UE Boom 2 vs Ultimate Ears Boom 3: Full Comparison of the Upgrade

We loved and happily recommended the original UE Boom as well as its follow-up, the UE Boom 2. Hard acts to follow, but here comes the Ultimate Ears Boom 3. Has Logitech been able to find areas for improvement with this upgrade?

A bit, yes. We’ll do a full comparison of the UE Boom 2 and the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 — as you’ll see they sound quite similar, nearly identical, to most, and a few features have been gained, a few lost. Either one would be a great portable speaker for travel.

Update History of This Article

This article was originally published on October 17, 2018. The photos were updated on April 14, 2019.

Side-by-Side Comparison: UE Boom 2 vs Ultimate Ears Boom 3

The Ultimate Ears Boom 2 is just slightly taller and narrower than the newer Boom 3.

Ultimate Ears Makes Another Step Forward with the Boom 3

While we wouldn’t drop money on upgrading from the Boom 2 to the Boom 3, there are some improvements to consider if you’re deciding between the two, for example if you see a price drop on used or refurbished Boom 2s.

The Boom 3 Gets a Snazzier, Sparkly New Look

It’s difficult to do proper justice to the changes in photos, so here’s our best attempt to describe them:

  • The oversized volume up and down buttons are still there.
  • The fabric for the Boom 3 is more tightly woven and shimmers like a silk shirt. Instead of the Boom 2’s loud but solid colors (or some print designs), the Boom 3 has two-toned fabric that creates a glimmering surface.
  • The Boom 3’s micro-USB-B plug is on the back of the unit instead of the bottom as with the Boom 2, so the Boom 3 can be charged standing up, which is more convenient. Even better, the Boom 3 can be plopped down on a charging dock (though this is unfortunately sold separately and rather expensive).
  • The Boom 2 has a threaded tripod mount allowing it to be mounted on a claw-grip tripod or any tripod. Definitely cool. The Boom 3 loses this.
  • If you prefer to hang your speaker, the Boom 2 has a metal D-hook, and the Boom 3 has a fabric loop. You may use these with a carabiner.
  • The Boom 3 is just slightly larger and heavier than the Boom 2.

Boom 3 Upgrade’s Features Gained, and Features Lost

The Boom 3 on my kitchen countertop.

The Boom 3 now has:

  • A “magic button” for pausing or playing directly on top of the speaker. You can skip tracks with a double touch, and select/skip playlists with a long press (this later function is strangely for Deezer or Apple Music only).
  • The Boom 2 is IPX7 waterproof and so can be submerged for up to 30 minutes with no harm to the unit. The Boom 3 is IP67 rated, which means that it’s completely sealed off from dust as well. The Boom 3 also is built to withstand drops at one meter.

The Boom 3 lacks these features that its predecessor Boom 2 had:

  • A speakerphone function
  • A 3.5 mm input

We don’t think Bluetooth speakerphones ever get used really, but we’re sad to see the 3.5 mm input go, which can be convenient for attaching older electronics.

Both the Ultimate Ears Boom 2 and Boom 3 run on the same dedicated smartphone Apple/Android apps from the manufacturer Logitech. With the app you can do EQ customizations, use your speaker as an alarm clock, and more.

Our favorite feature of the apps is the ability to create stereo sound if you have two of the same Ultimate Ears speakers, or to link together any and all Boom, Boom 2, Boom 3, Megaboom, and Megaboom 3 speakers you have to create a giant mobile party.

Neither the Boom 2 nor 3 is a “smart speaker”, a technology that we really hope will die now that you can communicate with Alexa touchscreen assistants, for example. But if you really want to talk to your Ultimate Ears speaker, go instead for the  Ultimate Ears Blast (which we compare to the Boom 2 here).

The D hook on the Boom 2. It unscrews to reveal a tripod mount. This is replaced by a fabric hang loop on the Ultimate Ears Boom 3.

The Ultimate Ears Boom 3’s Very Minor Sound Update

Both the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 and its predecessor sound great; the improvements to the Boom 3 are mainly in performance at top volumes.

We’ve done as usual a survey of top critical reactions to the sound of the new Boom 3 and mainly audio critics feel there is not much of a difference from the Boom 2. Some even said there was no difference. Others felt that the bass was a bit more convincing and that performance at the very top volumes was improved, with less distortion.

Regardless, the Boom 2 was for years at or near the top of the charts in terms of sound quality for top Bluetooth speakers, whether we’re talking about reviews from audiophiles, tech sites, or international consumer organizations. One of the words most often used to describe both the Boom 2 and the Boom 3 is “punchy”; there’s a trademark dynamism there, and an impressive separation of instruments and balance for such a small speaker. To date, nobody is doing it better at this very small, beer-can size and shape.

The original UE Boom was the first speaker to really do 360-degree sound, which is also now seen to some extent with the Bose Revolve and Revolve+ speakers. The Boom 2 and Boom 3 continue to excel at sounding great no matter which side of them you are on, so they’re ideal to be placed in the middle of a room or an outdoor gathering.

Ultimate Ears Boom 2 vs Boom 3 Wrap-Up: What’s Better for You, and Where Are the Best Prices?

Since these speakers are so similar, it’s unlikely that you’ll choose based on features, but rather will just go for a good deal.

We don’t generally recommend used Bluetooth speakers as there is no way to no how many cycles the battery has already been through, and thus how long it will last. That said, I have an Ultimate Ears speaker that I’ve been charging and using regularly for more than five years and no battery issues to speak of so far. And there are sometimes good deals on used Boom 2s on Amazon that could be well worth it. If I spotted a Boom 2 for $40-50 there I wouldn’t hesitate to grab it, as the savings is significant.

If you buy on Amazon, click around to see different color options as sometimes certain colors can be quite discounted. We try to link to the cheapest colors, but things change.

Ultimate Ears Boom 2
Formerly the best-sounding travel speaker of its small, beer-can size
Ultimate Ears Boom 3
Currently the best-sounding such speaker; slight improvements in ruggedness