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There are a million Bluetooth speakers on the market, but JBL has always been close to the summit. Its Charge line of speakers is one of the few out there that lets you charge your smartphone while listening to music; hence the name Charge. Let’s see in this review how the latest device in this series behaves.
- JBL Charge 3
- Charging Block
- USB/Micro USB Cable
Design and build quality
I’ll say it: the JBL Charge 3 (Check on Amazon.com) is a great speaker. There is no way around it. At 213x87x88.5mm (8.38×3.42×3.48in), the speaker will take up quite a lot of space in your backpack or bag and, at 1.76 pounds, it will weigh you down. It’s bigger than the tiny JBL Flip 4 (Check on Amazon.com), but not as heavy as the JBL Xtreme (Check on Amazon.com).
Read more: JBL Flip 4 Review
However, what you get are 20 hours of battery life and waterproof certification.
The previous Charge 2 was only splashproof, but JBL took a step further with the Charge 3. This new model is IPX7 certified, which means you can immerse the speaker up to one meter (3.28ft) of water for 30 minutes.
A row of buttons on the side offers the usual set of controls: Bluetooth pairing, volume adjustment, and play/pause, which you can press twice in quick succession to skip a track, or press and hold to activate the Assistant on your smartphone.
The JBL Connect function allows you to connect other JBL products together to form a symphony of speakers that all play the same tune from the same source. Really handy.
On the back, we find the various ports: a micro USB for charging, a 3.5mm input and something we don’t usually see on other portable Bluetooth speakers: a standard size USB port.
The Charge 3 I tried was black, but it also comes in blue, red, gray, camouflage, red and teal.
Connectivity and microphone
The Bluetooth connection is incredible thanks to the 4.1 standards. Outside I managed to get a stable connection up to almost 18 meters (60ft). Inside the signal remains stable up to 10 meters (33ft).
It also has a built-in microphone that allows you to use it as a speakerphone for calls. Many of my friends and family didn’t even realize that I was talking to them through a speaker, it’s that good.
How it sounds
As I said, the JBL Charge 3 is a large portable speaker and fortunately, this results in great sound. This speaker is really good and you will not have any problems in a big room. Outside, it can project the sound far enough, but the best range is about 7 meters (23ft).
Although the device is almost cylindrical, the sound coming from the Charge 3 is quite unidirectional. This does not mean that it sounds bad if you are behind it, but you won’t be able to enjoy its 20W of power to the fullest unless you are in front of it.
This Charge 3 offers some of the deepest and most powerful basses I’ve ever heard in a portable wireless speaker. The bass response is best when placed on a flat surface, such as a table, that can help resonate part of the sound.
During testing, I listened to a wide variety of genres and was impressed by the way it handled everything it played. The speaker is loud, without any distortion and I was always impressed by the quality and quantity of bass while the treble never gets harsh.
It is maybe too “noisy” for an audiophile, but it is perfect for outside use.
The battery life is advertised at 20 hours, and this is more or less what we got during testing. Keep in mind though, that charging your devices will consume a few hours.
As we said earlier, you can use the Charge 3 as a power bank, thanks to the 6000mAh battery. It is not exactly a substitute for one, but it is certainly useful to have this extra feature.
The JBL Charge 3 (Check on Amazon.com) really strikes what I think is the perfect compromise between sound and size. Although it’s still quite portable, the UE Boom 2 (Check on Amazon.com) is a better option if you want a smaller device. But if you want the perfect mix, I can only recommend the Charge 3. It is powerful and has good sound performance, while not big enough to become cumbersome.
Read more: UE Boom 2 Review