JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4: Is the upgrade worth it?

The JBL Charge series of Bluetooth portable speakers are a great option for enjoying your favorite music when out of the house. Not too big and not too small, JBL Charge speakers offer some great features that will keep your music banging anywhere. We’ll talk about how the JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4 compare to each other.

JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4: The Basics

JBL has a track record of producing some truly cool speakers in its more than 75 years of existence, and the Charge series is no exception. Essentially, the JBL Charge 3 and Charge 4 are two very similar speakers. Similar sound, dimensions, weight, and many other features, but “similar” is not “same”. See for yourself.

FeaturesJBL Charge 3JBL Charge 4
Dimensions (in)8.38 x 3.42 x 3.48 in8.7 x 3.7 x 3.7 in
Dimensions (cm)21.3 x 8.7 x 8.85 cm22.1 x 9.4 x 9.4 cm
Weight (lbs)1.76 lbs 2.12 lbs
Weight (kg)0.8 kg0.96 kg
Interface1. Bluetooth pairing
2. Volume up/down
3. JBL Connect+ button
4. Play/pause/answer call/voice assistant access
1. Bluetooth pairing
2. Volume up/down
3. JBL Connect+ button
4. Play/pause
WaterproofSubmergible for up to 30 minutes in 3 ft. of water (IPX7)Submergible for up to 30 minutes in 3 ft. of water (IPX7)
Connectivity• Bluetooth v4.1
• USB-A port for charging other devices (power bank)
• Micro USB-B port for charging the JBL Charge 3 speaker
• 3.5mm audio input (for older devices) 
• Bluetooth v4.2
• USB-A port for charging other devices (power bank)
• USB-C port for charging the JBL Charge 4 speaker
• 3.5mm audio input (for older devices) 
Voice Assistant and SpeakerphoneHas a built-in microphone for speakerphone use or access to Google’s Assistant/Apple’s SiriNo
PairingOriginally used JBL Connect to pair with one other compatible JBL speaker. You can update it via the JBL Portable app to pair using the JBL Connect+ protocol.Uses JBL Connect+ to pair with 100+ compatible JBL Speakers.
DriversTwo 2 x 50 mm transducersOne 50 x 90 mm oval transducer
Output Power2 x 10W RMS30W RMS
Frequency Range65Hz–20kHz60Hz–20kHz
Playback time & Battery (advertised)20 hrs (6,000mAh)20hrs (7500mAh)
Charging Time4.5 hrs4 hrs
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon
Our OpinionA nice-sounding and affordable speaker.Not much of an upgrade when compared to its predecessor, but it does sound a bit better.

JBL Charge 3

JBL Charge 3
JBL Charge 3

The JBL Charge 3 is a high-powered portable Bluetooth speaker with stereo sound and a power bank to keep you on the go longer. Now a ten-year-old model, it can still carry a small party for up to 20 hours, has a mic for your speakerphone with Voice Assistant, and can be submerged completely in water.

Pros:

  • IPX7 waterproof
  • 3.5 mm audio cable input
  • Powerbank
  • USB power cable adapter included

Cons:

  • Slower charging time
  • JBL Connect (not plus)

JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 4
JBL Charge 4

The JBL Charge 4 offers 30 W of full-spectrum, powerful sound, and a power bank you can use to charge your other devices on the go. It uses the newer, now dominant USB-C type charger and can keep your party going for up to 20 hours without a recharge. It outshines the Charge 3 in pairing with other JBL speakers as it uses the newer JBL Connect+ protocol. 

Pros:

  • IPX7 waterproof
  • 3.5 mm audio cable input
  • Powerbank
  • USB-C type cable

Cons:

  • Charging adapter not included
  • Mono sound

Read our other article to find out how the JBL Charge 4 compares to the Charge 5.

JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4: Features Face to Face

Sound quality

Sound quality matters most when choosing a speaker. Looks are rarely the reason for choosing a speaker. When comparing the JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4, there’s not a lot of difference in their sound. The JBL Charge 3 has two transducers that offer stereo sound, while the JBL Charge 4 has one oval transducer typical of the newer JBL portable models.

The bass on the Charge 3 is a tiny bit deeper, which I found strange as the Charge 4 has a lower frequency range (65 vs 60), but that’s the verdict. The overall soundstage of the Charge 4 is better than that of the Charge 3, offering a somewhat improved sense of instrument placement and separation, but again, not much of a difference.

Winner: JBL Charge 4

Design and build

As with all JBL portable speakers, both the Charge 3 and Charge 4 have the same rugged wire mesh exterior casing and rubber caps around their passive radiators for impact reduction. Both look very similar in terms of their stands, shapes, battery indicators, button positions, USB port positions, and power bank ports.

Their stands keep them safe from rolling over. The battery indicators are just above the stands before the wire mesh bodies start. Five LED lights go out one by one as the battery drains.

Winner: Draw

Dimensions

The size difference is nominal, with the Charge 4 about a quarter-inch longer, wider, and deeper than the Charge 3.

Winner: Draw

Weight and portability

The JBL Charge 4 is less than a quarter-pound heavier than its predecessor, weighing in at 2.12 while the Charge 3 weighs 1.76 lbs. As we’re talking about portable speakers, the extra weight is a drag.

Winner: JBL Charge 3

Durability

JBL IPX7
JBL IPX7

JBL makes all of its portable Bluetooth speakers so that they can take a beating and keep on jamming. The JBL Charge 3 and Charge 4 are no exceptions. Thanks to their durable, waterproof casings you can go dancing in the rain, by the pool, and you can even risk dropping them in the pool as well (not in the deep end). Just remember to pull them out before 30 minutes are up.

Winner: Draw

Aesthetics

JBL Charge 3 colors
JBL Charge 3 colors

The JBL Charge 3 comes in only five colors, while the Charge 4 offers nine, two of which are classic camouflage and black, white, and gray camouflage. The passive radiators tend to vibrate more on the Charge 4, so if you’re a fan of speaker movement, the Charge 4 will be more to your taste. They also look cooler due to the JBL signature exclamation mark on them.

Winner: JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4: Connectivity

One of the most important features of a portable Bluetooth speaker is connectivity. How do they connect to other speakers, how do they charge, and how do they connect to input devices? These are all important questions to answer when choosing a portable speaker. So, let’s find out.

Bluetooth connection

The JBL Charge 4 was slightly upgraded in terms of Bluetooth, from v4.1 to v4.2. Not much of a difference, but I guess it was what was available when they were first designed by JBL.

Winner: JBL Charge 4

USB connection

The USB charger connector was also upgraded in the Charge 4 compared to the Charge 3. The Charge 3 had a Micro USB charge port, which JBL upgraded to a USB-C port in the Charge 4. This is a definite plus as the USB-C type has become the dominant connection option today.

Both the JBL Charge 3 and Charge 4 have standard USB-A ports for connecting other devices to their built-in power banks.

Winner: JBL Charge 4

3.5 mm input

This is a neat feature lost in the newest JBL models. Sometimes you really need a 3.5 mm audio input port to connect an older device that doesn’t have Bluetooth (I know I have a couple laying around). In any case, it’s nice to have the option should the need arise.

Winner: Draw

JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4: Battery

JBL Charge 4 Charging
JBL Charge 4 Charging

When comparing the JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4, you’d think the more mAh (milliampere/hour) that the Charge 4 offers gives it the upper hand, but you’d be wrong. This is because it uses that extra capacity to level out its playback time to the same as its predecessor.

Battery type

The JBL Charge 3 and Charge 4 both have Lithium-ion Polymer batteries, just like virtually every modern device known to man. The Charge 3 has 6000mAh while the Charge 4 has 7,500mAh, though we already explained it’s not an upgrade in terms of playback time.

Winner: Draw

Battery life

Both the JBL Charge 3 and Charge 4 have 20 hours of advertised playback time, but that differs depending on music type, volume, battery age, number of charging cycles in their lifetime, and so on.

Winner: Draw

Battery charge time

This is where the JBL Charge 4 is slightly better. It charges back up to full capacity in 4 hours, while the JBL Charge 3 takes 4.5 hours to charge, as I said, slightly.

Winner: JBL Charge 4

Power bank

JBL Powerbank
JBL Powerbank

Both the JBL Charge 3 and Charge 4 have power banks that allow you to charge your other devices while on the road, and you can use the entire battery capacities of both speakers to do so. The JBL Charge 4 wins on sheer capacity.

Winner: JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4: Additional Features

Software

JBL Portable App
JBL Portable App

The designated app for JBL portable devices is called JBL Portable (duh), formally called JBL Connect. You can use the app to adjust settings for your JBL speaker, unlock additional features (some speakers only), and manage pairing with other devices. JBL keeps the app regularly updated, so you shouldn’t have any worries.

The app currently allows you to update the JBL Charge 3 to use JBL Connect+ instead of its original JBL Connect protocol.

One thing to keep in mind is that JBL seems to be dropping some older speakers from support, and it’s a safe bet to assume that the Charge 3 will be dropped sooner than the Charge 4.

Winner: JBL Charge 4

Accessories

Both Speakers come with USB charging cables, though the JBL Charge 4 doesn’t have an adapter in the box, leaving you to rely on any old one you might have in your possession.

You can purchase additional accessories for the JBL Charge 3 on Amazon, including hard cases for transport, and silicone cases with handles or with a strap for easy carrying. The same goes for the JBL Charge 4, with the silicone handle cases, strap cases, and hard cases listed for a slightly higher price than those for the JBL Charge 3.

Winner: Draw

JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4: Standout Features

The one thing the JBL Charge 3 has over the Charge 4 is its microphone, allowing you to use the speaker as a speakerphone or to connect to your Voice Assistant, be it Siri or Google’s Voice Assistant.

Winner: JBL Charge 3

JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4: Price

You can find the JBL Charge 3 ranging from $99 to almost $120 on Amazon. The JBL Charge 4’s price ranges from $115 to $130 on Amazon. This is an almost insignificant difference, and you might as well fork out the extra $10 to get the newer model. But, if you are on a really tight budget, you won’t lose any particular features if you choose the JBL Charge 3.

Winner: JBL Charge 3

Conclusion

Like with all upgrades, you win some, you lose some. But this upgrade in our JBL Charge 3 vs Charge 4 comparison, seems to have us winning more than losing, apart from the microphone (which I’m guessing no one at a party would even use).

So, as we said, if you’re on a budget, go with the Charge 3. You’ll get almost the same sound quality, a bit less power, and the addition of being able to talk to your virtual voice assistant or friends through your speaker.

But, if the $10 difference means nothing to you, go with the newer Charge 4. You’ll get more power, slightly better sound, longer-lasting support from JBL, and the built-in ability to connect to a hundred other JBL Connect+ compatible speakers.

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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