JBL Charge 4 review
Last Updated on by Daniel Osakwe
In keeping with the old adage, “don’t fix what ain’t broke,” JBL updated its already outstanding Charge 3 speaker. Although the design and specs are essentially identical, the improvements are subtle and not apparent until you listen to the speaker and realize the sound quality has been enhanced.
Our reviewers liked the JBL Charge 3’s ability to pump out some serious bass but were disappointed by its muted highs. The JBL Charge 4 provides much better tonal balance while still providing some serious bass that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the audio spectrum.
Though it looks like a boring update on paper, the JBL Charge 4 is still one of the best waterproof speakers around. For the money, you get a speaker that is strong as nails, can charge your phone and lasts all day.
JBL Charge 4: Design
It would be hard to find many differences between the JBL Charge 3 and Charge 4. In addition to the cylindrical shape, the exposed woofers are a sight to behold when the bass kicks in.
Our initial concern was that exposed speakers would damage, but we haven’t encountered any problems with JBL’s other exposed woofer designs like the Charge 3 and Pulse 3.
The physical controls for the speaker can be found on its top. Power, volume, Bluetooth pairing, media control, and JBL’s Connect + feature allow you to pair two or more of the company’s other speakers to play music in stereo or to amplify it.
Around the back, you’ll find a large silicone cover that protects the 3.5mm aux, USB-C, and USB-A ports. Due to the Charge 4’s full-sized USB port, you can use it to recharge your phone to keep your music going.
Due to the directional design of the JBL Charge 4, the sound comes from the side with the JBL emblem. Even though there is no 360-degree sound, the speaker gets so loud that everyone in a room can hear it.
The speaker’s directional nature makes placement essential, and users can either place it horizontally on its foot or vertically on either side. If you put your speaker vertically on a surface that radiates the bass, you may be able to increase the bass response.)
The Charge 4’s biggest improvement over the Charge 3 is its sound quality: while the Charge 3 pumped out lots of basses, the Charge 4 is much more balanced. With the highs removed, instruments such as the violin are able to sing. In addition, the midrange is excellent, allowing vocals to stand out. The resolution is decent, but not great, which is to be expected for a waterproof speaker at this price point.
Also impressive is the JBL Charge 4’s loudness. It is more than enough to play music at half volume for a medium-sized room. The speaker is extremely loud at maximum volume for indoor use, but its extra volume is appreciated in noisy settings like the beach. At the beach, the speaker is IP7X rated, so feel free to get it wet or dusty.
The Charge 4 is claimed to last 20 hours on a single charge, and we had no problem reaching that number while listening to music at low to medium volume. However, if you’re playing constantly at high volume, you’ll have to cut a few hours from that rating.
|Long battery life||Some distortion at high volumes|
|Can charge your phone||Long charge time|
|Balanced, powerful sound|
For the price, the JBL Charge 4 is a no-brainer. It lasts all day, sounds great, can handle abuse, and charges your phone quickly. It costs around $150 (£160, AU$200). However, you will need to spend much more money to find speakers with better sound. (Our favorite speaker, the UE Megaboom 3, sounds worse and costs more money.)
JBL Pulse 3 is an excellent alternative to Charge 4 if you want 360-degree sound and a light show, but you’ll have to sacrifice battery life (up to 12 hours) and a bit of sound quality. The Denon Envaya DSB-250BT is a great choice if you prioritize sound quality over all else, but be aware that it sacrifices battery life for sound.
But overall, JBL’s Charge series remains at the top of its class.