JBL is back at it. They just released a new edition to their Charge lineup of portable bluetooth speakers. This one is IBX-7 waterproof, and even louder than ever. The wireless speaker features a really impressive 20 hour battery that’s capable of sharing battery power with any phone or USB device.
The JBL Charge 3 is larger than Charge 1 and 2. It’s a bit longer, and much beefier. It stills weighs under 2 lbs and isn’t quite the length of two stacked cans of soda. The shape, design, and style is similar to past generations, but now sports a more rugged and waterproofed look. It’s not perfectly cylindrical, instead it shows off some curves around its midsection. There’s a rubberized base, durable fabric speaker grill, rubber buttons, and a rubber sealed hatch that protects the ports from water. There are woofers on the side that really pulsate when tunes are cranking. With the woofers, you wouldn’t expect the speaker to be waterproof, but somehow it is!
Charge 3 features a very large 6000mAh battery that, as the name implies, can be used to charge other USB devices. We’re not sure how JBL pulled this off, but they’ve increased the playtime of Charge 3 to a really impressive 20 hours of playtime. Louder volumes and charging devices will reduce this number. On a very hot summer day, playing at high volumes, we got more like 15 hours, which is still an incredible amount of time for a portable speaker. The battery is large enough to fully charge a few phones. We couldn’t be happier that Charge only requires a micro-USB cable to charge itself. There’s no proprietary wall charger required!
We can vouch, the JBL Charge 3 is indeed waterproof. We dropped it into a pool while it was playing music and it survived with flying colors. The speaker does float, however, it is unable to play music while it’s floating or submerged in water. Once you pull it out, the intense woofers and speakers blow most of the water right out of the device. Give it a quick shake for good measure, and in seconds after a swim, Charge 3 sounds and functions just as well as it did before its dunk. Charge’s IPX7 rating means that technically it can survive immersion up to a meter in depth for up at least 30 minutes.
We had Charge 3 cranking tunes at nearly full blast in over 90 degree weather sitting in the sun, for hours on end. Impressively, it had no problem whatsoever. Our iPhones, however, did overheat while streaming tunes in the shade. The Bluetooth range was pretty good and pretty standard. It’s perfect inside about 30 feet and a relatively straight shot to the source. In a house or apartment the source can be a room away and it usually still streams perfectly. Pairing new devices is really easy since there’s a dedicated Bluetooth button. It makes it easy to keep Charge 3 a very social device. If you happen to have a second JBL Charge 3, there’s a connect feature that can be used to pair the speakers together and play in unison.
Charge 3 includes a microphone so you can make and take phone calls over Bluetooth. The feature works really well, especially if you need a loud speakerphone. The microphone also works for ordering around Siri and voice activation.
Outside, the charge 3 sounds fantastic. There’s enough bass that it will sound like a much larger speaker. It has a very balanced tuning, and sounds great with most every genres of music. Outside, it sounds extremely clear, and you might even swear it’s the best outdoor speaker you’ve used. Inside, where you’d be used to listening at lower volumes it sounds pretty good. Our only criticism is that the midrange audio can sound a bit muddy indoors, but it’s partially just an audio snob nitpick. The Charge 2 sounded a bit better in the midrange, but wasn’t able to get quite as loud, so there’s a tradeoff. Charge 3 tends to sounds better in larger rooms, but either way the bass carries really well and it has great coverage.