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JBL Charge 4 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Feb 16, 2021 at 09:42 am
JBL Charge 4 Picture
5.7
Music
5.7
Videos/Movies
6.8
Podcasts
2.5
Voice Assistant
6.9
Outdoors
This speaker was replaced by the JBL Charge 5
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
Yes

The JBL Charge 4 is a portable Bluetooth speaker that comes in many colors. It has a balanced mid-range that can accurately reproduce vocals and lead instruments, though they may sound slightly dull due to its underemphasized treble range. It's also rated IPX7 for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Like many smaller speakers, it struggles to produce low-bass, which might be disappointing for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Also, it doesn't have an EQ, so you can't tweak its sound profile to your liking.

Our Verdict

5.7 Music

The JBL Charge 4 is sub-par for music. It struggles to produce low-bass, and its treble range is underemphasized, so higher frequencies can sound dull and veiled. Fortunately, its mid-range is well-balanced, so vocals and lead instruments are reproduced accurately. This speaker doesn't have an EQ, so you can't adjust the sound to your liking.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Great battery performance.
  • Well-balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Struggles to produce low-bass.
  • Doesn't have an EQ.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
  • Underemphasized treble range.
  • Disappointing soundstage.
5.7 Videos/Movies

The JBL Charge 4 is sub-par for videos and music. It struggles to produce low-bass, so you won't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed movie scenes. Although its well-balanced mid-range can accurately reproduce dialogue, it has a fairly directional soundstage, resulting in a less immersive sound. Thankfully, its low latency with iOS and Android devices makes it suitable for watching videos, although some apps may compensate differently for this.

Pros
  • Well-balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Struggles to produce low-bass.
  • Doesn't have an EQ.
  • Underemphasized treble range.
6.8 Podcasts

The JBL Charge 4 is alright for podcasts. It has a well-balanced mid-range, so dialogue is reproduced accurately. However, its treble range is underemphasized, so sibilants like S and T sounds can be perceived as dull. This speaker is remarkably portable, so you can listen to podcasts while you're on-the-go.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Great battery performance.
  • Well-balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Underemphasized treble range.
  • Disappointing soundstage.
2.5 Voice Assistant

The JBL Charge 4 doesn't have voice assistant support.

6.9 Outdoors

The JBL Charge 4 is reasonable for outdoor use. It has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. Thanks to its fairly small and lightweight build, it's incredibly portable, so you can easily bring it with you out and about. However, it doesn't get especially loud, and there's some compression at max volume.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • IPX7 rating for water resistance.
  • Great battery performance.
Cons
  • Struggles to produce low-bass.
  • Doesn't have an EQ.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
  • Disappointing soundstage.
  • 5.7 Music
  • 5.7 Videos/Movies
  • 6.8 Podcasts
  • 2.5 Voice Assistant
  • 6.9 Outdoors
  1. Updated Feb 16, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Feb 12, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The JBL Charge 4 is a fairly small cylindrical speaker that sits horizontally on a plastic base. It comes in twelve color variants, so you can find a look that suits your style. It has a bass radiator on each side, advertised to help produce a more resonant bass sound.

9.1
Design
Portability
Volume
119 inยณ (1,943 cmยณ)
Weight
2.0 lbs (0.9 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The JBL Charge 4 is remarkably portable. You can carry it with one hand since it's fairly small and very light. Since it's battery-powered, you can use it outside without having to plug it into an outlet.

7.5
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The JBL Charge 4 has a good build quality. It has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. It feels solid, and there are two bass radiators located on the sides, which are advertised to help produce a resonant bass sound. It sits horizontally on a small plastic base, and the body of the speaker is wrapped in a tight fabric. The back of the speaker also has a small sealable compartment for the USB and AUX ports.

5.9
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Good
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The JBL Charge 4 has sub-par controls. Its buttons are clicky and most are texturized, making them easy to press. The play/pause button can be pressed twice to skip a track, but you can't go to a previous track. In addition to buttons for adjusting the volume, there's a Bluetooth button and a Connect+ button, which lets you pair up to 100 JBL speakers that have the Connect+ feature. There's a light to indicate the Bluetooth pairing status, and lights at the bottom that indicate the battery life. This speaker chimes when you've reached max volume, though there's no prompt for reaching the minimum volume.

Design
In The Box

  • JBL Charge 4 speaker
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • User Manual

Sound
5.9
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
0.60
Std. Err.
5.32 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
61.7 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
7.9 kHz

The JBL Charge 4 has midding frequency response accuracy. Its mid-range is well-balanced, so it can accurately reproduce vocals and lead instruments. However, it struggles to produce low-bass, so you won't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music genres like EDM. Its treble is also underemphasized, so higher frequencies may sound dull and veiled. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an EQ to let you tweak its sound. If you're looking for a speaker with a more balanced sound profile, check out the JBL Charge 5.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.4
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.87 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

This speaker has a disappointing soundstage. It has to downmix stereo content into mono, which results in a less immersive sound. There's also an overemphasis in the treble range, so the soundstage may seem uneven. Consider the JBL Pulse 4 if you want a speaker with a more open and spacious soundstage.

6.5
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
84.8 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.12 dB

The JBL Charge 4 has reasonable dynamics. It can't get especially loud, so it isn't well-suited to playing audio in large or crowded rooms. Also, there are some compression artifacts present at max volume.

Active Features
8.5
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
13.1 hrs
Charge Time
4.0 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

This speaker has an excellent battery performance. It's advertised to last around 20 hours off a single charge, but in our tests, it lasted just over thirteen hours. That said, battery life can vary depending on usage. Fortunately, it saves power by shutting off automatically after some time without any audio input.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone

This speaker doesn't offer voice assistant support.

6.6
Active Features
App
App Name
JBL Portable
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
No

The JBL Portable app is alright. It's compatible with iOS and Android, and you can use it to link two speakers to create a stereo pair. It also has a Party Mode feature, which lets you connect multiple speakers to amplify the sound in a large space. However, unlike the Ultimate Ears BOOM 3, it lacks an EQ to help you customize the speaker's sound to your liking.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

The JBL Charge 4 has an AUX port, so you can use a wired connection between your smartphone and the speaker. You can also use it to charge other devices using its USB-A port. Both ports are on the back of the speaker in a small, sealable compartment.

9.7
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Bluetooth iOS Latency
16 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
15 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The JBL Charge 4 has an outstanding Bluetooth performance. You can pair two devices at a time, which is useful if you want to frequently switch the audio source between your phone and your laptop. Its latency with iOS and Android devices is extremely low, making it suitable for watching videos. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, so individual experience may vary. It also has an exceptional range, so it can receive input even if your device is far away.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

This speaker isn't Wi-Fi compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The JBL Charge 4 comes in twelve different color variants. These include 'Black', 'Black Camo', 'Blue', 'Camouflage', 'Grey', 'Green', 'Pink', 'Red', 'Sand', 'Teal', 'White', and 'Yellow'. We tested the 'Blue' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect all the variants listed to perform similarly in tests.

If you come across a variant not mentioned here, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The JBL Charge 4 is a fairly small, portable Bluetooth speaker. It has a sturdy build, as well as an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. Its mid-range is fairly well-balanced, so vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly, although they can seem a bit dull due to the underemphasized treble range. It also struggles to produce a thumpy low-bass. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an EQ to help you adjust its sound to your liking, and it's not compatible with voice assistants.

See also our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best shower speakers, and the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers.

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4 overall. The Charge 5 has a more balanced sound profile. It's also better-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test this. That said, while the Charge 5 can connect to PartyBoost-compatible JBL speakers, it can't connect to those with the Connect+ feature like its predecessor. The Charge 4 also has lower latency with iOS and Android devices, though some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may vary.

JBL FLIP 5

The JBL FLIP 5 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The FLIP has better directivity, resulting in a wider soundstage. It also has a more balanced sound profile. However, the Charge has longer battery life. 

JBL Xtreme 2

The JBL Xtreme 2 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. Unlike the Charge, the Xtreme can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, and it can get somewhat louder. Also, only the Xtreme has voice assistant features, even though it may have trouble hearing you in a noisy room. Although both speakers lack low-bass, the Xtreme has a more balanced sound profile.

JBL Xtreme 3

The JBL Xtreme 3 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Xtreme is a better-built speaker that can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. Its sound profile is also more balanced, with some extra warmth in the lower end. The Xtreme can also get louder than the Charge, though both have quite a bit of compression at max volume.

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Ultimate Ears has a more balanced sound profile and has a full graphic EQ in its companion app. It also has a much wider soundstage and can play stereo content, unlike the JBL. It's a better-built speaker with a slightly longer battery life. However, the JBL has lower Bluetooth latency with iOS devices, though some apps compensate for latency differently.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Sonos is better-built with a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. It comes with bass and treble adjustments and it supports voice assistants. However, the JBL has longer battery life.

Ultimate Ears BOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Ultimate Ears is better-built, and it's advertised as floatable, though we don't test for this. It also has a better soundstage performance, and it can play stereo content without having to downmix it to mono. While both speakers have companion apps, only the Ultimate Ears has a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization.

Sony SRS-XB33

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. Unlike the JBL, the Sony has a graphic EQ in its companion app, which lets you adjust the sound profile to your liking. It has voice assistant features, though it relies on your smartphone's voice assistant. The Sony can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which creates a more immersive sound.

JBL Pulse 4

The JBL Pulse 4 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. While the Charge can reproduce a more extended low-bass, the Pulse has a more balanced sound profile, and its soundstage is perceived as more open. It also has customizable RGB lights and a unique transparent design. That being said, the Charge has a slightly longer battery life, as well as less latency over Bluetooth, although some apps compensate differently for this.

Sony SRS-XB43

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4 overall. The Sony has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce more bass than the JBL. It features a graphic EQ you can use to customize its sound to your liking. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good. Also, it has a longer battery life, lasting around 15 hours from a single charge, though this can vary depending on your usage habits. That said, the JBL is slightly smaller and more portable than the Sony. It also has fewer compression artifacts present at max volume.

Beats Pill+

The Beats Pill+ is a slightly better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Beats can play stereo content, unlike the JBL. However, the JBL is a better-built speaker with longer battery life, lasting over thirteen hours on a single charge. It also has slightly less compression than the Beats at max volume.

Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST

The Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST is better than the JBL Charge 4. The Ultimate Ears has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box and it has more sound customization features thanks to its graphic EQ and presets. It can play stereo content, and it has a better soundstage performance. It also has built-in support for Alexa voice assistant over a Wi-Fi connection. However, the JBL has longer battery life.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Anker Soundcore Motion+ is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Anker has a better-balanced sound profile than that of the JBL, and you can customize it thanks to the graphic EQ and EQ presets available on its companion app. It can get louder than the JBL and can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. That said, you can use the JBL's Connect+ feature to pair up to 100 compatible speakers, which can come in handy if you want your audio to fill a large room without increasing its volume.

Bose SoundLink Color II

The Bose SoundLink Color II is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. Only the Bose has voice assistant capabilities, and it can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono. That said, the JBL has a longer battery life, and it's rated IPX7 for water resistance, while the Bose is rated IPX4, though we don't currently test for this.

Anker Soundcore 3

The Anker Soundcore 3 is a slightly better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Anker has a better-balanced sound profile and features a graphic EQ and presets you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. It can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. That said, you can pair the JBL to two devices at once, which is handy when you need to switch between audio sources quickly. You can also pair it to another speaker to create a stereo pair or multiple other speakers when you want your audio to fill a large space.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II

The Bose SoundLink Revolve II is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Bose is better-built and is rated IP55 for dust and water resistance, though we don’t currently test for this. It also has a more neutral sound profile with a more spacious-sounding soundstage than that of the JBL. Also, it supports voice assistants through your smartphone and does a great job of hearing you from far and in noisy settings. That said, the JBL has fewer compression artifacts at max volume. It also has an incredible battery life lasting over 13 hours from a single charge.

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