The problem with Bluetooth speakers until recently was that they sounded mediocre at best and they had rather poor wireless capabilities. Constant lags, abrupt volume changes, general bad quality, and instability of Bluetooth protocols are just a few of the problems to name. So at the time, music enthusiasts took a risk by purchasing those early models. Knowing about all these problems, JBL, one of the leading American sound companies, has decided to prove that portable speakers can sound just as well as any conventional speakers. It didn’t take them long, and soon they created the JBL Flip 4 and the JBL Charge 3, two portable Bluetooth speakers that became immensely popular with music fans worldwide. Safe to say, many consider them the best Bluetooth speakers. They look great, they sound great, and they share many of the features of professional-grade devices. With that, they are much more consumer-friendly and more affordable. And that’s one of the biggest reasons why they are so popular among users. To help you narrow down your choice, let’s compare two models side-by-side.
Each of the two JBL speakers supports the JBL Connect technology that allows connecting multiple speakers to amplify the sound of music tracks, should you have a few JBL speakers in your collection. That said, the Flip 4, being a newer iteration, cannot be connected to the previous JBL models that do not have the Connect+ version onboard, which can be a bummer if you've got them in your arsenal. The JBL Charge 3, in this sense, is more practical, allowing you to connect all versions without problems.
Speaking of design, the JBL Charge 3 speaker is bigger than the Flip 4, meaning it might be less convenient to fit it in your backpack or pocket. With that, bigger size means louder sound, so if you're looking for a powerful speaker, you will be impressed with its sound. When used indoors, the JBL Charge 3 can really crank.
Now, having said all that, we do not want to say that the Flip 4 is worse than the Charge 3 performance-wise. The Flip 4 has quite a powerful set of speakers, features passive bass radiators augmenting performance characteristics of the speaker, and - more important - has a smaller size, making it a decent pick for those who search portability.
Now, after briefly touching upon the main differences between these two JBL speakers, let's study them in depth.
It wouldn’t be a JBL speaker if it didn’t feature a top-notch sound quality. In this regard, both models deliver a great sound, even though they do not sound quite the same (at least not indoors where you can notice the difference). Being bigger in size, as we've mentioned earlier, the Flip 4 produces louder volumes while the Charge 3 stuns with its rich bass and midrange. If kept in its horizontal orientation, the Charge 3 can really crank, delivering an amazing deep bass response. The trade-off, though, they aren't as good at producing high frequencies and the sound is not as detailed as in some other portable speakers. Still, for most users the audio quality of the Charge 3 is more than impressive, making it a well-rounded choice.
Both the Flip 4 and the Charge 3 have a built-in mic, meaning that it's possible to use them with voice assistants from Siri and Google Now, and if needed they can also be used as a speakerphone for conference calls. The quality of a mic on both models is great, and many users say that it sounds just as clear as if you spoke through a phone.
Both models have shown outstanding results and have an almost seamless wireless connection, hence, even if you are 20 feet away from the speakers they will still be able to transmit your favorite tracks with high-fidelity.
Although sound-quality of a speaker is obviously the most essential characteristic to consider, its design is another thing that we all tend to notice. In this regard, both speakers look nice and it might seem that they look pretty much the same. They feature similar controls and have battery status lights at the bottom panels. Both come in cylindrical shape and has rubber padding at the bottom, though the Flip 4 has a smaller foot, so you might not notice it first. Also, both speakers are designed to be used in horizontal orientation. The major difference between the two is in the size, with the Charge 3 being slightly bigger and wider.
With the overall look out of the way, we'd like to say a few words about the functional side of these speakers. Both speakers have been upgraded with an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means that they are well protected from water splashes and sand. You could easily submerge them in up to 1 m of water without doing any harm! That said, neither of them floats, so we wouldn't recommend throwing them into the ocean. In addition to waterproofing, both models feature durable housings made of strong and high-quality rugged rubber, so they can withstand all your adventures.
For many the physical size of a speaker is an important aspect, especially when it comes to portable models that we expect to carry with us. Being 9.1 x 3.4 x 3.5 inches in overall dimensions and featuring a slightly wider base, the Charge 3 is a bit bigger than the Flip 4 that makes 3.6 x 3.6 x 8.5 inches in size. With that, the difference in size is not that big and both speakers have a rather small weight of 1.8 pounds, making them perfectly portable. However, if size is important for you, go for the Flip 4 that's a little smaller and easier to carry, thanks to its sleeker cylindrical shape.
Unlike the vast majority of speakers that die quickly when used at high volumes, the Flip 4 and the Charge 3 boast a very long battery life. That is to say, the Flip 4 features a 3000 mAh battery and will provide up to twelve hours of audio playtime, while the Charge 3 that has a 6000 mAh Li-ion battery will deliver a whopping twenty hours, and all that without compromising the volume level. Both models can provide you with an extended listening time, though, obviously, with the Charge 3 you'll get best.
These are both fantastic models that can serve as exemplary devices of what a portable Bluetooth speaker should be. Two features that stand the JBL Charge 3 out are its long battery life and that it can be used as a power bank to charge other gadgets. Of course, this comes at a price, and you should be ready that the playback time will be slightly reduced, yet, the bonus of having additional energy source at hand more than makes up for this slight drawback. In all, the JBL Charge 3 is a great speaker that can be considered by any who's looking for the best the market can offer. The JBL Flip 4, in turn, will be a good option for those who need a simpler speaker that will be easy to carry around.
Read more: Here's our review on the popular waterproof Bluetooth speakers.