After weeks of testing, I determined JBL Charge 4 is the best portable speaker option for most people because of its great sound quality, long battery life, and good bang for the buck.
- Charge 4 is an amazing speaker for this form factor. It has a brilliant sound that offers a deeper bass at all volume levels with better depth than other speakers. You won’t beat it for $150.
- Charge 4 offers one-directional sound, and there’s only one driver. It sounds best when there’s a wall for the sound to reflect off of.
- You need to be in front of the speaker for optimal listening. Although it’ll be fine outdoors, it’s not ideal because it’s not omnidirectional.
- Overall, the sound is brilliant, crisp and deep as long as the volume stays in the 60% range. While under 60%, it has the perfect balance of low, high, and mids, but the highs get screechy above 70%.
- You’re stuck listening to music the way JBL intended because you can’t customize the sound, but this isn’t a bad thing.
- It doesn’t have as much bass as Megaboom 3, but Charge 4’s bass stays stable the whole time, whereas, Megaboom 3 gets too boomy at louder levels.
- Compared to UE Boom 3, it has a better bass and is much richer and louder. Charge 4’s sound is closer to Megaboom 3 than Boom 3. Overall, it’s a brilliant-sounding speaker and provides fantastic value at $150.
- Compared to Charge 3, Charge 4 has more bass and more power (one 30W driver compare to two 10W drivers) with a better treble. Both sound great, but I wouldn’t say the sound is an improvement or that is got worse, just that it’s different. It’s $40 less.
- It weighs 2.1 pounds and is 8.7 inches long. It’s still small enough that it can be held in one hand.
- It looks not the best looking, but at least it has a base to sit on (relative to Flip 4).
- It comes in 10 different colors (Black, Blue, Forest Green, Grey, Pink, Red, Sand, Teal, and White), but the colors are plain and not overly appealing.
- The port cover is perfect. It stays latched (for waterproofing), but it’s easy to open. This is something that Flip 4 could learn from its big brother.
- You can plug in your old school devices because there’s a 3.5mm port.
- It’s waterproof (IPX7 rating). It can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.
- While it’s waterproof, you have to let it air out if it gets wet because the water gets in between the radiators on the sides and makes the sound muffled.
- It’s not listed as shockproof, but it’s going to withstand normal drops.
- It’ll float in water.
- The battery is impressive for its size and loudness delivered. It’s rated for 20 hours of playback and takes four hours to recharge. My real world tests:
- 8.5 hours with 60% volume.
- 6.5 hours with 85% volume.
- It works as a portable phone charger with its 7,500-mAh battery USB port.
- It recharges with USB-C and it takes around four hours.
- The JBL software serves no purpose and should be avoided. There are no benefits, it’s hard to connect, and the interface runs off of the screen.
- You can keep it paired to two different devices at the same time.
- You can pair Charge 4 with other JBL speakers.
- JBL Connect+ works well by pressing the Connect+ button on each speaker that you want to be paired. The connect is stable compared to most Bluetooth connections.
- There’s no way to activate your phone’s voice assistant because there’s no mic, but this function doesn’t work well on most portable speakers anyways.
- It gets an extra five feet of Bluetooth range, and the Bluetooth seems more reliable than SoundLink Color II.
Who is this for?
Get JBL Charge 4 if you want the best sounding speaker at this size and an extra two hours of battery at 60% volume. It has one-directional sound, but it isn’t terrible outside. It can’t charge wirelessly.
Get JBL Charge 3 for $50 less. It sounds similar to Charge 4 and is an incredible value.