Seeing as you’re reading this article, you probably already know that JBL is currently the king when it comes to wireless speakers, with both their Charge 3 and Flip 4 models being more than excellent. Nevertheless, while these two devices were both made by the same company, they are very distinct from one another, so make sure to read on if you want to know which one caters more to your needs!
|JBL Charge 3||JBL Flip 4|
|Size||213 x 87 x 88.5 mm||175 x 70 x 68 mm|
|Driver size||45 mm||40 mm|
|Frequency response||65 – 20000Hz||70 – 20000Hz|
They don’t look all that distinct at first glance though, especially if you’re looking at separate pictures of each speaker, as they share a lot of the same design beats. Most notably, they both have the same cylindrical exterior, with the exact same button scheme. And they’re both available in plenty of colors, with the Flip 4 holding the edge here with its nine color schemes to the six of the Charge 3. However, if you compare them side by side, it becomes obvious that they’re very different.
First and foremost, the Charge 3 is noticeably bigger and bulkier than the Flip 4, and of course heavier too. This may not seem like a big deal, but it holds huge implications as to which profile of users each will cater to.
Now seeing as these are both wireless speakers, one of the things you’re probably most curious about is how suitable they are for outdoor use. And we’re happy to report that both of these speakers are more than capable of delivering a satisfying sound even outdoors. We won’t talk about how they sound now, as there will be a whole segment dedicated to this, so instead, we’d like to highlight the fact that both of these speakers were made to withstand the wear and tear of outdoor use.
Not only are they made strictly from high-quality materials (mostly rubber), but they’re also both proud members of the IPX7 waterproof rating club. This means that they can survive underwater for up to half an hour, so you definitely don’t need to worry about a little rain splashing on them when you’re out camping. And you can wash them with water until they’re squeaky clean when they end up taking a bit of the outdoors with them. So if you’re looking for a wireless speaker that can endure the elements, rest assured that either of these two can weather the storm.
However, your decision will largely boil down to how portable you need your speaker to be. Now the Charge 3 is by no means unmanageable, but if you’re looking to take your music with you wherever you go, then you’ll certainly appreciate the lighter weight and more compact design of the Flip 4. The Charge 3 is a speaker we can sooner see you taking to your backyard, say, when you’re having a barbecue party, then when you’re going to the beach, the park, the gym, or anywhere like that within walking distance. The Flip 4 is the better choice in this case since it can fit inside most pockets.
There is an argument to be made in favor of the Charge 3 for longer trips, however, since its larger size means it can accommodate a much larger battery. Now the Flip 4 is no slouch when it comes to battery life, with an estimated 12 hours of juice in it at max charge. But impressive as this is for a wireless solution, it’s still paltry next to the 20-hour battery life of the Charge 3. What’s more, the Charge 3 can be used as a power bank to charge other devices, hence the name.
And of course, you need to pack your wireless speakers with plenty of useful features to have them stand out from the crowd, and since these two speakers are doing so well for themselves, you know they’re stacked.
Obviously, they both feature Bluetooth technologies. The Flip 4 technically holds the edge here, with Bluetooth 4.2 (the Charge 3 uses Bluetooth 4.1), but this actually doesn’t impact sound quality in any noticeable way. What’s more important, however, is that they both feature wireless Bluetooth streaming from multiple phones and tablets, and here the Charge 3 holds the lead, with its ability to pair up with up to three devices to the two of the Flip 4.
Furthermore, they both have the JBL Connect technology, so if you’ve got a couple of spare JBL speakers, you can connect them together for a better sound. The only downside here is that the Flip 4, being the newer model, only supports the revised Connect + technology, which unfortunately isn’t backward compatible.
They both have built-in microphones which are actually better than you’d expect; a bit too good, considering they’ll mostly be used to give commands to Siri and the unimaginatively named Assistant from Google. Still, we’re not going to complain about getting a good deal, and if you like the idea of taking calls with your wireless speaker you’ll certainly appreciate this feature.
And finally, if you want a fully portable stereo speaker system, you can buy either two Charge 3s or Flip 4s and pair them up through the app for a truly impressive wireless speaker configuration (you cannot pair one Charge 3 with one Flip 4).
Now comparing these two on how they sound is where things get really interesting.
We’d like to preface this by saying that they both sound great, but despite them being made by the same company, the Charge 3 and the Flip 4 both offer distinct sounds, so we can’t really speak of either being better. Preference alone has the power to pass that judgment. So instead we’re going to list all the points where each device excels?
Both devices have a strong, thumping bass, although the Charge 3 is noticeably more powerful here thanks to its size. However, the mid-range and high-end frequencies are where the major differences start to kick in, with the Charge boasting an excellent mid-range with a slightly weaker top-end than the Flip 4, and vice-versa.
If we had to recommend one, we’d go with the Charge 3, just because its frequency response makes more sense in the context of the average user. Still, while the Flip 4 may lack some richness in the bass and mid frequencies, it’s not only a better choice for those with more demanding treble requirements but is also ideal if you’re looking for the most portable device you can get. Plus, while it isn’t as loud as the Charge 3 it’s still surprisingly loud for its size and can handle high volumes with very little distortion.
So the good thing is you can’t really go wrong either way. Yes, the Charge 3 and the Flip 4 attract a different audience, but they’re both excellent choices for loud wireless speakers that you can carry with you wherever you go.
All things considered, however, we do have to recommend the Charge 3 over the Flip 4. It is a bit more expensive, but the margin between the two isn’t nearly as large as it had been before the release of the Charge 4. So unless you really want a speaker with a brighter sound, or one that’s as compact as possible, you’ll find that the Charge 3 offers more bang for your buck, with a more powerful bass and better battery life among other things.
Also, if you’re wondering whether there’s any reason to buy the Charge 4 rather than the Charge 3, we’ll spare you the trouble – there isn’t! The Charge 4 does sound marginally better, and it has an even better battery, but it actually has fewer features, with both the microphone and voice assistant support gone, for example.
James is a self-proclaimed audiophile and tech geek. With his CS degree, 5 years of experience as a software developer and 2 years of experience testing audio devices, James is more than fit to be trusted in this field.