I recently took a vacation and decided to buy the JBL Clip Speaker so I could play some tunes over candle-lit dinners with my cat. And I was super impressed by the high quality build and loudness that this little thing produced. But what if, unlike me, you have friends with whom you’d like to share your music? Perhaps, the larger, JBL Charge will better suit your needs. The question now becomes, do you go for the Charge 3 or the newer, Charge 4. At this point in time, they are selling for the same price, so it almost seems like a no brainer. It’s true that prices of older models inevitably drop, but your Christmas party can’t wait till next Christmas. So, let’s look at the differences between the two speaker models in this JBL Charge 3 vs JBL Charge 4 Review.
JBL Charge 3 vs JBL Charge 4 Review
IN the BOX
DESIGN and FEATURES
If you’ve read our other JBL reviews, you’ll notice that we shamelessly rave on about how well built their products are. And that is indeed true for the Charge 3 and 4. They both offer the same fabric and rubber padding, which effectively insulates the speaker. Both speakers are also waterproof. But the Charge 4 is no more waterproof than the Charge 3. However, one difference in the potential longevity of your speaker is the USB connection. The Charge 3 uses a micro-USB to USB connection. But the Charge 4 uses a USB-C to USB. And generally, USB-C is considered to be the sturdier way to go.
The Charge 4 offers a slightly upgraded Bluetooth Version 4.2 from the Charge 3’s Version 4.1. So, basically, no difference. Now, if the Charge 4 upgraded to Bluetooth Version 5, then we’d have something to talk about.
Both, the Charge 3 and the Charge 4 offer 20 hours of battery life. The Charge 3 takes 4.5 hours juice up, while the Charge 4 takes only 4 hours to fully replenish. Then again, if you’re having 20 hour bbq’s, I doubt you’re pressed for time.
Both speakers have the ability to charge smartphones.
Curiously, the Charge 3 can connect up to 3 smartphones, while the Charge 4 advertises as only being able to connect 2. To be honest, I didn’t put this to the test. I ran out of phones, then my mother called, then my boss was up my ass, etc. But if you find that the Charge 4 does connect to more than 2 smartphones, shoot us an email.
Both speakers allow you to connect to other JBL Connect+ enabled speakers. So, theoretically, you could buy a hundred JBL speakers and pepper them throughout your house. They will all play in sync. One thing to note, though: you will have to update your Charge 3 in the Connect app to make it support Connect +. Also, know that with Connect + is only compatible with Connect + speakers.
The Charge 4 is slightly larger and heavier than the Charge 3.
Both speakers come with charging cables. But the Charge 3 also comes with a 5V USB adapter (that’s the little box that you plug into the wall). For the Charge 4, you’ll have to use the adapter from your smartphone or tablet. Again, the Charge 4 employs the soon to be universal USB-C connection, while the Charge 3 is stuck in the micro-USB age. The nice thing about USB-C is that you can plug it in any which way. There’s no such thing as upside down. The micro-USB, on the other hand, requires a bit of fiddling, which is hard when you’re plastered on Corona and drowning.
The Charge 3 offers brighter and generally more primary colors than the Charge 4, which has more muted and refined, “adult” colors. Yes, boring.
The other small difference is the bass radiator. If you like to watch things vibrate, then the Charge 4 might be a more fun time. When the bass thumps, the radiator on the Charge 4 is more animated than it is on the Charge 3. Of course, this is only important to us stoners who tend to zone out at parties.
Anyone who knows JBL will tell you that the sound is usually on the bassier side. Listening to both speakers, I actually expected them to be a little subbier. But it wasn’t over the top. According to these speakers’ respective specifications, the Charge 4 should offer slightly lower frequencies than the Charge 3. But I played some hip-hop on both speakers, and the difference is nominal, if there’s any difference at all. Certain sound frequencies are not audible to the human ear. And I’m not a whale. In terms of volume, I almost maxed out both of them, and they reached about the same volume. Based on the slightly larger size of the Charge 4, my guess is that it might pump up to a slightly higher volume. But I’m not willing to get tinnitus to find out. Trust me. These babies do get pretty loud.
However, there’s a really big difference in the amount of clarity that the JBL Charge 4 offers. In fact, the Charge 3 sounded really cloudy in comparison. And for that reason alone, I’d go for the Charge 4.
The two major differences between the Charge 3 and Charge 4 is level of clarity and USB connection. Two great reasons to upgrade to the Charge 4.
You can find these boomy little speakers for the best price at:
Audio 46: JBL Charge 4 (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount)
Audio 46: JBL Charge 3 (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount)