JBL Charge 3 Review

JBL Charge 3 Portable Speaker

JBL recently won our praise for their Reflect Minis, a headphone that actually stayed put when running and boasted insanely good battery life. A little while back, the company also asked if we would be interested in trying out their new stylish portable speaker, the Charge 3. A few months of testing and the verdict is in. Here’s what we thought:

  1. First and foremost is very ample battery life. This is always my first initial ‘make it or break it’ go-to metric, and the Charge 3 does not disappoint with a claimed 20 hours of battery life. Throughout testing, we repeatedly saw between 18.5-19 hours.
  2. JBL’s biggest selling point with the Charge 3 is the IPX7 rating for water resistance. And they’re not lying, this speaker is built for the wet life. Listen to NPR with the unit in the shower? Check. Stream music during my next wet and muddy bike ride? No problem. Scuba diving? OK, let’s not get too carried away, but the short end is the Charge 3 will not only survive but work perfectly in most outdoor adventures that involve moisture.
  3. But does it sound good? Yes. Very good. It’s a JBL product, so that’s a great start, but they have also managed to pack an insane amount of bass in a relatively small package.
  4. JBL has mastered the art of an easy Bluetooth connection. Having to trouble shoot connecting Bluetooth devices is something that still happens far too often and there’s few things that are more frustrating. JBL has obviously gone to great lengths to make sure the connection process was simple and worked with the Charge 3.
  5. Our biggest complaint with the Charge 3 is the on-device button and navigation schema, which if you recall is the same complaints we had with JBLs Reflect Minis. The device is missing skip forward and rewind buttons. Yes, I get it JBL, you wanted the speaker to look beautiful (which is does) and mixing additional functions in with existing buttons helps accomplish a less “cluttered” look. But in the end, all I want is basic, easily accessible skip and rewind button functionality when I’m not digging my current tune.

You can pick a JBL Charge 3 up for $149 at most online retailers. Occasionally you will find them on sale around the $129 mark, but either price is well worth it if you’re in the market for a portable speaker that is truly rugged, waterproof and still meets the demands of any outdoorsy audiophile.

Chad Waite is the founder of Outdoor Gear Reviews and an avid outdoorsman and trail runner in beautiful Park City, Utah.

Posted in Electronics, Equipment Review