Pandora aren’t currently supported, but UE says that deals for additional sources are in the works.
There are a few other quality-of-life updates coming with the new speakers. There’s an integrated cloth loop to hang the speakers from, they both float (in addition to the IP67 water and dust resistance rating), and the charging port has been moved to the side from the bottom so that you can charge the speaker and still use it at the same time.
Unfortunately, that charger is rather frustratingly stuck as a Micro USB plug instead of a more modern USB-C one. UE says that the decision to stick with the older port is due to the market not being ready yet in terms of USB-C adoption, something that will likely continue to remain the case if companies keep releasing new Bluetooth speakers that cling to the old standard.
That said, you probably won’t want to use Micro USB anyway: UE has integrated support for its wireless Power Up charging base (sold separately for $39) that the company introduced with its Alexa-equipped Blast and MegaBlast speakers, which are sticking around as a separate product line.
Photography by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge
Correction: Access to Deezer Premium playlists with the Magic Button will only be available on Android at launch, with iOS support planned for the future.