JBL Charge 4 Review

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The New JBL Charge 4 is kind of going through its iPhone XS refresh cycle… As in, its not all the different from the previous JBL Charge 3, but there are some small but significant changes under the hood on the new charge 4. Heres whats new and what I like about the new JBL Charge 4, and do you really need to upgrade if you already have the previous JBL Charge 3. 

Money wise, new the JBL Charge 4 retails for the same 150 dollars that the pervious charge 3 used to retail for. And JBL is also going to be offering the new Charge 4 in a staggering 10 different colors ways. If you want to pick either of these speakers up, I’ll have links in the description below… and if you use the links it really helps out the channel. I highly suggest you check them out cause you never know when these speakers might go on sale so you’ll might get lucky. And also checkout the mech shelf down below. 

Design wise, the charge 4 looks practically identical to the charge 3. They both have fabric bodies, a row of control buttons up top, a battery gage on its base, and exposed passive radiators on each side. They’re both even rocking the same IPX7 rating meaning that they’re both water proof up to 30 minutes in one meeter of water and they both have the same advertised battery life of 20 hours. But if you look closely there are a few differences between the charge 4 and charge 3. First up its the proportions, the charge 4 is slightly bigger and wider than the charge 3, and truly looks like a shrunken down Xtreme 2. But proportions aside, the first most obvious and significant difference between the charge 4 and charge 3 is going to be under its rubber grommet. The new charge 4 charges via a USB C port and still keeps the audio jack and USB A out port that was present on the pervious charge 3. And I think this is great, like I’ve said in previous videos if your product is launching in late 2018 it better have USB C charging. And the charge 4 also comes included with a new USB A to USB C charging cable, a first for JBL. But unfortunately it doesn’t come with a wall adapter and although its not a big deal… I don’t know why JBL is cheaping out on this cause previously they didn’t.  

Now regarding this new USB C port, unfortunately it can only be used for charging the charge 4. You cant use it to charge your own devices and you cant use it as a wired connection. And I think this is a huge missed opportunity on JBL’s part, I think it would have been awesome if this USB C port could be used for more than just charging. But still, I think its still good on JBL’s part cause you can still charge your own devices though the USB A port and they still kept that audio jack so if you really need a wired connection you can have it. Cause in comparison, the new Boom and Megaboom 3 don’t have audio jacks. And although personally I don’t mind it, I still feel larger speakers like these should still have it. 

Another major difference between the JBL Charge 3 and JBL Charge 4 is going to be their batteries. The charge 3 has a 6,000 milliamp hour battery while the charge 4 as a 7,500 milliamp hour battery. But like I mentioned earlier they both have an adverted battery life of 20 hours. But with the volume set at 80% the charge 4 managed to average 11 hours of playback time. 

But perhaps the biggest difference on the charge 4 from all of JBL’s other portable speakers is going to be its new speaker set up. The charge 3 has dual 2 inch diameter frontward firing transducers and dual passive radiators on each side. The smaller Flip 4 also has a similar dual transducer and dual passive radiator set up. Even the larger Xtreme 2 has dual frontward fringing transducers and dual passive radiators and an additional dual tweeters. Now even though the charge 4 still has dual passive radiators on each side, instead of dual transducers it has a single 2 by 3.5 inch transducer thats been offset to the right. Now even though the charge 4 is moving from a dual transducer set up to a single transducer set it hasn’t negatively affected its performance compared to the charge 3. But now we’re going to jump into a sound test and then I’ll let you know what it think about the charge 4’s sound quality. 

Just like all of JBL other newer speakers starting with the pulse 3… the JBL charge 4 has a neutral sound signature with just the right amount of bass and treble that should keep most people happy. Even though instrument separation, clarity and soundstage between the charge 3 and charge 4 stay relatively the same… the biggest difference between the charge 3 and charge 4 sound quality is going to be the bass. The Charge 4 has significantly more bass than the charge 3 and as a result since you can feel the music more… its more fun to listen to music with the Charge 4 than the charge 3. And this is why even though the charge 4 has a larger battery than the charge 3 it still has the same battery life… the charge 4 is now a 30 watt speaker where as the charge 3 is a 20 was speaker. Now even though I do enjoy the Charge 4’s added bass… for a lot of people, including myself its not going to merit upgrading from the charge 3. 

Now even though the new charge 4 is putting out more power than the charge 3, it doesn’t get any louder than the charge 3. Obviously its going to get louder than the Flip 4 and distort less at higher volumes, but I think that charge 4 is using all that extra power to produce richer and deeper bass. And personally I think thats perfectly fine. 

Regarding bluetooth, the JBL charge 4 has been upgraded from bluetooth 4.1 to 4.2. And just as you’d expect the bluetooth connection on this speaker is stable and doesn’t cut out. And just like before, this speaker can be connected to multiple devices at a time which is good. But unfortunately if you’re an iPhone user, the charge 4 still has a little bit of latency so this speaker isn’t the best for watching videos on your phone. 

And just like JBL’s other newer portable speakers… the charge 4 is rocking JBL connect plus. And this is one of the biggest reasons why I like JBL speakers so much, its the easiest and fastest way to pair multiple speakers together. You just press one button on each speaker and the speakers will figure out the rest by them selves. You don’t have to open any other apps, and the speakers always stay in sync. It just works. 

And for those wondering, unfortunately the Charge 4 and Charge 3 can only be paired up in sync, you cant get them to play in left and right stereo mode. Even though they’re both charge models and sound very similar… JBL still insists on you having two of the exact same speakers if you want to get left and right stereo mode going. And personally I just think this is ridiculous, but its what ever. And regarding the rest of the app, there really isn’t much going on. I’m still waiting for JBL to add some adjustable EQ settings that get uploaded directly to their speakers. But besides that, theres really no reason to open JBL’s speaker app unless you have a pulse 3. 

But over all, like I said at the beginning of this video… the JBL Charge 4 is going through its iPhone XS refresh cycle. There really isn’t anything total new on the Charge 4 and theres no reason to upgrade from the charge 3. Especially since the charge 3 got that firmware update a few months ago for JBL Connect Plus. But don’t get me wrong, I do like that the charge 4 has  more bass than the charge 3 and do like that the charge 4 now has USB C charging. But other than that, theres no major differences between the Charge 3 and Charge 4. But still… the JBL charge 4 still keeps its title as one of the best mid sized speakers out there. It sounds good, it has a good battery life, and its pretty durable. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Next JBL Flip 5 is right around the corner with a similar single transducer set up and USB C charging. Personally I would have made the Charge 4 more interesting by throwing in at least a single tweeter and fast charging.