Update: Ultimate Ears has now confirmed that the Wonderboom 3 supports Bluetooth 5.2.
It’s no secret that I’ve been looking forward to the UE Wonderboom 3 for years. Because? Because 2019’s Wonderboom 2 was just so good – even now, it’s fine as one of the best Bluetooth speakers we’ve had the pleasure of testing.
And finally, today, it has arrived! The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 comes in four new jackets: Joyous Bright (which is actually gray), Hyper Pink, Performance Blue and Active Black – all made with a minimum of 31% certified post-consumer plastic.
The crisp, cheeky audio should now last up to 14 hours – that is. an hour longer than the Wonderboom 2 – and the mobile Bluetooth range is up to 40m versus the second-generation Wonderboom’s 30m range.
But that’s it, folks. That’s where the update list ends, as far as I can see.
As with the Wonderboom 2, the Wonderboom 3 still floats. It also has the same ‘external boost’ tree button on the bottom and has the similar IP67 rating for dust and water ingress. But it also has the same micro USB charger which was relatively old news even in 2019 – so anyone wanting to carry a USB-C charger to rule them will be out of luck.
Ultimate Ears was a little wary of the Bluetooth version supported at launch, and as far as I can tell, there’s also been no change to the driver configuration under its new eco-friendly jacket – no racetrack-shaped driver (as seen in the last slew of of speakers), without a few extra watts of power, nothing.
I’ll be honest: I’m disappointed.
Did I mention that the Wonderboom 3 is also not compatible with older Wonderbooms? So if you have a Wonderboom 2 in action, you can’t chain it to your shiny new Wonderboom 3 for bigger mono or stereo sound.
Opinion: Wonderboom 3 is woefully low on updates, and I don’t think it will wash away
Ultimate Ears is leading the way with the sustainability angle here, but as a lover of their products, I expected more.
Having held onto the Wonderboom 3 (expect a full review soon), the new colors aside, I find it indistinguishable from its big brother – and therein lies the problem.
Where’s the USB-C fast charging? And would it be too much to ask EU engineers to offer their avid fan base a companion app? That may have opened the door to multi-room connectivity using these affordable speakers, or enhancing the sound with its newest Hyperboom – soon to be released in a new white colorway.
Don’t get me wrong, Hyperboom is a very talented product, and the Wonderboom 2 was awarded in 2019 during my tenure at What Hi-Fi?, which makes this 2022 update even more disappointing.
In the three years since 2019, Bluetooth 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, and even 5.3 have appeared in competing models and new wireless headphones, along with thousands of the latest Bluetooth speakers with ever-better power handling, better resistance, microphones, and more. extra perks like USB-A ports to charge your phone while you dance. And that just…well, doesn’t seem like enough.
I understand that the EU’s focus has been on using more eco-friendly materials, but if you choose not to upgrade, you haven’t contributed to the problem now, have you? The fast-fashion nature of consumerism is certainly only compounded here because, I believe, with these meager updates (an extra hour of gameplay, an extra 10m of range) few fans will buy a third-gen model.
Ultimate Ears has released the Wonderboom 3 at the same asking price as the inaugural Wonderboom and Wonderboom 2: $99 / £89 / AU$149. Will it be the latest addition to our best waterproof speaker buying guide? I can’t see this happening – because a key update (and let’s be clear, I mean the loader) has not been done.
Is it worth buying a new Wonderboom 3? Obviously, you have to judge for yourself (and I love that pink color), but for me, the answer is no. You get a micro USB charging cable in the box – that’s handy because I don’t know if I still have one at home – but if you like your tech to move with time, this is an upgrade to miss.