JBL CHARGE 3 Bluetooth Speaker – REVIEW (w/ UE Boom2 & Bose Comparison)

The JBL Charge 3 – aptly named with almost 21 hours of battery life, a charge-out port, waterproofing, great Bluetooth range; overall, a great value.

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Hey everyone, Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom.

This has to be the most requested review to date.  You guys asked for it, you guys got it.  I’m please to I’m pleasedhe brand new JBL Charge 3, the follow up to the Charge 2+ that won my “Best Mid-size Bluetooth Speaker” on the market in early 2016.  I personally paid for this at the retail price of $149, and as always, I’ll place my affiliate link above, click on that and you can check for the most updated prices in real-time and see if they’ve gone on sale.

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Going over the physical features, if you read my JBL Xtreme review, these two look nearly identical – of course, the Xtreme is much much bigger.  First off, the mid-size speaker is portable, coming in a little over 8 and a quarter inches wide, almost 3 and a half inches from bottom to top and front to back.

The weight doesn’t feel bad coming in at 1.76 pounds (800 grams) It is one of the heavier mid-size speakers, but the weight feels evenly distributed and portability shouldn’t be an issue.

Taking a closer look, JBL got rid of the all aluminum grill and went with the rugged, durable fabric which has been holding up well from my tests.  On the sides, JBL returns with offering those passive bass radiators you can see moving and shaking when sound is being pumped through.  If you look at the old JBL Charge 2, the Charge 3 is slightly bigger in size.

Similar to the UE Boom 2 and an improvement over the Charge 2+ model, the speaker is now IPX7 certified.  Last years model and many speakers on the market are only splash resistant.  What this means to the average consumer, is the speaker can be submerged in water up to 1 meter, or 3.3 feet deep, for a maximum of 30 minutes.  Now, I went one step further – some of the Fugoo products I’ve tested in the past can float in water, ensuring the speaker doesn’t sink to the bottom of the lake despite being water proof.  The first generation UE Roll unfortunately sinks on the other hand.   But with the Charge 3, this thing stays buoyant, and after putting this under a waterfall, submerging the speaker under water, the Charge 3 still works perfectly fine.

You have your Bluetooth pairing option on the far left, volume down, power button, and to the right of that, the Charge model finally comes with JBL Connect.  Similar to the UE products, you can pair this with another JBL Connect speaker.  You can mix and match and in my case here, I have paired my Xtreme with the Charge 3. Both will play from the same audio source and from my testing, both are in sync with each other for music.  If you have the same model speaker, like two Xtreme’s or two Charge 3’s, you can have separate left and right stereo separation.  In my case, I was only able to have “Party Mode” which provides no separation, however, with both speakers pumping out audio, wow, the audio immersion increases dramatically and causes the entire room to fill evenly.

Testing this with Netflix and movies, there is a minimal delay.  It’s more noticeable in action movies or actors speaking and seeing their lips move first before you hear the audio. Keep in mind, this happens with two speakers going or one speaker – it’s just a Bluetooth speaker latency issue that’s pretty common.

But getting back to the buttons, volume up and last is pause and play.  Looking at the very bottom of the speaker, there are 5 bright white LED battery level indicators, and last, rotating to the rear, you have a rubber sealed cap offering a 3.5 mm input if you decide to manually connect this speaker to your phone or device, a micro-usb port for charging which JBL Claims takes up to 4.5 hrs to do, however, there have been times where it has taken me a bit longer than that. And last to the right is a charge-out port, making the Charge 3 act like a power bank, enabling you to use a USB cord to charge your phone or other devices as need be.

But regarding battery life, JBL has made a substantial improvement and glad to see JBL raising the bar.  Last years model offered up to 12 hours of use, with the Charge 3, JBL is claiming up to 20 hours.  From my test at 50% volume to get a middle of the road result, I was able to achieve 20 hours and 48 minutes to be precise until it died, which is CRAZY long and the best battery life I’ve gotten out of any mid-size Bluetooth speaker.  Not to mention, better than some larger Bluetooth speakers out there.

Regarding Bluetooth signal range, in an empty parking lot with a straight line of site, I was able to achieve about 40 linear feet and at home, just like most good Bluetooth speakers, I was able to go to the other side of the house and down to the first floor and still have my Samsung Galaxy S7 connect with no signal loss.

So with everything being covered, the only items I really noticed missing that would have been great was NFC (Near field Communication) for easier and seamless pairing.  But more importantly, I was hoping this would have speakers on the rear so when you do stand it up, just like the UE Boom 2 or the Fugoo products, I was hoping for 360 degree sound with the new model.  Unfortunately, no sound comes out of the rear.

So, for the moment you have been waiting for, the sound test.  If I can sum this up real quick, everything across the board has been amplified.  Bass has gone up pretty significantly.  Comparing to the Sony XB30 that I just reviewed, or the Beats Pill+, both great bass heavy speakers in their own way – the JBL Charge 3 doesn’t go as deep, but provides a bass boost signature more than many other mid-size Bluetooth speakers on the market.  For majority of the music you’re listening to out there, EDM, hiphop, pop, the bass on this is possibly the best for a mid-size speaker as it doesn’t drone or become distorted as much as the other two speakers I just mentioned.  If you’re bass focused, the Charge 3 is a strong consideration.  I do admit though, at times with bass heavy songs, the vocals or mid-range is affected with the amount of bass being offered, and that wasn’t the case with last years model, the Charge 2+.  If you prefer a more natural and accurate tune, a little bit of a more tamed sound, the Bose Soundlink Mini 2 really shined at being balanced.  If you like a bit more bass in your music, the Charge 3 I think nails it.  As for the UE Boom 2, a great speaker at one point, but it’s starting to show its age.

Regarding those mids, the vocals and most of the detail you hear will be pushed forward and – you can say, more direct – which is what I personally prefer.  It’s a bright sound signature that’s known on JBL Bluetooth speakers.  It’s not as separated as the Charge 2+ because of the deeper bass offered, but the trade-off of having louder audio and more room filling music I think is worth it.  The high notes – and this sums up the Charge 3 – are also pushed to the limit in my opinion, where casual listening it’s perfectly fine, but at maximum volume, you can tell the speaker is right on the edge of losing it’s quality and may become raspy at the very high notes for certain high-pitched songs.

The sound stage and audio separation is still not as apparent like most Bluetooth speakers, but again, if you get another one of these speakers, I recommend using JBL Connect.

So to summarize and give you my final thoughts, the Charge 3 pushes the edge of what a mid-size speaker can do, and despite at times being on the edge of being too amplified, on the edge of being distorted for some songs, JBL’s sound signature offers what most average consumers are looking for.  There’s that bass boosted signature that’s better than most out there, a louder speaker than most out there, bright mids for a distinct vocal experience, and physical features that most would actually use – that’s waterproofing, JBL Connect, and having an excellent battery life. Lastly, and I forgot to mention, it comes in at just $149 at the time of this review.

In my humble opinion, despite this amplified sound across the board and not being as clean as I would hope only at maximum volume, for the price and what it can do, it’s still a great value and a speaker I still highly recommend.

Remember, my links at the top of this review, you can check updated prices there and also find other deals.  Again, I’m Jimmy with Jim’s Review Room, be sure to follow me on either Facebook, twitter, or Instagram.  You guys take care, and I’ll see you on the next one.

[table id=2 hide_columns=”all” show_columns=”a,b,e,h,q” /] Specs from manufacturer. If incorrect, please contact us.