year in review

This $15 Bluetooth Shower Speaker Is the Best Thing I Bought All Year

The SoundBot shower speaker suctioned to the wall of a shower, next to a shower caddy.
The SoundBot suctions to the wall of your shower and comes in six colors. Photo: Jen Trolio

If you’ve read any of our Strategist editor hauls, you’ll know that our writers and editors buy a lot of stuff, and even though we think carefully about each thing that goes into our carts, there are still standouts. To close out the year, we’ve asked our staffers to write about the best thing they bought in the past 12 months. Today, contributor Rio Viera-Newton on the inexpensive in-shower speaker that makes her excessively long showers actually fun.

Little known fact: I take extremely long showers. I spent years double-processing my dark-brown hair to platinum. So on wash days, extra hair care like deep-conditioning treatments are a must, otherwise I run the risk of breakage. The longer you leave moisturizing masks in your hair, the more effective they become, so sometimes I find myself standing in the shower for up to 45 minutes. Not to mention the extra time I spend cleansing my face, washing and exfoliating my body, and carefully shaving.

(If you’re raising an eyebrow at my water usage — which is completely fair! — know that I collect at least some of it in a bucket to use for mopping and watering plants. Or I turn off the water and just stand there in the heat and steam. I personally find this experience far less cumbersome than getting out, waiting around, then getting back in. Who wants to sit around the house cold, dripping wet, in a soggy towel?)

All this just to say I quite often find myself overcome with boredom while showering. I’m standing there doing nothing, and every minute I’m waiting for my hair mask to sink in feels like an hour. I’ve found myself reading the backs of hair-care bottles just to keep myself distracted (I did learn that a bottle of shampoo contains up to 85 percent water; isn’t that wild?). I tried to blast a podcast on a speaker in my bathroom, but for whatever reason the glass door of my shower is like a soundproof booth and I can barely hear a thing.

Back in October, as I was stepping out of another lengthy, tedious shower, an idea suddenly came to me: Why don’t I get a speaker that sits in the shower? I googled “shower-friendly speaker” and was quickly directed to a product on Amazon called the SoundBot — a water-resistant Bluetooth speaker designed especially for the shower. After reading a few rave reviews (“Lifechanging!” “I can’t bathe without it now!”), I decided I couldn’t live without it.

The speaker itself is about 3.5 inches in diameter and has a little suction cup on the back of it so it sticks to the wall of your shower and allows for easy access. Since you can place it at the perfect height, you don’t have to reach down to fiddle with it and risk accidentally slipping (I’m extremely clumsy, so I have to take these things into consideration). It also has a few control buttons — they’re about the size of a dime, so they’re easy to use even with slippery soapy fingers — including one to start and pause the sound as well as ones to fast forward and rewind. You can even answer calls on it, as it has a built-in microphone. I barely ever use this function, but I will admit it came in handy once in an emergency. Recently, my boyfriend’s mom came to stay with us and couldn’t believe how much it elevated our dingy little shower; I could hear her blasting classical music from the hallway.

The quality of the sound isn’t Sonos level or anything, but the SoundBot works in the ways you need it to. You can hear music or podcasts clearly, and it actually gets pretty loud (the next-song and previous-song buttons also work to control volume if you press them quickly, once). Sometimes I listen to my Spotify playlist if I’m getting ready to go out for the night — Madonna’s “Borderline” came on as I was shaving my legs the other day and felt like I was in an ’80s coming-of-age rom-com montage — and in the mornings I’ll listen to news like NPR’s “Up First” or BBC’s “Global News.” It also has a good battery life; I only need to charge it every few weeks, even with consistent daily use.

Since I’ve purchased this little speaker, my shower time has become not just tolerable but genuinely fun and entertaining. Recently, I found myself cracking up with soap in my eyes listening to My Favorite Murder after a long day. Because I’m now busy listening to shows, podcasts, and music in the shower, I find that I’m finally willing to let my Christophe Robin Prickly Pear hair mask sink in for 20-plus minutes rather than just ten — probably longer than I ever have. The SoundBot hasn’t just improved my shower experience; it’s also left my hair looking better than ever, too.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

This $15 Shower Speaker Is the Best Thing I Bought All Year