JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5: The Subtle Differences

I recently wrote a comparison of two other JBL portable speakers. After that, I heard one of these larger JBL speakers in action, and I was very impressed. Now I’m thinking bigger is better! So, I decided to compare the JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5.

Like I said before, you can’t go wrong with JBL. Since its inception, the JBL company has offered nothing but the best for its customers. It outperforms many other brands in sound quality alone (as if you need any other criteria when dealing with speakers?).

The JBL Charge 4 is still an excellent speaker, so let’s take a look at what JBL did to improve when they rolled out the JBL Charge 5.

JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5: The Basics

When you look at the JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5, you’re looking at two very similar portable speakers. They weigh almost exactly the same. Their dimensions are also almost exactly the same. Their power? You almost guessed it, but output power is one of their differences. So, what are some of the other differences between the JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5?

There is a slight design difference between the two, and some of the tech features vary as well. One of the more meaningful differences (which you can’t see) is the Bluetooth technology that they use. Let’s take a closer look at these speakers.

FeaturesJBL Charge 4JBL Charge 5
WaterproofIP67 water and dustproofIPX7 waterproof
Weight2.12 lbs. (965 g)2.11 lbs. (960 g)
Dimensions8.66 x 3.74 x 3.66 in (220 x 95 x 93 mm)8.70 x 3.76 x 3.67 in (223 x 97 x 94 mm)
Bluetooth Versionv4.2v5.1
Bluetooth Frequency2.402 – 2.480GHz2400 – 2483.5 MHz
Bluetooth Transmitter Power0-20dBm≤ 20 dBm (EIRP)
Speaker Power Output30W RMS30W RMS for woofer + 10W RMS for tweeter
Frequency Response65 Hz – 20.000 Hz65 Hz – 20.000 Hz
Battery capacity7500mAh7500mAh
Advertised Playback TimeUp to 20 hoursUp to 20 hours
Charging time4 hours4 hours
Auto-power off
USB PortMicro USBUSB-C
3.5mm Audio Jack
ConnectivityJBL Connect+JBL PartyBoost
Charging Power Bank
PriceCheck Price at AmazonCheck Price at Amazon
My OpinionIt packs a punch. You won’t regret it if you choose this model.Even better sound quality than its predecessor.

JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 4 Front
JBL Charge 4

The JBL Charge 4 is a great little speaker that offers 30W of output power, JBL Connect+, Bluetooth 4.2, and a 3.5mm audio jack. There’s not much you can do to improve this design, but JBL managed to do so anyway. You can purchase the JBL Charge 4 in one of 12 colors, including two different camouflage designs.

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Powerbank
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • JBL Connect+

Cons:

  • One speaker (lower output power)
  • Not dustproof

Related Read: JBL Charge 4 vs Flip 5: Which bluetooth speaker is better?

JBL Charge 5

JBL Charge 5 Front
JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is not much different than the previous model in terms of size and shape. It does pack a heftier punch, thanks to its additional speaker. Released only a year ago, the Charge 5 is still a top-shelf product. The JBL Charge 5 comes in only 8 colors, one of which is camouflage.

Pros:

  • Two speakers (woofer and tweeter)
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Dust and waterproof
  • JBL PartyBoost

Cons:

  • No 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity limited to newer devices

Also Read: Our comparison article on the JBL Flip 4 vs Flip 5

JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5: Features Face to Face

Sound quality

Sound is the No.1 feature I consider when choosing speakers. Both the JBL Charge 4 and Charge 5 offer great sound quality. The JBL Charge 5 has an additional 10W tweeter that makes an indisputable difference, freeing the mid-tone driver from producing high tones. The result is a beefier sound on both ends.

JBL Charge 5 Side
JBL Charge 5 Side

The JBL Charge 4 only has one driver that handles all tone ranges. It still offers great sound and is certainly a sound investment (no pun intended). The difference between the two reminded me of the “Loudness” button found on most vintage receivers. At the press of that button, the low and high frequencies would get a significant boost. I can’t help but feel that’s what’s been done here.

Whatever the cause, the result is delightful. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t heard it in action. The JBL Charge 5 truly offers excellent sound quality and depth in all of its tones.

Winner: JBL Charge 5

Design, build, and durability

Both the JBL Charge 4 and the Charge 5 feature the same wire mesh covering. This gives JBL’s line of portable speakers its distinctive look while keeping all its internal parts safe. The difference between their casings is that the Charge 4 is waterproof while the Charge 5 is water and dustproof.

JBL Charge 4 Buttons
JBL Charge 4 Buttons

The rubber caps on the ends of the speakers stick out on the JBL Charge 5, unlike on the JBL Charge 4. If you stand the Charge 5 on its side, it will lean to one side. Not very visually pleasing, in my opinion.

Still, the caps feel like they can take more of a pounding on the Charge 5, as do the external passive radiators. The Charge 4 is tough, but I think the Charge 5 is tougher.

The stands of each speaker are what caught my eye the most (who would place a speaker on its side anyway?). Both feature a stand on their bottom side; it’s just more prominent on the Charge 4.

The JBL Charge 4 has a flat base stand that is roughly 4 inches wide. In comparison, the JBL Charge 5 has ridged rubber lines that run diagonally on that same location. This means that the Charge 5 is a little less stable than the Charge 4.

Both the JBL Charge 4 and the Charge 5 are waterproof, a signature trait of this line of JBL speakers. The Charge 5 has an additional bonus – it’s dustproof. In addition to submerging it underwater, you can roll it around in the dust, and its internal components will be fine.

Winner: Charge 5

Weight and dimensions

The weight and dimensions of the Charge 4 and Charge 5 are almost identical. There’s a 5-gram weight difference (which is 0.17 ounces) between the two models, and the lighter of the two is the JBL Charge 5.

Weighing less doesn’t mean that the JBL Charge 5 is smaller than the Charge 4. It’s actually slightly bigger. The average size differs by 1 mm, but we can write that up to the protruding rubber caps.

Winner: Draw

JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5: Connectivity

Apart from sound quality, the most crucial thing a portable speaker offers us is connectivity. How do I connect it to other devices, how do I charge it, and can I hook a phone onto it using a cable? These are all important questions when choosing a portable speaker.

Bluetooth

JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth Pairing
JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth Pairing

The JBL Charge 4 uses Bluetooth v4.2 to pair with other devices. This limits its JBL Connect+ protocol to roughly 30 feet (10m). The JBL Charge 5 uses Bluetooth v5.1 to pair, meaning faster speeds and larger distances. Up to 50 yards, to be specific (45m).

Note that these distances are shorter when you have obstacles between speakers and devices. It also offers better transmitter power than its predecessor adding to the sound quality.

USB ports

Both the JBL Charge 4 and Charge 5 have USB ports and the ability to charge other devices.

Charging

JBL Charge 5 Back
JBL Charge 5 Back

The JBL Charge 4 uses a Micro USB port and cable for charging, while the Charge 5 uses USB-C.

Other connectivity

The lack of the 3.5mm audio jack is maybe the only thing I don’t like about the JBL Charge 5. Not that it’s essential, but I do like having the option to connect devices using it. JBL Charge 4 would win in this subsection.

Winner: JBL Charge 5

JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5: Battery

JBL Charge 4 Charging
JBL Charge 4 Charging

Battery life

Both the JBL Charge 4 and Charge 5 have Lithium-ion Polymer 7500mAh batteries, resulting in a whopping 20 hours of playback time. This, of course, depends on volume levels and music type (as stated by JBL).

Battery charge time

Both the JBL Charge 4 and Charge 5 take 4 hours to charge (as advertised by JBL).

Powerbank

JBL Charge 5 Powerbank
JBL Charge 5 Powerbank

Both the JBL Charge 4 and Charge 5 can act as power banks for other devices. You can charge any device via USB cable by connecting it to the USB port found on either speaker. This lowers music playback time.

Winner: Draw

Portability

Both the JBL Charge 4 and the Charge 5 are easily portable. Weighing just over two pounds and with a length roughly the width of a letter-size paper, they are both pretty easy to carry. Their stands allow you to place either of them safely wherever you choose.

Winner: Draw

JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5: Standout Features

JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5 is a tough battle. They’re pretty much matched up until we get to their “party protocols.”

JBL Charge 4: JBL Connect+ protocol

JBL Charge 4 Connect+
JBL Charge 4 Connect+

JBL Connect+ is the protocol that JBL used for its older devices, allowing you to pair more than 100 JBL Connect+ devices together. It was a great idea, and the tech worked fine. So, why the innovation or evolution into the PartyBoost protocol?

JBL Charge 5: JBL PartyBoost protocol

JBL Charge 5 PartyBoost
JBL Charge 5 PartyBoost

JBL PartyBoost offers you the same thing that Connect+ did. You can connect more than 100 JBL speakers that support the PartyBoost protocol. Sounds familiar, right? You might think this is just a complication, but you’d be wrong.

Placeholder: JBL PartyBoost App

Due to the restraints of Bluetooth v4.2, which the Connect+ protocol uses, the distance between speakers was an issue. As I mentioned above, Bluetooth v5.1 offers much larger distances, creating the need for a new protocol. This is the only explanation I can come up with when pondering why they chose to create a new protocol.

Winner: JBL Charge 5

Price

The price tags on these speakers are modest as far as speakers go. The JBL Charge 4 ranges roughly between $99 and $115 on Amazon. The JBL Charge 5 ranges around the $175 mark. Some of these offers include cases (raising prices), some are renewed (dropping prices), and some are new but with no bells and whistles.

Winner: JBL Charge 4

Conclusion

Both of these speakers are great, there’s no doubt about it. So, how do you choose between JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5? If you’re on a budget, then you could opt for the JBL Charge 4, saving you money in the short term. Don’t forget that the Charge 4 has some outdated software (JBL Connect+) and hardware (Bluetooth v4.2). This could cost you long-term.

If you opt for the JBL Charge 5, you’re getting a solid speaker system (I say system because it has two speakers) for a relatively low price. You’ll also be able to walk further away from your Charge 5 with your streaming device and not stop the connection.

Finally, if it’s down to sound, as it should be when choosing a speaker, then I have to recommend the JBL Charge 5. I don’t know whether it’s due to the extra speaker or the “Loudness” option I mentioned, but the JBL Charge 5 sounds better than the Charge 4.

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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