Since launching in 2013, Ultimate Ears Boom speakers have been some of the most recognizable Bluetooth speakers around, and they set some 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 UE Boom 2 and the addition of the larger MegaBoom and new software tricks, but things have not really been fundamentally changed since the original UE Boom came out. It's changing now.
Today, Ultimate Ears announced UE Boom 3 and MegaBoom 3. (UE is apparently skipping MegaBoom 2 to keep the brand consistent.) They mark the biggest update yet to UE speakers. UE Boom 3 will cost $ 1
The changes begin on the outside, where UE has updated the design. The rubber strip on the front where the plus / minus volume buttons were gone for a cleaner look and more even sound. Also new is the fabric, which has been updated to a beautiful looking two-tone style. (The blue / purple design is especially nice, it has an iridescent appearance that shines in sunlight.)
Visual style aside, the biggest update is a new "Magic Button" on top of Boom 3 and MegaBoom 3. On its easiest, Magic Button acts as a game / pause / jump button, which the UE Boom line has been missing in the last half decade. But the button does it more than that: Press and hold the magic button and it can turn on the speaker, connect the phone, and start playing one of four preset Apple Music (iOS) or Deezer (iOS and Android) playlists in one simple shot. Press and hold again and it will cycle to the next playlist in the list. Services like Spotify or Pandora are not supported at the moment, but UE says that multi-source agreements are in the work.
There are a few other quality updates that come with the new speakers. It's an integrated cloth loop to hang the speakers, both floats (in addition to the IP67 water and dust resistance) and the charging port has been moved to the side from the bottom so you can charge the speaker and still use it at the same time.
Unfortunately, the charger is quite frustratingly fixed as a micro USB connector instead of a more modern USB-C. UE says that the decision to hold on to the older port is due to the fact that the market is not ready yet with regard to USB-C adoption, which will probably continue to be the case if companies continue to release new Bluetooth speakers that hold it old standard
As you said, you probably will not use Micro USB anyway: UE has integrated support for its wireless Power Up charging base (sold separately for $ 39) that the company introduced with Alexa-powered Blast and MegaBlast speakers, sticking around as a separate product line.
Photography by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge